Several years ago, I started a tradition with my brother and two cousins. One Saturday or Sunday during the summer, the boys (yes, I'm the only female…it can make for interesting conversation) hop in my car and we breeze down I-71 for the roughly hour and a half trip to Kings Island.
What began as a fun way to take a "kid's trip" without our parents has now morphed into an event that we look forward to every year. And even though we're all over the age of 18, I'm still giddy over the idea of embracing my inner child while spending the day riding coasters and eating Dip-n-Dots.
Located a bit north of Cincinnati, Kings Island has been an operating amusement park since 1972 and features roller coasters, thrill rides, a Peanuts-themed kids' area and even an adjacent water park.
If you've never been before or simply need a park refresher before making a visit this summer, we've got some must-see attractions, highlights and tips.
*PLANET SNOOPY: Aimed to a younger audience, Kings Island's kid's section features more than a dozen rides, from a low-key Character Carousel to the Great Pumpkin Coaster. And don't forget your camera for a photo opportunity: You'll find your favorite Peanuts characters like Charlie Brown and Linus roaming around Planet Snoopy.
*THRILL RIDES: There's no shortage of exciting roller coasters. The Beast, one of my personal favorites, is wooden and known as one of the world's longest. Fair warning, though: Because it's wooden, expect it to rattle you around a bit. I also love Diamondback, which is much smoother and a fairly new addition to Kings Island - it was built in 2009. Other can't-miss rides include Drop Zone, which takes you 315 feet in the air, and Flight of Fear, an indoor coaster. For family rivalry, the guys and I like to face off on The Racer, where two coasters begin on side-by-side tracks. One inevitably beats the other, and we can never figure out if there's a rhyme or reason to which will win. Keeps the competition interesting!
*EATS: Moms and Dads can relax, because there's a Starbucks on premise! Finding a place to eat at Kings Island doesn't require much effort. You'll find places local to Cincinnati like Skyline Chili and the new Reds Hall of Fame Grille. I'm a fan of Festhaus, an indoor food court which gives you a chance to grab a bite while taking a break from circling the park all day in the heat.
*CAN'T MISS: Who knew you'd get a taste of France right here in Ohio? The focal point of Kings Island - trust me, it's hard to miss it when you first walk in - is their version of the Eiffel Tower. At more than 300 feet tall, it certainly can't compare to the original, but you're able to take a trip to the top and see for miles. My helpful hint: Start here so that you can scout out the lay of the land and familiarize yourself with the different areas of the park.