Mitchell Memorial Park – Cleves, OH

Old Dam that you can barely see through the trees.
This is one of those trails that invites you in!

We came across Mitchell Memorial Forest on the Hamilton County Park site and decided to go check it out.  This place is a small hidden gem of a park.  We walked down Wood Duck Nature Trail.  The shot at the top is of an old dam. The pond area that it traps is full of lilies!  We unfortunately missed them blooming.  You can barely see this dam from the family friendly trail. You will have to do a little walking off trail to get this close. It was only a small detour and well worth the trouble.  Michael kept the kids on the trail.

Lilies

Wood Duck Nature Trail
Small Creek that was mostly dry and perfect to walk in. Ivy looked for fossils.
She found a few bugs. She loves bugs!

We enjoyed the trail which is only about a mile.  Ivy played in an almost dry creek.  She found bugs and flowers to check out.  After we were done with the trail we went to play at their playground.  It was small but cute.  The only issue we had with this playground was that there was no shade.  It was very hot and sunny on this day.  It did not take long and the kids were ready to run for the shade of the neighboring trees.  There is a small, short shaded path right by the playground.  There is a decent bathroom right by the playground.  You also pass a lake as soon as you enter the park.  They only allow catch and release fishing here.  Fishing for fun, not dinner.  There is a shaded picnic area not far from the playground.  This is a nice place to have lunch if it is not in use.

 
Off to Find Another Adventure

The Info:

Website: http://greatparks.org/

Location of Mitchell Memorial Forest: 5401 Zion Rd. Cleves, OH 45002

Features park offers: 3.9 mile mountain bike trail, hiking, picnic areas, playground, and catch and release fishing only.

Cost: Free because we purchased a park pass on a previous visit. If not it is $3 for the day or the year pass is only $10!

Time: To slowly walk the trail, taking in the sights, and taking photographs you will need 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Another 10 minutes to do the small playground trail. You could easily spend half the day here: Fishing, Walking the trail, Biking the long trail, playing on the playground and having a picnic lunch

 

Indy Music Fest in Covington, KY

We were visiting family and went for a post-dinner walk.  While out we stumbled upon Indy Music Fest at the edge of Goebel park in Covington, Kentucky.  Now I am not an Indy music super fan but the festival was free so we decided to wander in.  Isabella enjoyed dancing to the music.  It was right next to the playground so we walked around the fence and let the kids play for a while.  Their playground is small but it has the basics.  The kids did a little swinging.  We were able to watch the show from there.  They also had some basic fair food and beer that I did not partake in since I was stuffed from dinner.

Ivy was thrilled with the dunk a musician booth.  After the bands played one of them would climb into the dunk booth.  For a dollar you could throw a ball and hopefully dunk them.  She hung out here watching long after her turn was over.  There were surprisingly a few other people with children here.  There was no rule against them being there but I have been to many places that they were the only little kids there.  There was not a huge crowd which made it easy to let even the toddler walk holding a hand.  There were Cd’s for sale in case you found somebody you loved.  The bands were also giving out listings of there upcoming concerts.  It was good advertisement for them.

Isabella busting a move!

While this was fluke, it was a fun way to spend an hour for free.  You know I like free entertainment!  As the hour got later the crowd started to swell.  That was when it was time for us to head off.  This is another good tip: If you want to take your kids to more adult places the early hours when it is not as busy is best.

The Details:

What: Indy Music Fest

Where: Goebel park in Covington, Kentucky

Cost: Free!

How long: About 1 hour but it went on for way longer

Shawnee Lookout Park – North Bend, Ohio

First Lookout

A great park with loads to do! We went in search of a hike that was family friendly but still reasonably difficult. I love the outdoors. I’m not happy to simply stroll down paved paths all the time. I do not mind the paved paths that many parks offer but occasionally I want something a little more rustic. This park has that!

Ohio River View

Upon entering the park you will pay for either the day or a year pass. The year pass is only $10. It gets you into all Hamilton County Parks. If you live in the area and will be visiting the parks more then three times it makes sense. If you do not buy a year pass it is $3 to enter. You can get a park map at this time. It’s helpful in getting around but not necessary. At the end of the road, up a small hill is the small parking area for Miami Fort Trail. The path leading to the Shawnee lookout is dirt and rock. Very hilly! If you enjoy a little history this is a fun trail as well. There are signs for various historic sites along the trail. This was once a Shawnee camp. There are burial mounds and storage pits with markers. Wildlife is every where you look. We encountered frogs, bugs, butterflies, a snake, mushrooms, and many types of trees and plants, including flowers. You feel the technological world slip away for a while. It’s a nice feeling. It makes me feel lighter to let go of everything in the world when I step into the trees. There are views throughout the path. You simply have to stop and look when you get to the first viewing spot. It is a great view! At the end of the main trail is Shawnee lookout point. The view from here is amazing! You can see three states from this point: Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky! It’s a neat thing to know that you are seeing all three at once. The only issue with the view is the fact that it is marred by the bridge for the interstate.

