Downtown Cincinnati

21 Amazing Day Trips from Cincinnati in Ohio, Kentucky, & Indiana

Cincinnati Ohio offers countless places to explore, and it’s hard to imagine ever getting bored there! But, it’s also a fantastic jumping-off point to many other attractions. And, day trips from Cincinnati Ohio aren’t limited to exploring the Buckeye State.

Within a 4-hour drive from Cincinnati, OH you can access so many great things to do in Ohio, plus Cincinnati’s location in the southwest corner of the state makes it easy to access some of the best things to do in Kentucky and Indiana, too. 

Read on to learn about the best places to visit on a day trip from Cincinnati…

Downtown Cincinnati
Cincinnati Ohio

Ohio Day Trips From Cincinnati

Play at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum | Hamilton, OH

35-minute drive from Cincinnati

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum is one of the largest outdoor art displays in the Midwest! Located in Hamilton, this park covers 300 acres of outdoor space and is completely free and open to the public. You’re welcome to tour the grounds and explore the more than 80 sculptures.

The on-site museums include an art gallery with pieces of local and internationally-renowned creators, as well as an Ancient Sculpture Exhibit with pieces from the ancient Greeks, Syrians, Romans, Egyptians, and Etruscans.

Also, the park is surrounded by hiking trails, expertly bringing art and nature together.

Learn About History in Ripley | Ripley, OH

1-hour drive from Cincinnati

The Village of Ripley is a short drive outside Cincinnati. While the village offers a wide variety of attractions, including camping, boating, swimming, and shopping, it’s best known for its historic role in the Underground Railroad.

Today, you’re welcome to tour the village’s historic sites and learn how they helped slaves attain freedom in the 19th century.

Even if you’re not a history buff, Ripley is worth a visit. There are many places to enjoy outdoor activities, as well as places to go antiquing, museums, restaurants, and vineyards. You’ll find many events and festivals going on throughout the year too.

Ripley - Ripley, Ohio
Ripley | photo via @cincinnati_revealed

Step Back in History at Carillon Historical Park | Dayton, OH

1-hour drive from Cincinnati

History lovers will enjoy exploring the house and grounds at Carillon Historical Park, a historic property showcasing some of the most interesting and important moments in Dayton’s history.

While the main house dates from 1940, other properties in the park were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. These include several family homes and a one-room schoolhouse.

In addition to the properties, you can enjoy live demonstrations of historic tools, such as a 1930s letterpress print. There’s also an impressive collection of historic vehicles and appliances, including an original Wright Flyer, Liberty aircraft engine, Frigidaire, and 1912 Cadillac.

Carillon Historical Park - Dayton, Ohio
Carillon Historical Park | photo via @annaeb29

See Millions of Artifacts at Boonshoft Museum of Discovery | Dayton, OH

1-hour drive from Cincinnati

Located just a short drive from Cincinnati in the City of Dayton is the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. This museum is dedicated to the study of natural history and has been adding to its collections since 1893!

Today, it offers amazing exhibits throughout the year, including historical artifacts, fossils, and much more. All told, the museum has 1.8 million artifacts on display, including the Discovery Zoo, fragments of the Dayton meteorite, and relics from Native American cultures.

It even has relics from ancient Japan, Egypt, the Philippines, Oceania, and China. And, there are special exhibits throughout the year for toddlers, children, and more!

You can find even more things to do in Dayton Ohio too.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery - Dayton, Ohio
Boonshoft Museum of Discovery | photo via @annaeb29

Eat Some Ice Cream at Young’s Jersey Dairy | Yellow Springs, OH

1-hour, 15-minute drive from Cincinnati

If you love ice cream, put Young’s Jersey Dairy on your list of places to visit. Located just a short drive outside Cincinnati, this dairy and ice cream parlor has been serving signature flavors since 1960.

Today, Young’s serves more than 60 flavors of rich ice cream made on site, as well as 30 flavors of gelato. You can also find milkshakes, sundaes, and other seasonal flavors.

