things to do in cincinnati

Whether you are building your summer bucket list or looking for stuff to do when visiting Cincinnati, OH, there is plenty to do in this midwestern city. You can pick from activities downtown, like seeing a game at the ballpark or heading to the suburbs for an amusement park or the bike trails.

Cincinnati sits along the Ohio river, and the city planners and real estate developers have done a great job showcasing the beauty of the river. You can take notice of this beautiful aesthetic even if you are not doing an activity centered around being on the river, like walking Smale Park.

1. Loveland Bike Trail

The Loveland bike trail is an excellent option if you want to find free things to do in Cincinnati. Officially named the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail, this trail starts at the Little Miami Golf Center in Newton; it runs 78 miles to Springfield, in Clark County. It is excellent for biking, but you can also take a nice evening walk on the trail.

The historic Loveland area the trail runs through is a foodie’s dream. It is a great place to have a relaxing meal or a few beers at one of the numerous restaurants or breweries along the trail. In fact, you can spend the afternoon visiting breweries along the trail.

Some notable breweries include Narrow Path, Little Miami Brewing Company, 50 West Brewing, and Cartridge Brewing.

Because it has exercise and food options, it makes riding on the trail an excellent choice for day trips with plenty of family fun.

2. Cincinnati Zoo

Things to do in Cincinnati: Cincinnati zoo
Image Credit: Sean Foster // Unsplash

The Cincinnati Zoo and botanical garden will not disappoint if you enjoy zoos. The zoo is one of the best outdoor activities in the city.

One of the fun things to do in Cincinnati is enjoying Tunes and Blooms. It is a free-admission outdoor concert event in the spring at the zoo. You can walk around enjoying the tulips throughout the property during the concert.

3. Kings Island

If you are looking for fun things to do in Cincinnati, Kings Island is an excellent option. This theme park offers rides ranging from a carousel to a rollercoaster with max speeds of 91 miles per hour.

Kings Island is one of the larger amusement parks in the region with a focus on exciting rollercoasters. It is a 264-acre park that was initially created to expand on Coney Island Cincinnati, which was prone to flooding.

Planet Snoopy has 22 rides that kids can ride. This makes it a very family-friendly amusement park.

If you are visiting during summer, you can also take advantage of the attached water park Soak City, which is included in the price of admission.

4. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The mission of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is “To pursue inclusive freedom by promoting social justice for all, building on the principles of the Underground Railroad.”

There are exhibits discussing slavery in the United States, the path to freedom, and how implicit bias affects our actions and decisions without realizing it. This museum is a highly educational and eye-opening experience.

5. Cincinnati Museum Center

The Cincinnati Museum Center is in the same art deco style of the Union Terminal building in Cincinnati. It has permanent exhibits and special exhibits inside.

The center includes a Cincinnati history museum, natural history science museum, and a children’s museum.

The train exhibit during the winter is especially popular. It showcases various model train sets at different scales with thoughtful details.

6. Krohn Conservatory

With over 3,500 plant species, the Krohn Conservatory is a botanical garden in Eden Park. A visit to this tropical paradise is a great way to spend the afternoon; it can be very uplifting on a rainy day.

In the spring, there is a butterfly event where thousands of free-flying butterflies flutter throughout the exhibits.

7. Smale Park

Smale Park is a family-friendly park along the banks of the Ohio River. Enjoy everything from the green spaces and swings along the river to interactive playgrounds for children.

Throughout the year, many free activities and events are held at the park.

8. Hard Rock Casino

The downtown Cincinnati Hard Rock Casino was recently renovated. There is more to do here than just gambling, with a list of popular restaurants and concerts at the event center of this casino.

Self-parking is complimentary and abundant, making it a popular place to start a walk to Over the Rhine or downtown.

9. Newport Aquarium

Things to do in Cincinnati: Newport Aquarium
Image Credit: Dalton Caraway // Unsplash

The Newport Aquarium is a fun, family-friendly activity in Newport on the Levee.

Kids can enjoy the touch aquarium, where they can pet horseshoe crabs, sea urchins, and even sharks!

Some notable exhibits are the penguins, gator alley, and a large aquarium where you walk through a tunnel as sharks and other sea life swim overhead.

10. American Sign Museum

The American Sign Museum is the “largest public museum dedicated to signs in the United States.” Here, you learn about the history of signs in America.

It’s a popular place for photography to get that great Instagram shot or Tik Tok reel with great lighting from all the neon signs.

11. Wake Nation

If you are looking for more active attractions near Cincinnati, consider Wake Nation, which is a cable wake water park.

Instead of riding behind a boat, there is a cable system that pulls wakeboarders over the lake. Wake Nation is an excellent option for something to do in Cincinnati because you can exercise outdoors, build up a skill in something challenging, and simultaneously have some fun.

It is suitable for varying skill levels, from beginner to advanced. The consistency of the cable system makes it an ideal place to learn how to wakeboard. Besides getting a pass to use the cable system, they also offer lessons.

They offer lessons on a nearby lake if you are more interested in wake surfing.

12. Washington Park

things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio
Image Credit: Sean Foster // Unsplash

Located in Over The Rhine, Washington Park is a centrally located park with an oversized underground parking garage, making it an excellent spot to park for a visit to OTR.

The park has an interactive playground and splash pad for kids so it is a good idea to bring a change of clothes for children. The play area has a small stream and a few water activities.

Washington Park also has a streetcar station, so you can experience the trolley or ride to the banks from this location.

An Arts festival called City Flea occurs here most of the year; local vendors and artisans set up their booths to sell wares.

13. Great American Ballpark

Great American Ball Park Cincinnati Ohio
Image Credit: Seth Reese // Unsplash

Catching a game at the ballpark is a great way to spend the afternoon. The Cincinnati Reds are an iconic team. While you are at the park, be sure to get a coney from Skyline Chili to complete your Cincinnati experience.

The ballpark used to be called Riverfront Stadium. That was a very fitting name because it’s on the riverfront, but more importantly, it takes advantage of the views and the riverfront experience. During the game, you will likely see riverboats, barges, boats, and the sunset over the river.

14. TQL Stadium

things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio
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TQL Stadium is one of the US’s newest Major League Soccer stadiums. Catching a match at this stadium is a spectacular experience.

Foodies will enjoy the fact that when building the stadium, they made an effort to include local restaurants as much as possible. On the concourse, the inside track has numerous stands from local restaurants. The outside has permanent, more prominent food vendors and specific concessions.

15. Cincinnati Art Museum

things to do in Cincinnati Ohio: Cincinnati art museum
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The Cincinnati Art Museum offers free admission to its art galleries. It is an excellent option for a rainy day activity in Cincinnati.

Beyond the gallery’s free admission, there are paid options for special exhibits and a guided tour.

The museum is inside Eden Park in Mount Adams. It is a scenic park with panoramic views of the city and is near Playhouse in the Park, so you could go to the museum before catching a show.

Wrapping It Up: Exciting Things to Do in Cincinnati

Whether you live in the Cincinnati area or are just visiting, there are plenty of activities to choose from. The options might not be quite as apparent as in other cities where their major activities define the public perception of that city, but there is still plenty to do if you know where to look.

This post originally appeared on Savoteur.

Tyler Weaver
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