Whether you are planning a romantic getaway filled with art and music, a wedding, or a family trip focused on fun, great food, free attractions, history and interactive learning, Cincinnati, Ohio is a great weekend destination.
Best things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio with kids include many city parks, the interactive Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the famous Cincinnati Zoo, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, and the Cincinnati Observatory.
1. Cincinnati Zoo
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One of the top zoos in the nation, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is 140 years old, the second oldest zoo in the United States and one of the top Cincinnati attractions. It houses over 2,000 animals spanning 500 species from around the world.
Located in Avondale, the zoo covers 65 acres in the heart of the city and is famous for its breeding programs, which have included the successful breeding of California sea lions, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Malayan tigers and the rare bonobo, a pygmy chimpanzee and endangered species of ape.
The zoo is also well known for holding several records, such as the longest living alligator in captivity (an old gator who lived to 70 years old), and the largest Komodo dragon in captivity, who died in 2005. The zoo holds a number of fund-raising events throughout the year, as well as educational programs, conservation and sustainability projects.
3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45220, Phone: 513-281-4700
2.Cincinnati Art Museum
© Photo by Don Ventre
Founded in 1881, the Cincinnati Art Museum is one of the oldest art museums in America and boasts a comprehensive collection of over 65,000 works. Located in the scenic Eden Park, the museum is housed in a beautifully preserved Romanesque revival building designed by architect James McLaughlin and is one of the best things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The museum’s impressive collection, which spans more than six centuries, includes works by several European Masters such as Botticelli, Hals, and Murillo, as well as modern pieces by Pissarro, Monet and Picasso. The museum features a wide range of art-related programs, activities and special events for patrons and the public, and hosts several national and international traveling artists throughout the year.
Designed especially for children, the Rosenthal Education Center (REC) features an interactive space which invites families to participate in art-making. Admission is free.
953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, Phone: 877-472-4226
More travel ideas: 25 Best Things to do in Cleveland, Ohio.
3.Taft Museum of Art
© Taft Museum of Art
The Taft Museum of Art is a National Historic Landmark and one of the best small art museums in America. The museum is home to an extensive fine art collection of American and European paintings and decorative art.
Avid collectors of art, the Taft family donated their house designed in the Greek Revival style along with their admirable collection to the people of Cincinnati in 1927. The museum has since been home to works by grand masters such as Rembrandt, Goya, and Gainsborough, as well as the greatest Gothic ivory sculpture in America.
The museum offers a variety of activities, such as guided walking tours and gallery talks, live music shows and ‘Art in the Afternoon’, which features presentations of local artists’ works on Sunday afternoons.
316 Pike Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, Phone: 513-241-0343
4.Duke Energy Children's Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Located in the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum offers eight interactive, hands-on exhibits, displays, play, exploration and discovery areas. The museum encourages children to crawl, climb, explore and learn about the world around them.
Two of the eight exhibition areas - Little Sprouts Farm and Kids’ Town - have been designed primarily for preschool-aged children and younger, while a variety of shows and special events cater for all ages of children, such as The Energy Zone and the adventure-based wilderness world of The Woods.
If you are wondering what to do in Cincinnati with kids, this is a must-see attraction. The museum also presents specialized programming that focuses on combining learning and fun, covering topics such as arts, culture, reading, science and biology.
Ezzard Charles Dr, Cincinnati, Ohio 45203, Phone: 513-287-7000
5.American Legacy Tours
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American Legacy Tours provide an insight into the history and heritage of the Greater Cincinnati area through a variety of guided tours to different areas of the city. Explore the unique background of this famous city with an array of tours, including the ‘Queen City Underground Tour’, which takes visitors through the historic OTR neighborhood, as well as ventures underground to explore a 130-year old tunnel.
The ‘Queen City Haunted Tour’ delves into Cincinnati's past and uncovers stories of paranormal activity and other tales, while two new tours – ‘Baron’s Brew Bus’, which visits a number of Cincinnati’s famous alehouses and ‘1919: The Year that Changed Baseball’, a favorite new walking tour that celebrates Cincinnati’s role in the history of baseball (Phone: 859-951-8560).
