*Special thanks to Northside business co-owner Sarah Thomas of Grey Rock Development, for compiling this guide.
Northside is chock full of family-friendly options that make it fun for all ages. Take advantage of our parks, programming, and kid-friendly establishments, guaranteed to be a good time. Read on to learn about classes and programs, recreational facilities, where to hang out with the neighborhood’s cutest bunny, or share a great family meal.
HAPPEN, INC. (www.happeninc.com)
Happen is a non-profit organization that offers FREE programming for children and teens. Combining 3 storefronts, 3 community gardens, and innumerable public events, Happen, Inc. provides an invaluable asset to Northside’s children and families, with creative programming like making sponsored holiday wreaths to decorate Hamilton Avenue, or their free summer grill outs. The Happen team invites you to “stop, watch, and make it Happen” via a multitude of events and ongoing programs:
- HAPPEN’S TOY LAB is a program allowing kids and their companion adult/s to select 7 pieces of donated or recycled toys to create their own one-of-a-kind piece. The program encourages participants to apply their imagination to exhibiting the reuse of valuable material, while offering a creative outlet for fun.
- HAPPEN’S MAKE IT SPACE combines science, technology, engineering and nature to children and parents. The space is on Chase behind Happen’s main storefront and is an ever-changing “experiment window” exploring creative connections.
- HAPPEN’S COMMUNITY GARDENS encompass three locations in Northside, each having their own purpose, promoting fresh food, work ethic, and the joy of being outdoors.
- HAPPEN’S BREADWINNERS program is for 13-17-year-olds, meeting weekly to design, print, and sell t-shirts to teach the basics of screen printing and the adventure of running a small business.
- HAPPEN’S TEEN HALL occurs monthly, with teens meeting on a Saturday to share a meal and an activity, learning a different valuable topic each time. These events may cover anything from building a resume, or job skills, to organizing neighborhood cleanups.
- HAPPEN’S KIDS FILM CRITICS is the third Sunday of each month. Kids get to watch a movie, discuss, and write their own reviews. This is a fun, interactive way to explore ideas and themes in each film.
- AFTER SCHOOL ART PROGRAMS offer a traveling circuit of activities at area churches and schools providing 80+ activities to kids and parents.
- COMMUNITY CANVAS strives to bring art to communities by bringing large-scale prints of famous works to schools and community centers by weaving strips of a complete image through chain link fences to install for public viewing.
- LIGHTS, CAMERA, LEARNING IN ACTION is a collaborative film project that lets kids team up to work on writing, producing, and filming a short film. Participants take several weeks to learn everything from casting to costumes and end with a red carpet premier!
- LET’S PLAY WITH CLAY brings the fun of ceramics to kids and parents by teaching techniques and history of clay work.
WORDPLAY CINCY (www.wordplaycincy.org)
WordPlay Cincy is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help Cincinnati’s young people fulfill their potential through reading, writing and storytelling. They offer three models of programming: community-based, school-based and mobile programs.
- COMMUNITY-BASED PROGRAMS are FREE and open to K-12 students across the region, taking place after school, on Saturdays and during the summer. These programs combine reading and writing with movement and creative, project-based learning. Programs for the upcoming fall include weekday workshops in playwriting, comic book writing and social justice writing; Scribes, a performance poetry group for teens on Saturdays; and additional Saturday storytelling workshops for grades K-5 and 6-8. (For enrollment information, please visit WordPlay’s website.)
- SCHOOL-BASED PROGRAMS are embedded within local schools, allowing WordPlay to reach students where they are and eliminate many barriers to access. These programs include in-class projects such as Readers Theater and Poet Trees, as well as the WordPlay Writers Room, located at Aiken High School.
- MOBILE PROGRAMMING takes place off-site and in partnership with other organizations, such as Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati.
For more information about WordPlay’s programs and mission, please visit www.wordplaycincy.org.
NoteAble provides FREE high-quality music education for kids aged 7-13, and access to regular performance opportunities such as with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra as part of their SUMMERMUSIK series in 2017. NoteAble students currently meet Monday-Thursday from 4pm-6pm, with founder and classically trained musician James Meade, at 4041 Hamilton Avenue above WordPlay. NoteAble offers school year and summer camp guitar programs, contact James Meade, [email protected] for more information.
MOBO BICYCLE CO-OP
MoBo Bicycle Cooperative is a non-profit volunteer-run cooperative dedicated to making cycling accessible and practical to everyone. Located within the Village Green Foundation building (1413 Knowlton Street), MoBo provides a welcoming and communal workspace, knowledgeable volunteers, and the tools and parts for cyclists of all ages and skill levels to repair, maintain and acquire bicycles. Members learn from and teach one another by sharing knowledge and experience. MoBo boasts amazing classes and programs for all ages, encouraging people to come and rescue bicycles, and learn how to fix and maintain them.
