One Family's Guide to Summer Fun in Ohio's Largest Playground
Blog by guest contributor Nicole Sipe - Editor, Indy's Child Magazine
Fondly known as “Ohio’s largest playground,” Warren County has definitely earned this designation. Located between Cincinnati and Dayton, this area of Southwest Ohio is the destination for families looking for fun in all forms. Warren County should be on your family’s radar for your next vacation, from nationally recognized amusement and water parks to outdoor adventures and great food.
Where to Stay in Warren County
There are many great hotel and lodging options in Warren County. Here are two places we visited that aren’t just places to sleep — they’re destinations for fun, too!
Great Wolf Lodge
If you have young children, you will definitely want to check out Great Wolf Lodge, a family-friendly place to stay and play — and splash the day away — in Warren County.
Located in Mason, Great Wolf Lodge is an all-in-one spot for fun. The big draw is the indoor waterpark, which has something for everyone, with water kept at a pleasant 84 degrees. You’ll find water slides, pools (including pools with zero-depth entrances), interactive water play zones, a family hot springs pool, and much more.
You could probably spend all day at the water park at Great Wolf Lodge, but when you’re ready to take a break from aquatic fun, there’s lots more to do at this hotel. Kids (and adults!) who like scavenger-hunt challenges can play the interactive Magi-Quest, Shadow Quest and Compass Quest games that will have you walking all over the hotel to find clues and complete adventures.
And the fun doesn’t stop there. Try for a strike at Ten Paw Alley, Great Wolf Lodge’s miniature bowling alley; play a round of indoor mini glow golf; win prizes at the Northern Lights Arcade, and participate in more than a dozen different events that take place in the hotel all day long. There are storytimes, dance parties, trivia games, arts and crafts projects, and even a morning yoga session to get you limber and ready for a fun day.
Add to that the variety of restaurants and snack shops inside the hotel, Great Wolf Lodge is truly a one-stop place for a family-friendly vacation.
Camp Cedar at Kings Island
The brand-new Camp Cedar at Kings Island opened in June 2021, and it’s already proving to be the perfect place to relax, unwind and set up a home-away-from-home when you’re visiting Warren County.
Located just minutes away from the front gates of Kings Island, Camp Cedar is an excellent place for families to stay if they’re visiting the famous amusement park. There are trams that will shuttle you to and from the park all day and night. But this is also a must-visit destination in its own right, even if you’re not giving the amusement park a go.
This outdoor lodging and RV resort offers fully connected sites for motorhomes and RVs, as well as cottages that can sleep up to eight people.
The cottages at Camp Cedar are a treat for people who want the adventure of camping but also the conveniences of a hotel. Cottages come with TVs and access to Netflix and cable channels; kitchens outfitted with dishes, cups and silverware; comfy beds; and a deck with an outdoor fireplace — a great spot for making s’mores at the end of the day.
As nice as the cottages are, you’ll probably want to spend most of your time outside and enjoying all that the Camp Cedar grounds have to offer. At this modern resort, you’ll find a heated family pool, complete with a waterfall and a toddler slide. For grownups, there is an adults-only pool with a full-service bar just steps from the pool.
Kids can play the day away at Camp Cedar’s centrally located playground, and families can play a round of bocce ball, cornhole, basketball or pickle ball together. For adults, there is also a great fitness room that overlooks the family pool, with treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals and weight-lifting equipment.
When you get hungry, take a walk down Camp Cedar’s Belize Street, a food-truck-inspired outdoor dining experience that offers something for everyone. Find family favorites like burgers and hotdogs at Route 66; walking tacos and nachos at The Fresh Tortilla; and ice cream and funnel cakes at Urban Cow. Adults can grab a frozen cocktail at Beach Box, too.
Indoor dining options include Ironwood Grill & Tap, where you’ll find a full kids menu, as well as made-to-order pizzas, salads, specialty sandwiches and desserts. Or pick up some Dippin’ Dots, a scoop of gelato, or a hot cup of coffee at The Dry Bean Coffee & Gelato, the cafe inside Camp Cedar’s general store.