Order ice cream on its own or as a follow-up to a delicious meal. You can even watch ice cream and cheese being made fresh through one of the dairy’s observation windows.

You could check out even more Ohio Ice Cream Trail parlors near Cincinnati Ohio.

Young's Jersey Dairy, Yellow Springs - Spring Things to do
Young’s Jersey Dairy | photo via @youngsdairy

Explore Nature at the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System | West Union, OH

1-hour, 20-minute drive from Cincinnati

The Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System is located in West Union Ohio. This stunning nature preserve covers more than 20,000 acres and is one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems in the American Midwest.

Here, you’ll find every land type from forests to riverbeds, promontories, waterfalls, and prairies, as well as an endless variety of plant and animal life. The preserve is a migratory corridor for animals and birds.

Additionally, it’s a popular spot for hiking, including more than 27 miles of hiking trails! Other activities include angling, bird-watching, and boating.

Edge of Appalachia Preserve System - West Union, Ohio
Edge of Appalachia Preserve System | photo via @richardsitler

Visit the Serpent Mound | Peebles, OH

1-hour, 20-minute drive from Cincinnati

The Serpent Mound is one of the most fascinating day trips from Cincinnati Ohio and intriguing ancient sites in the Midwest. This ancient effigy is shaped like a snake with a curled tail and is thought to be a remnant of the Adena peoples who lived in the area between 800 BCE and 100 CE.

The mound includes three burial sites. Its age and cultural significance have earned it a spot on the list of World Heritage sites alongside the Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, and the Great Wall of China.

You can explore the site from the ground or climb to the observation tower to look over the full site from above.

Serpent Mound - Peebles, Ohio
Serpent Mound | photo via @jay.wolfe.94214508

Snorkel in the Clearest Lake in Ohio | New Paris, OH

1-hour, 20-minute drive from Cincinnati

In New Paris Ohio is Natural Springs, the clearest lake in the state. The 12-acre lake is surrounded by natural rock formations, once part of a stone quarry. These days, the spring is a resort and campground with RV hookups and tent pitches, as well as cabin rentals.

Most amazingly is the crystal clear water of the spring, which allows perfect visibility, making the site a great place to swim, fish, and snorkel. You may also rent paddleboats, scuba dive, or enjoy the many amenities of the resort, including fire pits, beach volleyball, and a playground.

Natural Springs - New Paris, Ohio
Natural Springs | photo via @theglampinghaydens

Dive Deep Into the Ohio Caverns | West Liberty, OH

1-hour, 50-minute drive from Cincinnati

Just a morning ride from Cincinnati is one of Ohio’s most amazing natural attractions — West Liberty’s Ohio Caverns. These stunning caverns are widely known for their enormous size, fascinating stalagmite formations, and startlingly bright colors.

The caverns were first discovered in 1897 and remain almost exactly as they were 125 years ago. You can enjoy guided tours that lead 2 miles into the earth, exploring caves that range in height from 30 feet to 103 feet.

The adjoining park has a visitors’ center, picnic tables, playground, and gift shop where you can buy fossils and other souvenirs to remember your trip.

There are even more caverns and caves in Ohio to explore.

Ohio Caverns - West Liberty, Ohio
Ohio Caverns | photo via @mmphotos99

Learn Science the Fun Way at the Center of Science and Industry | Columbus, OH

1-hour, 40-minute drive from Cincinnati

The Center of Science and Industry, popularly shortened to COSI, is one of the most famous museums in Columbus. The exhibits feature all things science related, with kid-friendly features and seasonally rotating attractions.

Depending on when you visit, you might be able to touch a real meteorite or observe how scientists train rats. But, live demonstrations are only a tiny part of what COSI offers.

The museum partners with science exhibits from around the world, so you can always find something new when you visit. You might see real dinosaur fossils, drive a Mars rover, watch a show in the planetarium, or ride in a submarine!