- OPEN SHOP happens Wednesdays 6pm-9pm, and Sundays 2pm-5pm, and is for members to use the shop for working on their bikes, or to adopt a new old bike.
- ADOPT-A-Bike aims to get more bikes on the road and by operating on donations they’re able to accept either parts or entire bicycles to be adopted by a new, loving owner.
- KID’S DAY occurs every Monday in the summer, helping local children acquire bikes and receive valuable guidance on bike maintenance.
Visit MoBo Bicycle Co-Op’s website calendar for information about classes and workshops.
THE VILLAGE GREEN FOUNDATION
The Village Green Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing diverse people together for the purpose of community building, learning about urban organic agriculture, and access to healthy food. They offer 20 garden plots for growing vegetables and flowers using sustainable, organic methods, and also offer periodic programs on topics like composting and container gardening. For more information, contact [email protected].
McKIE RECREATION CENTER
McKie Recreation Center is a public facility located at 1655 Chase Avenue. It is open Monday-Saturday and offers a spacious fitness center, gymnasium, computer lab, game room, kitchen, meeting room, outdoor basketball, playground, teen lounge, outdoor pool with diving board, and outdoor garden plots for rent. McKie offers programs and classes including Senior Club, Teen Group, Youth programs, Adult classes and much more. All programs are open to the public, membership rates vary depending on age and type of use; passes are sold with Day, Quarterly, or Annual options. For more information, call 513-681-8247, or contact Mck[email protected].
NORTHSIDE FARMERS MARKET
Northside Farmers Market happens year-round every Wednesday, rain or shine, from 4pm-7pm. NFM is located inside North Church (4222 Hamilton Avenue) from October to April, and in Hoffner Park (4101 Hamilton Avenue) in the summer months. Northside Farmers Market features 25-30 vendors selling produce, fruit, bread, cheese, pastries, jams, meats, ferments, soaps, gluten-free baked goods, spices, chocolates, coffees, handmade crafts and more. Each week NFM provides a free kids’ craft and live music, and throughout the year there is also special programming like cooking demonstrations, kids’ cooking classes and other special events. Northside Farmers Market accepts payment via Cash, Credit/Debit, SNAP/Food Stamps, Produce Perks, and is accessible by Metro Bus Routes 15X, 16, 17, 19, 20, 27, and 39, either directly or within walking distance of the market. For more information, contact [email protected].
NORTHSIDE PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Northside branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County is located at 4219 Hamilton Avenue, open Monday-Saturday. It is ADA accessible, offers free wi-fi, computer/internet access, has a book return, a reserve order pickup section, a meeting room, and off-street parking. The Library hosts a multitude of events and programs for everyone including, but not limited to, Cool Science for kids, Knitting for adults, Movies for teens, Preschool Playtime, seasonal crafts and more. For more information, visit their website.
- The Northside 4th of July Parade (www.northsidejuly4.com), organized by the Northside Community Council, is quite possibly the best day of the year in Northside! Northside residents, friends, and neighbors come together lining the parade route along Hamilton Avenue for the inimitable 4th of July Parade. Bring your family, set up some chairs along the sidewalks, and watch local businesses, marching bands, dance groups, politicians, nonprofits, and many more creative entries parade down the avenue. The parade begins at the Greater Bethlehem Temple at the corner of Hamilton and Ashtree, and ends in Hoffner Park, followed by the Northside Rock N Roll Carnival.
- The Northside Rock n Roll Carnival (www.northsiderocks.com), organized by the Northside Business Association, is an annual 2-3 day event occurring in conjunction with the 4th of July holiday. It features local musicians, craft vendors, local beer, food trucks, and entertainment for the kiddos, to create the perfect family-friendly summer event, and it’s FREE to everyone!
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Northside is fortunate enough to have, and be in close proximity to, a variety of parks, green spaces, trails, playgrounds, and outdoor facilities.
- Jacob Hoffner Park sits on the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Blue Rock Street and is the summertime home of the Northside Farmers Market. The large tree-lined green space contains a central pavilion, playground, walking paths, and a centrally located water fountain!
- Fergus Park sits on the corner of Chase Avenue and Fergus Street. Through a combined effort of residents, volunteers, and a KaBOOM! grant, the park was renovated in 2016, and contains a wonderful state-of-the-art playground.
