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“Great indoor activity for the family” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45203-1103
+1 513-287-7000
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Ranked #5 of 190 things to do in Cincinnati
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Activities: Arts and crafts
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Attraction details
Owner description: For a four-in-one educational experience, you can't beat this complex of three museums and OMNIMAX Theater housed in a beautifully restored Art Deco train station. Cincinnati Museum Center houses the Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Duke Energy Children's Museum, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX Theatre, the Cincinnati History Library and Archives and special exhibition space.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Milwaukee, WI
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“Great indoor activity for the family”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2014

We had a very nice time at the Museum Center on our last day in Cincinnati. We decided to come here with our kids (ages 11 mos and 2.5 years) for a half day before driving back home to Milwaukee. We saw all 3 museums located inside the Center in approximately 3.5 hours, but we were definitely rushed (by time constraints to get back home and by a 2.5-year-old active little boy who won't stop for longer than 2 seconds to look at anything). :)

This would be a great place to get an annual pass or membership if you'll be coming to Cincinnati often because it's indoors, in case the weather is not cooperating, and it's so easy to just come for an hour or two and check out 1 or 2 of the museums (especially the Children's Museum if you have little ones).

Here are my lists of likes, dislikes and tips for the Museum Center:

Likes:
1. The building itself is GORGEOUS! If you love architecture or history, you will love just admiring this building. The inside is HUGE! and again, gorgeous! My hubby and I are architecture buffs so we could have stared at this place all day and explored all the nooks and crannies ("Oh, look! There's where the train ticket windows used to be!"). I think the building is still an Amtrak station as well...

2. You can explore all 3 museums (Natural History, Cincinnati History, and Children's Museum) for one low price. If you're planning on visiting more than 1 of the museums, it's cheaper to get the pass for all three.

Highlight of Natural History Museum--the cave! This was a replica of an actual cave and weaves you up, down and all around in very dark, tight spaces like a real cave! It was very, very cool! It also has a handicapped/stroller walk that is not so extreme. Fair warning--my 2.5-year-old was a bit scared to do the "advanced route" but eventually agreed to go in. Also, be aware that some of the "tight" spots are very narrow and you have to walk sideways. They have poles at the entrance that give you an idea of how tight it is so you can see if you'd fit in between. :)

Highlight of the Cincinnati History Museum--trains, streetcar, and paddle steamboat. I have to admit out of all 3 museums, this was the one I was least excited about, but it ended up being worth it! My son loved watching all of the trains in the replica of the city as well as climbing aboard the streetcar and paddle steam boat.

Highlight of the Children's Museum--letting our 2.5-year-old run off some energy! Ha! I would say that this area is best suited for 2-7 year olds. Older kids would probably get bored. There is a younger kid area for under 4 years old where we took our 11-month-old daughter to play for a bit. Just like other children's museums there was the usual pretend play areas (grocery, house, cars, trucks) as well as blocks for building. The best parts were a ball area (my son's favorite spot) where you can throw balls and launch them into different tubes, etc., and a GIANT water table area. Beware, even though they provide waterproof aprons for the kiddos to wear, they (and you) will get wet.

3. You can bring your lunch/snacks and eat in the huge atrium. There are plenty of tables situated in this area that you can sit and eat. There is also a small deli and a Starbucks in the atrium in case you get hungry or need your caffeine fix.

4. There's parking in an adjacent lot for $6. And there's a free "shuttle" (think oversized golf cart) that will bring you to the front doors (as long as you don't have a stroller, bummer).

5. There are other things to see and do for an extra charge (like a theatre and changing exhibits. The changing exhibit that was going on while we were there was the Diana exhibit, which I would have liked to have seen, but it was not in the time constraint that we had).

Dislikes:

1. Both the Natural History Museum and the Cincinnati History Museum (more so the Natural History museum) weave you around a predetermined route. So you can't just go to a particular spot, you have to follow the path. We've been to other museums (including our own in Milwaukee) where if you want to see just the dinos, you can go to the dino area and skip the rest of the stuff. I guess in saying that, it could be a good or bad thing. The good being that because we were from out of town, it was nice to be able to see the other things in the museum instead of only the dinosaurs as our 2.5-year-old would have preferred. The bad being that if the dinos are not at the beginning (which, by the way, they are not), your 2.5-year-old will ask incessantly when he will get to see them.

2. There is a pretty substantial hill to climb from the parking lot to the front doors. We've found that most of Cincinnati is covered in hills so we came to expect that by the end of our vacation, but just be aware of it. If you don't have a stroller with you, you can flag down the aforementioned "shuttle" to take you to the front doors.

3. Lastly, just be aware that the museum is located in a what I would consider to be a questionable neighborhood. My hubby and I are all for saving money when we can so we usually look for street parking for places like this instead of paying the parking fee, but we determined that it would be best to be closer to the museum and within a designated lot.

All in all, I'm not sure that we need to go back to the Museum Center now that we've been there, but if we happened to be in Cincy again and the weather was yuck, we might consider it if we needed something to do (especially the Children's Museum because my son definitely was not ready to leave that area).

Visited May 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CincyMuseum, Digital Engagement Intern at Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, responded to this review, June 19, 2014
Thank you for your positive comments about Cincinnati Museum Center! We love hearing how much you and your family enjoyed your time at the museum, and we appreciate your review! Hope you’ll come back soon!
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Oakland, Maryland
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Almost too much to do!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2014

I visited here with my cousin, brother, sister-in-law, nephews (ages 3 and 6) and my mother. We loved walking through all the various museums located in this building. The only extra thing we paid for (other than food and souvenirs) was the dinosaur exhibit. The kids loved each museum we visited and our only regret was that we didn't have time to see everything.

Visited July 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Loveland, Ohio
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Perfect for the family!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2014

We bring our kids often. They range from age 1 to age 10. Everyone loves it and the little ones are even willing to go to the areas geared toward the older kids. I would do the Children's Museum last though. The kids will NEVER want to leave that area!

Visited April 2014
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CincyMuseum, Digital Engagement Intern at Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, responded to this review, June 19, 2014
Hi Faith!
We are ecstatic to hear you and your family enjoyed your time at the museum! Thanks so much for posting a review and we can’t wait to have you back soon!
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Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“For a great day...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2014 via mobile

Whenever we travel to visit family and friends in Cincinnati, we've made a point to stop here. Not only is it such a beautiful building with great history but the exhibits are always enjoyable. The world-renowned Princess Diana exhibition is not to be missed!

Visited April 2014
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Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Trains, Planes, and Dinosaurs”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2014

I love the mosaics and the variety of museums available under one roof. The History Museum is my favorite, but the Children's Museum may be the most popular. Christmas trains are always well done and a major attraction. The Gift Shops are great fun! The exhibits are interesting, but a few are 'old-fashioned'. The annual pass is a great value, but I think the daily rate per museum is rather stiff. My only other comment is regarding the Cafe which needs to improve it's menu more than it has.

Visited December 2013
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CincyMuseum, Digital Engagement Intern at Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, responded to this review, June 10, 2014
Hi Patricia!
Thanks so much for your review! It is with feedback like this that Cincinnati Museum Center can continue to improve our customer service to better meet your needs and provide you with the best possible experience while visiting. We have many exciting projects we are currently working on but hope to update the rest of the museum in the future. So glad to hear you've enjoyed your time at the museum and we hope you'll be back soon!
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