Spring break fun close to home

Columbus and Cincinnati have places to stay and play.

Splashing, smiling, giggling, playing and, even, learning — you don’t have to travel far to enjoy some serious spring break fun.

Some of the top children’s museums, zoos and aquariums are just a short drive away.

So if you want to get away from it all without getting too far from home, you can make Cincinnati or Columbus your spring break destination.

Cincinnati area

Stay …

Great Wolf Lodge: From scream-inducing to serene, the 93,000 square-foot indoor entertainment center hosts more water attractions than any of the resorts in the region. You can pack the whole family into a raft to brave River Canyon Run or race each other to the bottom of Alberta Falls.

Spring break: Packages available for spring break as well as for extended stays of three or more nights include waterpark passes, nightly Story Time in the Grand Lobby as well as Cub Club activities. Visit www.greatwolf.com/mason/waterpark.

CoCo Key Water Resort Cincinnati: Tropical colors, oversized parrots, sandcastles and the 84-degree temperature set the tone at CoCo Key Water Resort. Connected to the Crowne Plaza Cincinnati North, CoCo Key brings a bit of the tropics to Cincinnati.

Spring break: Extended hours during Spring Break through April 1. Day passes are available. Visit www.cocokeycincinnati.com.

And play …

Cincinnati Museum Center: Family friendly with something to spark the interest of mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and kids of all ages, the Cincinnati Museum Center includes the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science and the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX Theater.

Spring break: Purchase a Museum Center membership through April 7 at a $20 discount. Visit www.cincymuseum.org.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden: Starting today both the random and scheduled animal encounters will be in full swing.

Spring break: The Easter is Egg-Citing annual celebration takes place next Saturday, March 30, with treat stations, children’s activities, an egg hunt and a visit from the Easter Bunny. There will be an explosion of color as Zoo Blooms runs from April 1-30. Visit http://cincinnatizoo.org.

Totter’s Otterville: Where can your child watch a puppet show, create a craft masterpiece, dive into a ball pit, ride a train and punch the clock in a pretend restaurant, grocery store or flower shop? Give up – it’s Totter’s Otterville in Covington, Ky. A variety of outdoor activities are also open – weather permitting.

Spring break: From scavenger hunts and tea parties to gardening presentations and Dora the Explorer Activity Day, there are events and craft projects planned almost every day. Visit www.tottersotterville.com.

Newport Aquarium: Visitors to the aquarium in Newport, Ky., can peacefully enjoy the largest jellyfish exhibit in the Midwest and pet a shark at Shark Central all in one day.

Spring break: The Penguin Parade, lorikeet feeding and animal care demonstrations are held daily. Visit www.newportaquarium.com.

Columbus area

Stay …

Fort Rapids: With four thrilling slides, a lazy river and an adult-only hot tub, those seeking adventure or relaxation can find something to do at the 60,000-square-foot Western-themed resort. The Gold Rush Arcade and gem mining offer some dry fun and there are multiple dining options on site.

Spring break: Packages include accommodations, waterpark passes, breakfast, voucher for a large pizza, $20 in Arcade Cash, and a 25-percent off coupon for the gift shop. Valid through April 15. Visit www.fortrapids.com.

CoCo Key Water Resort at Cherry Valley Lodge: A peaceful arboretum and botanical garden offer a perfect balance to the thrills of the indoor water adventures. CoCo Key Water Resort at Cherry Valley Lodge offers all the splashing the kids crave with the relaxation mom and dad need as the Newark resort also houses a full-service spa.

Spring break: Packages available for spring break and Easter can include accommodations, water resort passes, pizza, soft drinks, snacks, brunch and even an Easter egg hunt. Visit www.cherryvalleylodge.com.

And play …

COSI: Learning and fun go hand-in-hand at the Center of Science and Industry — COSI.

Spring break: Mindbender Mansion and Amazing Mazes, a new temporary exhibit running through April 28, is a collection of individual and group activities that tease the brain and help kids think way outside the box. Visit http://cosi.org.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: With more than 10,000 animals representing more than 575 species from around the world, there is always something to do and see and no two visits are ever the same.

Spring break: Check out Eggs, Paws & Claws Featuring Bugs Bunny on March 29-30 with the Aqua Bunny, an animal egg hunt and treat stations throughout the park. Visit www.columbuszoo.org

Skyzone: If jumping on their bed makes the kids smile, they will be downright ecstatic at the sight of wall-to-wall trampolines at Skyzone. Everyone can get in on the fun at the giant indoor trampoline park.

Spring break: For open and walk-in jump times as well as release forms, visit www.skyzone.com/columbus.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens: Nature and art join forces to provide memorable and enriching experiences at Franklin Park Conservatory.

Spring break: From a magic show to celebrate Harry Houdini’s birthday to an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party, Family Fun events are held weekly. Visit http://fpconservatory.org.

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