Center of Science and Industry, Columbus - Ohio Museums
Center of Science and Industry | photo via @j_shawimages

Learn at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium | Columbus, OH

2-hour drive from Cincinnati

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is widely renowned as one of the best animal exhibits in the American Midwest.

Here, you can tour the grounds and meet a huge variety of animals from all over the world — from Amur tigers to Western Lowland gorillas. And, a zoo visit wouldn’t be complete without a demonstration from a zookeeper, including seeing the animals being fed.

The accompanying aquarium is also worth visiting, as are the zoo’s many rides and other attractions! The park includes a roller coaster, camel rides, a carousel, flying swings, teacup rides, and much more. There’s so much that you might need to make multiple visits.

There are many more things to do in Columbus Ohio as well.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Powell - Things to See Before You Die
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium | photo via @seanstewart7

Explore a Waterfall in Hocking Hills State Park | Logan, OH

2-hour, 20-minute drive from Cincinnati

Hocking Hills State Park is one of the most stunning nature reserves in Southeast Ohio. Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, it’s perfect for a day trip or weekend camping excursion.

There are many things to do in Hocking Hills, including hiking trails and exploring some of the most gorgeous waterfalls in Ohio. The trails offer a range of experiences and difficulty levels.

One of the most-visited features is Brandywine Falls, a 60-foot waterfall located on 1 mile of trail. It’s accessible to visitors of all ages!

Brandywine Falls - Brandywine Falls, Spring in Northeast Ohio
Brandywine Falls | photo via Nina Thomas

Go On an African Safari | Port Clinton, OH

3-hour, 40-minute drive from Cincinnati

Did you know that you can get up close and personal with exotic animals from around the globe … without even leaving Ohio? The Town of Port Clinton offers the chance to go on an African safari and animal walk-through.

While visiting the African Safari Wildlife Park, you’ll get the chance to interact with and even feed some animals that you’ve never seen before! The drive-through tour includes species such as Bactrian camels, giraffes, bison, and llamas.

The walk-through version offers the chance to meet wallabies, macaws, parrots, red kangaroos, ring-tailed lemurs, and gibbons. Special programs include camel rides and wild bird encounters.

African Safari Wildlife Park - Port Clinton, Ohio
African Safari Wildlife Park | photo via @beach2barnyard_

Kentucky Day Trips From Cincinnati Ohio

Hike at Big Bone Lick State Historic Site | Union, KY

30-minute drive from Cincinnati

Just 25 miles outside Cincinnati is Big Bone Lick State Historic Park, located across the Kentucky border. This amazing nature preserve is part hiking area, part outdoor museum. It’s an extremely popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts and anyone interested in history, geology, and animal life.

The park features fascinating ancient geological structures, and you’ll enjoy learning about these and viewing the prehistoric dioramas. Also, it’s a popular spot for birding, camping, hiking, and viewing the herds of bison that roam freely throughout the reserve.

You can stop for a round of miniature golf, and visit the gift shop as well!

Drink a Glass of Wine at Elk Creek Winery | Owenton, KY

1-hour drive from Cincinnati

Kentucky is known far and wide for its bourbon scene, but you might be surprised to find that there are plenty of excellent wineries there too! Elk Creek Winery is one of the best, located just across the Kentucky border in the town of Owenton.

You can get there from Cincinnati in roughly an hour, making it the perfect spot for a day trip. Elk Creek offers tours of the winery and tasting packages. The large menu features classic wines and unique fruit wines. There are also special events throughout the year, including live music!

Cincinnati Ohio Day Trip: Kentucky Horse Park
Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington KY

Learn About Horses at the Kentucky Horse Park | Lexington, KY

1-hour drive from Cincinnati

Kentucky is famous for a few key things, and horse racing is one of them. The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington is an entire park dedicated to the history of the relationship between humans and horses.

The property includes a 260-acre campground, museums, horseback riding trails, a parade route, and even a theme park. In other words, this is the one place you’ll ever need to visit to learn everything about horses and their care.

You can visit at any time of the year, but you might want to carve out time for a visit in the summer when there are horse shows galore!