Shawnee Lookout Point-South View
South View from Shawnee Lookout Point

If you do the entire trail including the small loop path this is perhaps an hour to an hour and a half. Keep in mind that we had a toddler in a lightweight jogging stroller with tires made for this kind-of stuff. This was handy except for the various stairs along the way. The long set of stairs on the small trail were the worst with the stroller! I highly recommend that if you bring a stroller to make sure it is lightweight and to bring two adults! I carried the back while my husband carried the front. You go down the stairs and directly up another set. Please be warned! If you are not decently fit I suggest sticking to the main trail and not bringing a stroller. Some of this trail even without the stroller would be hard for one person to haul a 20 to 40 pound toddler down. If you are the outdoorsy type of family, like we are, this is right up your alley!

Nature can be surprizingly beautiful

 

This is out where the path is barely visable!
Jump little froggy
There is no substitute for letting a child get hands on with Nature.

There are other things to do at this park besides hike. As you leave the path parking lot and go down the hill you will see a park on the right side. There are bathrooms here. They are a long way from nice but they get the job done. Next to the bathrooms is a decent park with small tee pees. They are cute and a good photo op for mom. Behind the playground is a huge field. Bella, my 1 year old, enjoyed running through this field. Ivy, my 10 year old, was more intrigued by the dragonflies that were at the back of the field. She is an inquizative, adventurous spirit, like her mother in many ways. I am proud of the fact that I have passed this on to her.

Next to the playground is a covered picnic area. It is large and has easy access to the play equipment. Across the parking lot, up a small hill is a more secluded picnic area. There are picnic tables set up in a small clearing in the woods.

Inside the big tube at the playground
A huge empty field to run is a toddlers dream!

Sliding

After we were done with our potty, snack and play break we went to check out the historic log cabin and spring house school. This was a neat learning opportunity. The log cabin is a transplant that somebody donated. They had it moved to the park. The spring house school is original to the area. It is the stone building in the photo. The upstairs was used as a school house. The down stairs was used as a spring house for drinking water. The grounds around the two buildings are pretty. Behind the cabin is a herb garden. There is also an old timey fire pit, a stone well, and rock paths. There are signs to tell you the historical points.

Cabin

Herb Garden
The Spring House School
Door to the spring house in the basement.

There are additional things that we did not get to on our trip. There is a visitor center with archaeological exhibits, bathrooms, snack bar and pro-shop. Some other things to do here include golfing, fishing, and boating. We spent about four hours on our trip to Shawnee Lookout Park. I would like to go back and enjoy some of the other things they offer. There is also two additional hiking trails.

The Details:

Website: http://greatparks.org/parks/shawneelookout.shtm

Price: $3/day or $10/year pass

Hong Dragon Chinese Restaurant – Versailles, IN

Is it possible to get decent Chinese food in a small country town in Indiana? I would have thought no but then I stopped off at Hong Dragon in Versailles, IN. This is not fancy Chinese food but the food is great and so are the prices. After a day of hiking or boating at Versailles State Park this is one of the best options for affordable food in the area. If you are looking for something really hot order the General Tso’s and tell her extra, extra spicy. They will ask if you are sure. Say yes and pay extra if it’s asked but it normally is not. If you do not like your food spicy try their vegetable Lo-mein. It is inexpensive and a real treat. I also liked their Sesame Chicken, Fried rice, Crab Rangoons, Egg Rolls, and their Lo-mein varieties. They make everything fresh. It takes about 20 minutes on most nights to get your food. You can call ahead but I found it more interesting to stay and enjoy the family dynamic of the place.

On a side note: This place is easy to miss when heading down South Adams toward Madison. They are by a Dairy Queen. If you pass all the stores & businesses and hit houses and countryside you have gone too far. Turn back and try again.

The Details

Location: 1014 S Adams St, Versailles, IN

Phone: (812) 689-3088

Cost: Less than $10 a person