Take in the beauty of the Ohio River and the majestic Cincinnati skyline as you stroll the walkways in Smale Riverfront Park. This gorgeous 45-acres of urban greenspace situated alongside the Ohio River features playful fountains, lush gardens, creative playgrounds, restaurants, and event lawns.
With sweeping views of the Roebling Suspension Bridge and the Ohio River, this park is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Families will fall in love with multiple playgrounds and splash areas. It even contains one of the largest outdoor chime foot pianos in the world. Hop in a flying pig, test your skills with giant boardgame pieces or get active at P&G GO VIBRANTSCAPE. Heekin Family/PNC Grow up Great Adventure Playground lets little adventures climb across a rope bridge, a rock climbing canyon and race down twin racing slides.
Squeals of delight can be heard by children enjoying the dancing fountains that offer respite to the heat on hot summer days. At the Fath Fountain water jets dance to light and music which engage and amuse guests of all ages. Explore the Riverplay scene complete with fountains and stepping stones.
How To Get There
The ideal parking for visiting Smale Riverfront Park is in Riverfront Garage. Other parking areas are Sawyer Point and the Public Landing. Parking can range from $5-$20 depending on if there is an event going on. Smale Riverfront Park is located 100 W Mehring Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202. It can be found between Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ball Park.
Before you choose to venture down to Smale I would recommend checking the Red’s Schedule and the Bengal’s Schedule. The last thing you want to do is battle through traffic only to find the garages full and having to pay top dollar for a parking a half mile away. If you plan on visiting during game day, drive into the city and find a cheaper lot along the streetcar route. Hop on the streetcar and ride down to the Banks exit.
Tips For Visiting Smale Riverfront Park
The park is built on different terraces due to seasonal flooding and the crown jewel that sits on top is the Carol Ann Carousel. This carousel consists of 44 Cincinnati themed characters and panels celebrating many historic Cincinnati landmarks. However, they don’t allow wet riders so keep that in mind when planning your visit. The cost to ride the carousel is $2.00.
On the same terrace as the Carol Ann Carousel, you will find the Schmidlapp Event Lawn. Check the schedule to see if they have any events going on. We have visited for puppet shows, music programs, and yoga.
Bring plenty of sunscreens, water, towels and a change of clothes for little ones.
A few things to consider when bringing little children is that the park runs alongside a fairly busy street. Since the park is not enclosed little ones could easily make a mad dash for the street at any moment. Flower gardens often separate the street from the park, but a be on your toes. The majority of the playgrounds are aimed at children 3 and older. While there are a few things for younger toddlers to explore and do, there is not a designated play area for them.
Hidden Surprise At Smale Riverfront Park
A Tribute To The Black Brigade
The park pays tribute to The Black Brigade with a monument telling the story of the Brigade and commemorating the voluntary service of hundreds of African-American men during the Civil War. A memorial to the hundreds of African American volunteers who, in 1862, erected barricades in Northern Kentucky to protect the city during the Civil War.
This popular attraction is quite fascinating. Take hold of the massive screw, twist, and it lifts water out of one pool. The water pulled out, then recreates historic floods as it flows into a three-dimensional model of Cincinnati’s riverfront.
This unique environmentally-friendly restroom run on solar power! It is open 24-hours a day and is complete with changing stations.
Rent A QuadCycle
Did you know that not only can you rent bikes at Smale Riverfront Park, but you can rent a Quadcycle for the whole family! The Cincinnati Bike Center located next to the Riverfront Garage offers a multitude of biking experiences. They offer guided bike tours in addition to rentals however, you can do a self-guided bike tour by picking up a brochure with a map.
Where to Eat
Once you enter the top terrace of Smale Riverfront Park you will find an abundance of dining options available. Enjoy a cold brew overlooking the river at the Moerlin House, nosh on chicken and waffles at the Taste of Belgium or grab a giant pretzel at the Yard House. A great kid-friendly spot is Burger-Fi or Pies and Pints. There are tons of great bars to swing in to grab a quick drink and relax. The Holy Grail and Tin Roof are local favorites.
Smale Riverfront Park is a wonderful place to view the river. It boasts some of the best views of Cincinnati’s Roebling suspension bridge. Grab a meal overlooking the river, rent a bike or have a tranquil moment by enjoying the metal swings lining the Riverwalk. The park is linked to other riverfront parks so it is easy to spend a whole afternoon exploring Cincinnati’s riverfront.
Find more great things to do in Cincinnati by checking our Cincy Favorites.