One year ago I took Parker on his first plane ride. He was 5 months at the time, and I was still a little nervous. My mom and dad were traveling with us and I had comfort in knowing he couldn’t walk yet. Over the years I had seen so many parents travel with young kids with ease and I was hoping one day that could be me. I wanted to know their secret to keep their kids entertained while waiting for their flight to board.
Last week I had the opportunity to finally figure out what the secret is! I wanted to share with you since spring break and summer are right around the corner. Don’t be afraid to fly or travel to the airport with young children anymore. Let me show you a side of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport you haven’t seen. This will show all you need to know to make the next time flying in or through CVG a breeze.
The adventure begins
If you have small children in tow the first decision is how you are going to maneuver through the airport. Are they being carried, taking a ride in the stroller, or walking independently by themselves? In any event, the airport can be a fun new adventure for them. If you have questions about what you can take check out TSA’s Traveling with Children FAQ.
The one thing I dread when I was traveling with Parker, is any airport you travel to suggests getting there 2 hours ahead of your scheduled flight. But if you are like my family, there are those times where you are running late. Have no fear though, you can check the wait times here. If flying with a stroller, there is a designated stroller line that will help you cut some time off. Please note, the stroller will have to be put on the conveyor belt to be checked.
If you are a more frequent traveler and want to save even more time, sign up for TSA PreCheck.This service will help you speed through security and don’t need to remove your: shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets. The cost of service is $85 and is good for 5 years! You just need to sign up online, have a quick 10-minute in-person background check & fingerprinting, and then you are all set if approved.
Where are you going?
After going through security stroll down the escalators and let the fun begin. I am always curious as to where other travelers are going, just noisy like that. CVG put up these boards called, “Where Are You Going?” Passengers can write their destinations up or even a dream destination. Stop by and write where you are going, check out fellow travelers and their possible exotic destinations they are off to. This would be a fun time with kidsthat are a little older to find the furthest destination and make it a game!
Train ride, moving sidewalks, or a leisurely stroll?
Now that you have seen where others are traveling to, it’s time to get to your Concourse. Do you take the train, moving sidewalks, or take a leisurely stroll to get some energy out of those kids? I highly recommend taking the train, how often can you say you took a car, train, and plane to your destination? Plus it’s a fun and possibly new experience for the kids. Remember we are trying to entertain those kids and make this a memorable time so they will want to do this again! Haha. It is not safe or recommended to use moving sidewalks if you are in a wheelchair or have a stroller.
Congrats you made it to your concourse! Whether is to concourse A or B, there is so much to do to entertain those little ones! From walking trails, play areas, something sweet to bargain, adult libations, dinosaurs, food for all, and so much more!
Walk It Out
One of the best ways to wear a kid out is making them walk. With my luck, CVG has a ‘Fit-to-Fly’ walking path in both of their concourses. You can find detailed route maps located on walls in the Transportation Tunnel, in both concourses and in baggage claim. Each sign will show you the exact distance one and two loops are. This is also a great way to stretch your legs before you jump on that long fight, or in a step challenge where you just need to come in first.
Breastfeeding, pumping, or just a quiet place to feed the baby
If you are traveling for work, or with your child, you will most likely need a quiet place to yourself. The airport provides “Mamava” rooms for that particular reason. They are located in each concourse and by baggage claim. Whether you are breastfeeding, pumping, or need a quiet place to feed a distracted baby, they are perfect. I, unfortunately, couldn’t breastfeed, but this would have been ideal for when Parker was little and got very distracted when taking his bottle. The best part about this little room was the notes left by previous mamas. You are encouraged before you leave the room to write on a post-it note for the moms that will come after you. This was such an inspiring thing to see, women supporting other women they don’t even know!
I had no idea these play areas existed in the airport. They will be a total lifesaver when it comes to our next flight with Parker and the new baby. There is one located in each concourse so no matter what you will be covered.
Go up the elevators, go to the right, towards Starbucks. Hang a left, and on your right, you will find ‘Kids Landing.’ It was absolute perfection for a small child to roam around and burn off some of that energy. There are animals you can sit on, a slide, look out the window to see real-life airplanes, and an area for the parents to relax in. The location of the play area might be hard to find, but it is in a great location right by food. If you don’t want to sit in one of the many restaurants in Concourse A you can always bring the food in this area with you!