Enjoy the Bourbon Scene at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery | Shively, KY

1-hour, 45-minute drive from Cincinnati

If there’s anything else you should know about Kentucky, it’s that its bourbon scene is unparalleled. You can find some of the best distilleries in the country around Louisville, and they serve signature products, of course.

There are dozens of places to find good Kentucky whiskey, but the Stitzel-Weller Distillery might be the best. The distillery has been in operation since Derby Day in 1935, following the end of Prohibition.

It closed its doors from 1992 to 2014 but is now open again, serving a legendary Louisville experience. Whiskey connoisseurs and newcomers alike will enjoy a visit!

Cincinnati Ohio Day Trip: Red River Gorge - Stanton KY
Red River Gorge, Stanton KY

Explore Ancient Rock Formations in the Red River Gorge | Stanton, KY

2-hour, 5-minute drive from Cincinnati

The Red River Gorge Geological Area is a stunning nature reserve featuring ancient rock formations that have been around for roughly 2.85 million years.

The gorge is located within the Daniel Boone National Forest and features many breathtaking geological characteristics, including dozens of natural sandstone cliffs and tunnels. It’s home to more than 60 miles of hiking trails, both easy and challenging.

In addition, it’s a popular spot for rock climbing with breathtaking views of the surrounding gorge and forests. No matter what type of outdoor sports you enjoy, Red River Gorge is worth a visit (or even two!).

Indiana Day Trips From Cincinnati Ohio

Take a Dip at Brookville Lake | Brookville, IN

1-hour, 10-minute drive from Cincinnati

The Brookville Reservoir is a small section of the Whitewater River Valley located in Brookville Indiana. This stunning swimming area is flanked by two state nature reserves, making it the perfect place to enjoy outdoor sports of all kinds, from swimming to hiking, boating, angling, and more.

The fishing opportunities are renowned at Brookville Reservoir, and you’ll find walleye and many other species. The reservoir is also internationally renowned for its ancient fossils, which are as old as 450 million years!

There are more than 400 campsites in the immediate area at the Mounds State Recreation Area, making it perfect for a rustic getaway.

Meet Sharks and More at the Indianapolis Zoo | Indianapolis, IN

1-hour, 50-minute drive from Cincinnati

Cincinnati is perfectly positioned among some of the most interesting and well-known cities in the Midwest. One of these is Indianapolis, where you can find the Indianapolis Zoo. But trust us when we say it’s worth the drive across the border because this isn’t any old zoo.

In addition to the countless animal exhibits — including one dedicated to baby animals — the zoo features rides and tons of special attractions. You can “race” against a cheetah, pet a shark, feed flamingos and giraffes, and tour the zoo by train. Kids will enjoy the special animal-themed playground too.

Cincinnati Ohio Day Trip: Indianapolis Zoo
Indianapolis Zoo, Indianapolis IN

Take a Shopping Trip Through Little Nashville | Nashville, IN 

2-hour drive from Cincinnati

Did you know that Cincinnati is just a two-hour drive from Nashville? No, not the one in Tennessee.

Nashville Indiana has earned the moniker “Little Nashville,” and it’s widely known as an amazing place to spend an afternoon thanks to its idyllic streets and great shopping outlets. The town earned its name because it was once the location of The Little Nashville Opry.

These days, it’s a place to hike nature trails at Brown County State Park, attend annual festivals like the Bean Blossom Jamboree, or simply enjoy the dining and retail offerings. It’s well worth the drive and guaranteed to offer an idyllic day.

Roebling Suspension Bridge - Cincinnati Ohio
Roebling Suspension Bridge, Cincinnati OH

Cincinnati | A Jumping-Off Point for a Day of Fun

Cincinnati offers access to almost every part of Ohio, as well as some of the best places to visit in Kentucky and Indiana!

On day trips from Cincinnati Ohio, you can reach everything from beaches to museums, nature preserves, historic mansions, and one-of-a-kind festivals. The best part is that everything is just a short drive away.

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