Whether you’re hitting the coasters at Kings Island and need a place to crash, or you’re looking for a family-friendly resort to unwind in that has it all, Camp Cedar is a great place to stay in Warren County.
Unique Family Adventures in Warren County
Warren County’s big draw is Kings Island, of course — it is the home to more than 100 rides and attractions, world-class roller coasters Orion and The Beast, and a huge water park. But if you’re looking for more under-the-radar family fun, here are some Warren County gems that you’ll want to put on your must-visit list!
Morgan’s Outdoor Adventures
If you really want to see and experience the beauty of Southwest Ohio, there’s no better way to do that than to get out into the middle of it! Morgan’s Outdoor Adventures, located in Oregonia, is the spot to visit if you’re looking to rent a kayak, canoe or raft for a trek down the Little Miami River. From your vessel, you’ll see beautiful landscapes and wildlife as you float downstream during an hour-long (or all-day-long!) guided or solo trip.
You can book either a three-mile trip, which will drop you off at Morgan’s Riverside Campground and Cabins, or a six-mile trip, which will take you further down the river to Morrow. If you have young children or children with short attention spans (like me!), you might want to opt for the three-mile trek, which, depending on how fast the river current is flowing that day, takes about 45 minutes.
No matter which trek you choose, make sure to stop at Morgan’s Riverside Campground and Cabins, where you’ll find a snack shack with plenty of options — including shaved ice — to satisfy that hunger that you worked up while paddling. If you decide to stay where you play, Morgan’s offers river-front campsites and Amish-built cabins, capable of accommodating up to four people.
A short drive away from Morgan’s Outdoor Adventures is Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve, the largest and best-preserved prehistoric hilltop enclosure in the United States. This 2,000-year-old monument site offers visitors more than 2.5 miles of hiking trails, two scenic overlooks, a museum, a seasonal outdoor garden and a picnic area.
If you have older children and are up for a little adventure, Ozone Zipline Adventures in Oregonia is the place to visit in Warren County. Do a fly-by tour of the Little Miami River from 200 feet above the ground on one of the largest treetop canopy zip tours in the Midwest. Zipline tours happen during all seasons, and there is even a full moon night ziplining tour that happens once a month, for those who want to soar through the air in the dark!
Family-Friendly Dining in Warren County
It’s hard to say what’s better at Two Cities Pizza Co.: the amazing food or the amazing restroom. (Yes, restroom!) This pizza restaurant in Mason has not only been voted Best Pizza in the Best of Warren County Awards several years in a row, but Two Cities Pizza was also the winner of CINTAS’s “2021 Best Restroom in America” contest. And when you check out the restroom (and you must!), you’ll be snapping selfies and posing for pics, too. And let’s not forget about the food! You can choose from New York specialty pizzas or Chicago specialty pizzas — they don’t play favorites here. You’ll also find great calzones, salads and their legendary parmesan fries, a must-try appetizer.
Half Day Cafe is a popular breakfast and brunch spot in Mason where you’ll find Cincinnati-area favorites like goetta on the menu, and also the classics like eggs benedict, biscuits and gravy and waffles. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, try their famous Mango Butter Rum pancakes: buttermilk pancakes topped with housemade mango butter rum syrup.
If you want a meal with a side of history, check out The Golden Lamb, Ohio’s oldest restaurant and hotel. Located in the heart of historic downtown Lebanon, the hotel was established in 1803 and now includes a restaurant and tavern, seventeen guest rooms, and a gift shop. Many notable people have visited The Golden Lamb over the years, including 12 U.S. Presidents, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and others. On the menu, you’ll find a “historic dining” section with options like lamb shank, shepherd’s pie, prime rib and chateaubriand, as well as a kids menu with options like fried chicken, grilled cheese and pb&j.
Famous for their animal cones (swirls of soft serve ice cream with a cute candy face), Tucker’s Whippy Dip in Mason is a great place to cool off with a sweet treat. Their large menu includes offerings like Dole Whip, ice cream floats, sundaes, shakes, ice cream parfaits and much more. Get your desserts to go, or stay and people-watch from their huge outdoor patio.
Find more ideas for fun and entertainment in Warren County right here on OhiosLargestPlayground.com!