6.John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
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The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge has been a symbol of Cincinnati since its completion in 1866. The iconic bridge connects downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington in the state of Kentucky, and provides easy access to each of the city’s popular attractions.
Designed and built by John A. Roebling, who also built the Brooklyn Bridge, the bridge was the longest in the world when it was completed in 1867 at 1,057 feet and was the first bridge to utilize both diagonal stays and vertical suspenders.
An integral part of both cities’ skylines, the Bridge is a National Historic Landmark and is celebrated each year at the Roeblingfest, where local restaurants, bars, café, and artists come together and showcase their talents.
7.Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum
© Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame
Instituted in 1958 by the Cincinnati Reds franchise to pay homage to the city’s home baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates the greatness achieved by the team players, managers and executives, as well as preserve history and inspire upcoming generations.
Located next to the Great American Ball Park, the museum aims to bring baseball alive through unique exhibitions, displays and memorabilia from the past, present and future. Spanning more than 15,000 square feet (1,400 square meters), vast exhibition halls over two floors show priceless baseball items such as trophies from the World Series, MVP awards of Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan, and a scorecard from baseball's first professional team - the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, amongst other treasures.
Enjoy a guided ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour of the Scotts Great American Ball Park, where you check out the home plate, sit in the dugout and visit the expansive Great American Ball Park Press Box. You can also join one of the many special events the museum holds throughout the year, such as player appearances, speaker series, and other activities.
100 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, Phone: 513-765-7000
© Cincinnati Observatory
The Cincinnati Observatory is a fully functioning 19th century observatory that is open to the public, promoting the study and practice of 21st century astronomy and science, while still preserving the heritage of the historical observatory.
The observatory is housed in a picturesque building capped by a silver dome, home to one of the oldest working telescopes in the western hemisphere. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the observatory and its beautiful grounds are ideally located in central Cincinnati and easily accessible to the public.
Once a research station and now a center for education, the observatory offers a range of events and activities throughout the year, including astronomy classes, telescope training, fund-raisers, concerts and film nights. Read more
3489 Observatory Place, Cincinnati, Ohio 45208, Phone: 513-321-5186
9.Things to Do in Cincinnati: Eden Park
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One of Cincinnati’s most famous parks, Eden Park draws crowds of locals and visitors year-round. The park has two lakes, winding walkways, bicycle paths, a children’s playground , and beautiful views of Kentucky and the Ohio River. The park is home to the Krohn Conservatory, host of the famous Butterfly Show, as well as the Cincinnati Art Museum, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, offering visitors a wealth things to see and do.
Picturesque landmarks within the park include Hinkle Magnolia Garden, with its lovely memorial tree groves and gazebo, Mirror Lake, and the Bettman Fountain, and there is always a good game of chess or model boat display to take in when strolling around the park.
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Located in the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in downtown Cincinnati, Findlay Market is the city’s oldest public open-air market, thriving and supplying fresh foods year-round. Founded in 1852 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the market is firm favorite among locals and visitors alike.
If you are looking for things to do in Cincinnati this weekend, this is a great place to visit. Open Tuesday through Saturday, with some vendors open on Sunday, Findlay Market sells a variety of fresh produce, ranging from fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs to meats, fish, poultry, cheeses, artisan honey and handmade prepared deli meals and snacks.
Summer sees the addition of the popular OTR Biergarten, which features a range of craft beers by the bottle and on tap accompanied by live music.
1801 Race Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, Phone: 513-665-4839
11.Museum of Natural History & Science
© Museum of Natural History
Editor's Note: The museum is scheduled to reopen in Sept, 2018. Step back in time and explore the natural world with a visit to the Museum of Natural History & Science in the Cincinnati Museum Center. The museum offers a range of excellent exhibitions, displays and programs aimed at engaging, encouraging and educating visitors about the history of the natural world.
