TravelingMoms love to travel – anywhere in the world, any time. Sometimes though, we find ourselves in need of a staycation! Whether you are just looking for day trips around the tri-state area or the best things to do in Cincinnati, Wayfinding TravelingMom Jennifer Kaufman has you covered. Here is a list of the best Cincinnati Staycation Ideas for 2018!

the Cincinnati Skyline in the background from Devou Park in Northern Kentucky

If you haven’t spent much time in Cincinnati, you may be surprised just how much there is to see, do, and eat. It’s a great place to visit or to plan some day trips. Check out our Staycation Ideas for Cincinnati!

If you’ve read much on TravelingMom, you probably, well, like to travel. We love travel so much that for a long time in my life, I really struggled with the times I had to stay home. I found myself always looking ahead to the next big trip, and missing the moments in between.

The past several years, I’ve made it a point to really explore our city. Cincinnati has so much to offer that I’ve realized it really is a perfect place for a staycation! Here are some of our favorite staycation ideas; they’re in alphabetical order, because I couldn’t otherwise decide. Each place has its own charm, and you can’t go wrong with whichever appeals to your family!

Best Cincinnati Staycation Ideas

American Sign Museum

The American Sign Museum is one of the best hidden gems in the city. Opened in 2005, it features recreated scenes and streetscapes throughout the ages. Beginning with store fronts where someone “hung out a shingle” and ending with the flashy neon lights of today, it’s really a ton of fun for everyone. Kids get a kick out of the visuals, and older guests enjoy reminiscing about companies long gone, old logos, and other bits of nostalgia.

Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center

The Contemporary Arts Center hosts traveling exhibits year-round, so there’s always something new to see – and never an admission fee.  What truly differentiates it most from a normal art museum is the “UnMuseum.” The UnMuseum floor welcomes families and kids to hear, touch, and even smell the art. The gallery is kid-friendly and interactive, and everyone is welcome to visit the Art Lab to create their own art!

Cincinnati Fire Museum

an elementary school girl slides down a fire pole at the Cincinnati Fire Museum - a great staycation idea in Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Fire Museum is fun for all ages, with its interactive exhibits on the history of fire fighting and on fire safety. Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman

Cincinnati is the birthplace of professional firefighting, and the Cincinnati Fire Museum shares the exciting history of the industry. Kids can interact with exhibits that share history of firefighting, along with fire safety. They can even check out fire engines from many different eras. I’ll admit – my kids didn’t have much interest in firefighting when they first had to go to the Cincinnati Fire Museum for a school project; we’ve been back since though, because we all enjoyed it so much!

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Cincinnati Museum Center & Union Terminal

Opened in 1933, Cincinnati’s Union Terminal was an incredibly important transportation hub as railroad travel expanded. Gorgeous, gigantic mosaics cover the rotunda, built as part of the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.

a preschooler plays in a water play area at the Cincinnati Children's Museum in Cincinnati's Union Terminal during a family staycation

The Cincinnati Children’s Museum has something for all ages – and is only one of three attractions inside Cincinnati’s historical Union Terminal. Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman, Wayfinding TravelingMom

Union Terminal is home to several museums and attractions, but the center is currently undergoing a massive restoration project; be sure to check what will be open during your visit.

Cincinnati Reds Game

a school-age boy waves a rally towel at Great American Ballpark, during the Cincinnati Reds opening day baseball game

Great American Ballpark offers tons of family fun – especially on Reds Opening Day! Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman, Wayfinding TravelingMom

As the home of the first professional baseball team in the country, Cincinnati celebrates Opening Day like a major holiday. Great American Ballpark is a great place for families to experience a Major League Baseball game.

Cincinnati Zoo

three kids pose with a #TeamFiona sign at the Cincinnati Zoo

Baby Fiona, a hippo born prematurely at the Cincinnati Zoo, took the world by storm last year. You can visit her on most warm days at the Cincinnati Zoo! Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman

The Cincinnati Zoo has a number of great events year-round; it always tops any list I make about the city. Ranking highly on many lists of US Zoos, there is always something special going on at the zoo – no matter when you visit. You can even stay overnight with the giraffes or manatees!

