Families eager to get out of their homes for the vacation don’t have to go far, with some of Ohio’s biggest theme parks, zoos, and other attractions kicking off new experiences this summer.
The new offers cover the whole range from baby animals to exhibitions and rides. Best of all, the destinations are close enough to make a day trip if you’d rather skip overnight. Most require the purchase of tickets online and have specific safety precautions in place, so be sure to visit the site’s website for up-to-date policies and details before you go.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and Zoombezi Bay
4850 Powell Road, Powell; 614-645-3400; columbuszoo.org and zoombezibay.columbuszoo.org
There’s a lot going on at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium this summer, including the birth of a baby elephant in mid-June to mom Phoebe. The new calf joins his brother Beco, who drew a crowd of admirers after his birth in 2009. The zoo also has a new habitat for rhinos in the Asia Quest region and a new indoor environment for orangs- utans.
Kids will enjoy Dinosaur Island Return, a boardwalk area and boat ride that features over 30 animatronic dinosaurs with moving eyes and sounds. At Adventure Cove, a new family roller coaster called Tidal Twist debuted. The coaster, which has a rotating element, replaces the Redwood Falls log canal tower.
Zoombezi Bay retains all of its old favorites and will continue Zoombezi Bay Summer Nights, a series of six film screenings on Fridays. Kids 13 and older can plan ahead for a new Halloween experience, ZOMBIEzi Bay, with four haunted houses and two spooky areas. The Sea Dragon roller coaster and other rides will also be open. The event takes place on weekends from September 17th.
Hours: Zoo – 9 am to 7 pm daily in summer; Zoombezi Bay – usually 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily
Cost: Zoo – $ 16.99 to $ 21.99 for adults; $ 11.99 to $ 16.99 for children ages 3 to 9; free for children 2 and under; Zoombezi Bay $ 30.99 for adults, $ 24.99 for kids ages 3-9, free for ages 2 and under online, with slightly higher entry prices. Some experiences and rides at the zoo incur additional charges.
505 Euclid Avenue, Akron; 330-375-2550; akronzoo.org
Akron Zoo opens Lehner Family Foundation’s Wild Asia exhibit featuring animals from Southeast Asian jungles and Himalayan forests. Families may spot three endangered species, including two Sumatran tigers, Eko and Diburu. The exhibit also features three red panda siblings (Lulu, Coco and Penny) and gibbons.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day
Cost: $ 13 for adults, $ 10 for children 2 to 14 years old, free for 1 year olds and under
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
3400 Vine St., Cincinnati; 513-281-4700; cincinnatizoo.org
There is always something new to discover at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. This year, families can explore an expanded play area and ropes course at Roo Valley, the Kangaroo Show. Kids of all ages can take the self-guided Zoo Blooms tour and see thousands of plants and flowers by following the zoo’s horticultural expert on a downloadable app. A Spotify playlist has specially designed background music for the exhibit.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day
Cost: $ 14.50 to $ 26 for adults, $ 8.50 to $ 20 for children 2 to 12, free for children 1 and under; One must reserve
More summer fun:Summer fun is back: Check out some of Columbus’ best family deals
1 Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky; 419-627-2350; cedarpoint.com
Cedar Point Amusement Park is celebrating its postponed 150th anniversary with events throughout the summer. The Celebrate 150 Spectacular parade each evening commemorates the defining moments in Cedar Point’s history with music, fireworks and performances. Families will want to try out the new Snake River Expedition boat ride attraction. Cedar Point Nights is offering special beach activities starting August 6th.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. most days; Cedar Point Shores Water Park has different hours
Cost: $ 39.99 to $ 79.99; save money by buying tickets online
6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason; 513-754-5700; visitkingsisland.com and visitcampcedar.com
This season’s new attraction at Kings Island is Camp Cedar, an on-site accommodation option that will allow families to stay overnight or for a weekend. The complex offers cabins and motorhome spaces on the land adjacent to the park. Camp Cedar has family facilities such as swimming pool and indoor / outdoor restaurant. Children will enjoy the surprise appearances of the Peanuts characters throughout their stay.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. most days; Soak City Water Park has different hours
Cost: $ 45 to $ 75; save money by buying tickets online
SCIENCE AND ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
Great Lakes Science Center
601 Erieside Avenue, Cleveland; 216-694-2000; greatscience.com
The summer theme for the Great Lakes Science Center is “Science Under the Sun,” which takes the hands-on learning for which the center is known for the outdoors. The tents will host stations where children can participate in projects such as large-scale crafts and design challenges focused on rotating themes such as robotics, space and machines. Inside the facility, families can still explore the hundreds of permanent exhibits and experiential learning.
Hours: Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Cost: $ 16.95 for adults, $ 13.95 for children from 2 to 12 years old, free for 1 year old and under; advance purchase is required
1 Discovery Trail, Toledo; 419-244-2674; imaginationstationtoledo.org
Imagination Station launches its KeyBank Discovery Theater, a 4K big screen experience where kids and families can watch educational films on topics like nature, geography, art and adventure. While the science center is open for in-person tours, new virtual experiences are also available, such as Just Tinkering, for families who want to complement their visit with a video and a free activity kit.
Hours: from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays
Cost: $ 14 for adults, $ 12 for children aged 3 to 12, free for children 2 and under
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., Cleveland; 216-781-7625; rockhall.com
There are several new exhibits at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, including the expanded Legends of Rock & Roll attraction that spans four floors. It highlights iconic moments and artists, and features museum vault objects that have never been on display to the public. The new Super Bowl Halftime Show exhibit highlights costumes, instruments and memorabilia from legendary artists spanning more than two decades.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. many Saturdays
Cost: $ 28 for adults, $ 18 for children 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under
This story is from the Summer 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.