Family Friendly Tips for Visiting Great American Ballpark: Home of the Cincinnati Reds

The Great American Ballpark was the final ballpark stop on our 2019 MLB trip, and it was a hot day when we visited.  I mean end of times hot; where not even slushy machines could function. True Story: I tried to cool the kids down with a slushy, and found out when I tried to fill up the cup that it was basically sugar slop.  

I wanted to make sure that I gave this ballpark a fair review, which was hard because I HATE being hot.  When I look back at this game, I remember that my legs were sweating (who knew legs could sweat like that?) and our seats NEVER found shade.  This is the game that forever changed the way that we buy tickets for day games, so that shaded seats are a priority now.

The Great American Ballpark has probably one of the best ballpark names,  and is home to one of the oldest franchises in the MLB. Due to the Reds long history, the team has a dedicated, energetic fan base.  There are a lot of reasons to love this ballpark, and it’s a great destination for a family friendly night.

Arrive Early and Line up by the Outfields for Batting Practice

Gates open 90 minutes before game time for most home games and we found that a large crowd was waiting to enter before the gates opened.  

This was the first game that we had traveled to that was a sell-out crowd, and this particular game had a lot of visiting fans for the Chicago Cubs.  We got a little taste of what a Cubs game will be like during “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (and we can’t wait!).

Great American Ballpark is a smaller ballpark, which makes it easier to hit homeruns, and this always makes batting practice more exciting.  While the boys didn’t catch any balls during batting practice, the baseballs were definitely flying into the stands. Make sure to bring your glove!

Take a lap around the concourse

Great American Ballpark has some amazing photo ops around the concourse.  Our favorite was this entrance mosaic. In 2019, the team was celebrating 150 years of Reds history, and had this special prop in front of the famous mosaic!  We also liked that you can walk all the way around the concourse in a full loop.

Take in the Carnival Atmosphere

The Reds know how to entertain.  Before the game we saw stilted jugglers walking around the concourse and Reds Crew Cheerleading and Dance Troupe entertained on the Crosley Terrace.  They definitely pumped up the fans waiting to see the game.

Also there was a live music area by the Fan Zone.  While B and I watched our kids have the time of their lives playing wiffle ball, we could also listen to some great music and sip on an adult beverage in the shade.   

Plan to spend time at the First Star Fun Zone, especially if you have children

Little leaguers lined up to bat at the “built to scale” wiffle ball court in the Fun Zone. It was great to see the kids swing their hardest, and celebrate like major league players when they hit one out of the park.

This area is staffed to keep the line moving, and after batting practice the kids can take the field and make plays.  Overall, this was their favorite part.

Behind the wiffle ball field is a free virtual reality Homerun Derby game.  My kids are always a fan of these virtual reality games! There are pay to play carnival type games in this area too.

Have younger kiddos?  The Playground area was a perfect break area with fun play structures.  And as a parent I always appreciate it when a playground area is fenced and has one entrance / exit area.

NEW in 2020:  There is a TriHealth Family Zone located in right field corner of the view level of the Concourse.  This area is a nursing station, playground, batting cages, and spectacular river views.  

Unique Cincinnati Eats

We got our obligatory Skyline Chili fix the night before, but if you can’t make it into the city you can pick up a bowl of Cincinnati’s most famous chili at the game. 

Another hometown favorite is Frisch’s Big Boy: a Cincinnati staple famous for the “big boy” hamburger.  We didn’t sample this famous sandwich this time, mostly due to the heat. Am I the only one who can’t eat when it’s crazy hot out?

Check out the Smoke Stacks and Mascot Ready Race!

Located near the left field you will see The PNC Power Stacks.  Whenever an opposing batter strikes out the flames come out!  Also, the stacks will shoot off fireworks if the Reds score (which we didn’t see during this game).

During the 5th inning, pay attention to the P&G big screen to the right of the Power Stacks!  There is an animated Mascot race that we loved rooting for! We take these mascot races very seriously by the way.  Shout out to Rosie, for winning one for the ladies on the day we went!

Reds fans are knowledgeable fans, and they love the game

My boys love talking sports.  They read sports articles, they watch sports shows, they listen to sports on the radio.  So if you ever have the pleasure of sitting next to them at a game, you can count on them to add to any sports-based conversation.  So it’s always nice to meet fans who love the game as much as they do.

And man did the fans get on their feet when the Reds cleared the benches over some questionable pitches!  

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I will say that despite the heat, Great American Ballpark was an amazing experience.  I really liked how the Reds embedded entertainment and spectacle to the baseball game.  Large crowds on hot days are never easy to manage. But the Reds staff and fans made the game enjoyable!  When you visit make sure you plan to spend extra time exploring all this ballpark has to offer.

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