Coney Island

Coney Island is a small amusement park and water park on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati. It has been open since 1886! It’s definitely a (much) littler sister to Kings Island amusement park, so if you’re looking for big thrills, it may not be your first choice. It’s charming though, and has plenty for the whole family. The shining star of the park has to be Sunlight Pool – the world’s largest recirculating pool, holding more than 3 million gallons of water!

Eden Park – including the Cincinnati Art Museum Krohn Conservatory

a boy admires a monarch butterfly at the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, Ohio

The annual Butterfly Show is the most popular thing to see at Eden Park’s Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, but there is something to do year-round! Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman, Wayfinding TravelingMom

Eden Park is one of Cincinnati’s most popular outdoor destinations. Walk through the Magnolia Garden and to Mirror Lake, or check out several playgrounds and sculpture parks. The park also provides great views of the city.

Inside Eden Park, you’ll find a modern playhouse theater, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Krohn Conservatory, and more. The art museum features free admission, special exhibits and activities for kids. The Krohn conservatory has a world-renowned butterfly exhibit each year; even if you’re traveling after the Butterfly Show has ended, it’s a beautiful stop for the whole family.

FC Cincinnati Soccer Game

a family cheers after an FC Cincinnati Soccer goal during a match at Nipper Stadium, on the University of Cincinnati campus

There is perhaps nowhere in the city that my kids like to go more than an FC Cincinnati match! Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman, Wayfinding TravelingMom

My kids enjoy going to baseball games, but they actually prefer the electric atmosphere at an FC Cincinnati soccer match. The club is making major waves in US soccer, advancing past several Major League Soccer teams in last year’s Open Cup tournament and consistently breaking attendance records. Attending a match in person is fun for everyone. We usually play in the Kids Zone before the games start, and sit close to the field so we can be right next to the action.

Findlay Market

If you like goofy pics, head to Over the Rhine

Visitors line up to take a selfie in the giant chair in front of Findlay Market. Credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

Findlay Market, the oldest continuously operated market in Ohio, is open Tuesday-Sunday year round. It truly is a favorite place among locals to just go and take in the atmosphere. Our family always finds something to talk (or learn!) about, between the produce options, ethnic food markets, and street performers.

Great Wolf Lodge

A preschooler in an orange puddle jumper and an older sibling play on a lily pad float in a Great Wolf Lodge pool

There are activities for all ages at Great Wolf Lodge, including many the whole family can do together! Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman, Wayfinding TravelingMom

The Great Wolf Lodge in Cincinnati is actually located north of the city in Mason, Ohio, adjacent to Kings Island! In addition to the world famous indoor water park you’d expect at a Great Wolf Lodge hotel, there are countless things to do inside and out of the hotel. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Great Wolf Lodge!

Kings Island

Two young girls are ready to ride a roller coaster in the award-winning kids area at Kings Island

Planet Snoopy has miniature versions of the grown-up coasters, as well as dozens of other rides for kids of all ages (and their parents). Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman, Wayfinding TravelingMom

Kings Island is the largest amusement and waterpark in the Midwest. The kids’ area has won 16 consecutive awards as the Best Kids Area in the World. We’ve spent countless hours riding the rides, enjoying blue ice cream, and trying to spot our house from the Eiffel Tower. Check out these tips before you visit!

Lunken Airport

children stand outside of Lunken Airport, one of locals' favorite free Cincinnati activities, after watching the planes

Cincinnati’s Lunken Airport isn’t as bustling as it once was, but it’s a fun place to go and view planes and helicopters up close, or watch them as they take off and land. Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman, Wayfinding Travelingmom

In 1925, Cincinnati’s Lunken Airport was the largest municipal airport in the world. My kids find that baffling, having been in other commercial airports and then visiting this hidden gem.