Travel to Egypt and learn the story of Umi, an Egyptian mummy of a young boy dating back more than 1,800 years at the ‘Umi The Mummy’ exhibit, explore the ancient glaciers that filled the Ohio Valley 19,000 years ago in ‘The Ice Age’, or head into the deepest corner of a limestone cave in ‘The Cave’ display.
Walk with dinosaurs, travel to the moon with Neil Armstrong and explore the natural world of your very own backyard in this fun and fact-finding interactive museum that is ideal for all ages.
1301 Western Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45203, Phone: 800-733-2077
12.Stratus Helicopters, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Stratus Helicopters offers a wide range of services, from aerial tours of the city and special flight packages, to helicopter flight training, aerial photography flights and charter services.
There is no better way to see the city than with a scenic sightseeing tour in a helicopter. Scenic tours are offered in Robinson R44 helicopters, where up to three passengers can be accommodated, each with a window seat for perfect city views. Tours can also be customized for special occasions, such as engagements and anniversaries. Stratus Helicopters also provide helicopter flight training for guests needing to increase their flight time or who are interested in starting a new career in aviation.
Instruction is provided by highly trained and professional staff with more than 1,000 hours of flying experience (Phone: 513-533-4354).
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Fountain Square is popular gathering space in the heart of Cincinnati home to unique shops, restaurants and hotels. Visitors can participate in a variety of events, free concerts, programming, and lunchtime contests throughout the year. Founded in 1871, the square is home to the historic Tyler Davidson Fountain, dedicated by the brother-in-law of Davidson, Cincinnati businessman Henry Probasco, as well as four animal-shaped drinking fountains.
Over two million people visit the square every year to enjoy its friendly gathering space, free concerts, have coffee or lunch at one of the cafés or restaurants around the square, and take part in free programming, including music, movies and special events.
14.American Sign Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio
© American Sign Museum
This fascinating museum explores and visits the history of signage in America, how it has played a vital role in society and how, through development, many famous signs have been lost to history. With their own stories to tell, signs have long been part of the culture and the American Sign Museum aims to preserve this important part of America’s heritage.
Stroll through the vast exhibition space which is home to a myriad signs and signage from the past, visit the working neon sign shop, where you can watch the creation of the well-known flashing neon sign and learn about the art of sign-making. Located in Camp Washington, the museum is open from Wednesday through Sunday. Guided tours must be reserved in advance. Read more
1330 Monmouth Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45225, Phone: 513-541-6366
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Built in 1933 at the height of the Art Deco era in the form of a Gothic arch, the Irwin M. Krohn Conservatory is an exquisite glass-encased Conservatory in Eden Park that is home to over 3,500 plant species from around the world. Formerly known as the Eden Park Greenhouse, the conservatory was renamed in honor of Irwin M. Krohn in 1937 and has been open to the public ever since.
The conservatory is best known for its ever-popular International Butterfly Show, in which thousands of butterflies fly freely in a specially-themed garden within the conservatory. The conservatory also hosts a number of other unique exhibits and family-friendly programs throughout the year, as well as permanent exhibits which include the rainforest waterfall and exotic plant displays in the Palm, Tropical, Desert and Orchid houses.
1501 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, Phone: 513-357-2604
More places to visit: Top 20 Weekend Getaways in Ohio.
16.Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse
© Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse
Jeff Ruby’s is the place to go for great steaks, fine wine and a stylish and elegant ambiance. Offering outstanding cuisine accompanied by impeccable service, dining at Jeff Ruby’s is all about the experience. Jeff Ruby’s in Cincinnati has taken the coveted title of being one of the nation’s highest ranked steakhouses, according to various surveys.
If you are looking for romantic date ideas in Cincinnati, this is a great place to try. Serving award-winning steaks since 1981 to an array of connoisseurs, celebrities, and loyal guests, Ruby's steaks are renowned to be the best of the best, sourced from pure bred Heritage Black Angus cattle and hand cut to order. Jeff Ruby’s caters for private parties and hosts various events including live music featuring local artists throughout the year.
