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Cincinnati is an incredibly fascainating city in the USA filled with arts, sports, delicious food and all with a backdrop of the mighty Ohio River. Right on the border of Northern Kentucky, this Ohio capital is just oozing culture, as well as a number of great things to do with kids, and also makes for a GREAT family day out, which we love!
Filled to the brim with wineries, breweries, shopping, distilleries, (parents, they are for you!), Cincinnati has museums a-plenty for those curious kids, nature-based attractions for those who love the outdoors, and plenty of wildlife attractions too (just to name a few!) so we can't wait to share with you the most popular things to do in Cincinnati, including our "Top 9 Family Attractions" that you can enjoy on your next family day out along the Ohio River!
There are so many fun things to do with kids in Cincinnati, so make sure check out our entire Cincinnati City Guide we've carefully put together, so you know exactly how to plan your family day out when you visit The Buckeye State!
Image Credit: Travel Cincinnati USA
In this Cincinnati City Guide, we list out our top 9 things to do with kids, as well as a number of great attractions that mean you really can learn about and get to know this great city. We'll share a number of must-do experiences that really will make the most of your time in Cincinnati! We know budgets are always a consideration when planning a family trip, so also in this Cincinnati City Guide we list some FREE things to do with kids!
Cincinnati is really easy to explore without a car, so if you need a break from driving or want to travel more like a local, we'll share some tips on getting around in Cincinnati via public transport, and we also list some fun fact about Cincinnati that you can impress your friends with!
If you want to explore a bit further out, this Cincinnati City Guide also features the best day trip from Cincinnati, and ths one goes deep!. We also learn about some famous faces who were born in Cincinnati (one you will definitely know!), all of which help make your Cincinnati family day out the best it can be.
So whether this is your first trip to the bright lights of Cincinnati, or maybe you were born right in the heart of the city but never had time to explore it, and you think "I wonder what is there is to do near me in Cincinnati?", then keep reading, because we have the top 9 things to do in Cincinnati with kids...and so much more!
Image Credit: Travel Cincinnati USA
As early back as 900 to 1600 CE (also known as the Late Prehistoricc Period!), southwest Ohio was home to the Fort Ancient people. Their descendents were thought to be the Shawnee as well as Siouan speakers. Then, their hunting and gathering way of life changed in the mid-1600s as those with European descent arrived in the area.
The Europeans then began to compete with the Shawnee, along with the other Native American tribes and the Shawnee were ultimately driven out of the state at the beginning of the 1640s by the Iroquois Confederacy.
Cincinnati itself began with the settlement of Losantiville, North Bend and Columbia which are located in the Northwest Terriroty of the USA, at the start of 1788. In 1797, Fort Washington (named after George Washington) was established to protect the settlers.
Cincinnati was incorporated as a city in 1819, and initially known as the "Queen of the West", with its proximity to the Ohio River allowing it to prosper as a trade route.
Proir to the Civil War, Cincinnati was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, and then the economy thrived on steamboat repair, construction, meatpacking, iron production and engines. Throughout WWI and WWII, the locals really rallied together to serve, donate and volunteer.
Today, it's home to a number of national headquaters for organizations and seen as a city of endless possibilities.
Image Credit: Travel Cincinnati USA
Love museums? Cincinnati has plenty! Learn about the rich Jewish history at the Cincinnati Skirball Museum, or be inspired by freedom's heroes at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Don't miss a chance to slide down a real firefighter's pole at the Cincinnati Fire Museum!
Love nature? Spend time in Eden Park, or explore the various gardens at the Krohn Conservatory. Then, joined to the Botanical Garden is the WILD Cincinnati Zoo, filled with wonderdful animals from all over the world!
Want something different? Why not enjoy the thrills and spills at Coney Island Cincinnati, or go back through some historic signs at the American Sign Musuem?
There is something for the whole family in Cincinnati, so let's get out and explore!
Rush hour can find the roads quite congested in Cincinnati, so if you want to avoid the car, there are still plenty of ways to get around this great city!
First, is walking! Throw those walking shoes on and hit the pavement, because Cincinnati is a very walk-friendly city. There are four pedestrian friendly bridges that span the Ohio River, and the urban neighborhoods are so much fun to navigate on foot. In fact, Cincinnati was voted the Best Walking City in Ohio, and the 20th most walkable city in the USA!
If you need to give your feet a rest, the Cincinnati Bell Connector is a great option for you. This modern street car offers a unique way to see the sights of downtown Cincinnati with it's 3.6 mile loop stopping at multiple sights along the way, with tickets only $1 for 2 hours, or $2 for an all day pass!
Then, you have a number of bus services that can take you downtown and beyond. The Southbank Shuttle gives you easy access between Cincinnati, as well as and the riverfront cities of Covington and Newport in Northern Kentucky. The Metro is a great option for exploring the Uptown, North, East and West parts of the region, and if you're travelling to and from the airport, the Airporter is the fastest option, and is only $2 into downtown!
