West Chester, Ohio, is an excellent place for families, offering lots of unique attractions and plenty of outdoor spaces where the whole family can spend time out in the fresh air. Don’t wait to get out there — pack up the kids, pack up the car, and head out to one of these nature-filled experiences in West Chester.

Voice of America MetroPark

A female Bobolink sitting on some brush around West Chester, OH.

Image via Flickr by acryptozoo

The Voice of America MetroPark on VOA Drive sits in the heart of West Chester. The 435-acre park has lots of outdoor activities for the whole family, whether you like to hike, fish, play sports, or even go sledding after the first snow. This park features a cricket field, a sports complex, a 35-acre lake stocked with fish for the kids to catch, and a large meadow where they can run and play. And if you want to bring your four-legged family member along for some exercise, the Wiggle Field Dog Park provides an off-leash space for them to play with other dogs.

Take a hike or a walk along the 9 miles of paved and natural trails, and while you walk, keep your eye out for wildlife and the native grassland birds that live in the area, too. Audubon Ohio designated many acres of this park as Important Birding Area since it’s one of the largest breeding areas for several species of birds. Make sure to bring binoculars and look for Savannah sparrows, bobolinks, and eastern meadowlarks.

Voice Of America MetroPark stays open year-round, but make sure you get a motor vehicle permit so you can park your vehicle and enter the park. Permits are free to Butler County residents and just $5 a day, or $10 for an annual pass, for non-residents.

Dudley Woods Park

Head to Dudley Woods Park in nearby Liberty Township to enjoy 63 acres of wooded area, picnic spots, and nature trails. This park has a loop trail that follows Gregory Creek to the back of the park and then continues on through the woods. You’ll come across the restored Gregory Lake Log Cabin, which was once the home of an early pioneer family. It now hosts educational programs for all ages.

Dudley Woods Park is a popular birding spot in Butler County with migrating birds to see year-round. It’s also a fun place for fishing. Make sure the kids bring their fishing poles to try their luck in Gregory Creek — they just might catch smallmouth bass, channel catfish, or a northern hog sucker.

Keehner Park

Keehner Park sits on 123 acres of land that runs along Mill Creek. It has miles of trails to explore with paths for walking and others designated for bicycling. The Keehner Park Trail runs for 1.9 miles and crosses over the creek at two different locations. The lower 2.5-mile loop is primarily for biking, but hikers can also use it as long as they keep an eye out for bikers. 

The park also has plenty of picnic shelters for families who want to just sit and have a picnic or for renting to host an outdoor event. Plus, Keehner Park offers basketball, pickleball, tennis, and two playgrounds where the kids can run and play.

Cincinnati Nature Center

It’s just a short drive from West Chester to Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Nature Center. The mission of this center is to inspire conservation and provide educational and fun experiences in nature. The nature center features two different properties: Rowe Woods and Long Branch Farm & Trails.

  • Rowe Woods: This property is open to the public, but members can visit for free. Non-members can purchase tickets for daily admission. The Rowe Woods Trail takes you through eastern deciduous forests, along streams and ponds, and through fields. You can take the Mashburn Family Discovery Trail, which is perfect for all ages and runs for less than a mile. It features interactive exhibits, a vernal pool, and the 19th-century Abner Hollow Cabin. The Lookout Trail is also a good choice — it runs for over 2 miles, featuring native grassland with lots of butterflies in the summer.
  • Long Branch Farm & Trails: This property is only available for members. It was once a working farm but is now considered preserved land.
    • The Firefly Trail is less than a mile with open fields and beautiful big-sky views.
    • The Salamander Trail is perfect for exploring with kids. It has four creek crossings, a scenic overlook, and unique geological features.
    • The Beaver Trail takes you along the edge of O’Bannon Creek where you just might see signs of nearby beavers, like chewed-up sticks, and even come across a dam.

Fernald Nature Preserve

The Fernald Nature Preserve in Hamilton, Ohio, sits on 140 acres of wetland, over 400 acres of forests, and over 350 acres of grasslands. The preserve features three lakes and is a popular place for birdwatching. You can bring the whole family to the nature preserve for a day of quiet hiking and exploring. Some trails have fenced-off areas designed to protect emerging plants from the many deer that live nearby. The property also has nest boxes scattered around to help attract cavity-nesting birds, such as the bluebird.

Make sure to bring your comfortable hiking shoes on a trip to Fernald Nature Preserve. There are miles of trails to explore. The Hickory Trail is just under 3 miles and features beautiful wildflowers and lots of wildlife. The Sycamore Trail runs for about 2.5 miles and is also easy. It takes you through woodland habitat where you might come across migrating birds. The Weapons to Wetlands Trails is also a good choice because it features an overlook with stunning views.

We at Crème de la Crème West Chester know how important it is to get the kids out in nature and in the fresh air. This list offers a guide to many of the outdoor spaces you can use as a family, but if we’ve missed one of your favorites, we want to hear about it. Let us know where you like to experience nature in and around West Chester, and we’ll add it to the list.