Wondering where to go for a fun family vacation in Cincinnati? This guide will help you decide.
What was founded in 1788, named after a roman hero and served as home to five former U.S. presidents? Cincinnati, of course! Or, Cincy-the-nati.
Whatever you call it, this is a city rich in ever-evolving history and fun experiences for all ages. From amusement parks, to sports games, political landmarks and more, there’s no shortage of things to do around this amazing metropolis.
The best part? It’s just a short drive away from the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio. Below, we’re bringing you our favorite things to do when in Cincinnati. Check out the list below.
Quick View: Things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio
- Great Wolf Lodge
- The Great American Ball Park
- Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum
- Graeter’s Ice Cream
- Cincinnati History Museum
- Purple People Bridge
- Empress Chili
- Loveland Castle
- Mural Tour
- Cincinnati Art Museum
- Newport Aquarium
- Cincinnati Museum Center
- Fountain Square
- Freedom Center
- Eden Park
- Glenwood Gardens
- Cincinnati Rollergirls
- Pyramid Hill
- The Riverwalk
- Cincinnati Zoo
- Highfield Discovery Garden at Glenwood Gardens
- Kings Island
1. Great Wolf Lodge
On the “a bit out of the way but totally worth it” list, is Great Wolf Lodge in Mason (about 25 miles from Cincinnati), is a weatherproof recipe for fun with its giant waterpark with huge slides and family-friendly suites on site — perfect when you are tired of walking across bridges and through big museums!
Consider staying with us while you explore Cincinnati to avoid big city prices.
2. The Great American Ball Park
If you’re into baseball, this next stop is for you. Welcome to the Great American Ball Park, home to the Cincinnati Reds.
Located on the winding banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, the stadium is known for its innovative features, breathtaking views and affordable seating options.
It’s also recognized for its Crosley Terrace statues designed to celebrate baseball legends like Ted Kluszewski, Ernie Lombardi, Joe Nuxhall and Frank Robinson.
You can also find famous-dates banners hanging to help remind fans of many historic moments in club history. Time your trip accordingly and take in a game!
3. Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum
Located right at the heart of the action in Great American Ball Park, fans (and non-fans too) of the legendary Cincinnati Reds will marvel at the newly renovated hall of fame and museum, with over 7000 artifacts, historical highlight videos, and fun experiences — like testing your pitching speed, or sitting in the broadcast booth and calling plays!
4. Graeter’s Ice Cream
Every city needs a good ice cream parlor. Luckily for the residents of Cincinnati, their local spot has been serving up the goods for over 150 years.
Graeter’s opened up back in 1870 when a young immigrant by the name of Luis Graeter opened up shop with the encouragement from his wife, Regina.
Five generations later, the company has become a recognized regional chain. You can find locations all over Cincinnati!
5. Cincinnati History Museum
Speaking of going back in time, the Cincinnati History Museum remains a popular destination among visitors.
There, guests can expect to be introduced to the city’s rich history and follow the stories of its earlier settlers to those actively shaping the city today.
There have been a lot of individuals who have called the Queen City home, including but not limited to William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States.
You’ll also find costumed interpreters, recreations of the city’s traditional landscape and other exhibits designed to spotlight the city. Of all the museums you can visit in Cincinnati, this is one you won’t want to miss!
6. Purple People Bridge
This half-mile bridge over the Ohio River connects Cincinnati to Newport, Kentucky and it’s for pedestrians only. Walking the bridge is a great way to get excellent views and a bit of exercise as you explore Cincy.
Within a 20-minute walk from either side, you can watch the Reds at Great American Ball Park, grab dinner at a number of restaurants, or tour the Freedom Center.
7. Empress Chili
Did you know that Cincinnati is known for it’s chili? Seriously. The city has more chili restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States.
It’s even been dubbed the “Chili Capital of America.” And just as any artist aims to put a unique spin on their craft, Cincinnati chefs come up with a truly original approach to the dish.
While chili is traditionally served on its own in a bowl, Cincinnatians have taken to heaping it onto other plates. It’s not uncommon to see a hot dog with chili heaped on top listed on menus across the city.
This is called a “coney,” which is, of course, a nod to New York City’s infamous Coney Island and the even more celebrated Coney Island hot dog.
8. Loveland Castle
Located about 23 miles from the city center in Loveland, is Loveland Castle, or Château Laroche, and it’s not just for Renaissance Faire devotees!
It’s a wonderful place for picnics, family photos, and pretending to be knights or princesses. At only $5 a person, the story behind the building (built by one eccentric, accomplished guy) is sure to interest the whole pack.
9. Mural Tour
It’s important to be creative when deciding on things to do in Cincinnati with kids. Sure, the city is home to lots of great places to visit, but kids have a habit of getting antsy.
So why not take them out of the indoor environment for a change? Cincinnati’s ArtWorks’ Public Art program is responsible for having helped create murals in 36 Cincinnati neighborhoods.
Self-guided tours seem to be the best way to enjoy the art. You can download a map directly from the official site.
10. Cincinnati Art Museum
This art museum is so kid-friendly, it was rated the “Top Art Museum for Families,” by Parenting magazine.
Apart from the galleries, the museum offers a selection of youth, family and teen programs. Sign the kids up for hands-on art activities, exciting performances, story times, gallery visits and more.