Bicycles are also a popular way to see the city, with a number of accessible locations to pick up a bike, with some streets featuring dedicated bike lanes.
Image Credit: The Cincinnati Region
Main Image Credit: Travel Cincinnati USA
Did you know that Cincinnati doesn't just have a lot of history above ground? It has an incredibly rich and fascinating history waiting below ground for you to explore, and companies such as American Legacy Tours offer two tours - the regular and the ultimate - to take you to a place that most people don't see!
Led by a knowledgable tour guide, some of the sights you'll visit on the tour include a crypt where the very first residents are buried, as well as historic brewery tunnels! Great for curious kids who are old enough to be walking, as they will need to use their hands to hold onto rails when exploring down steps. Note, these also aren't accessilbe tours due to 1 mile of steep stairs.
Image Credit & Website: American Legacy Tours
Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Cincinnati
1Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden opened all the way back in 1875 on just 65 acres, making it the second oldest zoo in the entire USA! This historic Cincinnati favorite is a wonderful place to spend the day with kids, surrounding yourselves with weird and wonderful creatures from all over the world!
Today, Cincinnati Zoo is home to over 500 species of animal and over 3,000 varities of plants, making it also one of the largest zoos in the entire USA! As well as amazing animals to see, the zoo also host fun events throughout the year, giving you even more reasons to visit.
Image Credit: Cincinnati Zoo
Get ready for fun at Coney Island, but we don't mean New York. We're actually in Cincinnati's Playground, filled with a host water park activities for kids! Located right on the Ohio River, Coney Island is where you can splash, slide, dive and swim the day away.
Kids can play in the Sunlite Pool where they can cannonball from a 9 foot diving board, take on the Twister and Cyclone slides, cool down one of the 70 interactive water play stations, enjoy arcade fun, and some mini-golf adventures, before ending the day at one of Coney Islands many events!
Image Credit: Coney Island
Play Ball! Celebrate the greats and immerse yourself in the history of the Cininnati Reds Baseball team at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Be inspired by those who have set records, and made Cincinnati proud as you learn all about the history of the league through the various exhibits in the museum.
In addition to the museum, kids can get an insider’s look at the home of the Reds with a really fun Great American Ball Park tour! Families can enjoy a guided tour of outdoor areas such as the Reds and visitor dugouts, and the visitor bullpen. You might even want to catch a game!
Image Credit: Reds Hall of Fame
The Cincinnati Fire Museum features a number of interative exhibits that are great for kids! They can learn all about the history of firefighting in the Cincinnati area, and see a variety of actual items used throughout history, from leather fire buckets, to silver trumpets, parade helmets, and of course - real fire engines! Kids can even slide down a real fire pole!
The Cincinnati Fire Museum also highlights the significant contributions that Cincinnati has made to the firefighting profession. After all, Cincinnati is the birthplace of professional firefighting! The museum also offers a unique fire-safety education experience, which is invaluable for kids.
Image Credit: Cincinnati Fire Museum
During this invaluable experience exploring permanent and traveling exhibits, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center shares the stories of freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, aimed to challenge and inspire all who visit.
Just a few steps from the banks of the Ohio River, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a museum of conscience, as well as an education center. It's a way for families to talk freely about history, as well as being a beacon of light for inclusive freedom around the globe.
Image Credit: Freedom Center
If you can't decide which museum to visit, why not head to the Cincinnati Museum Center as it's multiple museums in one, all located within the very beautiful art-deco style Union Terminal station.
Your admission covers the Children's Museum, the Cincinnati History Museum as well as the Museum of Natural History & Science. Then, if you want the fun to continue, you can also enjoy an OMNIMAX film, as well as some special exhibits they might be hosting!
Image Credit: CincyMuseum
Art and history come to life at the Taft Museum of Art! Tucked away in downtown Cincinnati, the 200 year old building is itself a living landmark, built around 1820 as a private home, and today is one of the finest small art museums in America, holding National Historic Landmark Status!
You can explore an extensive collection of European and American masterworks, as well as work from iconic artists including Rembrandt, Turner, and Whistler, plus the most significant pre-Civil War domestic murals in the USA! What's also great, is that whilst the Taft Museum of Art has an admission fee for adults, kids under 18 years go free!
Image Credit: Taft Museum of Art
The American Sign Museum is the largest public museum dedicated to signs in the entire United States, and makes for a unique and fun day out in Cincinnati with kids!
The museum is dedicated to the art and history of commercial signs and sign making, and covers more than a century of American sign history. It's a walk through the ages of technology and design, and don't miss checking out Neonworks of Cincinnati too - the full-time neon workshop located inside of the museum!
Image Credit: American Sign Museum
Located in the gorgeous Eden Park, Krohn Conservtory opened all the way back in 1933, and it's because of this you can see a number of features that were popular in the 1930s - the Art Deco style.
But it's the nature that draws people to Krohn Conservatory. From the Fern House, to the Palm, the Desert House and even Bansai's, kids can learn all about the amazing wonders of plants and flowers found all over the world!