700 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, Phone: 513-784-1200
17.Taft's Ale House, Cincinnati, OH
© Taft's Ale House
Named after William Howard Taft, Taft’s Ale House is a local institution. Housed in the old St. Paul's German Evangelical Protestant Church, the triple level brewery serves a range of artisan beers, and a full food menu with classics such as gourmet steaks, burgers and salads.
Elegant interiors with dark wood, high ceilings and handmade gavel tap handles echo that of a typical brew house, while unique Rookwood tiles replicate the ones found in William Taft’s birthplace - the William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Mount Auburn. A stylish cocktail bar offering beer, wine, cocktails and snacks is housed on the first level, while the main level of the ale house is home to a beer hall with picnic tables and serves the best of Taft's Ale House beers.
The upper level has a comfortable lounge area, restaurant, and private party room, where the renowned smoked tri-tip steak is served.
1429 Race Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, Phone: 513-334-1393
18.Cincinnati Food Tours
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Explore the best of Cincinnati’s foodie scene with Cincinnati Food Tours, run by local food and market lovers Barb and Barry Cooper. These unique food tours include a 90-minute guided walking tour of Cincinnati’s historic Findlay Market where you will discover gems you didn’t know existed and get to sample treats from some of the specialty vendors you visit, including beer and wine on weekend tours.
Learn all about the history of Ohio’s oldest public market and the role it played in the development of the surrounding Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The new ‘Taste the World in OTR’ begins and ends at the Findlay Market and includes a languid two-mile stroll around the historic urban district of Over-the-Rhine, popping into five local establishments to meet the owners and taste their delicious fare (Phone: 513-602-5602).
19.The Overlook Lodge
© The Overlook Lodge
The Overlook Lodge is a rustic, very popular watering hole in Cincinnati’s Pleasant Ridge neighborhood. The bar decor is inspired by the 1980 movie The Shining and they will not let you forget it, with the creepy motel on a cork board and the crossed axes hanging on the wall. But the cozy feel of a mountain lodge, also a reference to the movie, and the relaxed vibe of the place are very inviting. While they make spectacular cocktails, they will not make you self-conscious if you order a Miller Light. It is not unexpected that their signature drink is called The Hatchet. There is live music every Saturday and Sunday. There is no kitchen but they do serve great jerkies and exotic trail mixes.
6083 Montgomery Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45213, Phone: 513-351-0035
20.Cincinnati Music Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Built in 1878, the glittering chandeliers and Old World ambiance of the Cincinnati Music Hall undoubtedly make it one of the most beautiful concert theaters in the world, and one which has been attracting music, opera, and theater lovers for over a century.
The Music Hall is home to an array of world-class performing arts, including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, the Cincinnati Opera and the Cincinnati Ballet, as well as playing host to May Festival, which is the longest-running choral festival in the Western hemisphere.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975, the Music Hall is located in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood across Elm Street and a few blocks from Findlay Market.
1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, Phone: 513-744-3344
21.The Melting Pot Restaurant
© The Melting Pot Restaurant
The Melting Pot is an exclusive restaurant dedicated to the art of eating fondue, perfect for a romantic dinner in Cincinnati. Replicating the famous Swiss dining style of dipping, sipping and sharing laughs with friends, the Melting Pot offers a menu of entrées, salads and desserts which are cooked in a variety of fondue cooking styles.
Guests can savor a four-course fondue experience, which includes a mouthwatering cheese fondue, freshly made salad, choice of entrée and delicious dessert. Try a simple fondue cheese and wine pairing with vintages chosen from the restaurant’s extensive wine list, or a delectable menu finishing with a chocolate fondue for dessert.
Share this experience with friends, or book a tailor-made fondue evening for a special occasion such as a birthday party, anniversary or wedding rehearsal dinner.
7886 Woodland Center Blvd., Tampa, Florida 33614, Phone: 813-881-0055
22.Coney Island Amusement Park
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Located on the banks of the Ohio River just 10 miles east of downtown Cincinnati, Coney Island is a fun amusement and waterpark that offers a variety of rides and entertainment to the public during the summer months.
