For many Tristate residents, the first major heat wave of the year is met with the switch to shorts and sudden-onset cabin fever. Luckily, there are many local options for outdoor recreation. And even luckier, all the recreational activities you could want fall under the umbrella of MetroParks of Butler County.

MetroParks of Butler County is a bit of a misnomer, says Senior Manager of Community Relations Kelly Barkley. “Most people think that Butler County gives us funding for the parks,” she says, “but they don’t. We’re a separate political subdivision. The people own the parks.”

There are 10 parks open daily all across Butler County. “Voice of America Park is way over on the East side of the county and we have parks all the way to the West side of the county with Governor Bebb Park,” says Barkley.

While these parks are open year-round, spring, summer and fall are the seasons that see the biggest spike in visitors. “Hike, bike, walk on trails, play on playgrounds, picnic…just enjoy nature!” says Barkley, urging Butler County residents, whose admission is free with a motor vehicle permit, to visit the parks. These permits can be picked up at several locations around the parks, as well as at the MetroParks administrative offices. People from other counties may visit with a $5 daily permit or a $10 annual permit.

In addition to everyday activities like fishing, boating and hiking, MetroParks also offers a number of summer programs, like the Crazy Cardboard Regatta. Visitors build large boats out of cardboard and race them in Voice of America Park.

Family fun is a big part of MetroParks’ programming, with events like Walk on the Wild Side, a free monthly nature walk, and weekly Hump Day Concerts, which give attendees the opportunity to bring lawn chairs and relax near the lake at Voice of America Park. “When you’re thinking of unplugging from the world, there’s nowhere better,” Barkley says.

However, MetroParks isn’t all fun and games. Conservation is a big part of MetroParks’ efforts. According to their website, “No less than 80 percent of MetroParks’ properties are to be managed in a mostly natural undeveloped state.” MetroParks works to maintain their parks through efforts like addressing water contamination and installing a green composting restroom at the Chrisholm Historic Farmstead.

All 10 parks of MetroParks of Butler County are open daily from 8 a.m. to dark. Overnight camping is available in Governor Bebb Park.

For more information call 513-867-5835 or visit yourmetroparks.net.