In addition to these fascainating houses, the conservatory is also home to a
Image Credit: Krohn Conservatory
Famous Folk From Cincinnati!
Steven Spielberg is considered one of the greatest film directors of all time. Winner of three Academy Awards, Spielberg is also currently the most commercially successful director!
His directorial masterpieces include Jaws, Jurassic Park, Hook, E.T, Schindler's List and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Image Credit: Public Domain
Doris Day was one of America's most beloved actresses and singers, and one of the biggest film stars in the 1950s and 1960s.
She starred alongside icons such as Cary Grant, Rock Hudson and Kirk Douglas, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Pillow Talk
Image Credit: Public Domain
5 Fun Cincinnati Facts
Impress your friends with your amazing Cincinnati knowledge!
- Cincinnati was named after Lucius Cincinnatus, who was a Roman statesman and military leader
- Cincinatti has an entire subway system that was built underground, but never used and ultimately abandoned!
- The first ever recorded crime in Cincinnati was someone who stole a cucumber!
- Cincinnati was the first US city to establish a weather bureau (that happened in 1869!)
- Cincinnati was the first US city to set up an ambulance servce (that happened in 1865!)
Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids In Cincinnati
Be inspired at the Cincinnati Art Museum
Offering free admission year round, the Cincinnati Art Museum is home to a diverse encyclopedic art collection featuring over 67,000 works of art, that spans 6,000 year! Located in the beautiful Eden Park, the museum also hosts a number of national and international traveling exhibits every year, so there is always something you can go back to enjoy!
Kids can be inspired by African Art, East Asian Art, Native American Art, Decorative Art, paintings, sculptures, photograph, even musical instruments! Art is so much more than just paintings, and the Cincinnati Art Museum is the perfect place for kids to not only learn, but to be inspired.
Image Credit: Cincinnati Art Museum
Explore Eden Park!
Eden Park is 186 acres of green spaces to play, tree groves to explore, and plenty of walking paths to stroll, jog, and take in this Cincinnati paradise! Don't miss exploring the lakes, as well as a beautiful magnolia garden, as well as a number of scenic spots overlooking the Ohio River Valley.
It's also home to a number of attractions too, such as the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Krohn Conservatory! (Fees may apply) Kids always love the playground, and it’s also a great spot for chess or launching model boats. Also, within Eden Park is a picturesque 172-foot high Water Tower dating back to 1894!
Image Credit: Cincinnati Parks
Visit Findlay Market!
Findlay Market is Ohio's oldest continuously operated public market, and one of the most popular places to visit in Cincinnati! Located in a historic neighborhood rich in 19th century architecture, Findlay Market is the perfect place to enjoy deliciously fresh, local artisinal foods!
Open Tuesday through Sunday year round, Findlay Market is home to more than 50 full-time merchants and on weekends, the Findlay Market also hosts a thriving Farmers Market, as well as a vibrant Outdoor Market, numerous street performers and several special events too!
Image Credit: Findlay Market
Stroll Mainstrasse Village
Mainstrasse Village is just a hop across the Ohio River and actually location in Covington, Kentucky, but it's so close to Cincinnati it's worth considering a quick visit! The German-style MainStrasse Village is located on the National Register of Historic Places, and is home to unique shops, galleries, some of Covington’s finest restaurants.
Not only is a wonderfully fun place to take a stroll, but there is something fun going on every month, such as the World's Longest Yard Sale in August, and the famous Goettafest in June!
Image Credit: Meet NKY
Explore the Cincinnati Skirball Museum
The Cincinnati Skirball Museum is one of the oldest repositories of Jewish cultural artifacts in America, and is an incredibly fascinating and important museum to visit.
This on campus museum preserves and interprets a rich collection of fine art and artifacts that all tell the vibrant story of the Cincinnati Jewish community, as well as global Jewish history, religion, and culture through it's premanent and rotating exhibitions, and they also offer engaging public programs for visitors of all faiths.
Image Credit: Skirball Museum
Dream Cheat Day: The Best Food in Cincinnati!
When considering your fun day trip from Cincinnati, why not consider one that's underground!? Ohio Caverns is THE best place to explore underground caverns in the state, which also happens to be the home of the largest stalactite in Ohio too!
At just under 2 hours drive from Cincinnati, you'll be able to find out first hand why Ohio Caverns are considered "America's most colorful caverns!"
Ohio Caverns were first observed in 1897, today is a private family-owned business that allows you to see these amazing natural formations with your own eyes.
Tours are offered that allow you to explore over 2 miles of surveyed passageways that take you as deep as 103 feet. All of the tours are around one hour in duration.
The caverns are a constant 54 degrees, meaning the tours can operate all year round! So no matter what the Ohio weather is doing, Ohio Caverns have you covered (literally!)
If you want to spend time above ground, you'll be excited to hear that surrounding the Ohio Caverns is a 54 acre park where you can enjoy playgrounds, picnics, and plenty of family fun!
Image Credit: Ohio Caverns
Here’s our top 4 Ohio Caverns tours and activities:
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Let's get the family adventure started!