Cincinnati parks offer variety of free amusements

Temperatures are rising: It’s time to crawl out of that dorm room and get some fresh air.

The tri-state area is full of free attractions to keep you busy, but not broke.

Perhaps one of Cincinnati’s best attractions is Eden Park, located on the east side. It’s the most popular park in the city, with a large walk way, basketball court, plenty of greenery, and an artsy “lake” to promenade around.

Eden Park also houses two other attractions: The Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM) and the Krohn Conservatory.

Thanks to a $2.15 million donation from The Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation, the Art Museum is free to the public.

The CAM, which opened in 1886, hosts 88 galleries. It has a permanent collection of more than 80,000 pieces, including works by Picasso, Modigliani and Miro

Traveling collections are housed in the newly renovated 10,000 square foot exhibition room.

The museum is a tribute to more than 6,000 years of history, including an Egyptian exhibit dating back to one of the earliest human civilizations.

The museum’s newest expansion, the Cincinnati Wing: The Story of Art in the Queen City, opened May 2003. The exhibit showcases sculptures, paintings and decorative art dating back to 1788.

“The Cincinnati Wing is a wonderful contrast to the international variety found elsewhere in the museum,” said NKU art professor Heidi Endres.

“The museum has so much more than painting and sculpture. Almost every academic discipline could find relevant material for study at the art museum.”

Just across Mirror Lake is the Krohn Conservatory. Built in 1933, the conservatory is home to hundreds of plants and trees, some soaring to more than 45 feet high. It also features a 20-foot waterfall.

The conservatory has several different habitats where plants from different parts of the world can grow. The habitats include a desert, a rainforest, an orchid garden and a bonsai tree collection.

Eden Park makes the perfect place for a picnic. Or you can exercise and enjoy the scenery by either foot, car, bike or inline skates.

Another favorite Cincinnati free spot is Hyde Park Square.

Hyde Parks Tudor-style homes, unique shops and tree-lined streets give you the feeling that you have left Cincinnati and traveled to England.

The square is located in the center of the city, and it’s the prefect place to people watch.

If you have a few bucks to spare, get a scoop of Graeters Ice Cream, pick a bench next to the fountain in the middle of the square, and soak up the surroundings.

Take a short stroll up and down both sides of the square, enjoying the art galleries, the shops and the beautiful architecture.

Just above Hyde Park is Ault Park. Cincinnati’s fourth largest park with more than 220 acres. It features a commanding river view, beautiful gardens and an Italian-style pavilion dating back to the early 1900’s.

Pack a lunch and make good use of the picnic tables. Each table has a great view of the Ohio River valley.

Work off your lunch with a walk to the top of the pavilion. From the pavilion roof you get an excellent 360-degree view of the valley.

With more than 100 parks and 5,000 acres, Cincinnati is littered with green space. It’s up to you to explore it.

After all, it’s free, fun and close: What more do you want?