Coney Island was first opened in 1886 and now boasts 24 rides, including a rollercoaster and exhilarating water rides: ‘The Twister’, ‘Pipeline Plunge’, and ‘Cyclone’.
Coney Island also serves as a beautiful location for several festivals, with breathtaking views of the Ohio River and the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, including the ‘Cincinnati Celtic World Festival’, the ‘Cincinnati Flower and Farm Festival’, and the ever-popular Summerfair Arts Festival.
6201 Kellogg Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45230, Phone: 513-232-8230
More vacation ideas: Best Under-the-Radar Family Destinations in the U.S. which highlights Cincinnati.
23.Pizzelii, Cincinnati, OH
Specializing in authentic brick-oven baked pizza, with the famous Neapolitan Pizza at the helm, Pizzelii is a family-friendly Italian-style pizzeria that serves a variety of oven-baked pizzas, freshly made salads, and amazing desserts.
Feast on a range of specialty pizzas, handmade and oven-baked to perfection, followed by delicious mouthwatering desserts such as Strawberry Nutella Pii and homemade cheesecake. Located on Wooser Pike Road, Pizzelii is open every day for lunch and dinner.
7639 Wooster Pike, Cincinnati, Ohio 45227, Phone: 513-407-3437
24.Cincinnati Dinner Train, Cincinnati, Ohio
© Cincinnati Dinner Train
The Cincinnati Dinner Train is a unique and delightful way to dine in style as you take in some of Cincinnati’s most beautiful scenery. Featuring three vintage dining cars that are elegantly furnished and cater to up to 132 diners, the Cincinnati Dinner Train departs from the BBQ Revue parking lot on Madison Road, travels through downtown Cincinnati to the riverfront, returning to Oakley after three hours. Diners are treated to vintage 1940s style on the dining trains with cozy booth window seating, crisp linens, and fine silver.
A four-course dinner is served throughout the journey, after which guests can relax with a drink at the bar or in the lounge. The Cincinnati Dinner Train also offers private dining tours in one of two luxury dining cars, which can be reserved for special occasions (Phone: 513-791-7245).
24 Best Things to Do in Cincinnati, Ohio
- Cincinnati Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of interstid - Fotolia.com
- Cincinnati Art Museum, Photo: Photo by Don Ventre
- Taft Museum of Art, Photo: Taft Museum of Art
- Duke Energy Children's Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, Photo: Courtesy of mistyautumn - Fotolia.com
- American Legacy Tours, Photo: Courtesy of andreykr - Fotolia.com
- John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, Photo: Courtesy of robert mobley - Fotolia.com
- Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum, Photo: Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame
- Cincinnati Observatory, Photo: Cincinnati Observatory
- Things to Do in Cincinnati: Eden Park, Photo: Courtesy of nat 693 - Fotolia.com
- Findlay Market, Photo: Courtesy of Dusan Kostic - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Natural History & Science, Photo: Museum of Natural History
- Stratus Helicopters, Cincinnati, Ohio, Photo: Courtesy of SNEHIT - Fotolia.com
- Fountain Square , Photo: Courtesy of JJAVA - Fotolia.com
- American Sign Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, Photo: American Sign Museum
- Krohn Conservatory, Photo: Courtesy of Bryan - Fotolia.com
- Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse, Photo: Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse
- Taft's Ale House, Cincinnati, OH, Photo: Taft's Ale House
- Cincinnati Food Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Amikphoto - Fotolia.com
- The Overlook Lodge, Photo: The Overlook Lodge
- Cincinnati Music Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio, Photo: Courtesy of Berry - Fotolia.com
- The Melting Pot Restaurant, Photo: The Melting Pot Restaurant
- Coney Island Amusement Park, Photo: Courtesy of mim - Fotolia.com
- Pizzelii, Cincinnati, OH, Photo: Pizzelii
- Cincinnati Dinner Train, Cincinnati, Ohio, Photo: Cincinnati Dinner Train
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of andreykr - Fotolia.com