Up the elevators, you will see a big food court with yummy options, walk right through there and you will find a play area on your left. For this play area, CVG teamed up with the local Cincinnati Zoo. It has all sort of incredible vibrant colors, life-sized animals, and a wall where you can be imaginative with your kids. Pretend they are the animals in the zoo. On the way to the play area pick up food from one of the many options that are just around the corner. If you happen to be traveling with another adult just send them or while the kids play, send one of the adults to the many food options just around the corner. Right outside the area is tables and chairs so you can eat while still seeing your children!
Dinosaurs, oh my!
While Union Terminal was under construction the past year, they loaned some of their dinosaurs to the airport. I can honestly say I have never been to an airport where there have been dinosaur bones. With construction being done at Union Terminal, they aren’t certain how long the bones will stay at the airport. Hopefully, they stay, because it is a unique experience that the whole family loves!
A Sweet Bargaining Chip
Sometimes you need to bargain with your kid if you want them to do something. Most of the time it includes food like candy, ice cream, etc. Don’t worry when you are in CVG and you need to start making some bargaining with a child, they have you covered!
Natalie’s Candy Jar
Located in both terminals you will find ‘Natalie’s Candy Jar.’ This is the ultimate bargaining chip for any circumstance. They have the old fashioned candy jars filled with all your favorites, ie: coke a cola gummy, every flavor of Laffy taffy/ Jellybean/M&Ms, chocolate dipped anything, sours, and much more! You just grab a plastic bag and start filling. If you don’t want to make your own bag and looking for something in particular, they also have you covered. I might add this is ideal for those pregnant mamas in your life!
A true Cincinnati cuisine that is a must try for everyone, Graeter’s! They are located in Concourse A and I highly recommend. The chocolate chips in their ice cream are as big as a quarter. They offer samples, so make sure to try them out and get your favorite. Some of the flavors I recommend trying are Black Raspberry Chip, Chunky Chunky Hippo (after Ms. Fiona,) Buckeye Blitz® Chocolate Chip, and Double Chocolate Chip.
An Adult Timeout
We have been so focused on keeping those kids entertained, you are probably wondering about yourself. How are you going to survive this trip? Don’t worry, there are plenty of places for you to get an adult beverage. You will find many options in both concourses, find the whole list here. If you are looking to check out some local food and beer made right here in Cincinnati, I suggest heading to Concourse A. There you will find both Christian Moerlein and Sam Adams taprooms, which are both brewed right here in town. Moerlein actually just opened in the airport at the end of last month and has a beer that is dedicated to them. The beer is called, ‘Jet CVG’ and is a German-Style Schwarzbier. I wasn’t able to try it (pregnancy strikes again) but others enjoyed it and highly recommended it!
Need a last-minute Cincinnati gift or had an accident?
There is nothing worse than your kid having a diaper/potty/food accident on themselves or worse you! You are realizing you forgot to pack an extra shirt or onesie. There is no need to fret, located in both concourses you will find a vending machine full of Cincinnati related gifts. Why would this help you are wondering? In this Cincinnati themed vending machine you will find shirts in all sizes and a 6-12 month onesie! You are saved and can continue to trave as nothing had happened.
This vending machine will also come in handy when going to visit someone and you need a last minute gift. You would never know it came from a vending machine at the airport!
A Couple More CVG Tips:
- Grab a kid’s activity sheet from the information desk located in each concourse. Sidenote: they are Crayola crayons!!
- Bring an empty water bottle- refill stations are located in both terminals.
- Family restrooms are located in each terminal
- Free WiFi is available
- A ton of family-friendly restaurants. Find an entire list here.
- Highchairs in the Concourse B food court
- Forgot something? Find a list of stores that will carry last minute item you may have forgotten (including diapers) here.
- There is a park located near the airport, where you can watch planes. (Donaldson Highway, very close to Mineola Pike). The best time to watch for planes is 6-8am.
If you are looking for more resources for traveling through CVG with kids make sure to check here. Learning another side to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has definitely made me more excited to fly with Parker next time. Traveling should be a fun experience for the whole family, and not cause a ton of stress. I hope this helps the next time you are traveling through Cincinnati!