Nine of my favorite summer things to do in Cincinnati By Brian Mains | WCPO

CINCINNATI – The weather is getting warmer and Memorial Day is almost here.

That can only mean one thing – summer in the Queen City is about to get lit.

Whether you're all grown up or a kid at heart, here are a few of my favorite things to do in the hot months ahead.

Kings Island

6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason

Photo courtesy Kings Island

It wouldn't be summer in Cincinnati without a visit to Kings Island. The amusement park opened in 1972, a few years before I was born. When I was little I couldn't wait to ride the Boulder Bumpers each summer at Hanna Barbera Land. In middle school someone's parent would drop all the neighborhood kids off at the park, where we'd ride roller coasters until someone got sick. This season I'll take my nine-year-old nephew to ride Mystic Timbers and Diamondback. We'll probably grab a blueberry soft-served ice cream, too.

Sunlite Pool

6201 Kellogg Ave., Anderson Township

Photo courtesy Coney Island

There are a lot of places to swim in the Queen City, but none are quite like Coney Island's Sunlite Pool. Sunlite opened as the world's largest recirculating pool in 1925. For decades a paddle boat ferried swimmers from Downtown and up the Ohio River to Coney so they could escape the stifling summer heat. The pool survived Coney's drastic downsizing after Kings Island opened in the 1970s. Coney's owners added a tiki bar to the pool area and upgraded other amenities in 2017. The pool still draws large crowds and chairs go quickly, which is why I always take an oversized beach blanket for the lawn area. Sunlite Pool opens for the season at 10 a.m. May 26.

Rooftop Bars

Photo by WCPO

I always love to get a new perspective and cool off by visiting any one of the growing number of rooftop bars and patios in the Queen City. The AC Upper Deck at AC Hotel Cincinnati at The Banks and the rooftop deck at Commonwealth Bistro join places like the Cocktail Terrace at the 21c Museum Hotel and Top of the Park at the Phelps as great places for summer sipping this season. Check out my list of favorite rooftop locations here.

Ludlow Bromley Yacht Club

860 Elm St, Ludlow, KY

My summer wouldn't be complete without visiting the Ludlow Bromley Yacht Club at least a few times. The floating barge's decor is kitschy, the bar is always well stocked and the kitchen serves different dinner specials most weeknights. The yacht club isn't the only place on the river worth a visit. I'm also a fan of the Sandbar, Cabana on the River, the Monkey Bar & Grille (located on the Little Miami River) and Pirates Cove. I also plan to check out the recently opened 13 Below Brewery in Sayler Park soon.

Hyde Park Blast

Hyde Park Square, 2700 Erie Ave., Hyde Park

The Hyde Park Blast is a daylong event in Hyde Park that takes place in June each summer. The day begins with a run/walk, followed by a team chariot competition and then a professional cycling race. There is also food, drinks and live entertainment throughout the day along Erie Avenue. I went to my first Blast last year and was literally blown away (see video above) while cheering participants during the evening bicycle race. This year's Blast will take place 8 a.m.-midnight June 30.

Soft-serve Ice Cream

Photo by WCPO

Greater Cincinnati has so many seasonal soft-serve ice cream stands it would be a challenge to visit them all before the end of summer. It is a challenge I'd gladly accept by starting at the seasonal Dairy Queen stand that's a couple blocks from my house. Check out my list of classic neighborhood places to take care of that sweet tooth.

Open-air Markets

The City Flea

I visit so many open-air markets each summer it is hard to name a favorite. The monthly City Flea urban flea market at Washington Park is great for browsing local crafts while enjoying a beer. The first City Flea of the season is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 19 and is part of the OTR 5K Summer Celebration. Future markets take place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 16, July 21 and Aug. 18. Some of my other favorite markets include the Hyde Park Farmers Market, which is held every Sunday from May 20-Oct. 28, and the Covington Farmers Market, which is held every Saturday from May-October. I missed the first new WestSide Market held in May but plan to go to the next one on June 2.

The Little Miami Scenic Trail

Photo by Brian Mains

I pulled my bicycle out of a decadelong retirement last summer to ride the Little Miami Scenic Trail with friends. That turned into meeting multiple Saturday mornings in Loveland for 15-to-30-mile leisurely adventures along the mostly shaded and flat trail. My friends and I typically picked somewhere to grab lunch, either along the route or in Loveland after we returned. This summer we plan to take a 22-mile tour of local craft breweries along the bike path. Planned stops include Narrow Path Brewing in Loveland, Little Miami Brewing in Milford and Fifty West Brewing in Columbia Township. (If this sounds appealing but you don't have a bike, don't worry. You can rent one from multiple businesses along the trail.)

A Feast of Festivals

Warm weather in the Queen City also means the return of festival season, and this year I'm really excited for a few. The following are "musts" for me.

  • First up, I plan to get my fill of good food at the 40th annual Taste of Cincinnati, which takes place May 26-28. This year's unofficial summer kick-off will feature 33 area restaurants and 18 food trucks along Fifth Street, Downtown, from Main Street to the ramps of I-71 and Columbia Parkway. There will even be a Music Bash with the B-52s and Rick Springfield at Taste this year.
  • After spending a week recovering from so much eating, I'm going to the Bunbury Music Festival, which will be June 1-3 at Sawyer Point and Yeatman's Cove. Each year I find a new band I like at Bunbury. This year's headline acts include the Chainsmokers on Friday and Incubus on Saturday. I'm most excited to see headliner Jack White close out the festival on Sunday.
  • As far as favorite performers go, the Roots are right up there with Jack White. I can't wait to see the neo-soul hip-hop group perform at the Cincinnati Music Festival, which will take place July 26-28 at Paul Brown Stadium. The Roots will join Boyz II Men, Fantasia, Common and Keith Sweat alongside festival headliners Jill Scott and Charlie Wilson. DJ Jazzy Jeff and MC Lyte will open the festival during Throwback Thursday.
  • In between Friday and Saturday's Cincinnati Music Festival acts, I'll swing by the third annual Cincy Soul food festival. The festival focused on minority-owned businesses will take place July 27-29 on Fifth Street in front of Fountain Square. I ate some of the best short ribs at last year's Cincy Soul. The festival has grown to three days this year and will feature 50 local vendors, according to organizer Julian Rodgers.
  • Summer festival season wouldn't be complete without a community Fourth of July celebration. Patriotic festivals on my list to attend include Red, White and Blue Ash, the Northside Fourth of July Parade or my hometown city of Independence Fourth of July celebration.

Catching My Breath

Ault Park

With everything going on this summer, I'll probably need to make the time to nap underneath a shady tree with a good book at one of my favorite public parks. I might do this multiple times before I saying goodbye to summer at Riverfest with the Western & Southern/WEBN Fireworks, which will take place Sept. 2 along the Serpentine Wall at Yeatman's Cove.

Created By
Brian Mains


Photos by WCPO or provided with permission

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