Cincinnati, Ohio, is a city that boasts a rich history, a diverse cultural scene, and an abundance of outdoor spaces. With thrilling amusement parks, world-class museums, and everything in between, you’ll never be short of things to do. To help you make the most of your trip, let’s look at 10 of the top attractions.
Squeal with Delight at Kings Island Amusement Park
Kings Island is the ideal spot for anyone looking for thrills. The amusement park is located just a short drive from Downtown Cincinnati and boasts over 100 rides, attractions,
and shows. After a scare on roller coasters like Banshee and Diamondback, cool off at Congo Falls or White Water Canyon.
Meanwhile, kiddie attractions like Planet Snoopy and Peanuts 500 will delight your little ones. The park also offers live music and events throughout the summer. The Off the Rails show features daredevils performing live-action stunts set to music. It’s easy to lose track of time at this adventure-packed park.
Visit Furry Friends at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is one of the most popular attractions in the city for good reason. This world-class zoo is home to over 500 animal species from all over the world, including gorillas, tigers, and polar bears.
Enjoy unique experiences like the Africa exhibit, where you can walk alongside giraffes and watch cheetahs race at top speeds. For a closer encounter, visit the goat yard or the butterfly aviary. The zoo also features a beautiful botanical garden, where you can explore a variety of plants and flowers.
Meet the Sharks at Newport Aquarium
Rivaling the Cincinnati Zoo in popularity is the Newport Aquarium. Located just across the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky, this aquarium is home to thousands of aquatic animals, including sharks, rays, and even a giant octopus. Don’t miss the Penguin Encounter or Shark Bridge, where you can walk inches above the shark tank.
And be sure to check out the rare white alligators in residence. Smaller in size but equally impressive are the sea horses and decorator crabs—fashionistas who dress in algae and anemones to conceal themselves from predators. A dive show where the aquarium’s scuba divers interact with the animals in the tank and answer audience questions might spark the marine biologist in your child.
Take Me Out to the Great American Ball Park
Sports fans will love the Great American Ball Park. Home to the Cincinnati Reds, this iconic stadium offers guided tours that take you behind the scenes to see the dugouts, press boxes, and more.
Catch the Reds in action during the baseball season and enjoy classic ballpark food like hot dogs and nachos. In a beautiful position by the Ohio River, the stadium hosts other events during the off-season, including concerts and special tours.
Take Flight at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
Located in nearby Dayton, Ohio, the National Museum of the United States Air Force is one of the largest aviation museums in the world. Over 360 aircraft and missiles are displayed, including the iconic B-2 Stealth Bomber and the world’s fastest plane, the SR-71 Blackbird. Interactive exhibits, simulators, and educational programs offer countless learning experiences.
Be sure to catch a show at the Air Force Museum Theatre. With its six-story screen and state-of-the-art sound system, you’ll be blown away.
Get Them Smiling at Smale Riverfront Park
Smale Riverfront Park is a beautiful public park that stretches along the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. Attractions include a giant chessboard, a splash pad, and Carol Ann’s Carousel, featuring hand-carved animals and intricate designs.
In the evening, the cascading fountain comes alive with multicolored underwater lights. It’s the perfect place to appreciate the Cincinnati skyline. Pack some snacks, so when little tummies start to growl, you can settle in for a relaxing picnic by the river.
Visit the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
This center is housed in a beautiful Art Deco building that was once a train station. The family of museums includes the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Natural History and Science—all of which are well worth exploring.
In the Museum of Natural History, a 60-foot dinosaur skeleton graces the dinosaur gallery, along with five other skeletons. In the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, you can walk into a giant mouth. Or swing by Kid’s Town, a kid-sized neighborhood, complete with a grocery store and post office. The museum also hosts special events and traveling exhibits throughout the year, so there’s always something new to explore.
Cool Down at Coney Island Amusement Park and Sunlite Pool
Located along the banks of the Ohio River, Coney Island Amusement Park and Sunlite Pool feature classic rides like the Ferris wheel and Tilt-A-Whirl, as well as a water park with slides and pools. Test your skills on the pool obstacle course or go for a relaxing paddle boat ride. Take a ride on the famous Coney Island Carousel, which dates to 1926.
The Sunlite Pool is one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in the world, featuring more than an acre of water and a diving board that’s over nine feet tall. It’s the perfect place to chill out on a hot summer day.
Stop by Cincinnati Art Museum
Art lovers will want to add the Cincinnati Art Museum to the gang’s itinerary. Over 67,000 works of art from around the world are on display here, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. See works by famous artists such as Rembrandt, Goya, and Whistler, among many others. The museum also offers guided tours, lectures, and special events throughout the year.
Stargaze at Cincinnati Observatory
Called the “Birthplace of American Astronomy,” the Cincinnati Observatory is a hidden gem in the city. Gaze through one of the oldest working telescopes in the world, built-in 1845. Sign up for one of the public tours or stargazing sessions, where you can see the moon, stars, and planets up close.
For a little outdoor time, take a self-guided walking tour through the historic district on the street leading to the observatory. The observatory also hosts special events throughout the year, including meteor shower viewings and lectures on astronomy.
The 10 Best Family-Friendly Activities in Cincinnati in Summary
Cincinnati offers an incredible array of possibilities for fun and learning. From amusement parks and zoos to exploring outer space and the world’s best art, the Queen City offers a vacation fit for royalty.