Nearest big city: Cincinnati
Warren County is well-known as Ohio’s “largest playground,” and Mason, which sits on the southwest side of its boundaries, certainly plays a big role in that.
The Cincinnati suburb of 34,000 is home to plenty of well-known spots for family fun. There’s the Kings Island amusement park, which boasts over 100 rides, roller coasters and attractions, and the Great Wolf Lodge, a sprawling, year-round indoor waterpark that’s just around the corner. There’s also the Lindner Tennis Center, which plays host to the annual Western & Southern Open (greats like Roger Federer and Serena Williams have even played there).
A true standout, though, is the city’s newly opened Makino Park, a 23-acre butterfly-shaped playground designed with inclusivity and accessibility in mind. The park was championed by Rachel Kopfler, a local mom and president of the Mason Parks & Recreation Foundation. Inspired by her son’s disability, Kopfler worked for more than a decade to raise funds and see the park to completion.
While Mason’s residents clearly enjoy plenty of recreational opportunities, the economy is strong in this small town, too. Thanks to companies like Procter & Gamble, Cintas and Luxottica, the city has seen jobs jump 10% since 2015. According to projections, another 12% increase is in the cards by 2025.
By all accounts, Mason’s schools are top-notch, as well. Niche named Mason’s school district No. 4 in the state this year, and the local high school has a 97% graduation rate. A whopping 71% of students take part in Advanced Placement courses. — Aly J. Yale