Cincinnati is situated along the Ohio River and is home to three great riverfront parks; Smale Riverfront Park, Sawyer Point Park, and the Theodore M Berry International Friendship Park. Strolling along the Cincinnati Riverfront has never been more appealing since all three parks connect, making it a prime spot to explore.
The Cincinnati riverfront parks are full of playgrounds, splash pads, gardens, stadiums, restaurants, and more. Our guide to the riverfront parks in Cincinnati, Ohio, will help you make the most out of our next visit.
Map Of The Cincinnati Riverfront
Parking Along The Cincinnati Riverfront
The majority of parking along the river is in paid lots or garages. However, you can snag free parking at the parking lot of TM Berry International Friendship Park. Therefore, I recommend beginning your riverfront adventure there! Other popular spots that offer parking areas are in the paid lot at Sawyer Point & Yatesman Cove, at various little paid lots along Pete Rose Way.
Two popular parking garages include the garage directly across from Smale Riverfront Park, beneath Moerlein Lager House and the Heritage Bank Center has a paid lot.
Parking Tip: If visiting during baseball season, check to see if there is a Red’s game before visiting. Parking prices drastically increase during a home game as the stadium sits right along the riverfront. Arrive early or after the game to get parking without paying top dollar.
Fun Alternative: 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. It is a brief walk to get to Smale from there.
Theodore M Berry International Friendship Park
The Theodore M Berry International Friendship Park can be found at 1135 Riverside Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45202. This 22-acre park is named after Cincinnati’s first African American Mayor, Theodore M Berry. Two intertwining paths snake through the park resembling a child’s friendship bracelet.
Throughout the park, there are a variety of sculptures and gardens, each representing a different continent. Native plants from that portion of the world can be found in lush gardens, while diagrams depict various cultural events. One of our favorites was the storytelling area in which everyone took turns sitting on the storyteller rock telling their tales.
The park’s path loops bringing visitors back to the free parking area. Continue to follow the path to Montgomery Inn Boathouse, a Cincinnati staple known for its ribs and BBQ sauce. A visit to Montgomery Inn could be a great lunch or dinner spot after a day of exploring the riverfront. It makes the perfect Date Night In Cincinnati.
The International Friendship Park is linked to Bicenntial Commons, with a row of 18 flag poles along the river. During special events, flags of countries all over the world are flown. The park then turns into Sawyer’s Point Park & Yateman’s Cove.
Tip: There is no playground located at the International Friendship Park; however, many kids enjoy the sculptures and learn about the different countries.
Need more fun family ideas in Cincinnati? Check out these 35 Fun Things To Do In Cincinnati With Kids.
Sawyer Point Park & Yatesman Cove
Stretching a full mile, Sawyer Point Park boasts beautiful views of the Ohio River. The park is home to various playgrounds, public art, tennis and sand volleyball courts, walking paths, and a splash park! Sawyer Point is home to many large festivals and events, including many walks and runs, concerts, and other cultural events.
1000 Hands Every Child’s Playground
This all-inclusive playground is located under the “Big Mac” bridge offers tons of shade. This playground is huge, offering something for every child. Ramps make it easy for strollers, wheelchairs to navigate all twists and turns that this playground offers.
The park is home to a fun steamboat-themed play structure. It has a lot of levels, slides, a rock wall, and so much more. There are picnic tables all around the playground so pack a lunch!
Tip: Right next to the playground is the sand volleyball court, so bring sand toys if the kids want to play in the sand if there isn’t a game.
A few words of advice, this playground is extensive, with lots of levels and exits. While it is fenced off from the parking lot, there are plenty of spots where littles can venture further into the park. If you are bringing multiple children, I would bring an extra set of hands along to help for your sanity.
This was the first playground that offered monkey bars designed for smaller children. I didn’t have to hold my four-year-old daughter up because she could touch the ground while holding them. It boosted her confidence!
Otto Armleder Spray Park
Tucked away closer to the street is the Otto Armleder Spray Park. It is the perfect spot to cool off on hot summer days while taking in those gorgeous river views. The splash park does have bathrooms nearby for changing or potty breaks. The splash park used to be a pool back in the ’90s but has since turned splash park.
Smale Riverfront Park
With sweeping views of the Roebling Suspension Bridge and the Ohio River, Smale Riverfront 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 board game 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.
The Black Brigade Monument
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.
Splash Areas At Smale Riverfront Park
There are four water features at Smale that are perfect for cooling off. Two different spray fountains, Main Street Spray Ground Fountains and Pichler Spray Fountains near the carousel, are ideal for running through and light up at night. The water play feature west of the Roebling bridge resembles a creek with stepping stones, and then there is the Archimedes’s Screw.
The popular Archimedes’s Screw is a massive screw that lifts water out of one pool while being twisted. The water pulled out, then recreates historic floods as it flows into a three-dimensional model of Cincinnati’s riverfront.
Carol Ann’s Carousel in 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.
Playful splash fountains greet guests as they make their way to Carol Ann’s Carousel. 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. They also have a charming tiny gift shop full of carousel-themed gifts.
Fun fact: They offer birthday parties at the carousel!
On the same terrace as the Carol Ann Carousel, you will find the Schmidlapp Event Lawn. Check the Cincinnati Park schedule to see if they have any events going on. We have visited for puppet shows, music programs, and yoga.
Smale Riverfront Park is located at 100 W Mehring Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202. It can be found between Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ball Park.
Bike and Scooter Rentals At The Cincinnati Riverfront
Another great way to take in the majestic Ohio riverfront parks is by biking along the trail that connects them. The Cincinnati Red Bike Rental offers guests the opportunity to rent bikes throughout the city. Lime and Bird Scooter rentals are also available.
Restaurants Along The Cincinnati Riverfront
There are tons of great restaurants found near the Cincinnati Riverfront. Feast on a rack of ribs at Montgomery Inn, quench your thirst at the Yard House or enjoy lunch with a view at Moerlein Lager House. The area with the most options will be at the Banks, which is across from Smale Riverfront Park.
The Banks is situated between the Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ballpark. Restaurants such as Taste of Belgium, Tin Roof, Condado Tacos give guests various options. Visit a Cincinnati staple with a stop at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse. Montogermy Inn is between Sawyer Point Park and the International Friendship Park.
Attractions Along The Cincinnati Riverfront
There are quite a few attractions along the Cincinnati Riverfront for guests of all ages. Whether it is catching a Red’s game at the Great American Ball or seeing the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, the riverfront comes alive as we cheer on our home teams.
Another must-see is the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The Freedom Center is rooted in the stories of the Underground Railroad, they illuminate the true meaning of inclusive freedom by presenting permanent and special exhibits that inspire, public programming that provokes dialogue and action, and educational resources that equip modern abolitionists.
The Escape Game is another engaging activity that has you work together as a team to escape one of the themed rooms. Piece together the puzzles to escape in an hour! I highly recommend the playground-themed room for a fun adventure.
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