Smale Park – A Guide to Our Favorite Cincinnati Riverfront Park

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 with the Roebling Bridge in the background

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!).

Swings at Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati, Ohio

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.

Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati, Ohio
Foot piano at Smale Riverfront Park

For the younger set, don’t miss Great Adventure Playground at Smale Riverfront Park (seen below).

Overview of the playground and city skyline in Cincinnati

The playground includes lots of climbing features, large multi-person slides, a mister, a rope bridge, and more.

the rope bridge at Great Adventure Playground in front of the Cincinnati skyline

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.

black brigade statue smale riverfront park

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.

Great American Ballpark and fountain / sprayground at Smale Park
roebling with kids smale riverfront park

In addition to the water playgrounds, there are other water features to admire. There are “water curtains” which fall from glass balconies above.

water features at Smale Riverfront Park

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.

fountains and steps at Smale Riverfront 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).

A sign for the Ohio River Trail in Smale Park

We walk these paths often and the bikers and scooter riders enjoy the wide paths as well.

people riding scooters with swings in the background

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).

Woman walking along the path near The Black Brigade Monument

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.

Paul Brown Stadium and the green space at Smale Park

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.

lawn smale riverfront park

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.

The labryinth maze at Smale Park

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.

carousel at Smale Park

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.
Smale Riverfront Park
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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.

8 thoughts on “Smale Park – A Guide to Our Favorite Cincinnati Riverfront Park”

  1. The City of Cincinnati did a great job on the park. I go down all the time to take pictures and my three daughters rarely want to go. I took them down on Saturday and Sunday and they had a blast. They are now asking me to take them downtown to Smale. It’s amazing how a little water and lights change their perception.

    The fountains are absolutely beautiful.

    A few minor critiques. They need more seating at the fountain jets down below similar to fountains up top. I’m not that impressed labyrinth but the kids seemed to like it. It just seems like a lot of space that could be better used. Not sure what though. I’d like to hear some more sounds/music near the river. Maybe some old caliopy style music you might hear on a steamboat in their heyday.

    All in all a wonderful start.

  2. No where in any description of the park is the parking explained. Some details are needed as to parking where and rates per hour or times etc!

  3. Joe, keep in mind that this is not the park’s site. I am simply writing about my experience at the park. There is parking under the park as well as on surrounding streets. Parking meters are $2 per hour. You would have to contact the company that runs the parking garage to inquire as to their rates.

  4. I love the article.could you please help me?i have went down and looked for this park two different times….I never could find it nor could my husband.silly I know…I also wondered about parking.thank you for addressing that.could you also tell me where the parking garage is located.as I cant find the park im sure the parking garage is eluding me.what street is it on ?what else is near? thank you for your help.

  5. Hi Kimberly, Smale Riverfront Park sits between the Reds stadium and the Bengals stadium. If you drive down 2nd street (going west to east from 75), you’ll see the entrance to a parking garage that goes underground. That is a great place to park. You can also park along 3rd Street at the meters (when permitted of course). Here’s the site for Smale Park in case this might be more helpful: https://mysmaleriverfrontpark.org/

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