After all, it’s never too early to start appreciating the arts. We should also note that general admission is always free!
11. Newport Aquarium
Technically in Newport KY, across the Ohio River, this is the spot to touch a shark, play in an interactive frog bog, and pet a penguin!
If your kids are daredevils, they’ll love the Shark Bridge – the only suspension bridge in North America where guests can walk just inches above nearly two dozen sharks! There are tons of attractions to explore at the Newport Aquarium!
12. Cincinnati Museum Center
Yes, it’s the home of the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, but there’s so much more, including permanent and special exhibitions, a giant OMNIMAX, and a huge sandbox.
It’s also home of the Natural History Museum (dinosaur replicas and dinosaur play area), a miniature layout of 1900-1940s Cincinnati, and caves that have bat flights…check it out, you’ll see!
13. Fountain Square
Fountain Square is located in Cincinnati’s restaurant and entertainment hub and attracts around 3 million people annually. During the winter, it hosts a school of seasonal vendors and opens its ice-skating rink to the public.
During the summer, expect to see plenty of outdoor concerts, dancers, rotating markets and more!
14. Freedom Center
The striking and unusual curving architecture of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center reflects the winding Ohio River. The Center focuses on celebrating freedom’s heroes, from the Underground Railroad era to today.
Explore inspiring stories and interactive exhibits that examine civilizations paths to freedom.
15. Eden Park
It’s important to create zen spaces in busy places, and that’s exactly what the Cincinnati parks offer.
Eden park is one of the region’s most popular spots. the 183-acre zone provides the public with some of the most picturesque landscapes throughout the region.
Visitors can enjoy amazing views of the Ohio River and the foothills of Kentucky. There are also several statues on exhibit in the park, including the controversial “wolf statue,” which was gifted to the city by Benito Mussolini. Now how’s that for some history?
16. Glenwood Gardens
It’s also nice to dodge the crowds, especially if you’re traveling with in a pack. If you’re looking for some quiet things to do in Cincinnati with kids, look no further than Glenwood Gardens.
This funky outpost offers more than 335-acres of beautiful gardens, prairies, forests and wetlands to explore. There are also more than 75 miles of trails to explore, including a 10-mile paved trail for those who want to take in the scenery on sturdier ground.
Also on the map is the Highfield Discovery Garden, a 12-acre plot containing lily pads, fairy gardens, smelly plants, butterflies and more.
17. Cincinnati Rollergirls
Sometimes niche interests blow up into bigger things. That kind of what happened to Cincinnati and roller derby. The Cincinnati Rollergirls was founded back in 2005.
The team is now an ranked member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, the sport’s international governing organization. They’ve become such a hit within the community that June 19th has officially been declared “Cincinnati Rollergirls Day.”
If you want to see some competitive roller derby in the flesh, head over to Xavier University, the team plays.
18. Pyramid Hill
Located in Hamilton, Ohio, Pyramid Hill is a bit out of the way but totally worth it. One of the few sculpture parks in the country, it features more than 60 gigantic contemporary sculptures on 355 acres.
Indoors, the park’s Ancient Sculpture Museum displays antiquities dating to 1550 B.C.!
19. The Riverwalk
You can’t come home from a vacation without at least one great photo! Where better snap it than the Cincinnati Riverwalk?
After all, a little water always makes for an awesome backdrop. The park boasts 45 acres of urban green space along the city’s infamous waterfront.
It’s one of the few places in Cincinnati where you can experience a little nature amid a lot of metropolises.
20. Cincinnati Zoo
Sure, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has lots of animals to admire, but did you know that it also has history on its side? Having opened back in 1875, it’s the second oldest zoo throughout the United States.
Back then, it had just eight monkeys, two grizzly bears, three deer, six raccoons, two elk, a buffalo, a hyena, a tiger, an alligator, a circus elephant, and over four hundred birds, including a talking crow.
Today, the zoo houses more than 500 animals and 3,000 plant species, making it one of the largest zoo collections in the country.
21. Highfield Discovery Garden at Glenwood Gardens
Located just about halfway between Great Wolf Lodge and Cincinnati in Woodlawn Ohio, this park is like a fantasy playground. Kids love it and it will bring out the kid in you, too!
Explore fairy gardens a trolley garden, a butterfly garden and the 25-foot Discovery Tree, where kids can crawl in and out of holes and tunnels.
22. Kings Island
Kings Island is just half an hour outside of Cincinnati, and no it’s not a real island; it’s an amusement park.
If you want to check it out and you’re traveling with small kids and need some things to do with toddlers, we suggest you head to Planet Snoopy, one of the park’s many themed sections. The 14-acre children’s acre features 20 rides designed to be enjoyed by families, tons of kids activities live entertainment and more.
A few years ago, Planet Snoopy introduced 3 new kiddie rides: Peanuts 500, Sally’s Sea Plane and the Kite Eating Tree. And don’t forget – there’s also a waterpark to explore at Kings Island!
Want to explore more options for fun in Cincinnati? Visit their official tourism site. If you want to know more about the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, head to our official site.
There, you can learn more about our indoor waterpark, adventure zone and all the other activities we offer on-site! Check out our selection of themed rooms too!
You’ll feel like you’re camping out in the Northwoods in no time. You can also sign up for our email list to learn about our best deals!