It’s hard to imagine a time when Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart would’ve flown through here, but Lunken is still a family-favorite spot to hang out. We often eat lunch at the Sky Galley restaurant, but you don’t have to in order to visit. We love to walk right alongside of airplanes and helicopters, often talking to the owners and pilots.

If you want some exercise, there’s a loop around the airport where you can walk as you watch planes come and go. And you never know, you just may spot a VIP or celebrity arriving to Cincinnati on a charter plane!

Loveland Bike Trail

a forest of trees with colorful foliage as seen along Cincinnati's Loveland Bike Trail in the fall

We love to walk along the Loveland Bike Trail’s paved path throughout the year. It’s a great spot to watch the seasons change! Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman, Wayfinding Travelingmom

The “Loveland” Bike Trail actually runs 70 miles through the towns of Loveland, Milford, Newtown, Miami Township, and Lebanon. Any number of places along the trail offer free parking, picnic areas and restrooms, playgrounds, and entertainment. Many also have restaurants and local ice cream shops, if you want to grab a treat before or after hitting the trail.

Over-the-Rhine

Have you traveled around Over the Rhine?

Fun way to get around Over the Rhine: the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar. Credit: Cincinnati METRO

Over-the-Rhine is believed to be one of the largest, most intact historic urban districts in the United States. It was settled by German immigrants as a bustling working-class neighborhood in the mid-19th century. In the more recent past it has undergone a lot of change, including a period if unrest. Today, it is one of the trendiest places to visit in Cincinnati.

The New York Times praised Over-the-Rhine’s architectural significance. Several new restaurants open each year making it a foodie paradise. A number of breweries welcome the craft beer enthusiast. And still, there are plenty of things for families to do together. TravelingMom Judy Antell has 5 Great Reasons Over-the-Rhine is a great Cincinnati staycation destination.

Queen City Underground Tour

There are several cool tours in Cincinnati. We’ve done the Segway Tour a few times, but the one we’re most interested in trying this year is the Queen City Underground Tour. One such tour leads guests to a hidden crypt where famous Cincinnatians were buried, and into “beer tunnels” used by historic local breweries.

Riverwalk and the Riverfront Parks

I could have listed a number of Riverfront parks individually, from the historic Sawyer Point & Yeatman’s Cove to the brand new Smale Riverfront Park. The Ohio River Trail connects many free Cincinnati Parks together, providing spectacular views along the way. Find “porch” swings and water play features, rose gardens and landscaped labyrinths, dancing fountains, playgrounds with rock walls, replica canal locks and flying pigs, mosaics and so much more along the Riverwalk.

Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum

a mausoleum at Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery looks like a castle - and is a great place to take kids for an outdoor Cincinnati Staycation

The Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is another hidden gem in Cincinnati. There are so many neat architectural and natural elements to check out! Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman, Wayfinding TravelingMom

A cemetery may seem like a strange place to visit, but this one is so beautiful we’ve actually attended a wedding on its grounds. In fact, there are weddings held at Spring Grove nearly every weekend! This spring, visitors can take a bird-watching walk, learn about the plants and award-winning trees on a guided tour, or even attend a seminar on maple syrup tapping or proper pruning for your garden. I’m looking forward to taking my kids to such a unique place. We can simultaneously discover Cincinnati history, see a variety of architecture, and take pictures of gorgeous trees and plants.

Other Great Things to Do in Cincinnati

For more Cincinnati fun, be sure to check out these other great TravelingMom resources —

What is there to do for free in Cincinnati?

What are the best family friendly activities in Cincinnati this spring?

How can I beat the heat in Cincinnati?

Also, be sure to check for any activities happening on Fountain Square or in Washington Park. The Queen City is definitely a place you could visit – or plan a Staycation – over and over again and never run out of things to do!

Planning a staycation or day trip in Cincinnati? Check out ideas of fun things for families in the Queen City, including Kings Island, Great Wolf Lodge, local sporting events, museums and more!

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