- Jergens Park sits on the corner of Bruce and Hamilton Avenues, offering a quieter fenced-in setting while still containing great playground facilities. This park also has a small shelter with picnic tables, and an easily accessible water fountain.
- Parker Woods is located just one block off of Hamilton Avenue at the intersection of Bruce Avenue and Haight Street, with additional trail heads on Crawford Avenue near Dane, and at the East end of Thompson Heights Drive. The park boasts significant natural areas, hiking trails, a playground, wildlife watching and so much more. The trails, paved or natural, can also be accessed right behind Parker Woods Montessori.
- Buttercup Valley Nature Preserve is located at the end of Stanford Drive and connects to Parker Woods forming a contiguous green space of roughly 89 acres. Buttercup Valley attracts the avid hiker with some steep inclines and wooded trails, and boasts forests untouched since the pioneer days.
- Mill Creek Greenway Trail transforms the Mill Creek corridor and watershed by offering a park, recreational paved trails for walking, biking or running and some adjacent soccer and baseball fields along Spring Grove Avenue in Salway Park. There is a special project along the trail, created by Northside resident Josiah Wolf, called Space Walk, described as “an after dark immersive visual art installation designed to convey the true scale of our solar system, both in terms of the size of the planets and their distances from the sun. Following a linear path spanning 3/4 of a mile and at a scale of 3.5 Billion:1, this walkable installation replicates the vastness of space in a tangible way.” Grab the family and take an evening walk while taking in the vastness of space!
- Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, established as a non-profit cemetery in 1845, is known for it’s breathtaking grounds. Along with the renowned distinction of being the second largest cemetery in the United States, Spring Grove Cemetery is also proud if its designation as a National Historic Landmark. Although it is devoted to its primary use for cemetery and funeral services, the 733-acre garden “serves as an incredibly beautiful horticultural educational facility,” and offers extensive paths and natural sights to visitors. The mission of Spring Grove’s Arboretum is to collect and display woody plants to enhance the educational, outreach, and research opportunities for its visitors. They also offer tours, concerts, historical and community related events throughout the year. Check their calendar for upcoming events.
- Mt. Airy Forest, Cincinnati’s largest park, established in 1911, includes 1,459 acres with miles of trails for hiking and horse riding, a treehouse, dog park, and disc golf. Mt. Airy has two forest lodges and three picnic areas that can be reserved, as well as two council areas for organized youth group overnight camping. There are 23 picnic areas within the park, complete with tables, charcoal grills and swing sets, and also an arboretum with specialty gardens, gazebos, and a lake.
DINING + SHOPPING
Northside’s business district has many options for family-friendly dining and shopping. Families can enjoy a full day of fun here, grab a quick bite or Sunday brunch, pick up a birthday cake, browse children’s music, books, vintage toys and games, and more!
KIDS’ MENU OFFERINGS:
Ruth’s Parkside Café, the Littlefield, Sidewinder Coffee, Melt, Happy Chicks Bakery, Tickle Pickle, Boswell’s, Blue Jay Restaurant, Chameleon Pizza, and Park Diner (coming soon!)
REGULAR MENU THAT KIDS WILL LOVE:
NYPD Pizza, Kitchen Factory, Arcade Legacy, the Comet, and Bridges Nepali Cuisine
SWEET TREATS THAT ARE SURE TO PLEASE THE WHOLE FAMILY:
Bonomini Bakery, Happy Chicks Bakery, Dojo Gelato, the Chocolate Bee, and For Goodness Shakes & Juicery
STORES WITH KIDS’ OFFERINGS:
– NVISION, Casablanca Vintage, and Chicken Lays an EGG have vintage kids’ clothes, toys and games
– Shake It Records has kids books and music
– Spun Bicycles has kids bikes and accessories
FUN NEIGHBORHOOD BUSINESS PERKS AND QUIRKS:
– Melt hosts a weekly kid-friendly Game Night called “Let’s Hang!” This event takes place on Wednesdays 6pm-9pm in the sun room, stocked with new and classic board games of all kinds.
– Growing Trade Pet & Plant hosts a Canine Coffee Club Pop-Up Dog Park in their fenced in courtyard, every Saturday morning 9am-12pm through October, and featuring Sidewinder coffee for pet parents; human children are welcome too!
– Sidewinder Coffee’s resident bunny is available for friendly courtyard visits from May to November each year.
– Free lollipops for kids at North Side Bank.
– Free arcade games for kids every Sunday at Arcade Legacy.
– Penny candy is available at Anybody’s Dream shop.
*Did we miss some Northside family fun that you’d like to let us know about? Send us a message at [email protected].