Here we are with another installment of “365 Things to do in Cincinnati” and today we’re featuring one of our favorite Cincinnati Parks, Smale Park.
Smale Riverfront Park sits along the Ohio River near the base of the Roebling Suspension Bridge. This 45 acre park spans the riverfront area between Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark and includes a carousel, multiple playground areas, water features, giant swings, walking paths, monuments, and more.
I must say that I am INCREDIBLY impressed with what they’ve done with this space, with this park, and the entire area. It’s nothing short of amazing.
The park is divided into two levels. The upper level features the Schmidlapp Event Lawn, the carousel, and two of the spraying water features. The largest part of the park can be found on the lower level, wandering all along the Ohio River bank.
Playgrounds at Smale Park
Young and old will enjoy the play spaces at the park! You’ll find giant swings that overlook the Ohio River (a true favorite for all ages!).
A foot piano, a larger-than-life chess board, more water play, and a flying pig you can climb inside? You’ll find it all along the play area that is parallel to the river.
For the younger set, don’t miss Great Adventure Playground at Smale Riverfront Park (seen below).
The playground includes lots of climbing features, large multi-person slides, a mister, a rope bridge, and more.
Historical Monuments at Smale Park
The park pays tribute to The Black Brigade with a monument commemorating the voluntary service of hundreds of African-American men during the Civil War. The monument tells the story of The Black Brigade and all 700 member’s names can be found on the walls along the path.
Water Features at Smale Park
The park features multiple “splash pads / fountains” where kids can play in the water (seasonal, of course). You’ll find one close to the Reds stadium (shown below), one close to the bridge, and one near Carol Ann’s Carousel.
In addition to the water playgrounds, there are other water features to admire. There are “water curtains” which fall from glass balconies above.
And don’t miss the cascading fountains that line either side of the steps that connect the upper level to the lower level of the park.
The biggest water feature along Smale Park is the Ohio River. See Our Favorite Cincinnati Parks Along the Ohio River to extend your riverfront walk!
Walking and Biking at Smale Park
Smale park offers plenty of flower and tree-lined walking and biking paths (paved).
We walk these paths often and the bikers and scooter riders enjoy the wide paths as well.
Cincinnati Red Bike rentals are available at the park. Scooter rentals are available in various downtown spots; basically, you have to just find one on the sidewalk and rent it (no home base for scooters).
Picnic and Lounge in the Green Space Overlooking the Ohio River
The park includes 12 acres of lawn space – the perfect place for a picnic. Many full sized trees have been planted around the park, making it easy to find a shady spot to enjoy the afternoon.
Below you’ll see the Schmidlapp Event Lawn and Stage. This space is actually a green space over the parking garage! The green space joins The Moerlein Lager House on the east and the cascading water fountains and steps (seen above) border it on the west.
More Things To Do at Smale Park
You’ll find a huge labryinth near the base of the bridge. Meander along the wide paths which are flanked by tall grasses.
Carol Ann’s Carousel is on the upper deck of the park. You’ll find it inside a large glass building. There is a small fee to ride the carousel. Learn all about the installation and history of the carousel here.
Where Do You Park?
Plenty of parking is available in the garages that are part of The Banks and the rate is relatively reasonable on non-game days. You can enter the parking garage from 2nd Street, Joe Nuxhall Way, or Mehring Way. Metered parking is available along the streets as well.
Our Tips for Your Visit to Smale Riverfront Park:
- Wear comfortable shoes and leave lots of time to explore. There’s a LOT to see and do here.
- Check the schedule to see if the carousel is open before you make any promises to the kids. Summer hours (April 1 – August 31) are supposed to be 11am-4pm from Thursday to Sunday. We have, however, arrived within those hours only to find it closed.
- And if you’re going to ride the carousel, do it before the kids get wet. They are NOT allowed to ride with wet clothes.
- Kids in tow? Pack some towels and a change of clothes in case they get wet.
- Pack some snacks and water/drinks. While there are lots of restaurants along nearby 2nd Street, there’s not a whole lot of options for the purchase of a quick bite to eat when someone gets “hangry”.
- The park does has public restrooms. They are somewhat close to the playground in the middle of the park.
- The Cincinnati Bell Connector (our streetcar) is free and there’s a stop on 2nd Street, close to Great American Ballpark. You can take a ride around downtown to see the sites.
I would highly recommend that you take a trip downtown, especially if you haven’t been down there in a while. The Banks development and Smale Park will surprise you. It’s an incredible asset for our fine city, one to truly be proud of and enjoy!
Smale Park is located at 100 W. Mehring Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. It is just south of 2nd Street, between Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium.