Are you looking for fun things to do in Cincinnati in the winter? Winter in the Midwest can be brutal. Short, cold days, blustery wind, and grey skies. Yuck. No wonder we Midwesterners do our best to head to the closest beaches once December hits.
Luckily, if a visit to Florida isn’t in your cards, there are plenty of fun winter things to do in Cincinnati. Enough that you could enjoy something different every week and STILL not run out of activities.
We head over to Cincinnati often year-round, and many of our best trips (I’m thinking of you January brewery hopping with friends) are in the winter. So, this year, make a pact to start enjoying some of these winter activities in Cincinnati and I bet you’ll find winter isn’t so horrible after all!
Indulge the kids at one of these kid-friendly museums
One year when we were looking for fun things to do with the kids in the winter in Cincinnati we stumbled upon the Cincinnati Museum Center. This campus houses four very kid-friendly museums, any of which would be perfect for a cold winter afternoon.
1. Cincinnati History Museum
First up, the Cincinnati History Museum. I walked in and felt like I’d time-traveled. It’s set up like an 1800s replica of the city’s Public Landing. If you’ve ever wanted to stroll through history, this is your chance! My kids loved the mini steamboats and the antique streetcars. It felt like a lively snapshot of the city’s past.
2. Duke Energy Children’s Museum
Next is the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, which is just a wonderland for the kiddos. You can’t get them out of there; it’s that captivating. It’s an interactive playground that teaches them about the city, community roles, and even some practical life skills. Moms and dads, this place is a lifesaver for releasing that pent-up winter energy.
3. Museum of Natural History & Science
The Museum of Natural History & Science was our favorite of the museums we visited. My kids love science so we visit every science museum we can find. This one has life-sized dinosaurs and a legit walk-through limestone cave. I was both thrilled and slightly terrified (in a good way) walking under a T-Rex replica. The employees are friendly and we learned a lot just by spending some time talking to them as we explored.
4. Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center
Lastly, we visited the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center. This one is for the older kids and adults, and it’s a deeply emotional and educational experience. It takes you through stories of Holocaust survivors who settled in Cincinnati, blending history with the current fight against hate and prejudice. It’s a moving journey that I think everyone should experience at least once.
You could easily spend a day exploring all four museums, or break it up and visit one each week – that’s a whole month of museum fun for the whole family.
Art in Cincinnati
Winter is a fantastic time to enjoy some of the beautiful art found in Cincinnati. There are three wonderful choices for art museums, and of which would make a fun way to get out of the cold winter weather.
5. Taft Museum of Art
First up, the Taft Museum of Art. This museum is housed in a historic 19th-century mansion that feels as if you’re stepping into a different era. The collection includes European and American masterpieces, ranging from works by Rembrandt to Whistler. It’s an intimate experience that gives you a glimpse into both art history and the lives of the Taft family who originally owned the collection.
6. Cincinnati Art Museum
Next, you have the Cincinnati Art Museum. Located in Eden Park, the museum boasts an impressive collection of more than 67,000 artworks, spanning 6,000 years of world history. This museum is ideal for those who want to take a global art tour without ever leaving Cincinnati.
You’ll find European paintings, Classical antiquities, African and Native American works, and much more. Best part? General admission is free, so it’s one of the best free things to do in Cincinnati in the winter, it’s perfect if you’re traveling on a budget but don’t want to skimp on culture.
7. Contemporary Arts Center
Last but not least is the Contemporary Arts Center, a stark contrast to the other two. This museum is not afraid to push boundaries. You’ll encounter thought-provoking exhibits featuring modern art from diverse and often underrepresented voices. It’s my favorite art museum in the city – I especially love the top floor which is full of interactive exhibits.
Have fun watching sports this winter
Cincinnati is a large enough city to allow for a wide variety of spectator sports. In the summer, we often try to get to a Cincinnati Reds game (especially if they are playing the Cubs), or a soccer match, and in the winter, there are plenty of other options!
8. Cincinnati Cyclones
You might be surprised, but winter is an adrenaline-packed season that you just can’t miss. There’s nothing like cheering for the Cincinnati Cyclones at Heritage Bank Center, hot cocoa in hand, while the ice glimmers and players zoom around. It’s high-energy, super engaging, and the perfect way to get your sports fix when football season is over. And hey, theme nights? They’ve got ’em—from Star Wars to Teddy Bear Toss, there’s always something extra to enjoy.
Cincinnati Cyclones, 100 Broadway, Cincinnati, OH
9. College basketball
For basketball fans, winter is prime time for college hoops! With the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University both in Cincinnati, there are plenty of choices for games. The atmosphere is electric, both on and off the court. I’ve sat in those bleachers, screaming along with hundreds of fans, and let me tell you—it’s a blast!
10. Reds Hall of Fame & Museum
Even if you are a baseball fan feeling left out in the cold, you’ve got an option. The Reds Hall of Fame & Museum is a year-round haven for baseball enthusiasts. Take a trip down memory lane with memorabilia, trophies, and stories of the Reds’ rich history. It’s an indoor experience that’s both nostalgic and informative. I enjoyed a visit here on a field trip a few years ago and can attest that it’s an interesting and fun experience.
Unique things to do in Cincinnati in the winter
Cincinnati is a wonderful city FULL of interesting things to do year-round. So, even though the weather isn’t ideal, there are still plenty of unique things to do. Here are a few favorites.
11. Cincinnati Observatory
The Cincinnati Observatory is a haven for those kids who love astronomy (I had one of them!). The colder, clearer winter skies provide an excellent backdrop for exploring the heavens through the observatory’s telescopes. It’s an educational yet romantic spot that offers a variety of events such as family astronomy nights and Astro evenings, making it ideal for both date nights and family outings.
If you just want to learn a little bit more about astronomy and what an observatory has to offer, they also have half-hour tours a few days a week between 12 and 3. Make sure to make your reservations ahead of time.
12. EnterTRAINment Junction
Do you have a train fan in your group? EnterTRAINment Junction offers a delightful experience for train lovers of all ages. This place boasts the world’s largest indoor train display, capturing the magic of miniature railroads in intricate detail. It’s a huge (80,000 square feet) space that makes for a perfect winter outing, keeping you entertained for hours!
It’s in the nearby suburb of West Chester where we used to spend MANY soccer and just getaway weekends. Between EnterTRAINment Junction, IKEA, the many tasty restaurants, and more, it’s a fun little winter break location.
13. American Sign Museum
American Sign Museum brings the art of sign-making to life with a vast collection of neon and painted signs. It’s a vibrant, colorful escape from the winter grays, offering a walk down memory lane as you explore advertising history – and it’s SUPER cool. The museum’s indoor setting makes it an excellent choice for a chilly day.
You’ll definitely want to sign up for one of the guided tours on Saturdays as you’ll learn a lot and get a more in-depth experience. Plus, for those who love taking fun pictures – this place is a winner!
14. Watch a show at Bogart’s
Watching a show at Bogart’s or Playhouse in the Park offers a fantastic cultural experience in Cincinnati. Both venues have a reputation for hosting a wide array of performances, from concerts to theatrical productions.
15. or Playhouse in the Park
Bogart’s has more of a club vibe while Playhouse in the Park is more theater-like, so pick your preference (or just see what’s playing at each to decide). For instance, if I have my kids along, I’m much more likely to pick Playhouse in the Park whereas Bogart’s is a fun adult weekend attraction. Regardless of where you go, a show of some sort is always a lovely way to spend a winter evening, enjoying top-notch entertainment in a cozy, intimate setting.
16. SplatterTime Cincinnati
SplatterTime Cincinnati is actually only one of the fun things offered at OTR Funplex in Cincinnati, but it offers a unique form of entertainment that’s equal parts art and stress relief. You can create your own splatter paint masterpiece in a controlled environment (complete with everything you need to cover up), perfect for letting off some steam during the winter months. It’s fun, messy, and a wonderful way to unleash your creative side while staying indoors – AND unlike painting at home, you don’t have to clean up the mess!
Holiday fun in Cincinnati
Cincy loves the holiday season, and as such, there are quite a few holiday-centric events available. Any of these would be fun things to do in Cincinnati in December.
17. Festival of Lights at the Zoo
December in Cincinnati is a dream! My favorite event is the Festival of Lights at the Zoo; it’s a spectacle that transforms the whole place into a twinkling wonderland. Walking through the paths with your loved ones, surrounded by illuminated animal displays, makes it a must-visit seasonal event.
18. Christmas Lights at Coney Island
Then there’s the Christmas Lights at Coney Island, which take holiday lighting to a whole new level. Called “Nights of Lights”, when you visit Coney Island from early November through January 31st. Picture yourself in a car with the family, driving through a dazzling array of lights (over 2 million) that dance to synchronized music. It’s a feast for the eyes and a great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your vehicle. I love drive-thru light shows – we stop at a local coffee shop, grab some peppermint mochas, and enjoy the evening!
19. Cincinnati Ballet’s Nutcracker
The Cincinnati Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker is a December staple that oozes holiday charm. With its captivating choreography, mesmerizing sets, and enchanting music, it’s an outing that’s sure to make you feel the magic of the season. It’s a classic that both kids and adults will adore. It’s something we do every few years, but I know a lot of families who make it a holiday tradition.
20. Servatii Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt
And let’s not forget about the Servatii Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt. This German-inspired Christmas market is a local favorite, offering handcrafted gifts, festive decorations, and an array of scrumptious treats. It’s similar to the Carmel Christkindlmarkt in Indiana but a bit smaller and with an ice slide versus ice skating. It’s a very fun and unique holiday experience – and well worth adding to your December bucket list!
Servatii Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati, OH
Not a ton of energy? Check out these laid-back (but fun!) winter activities in Cincinnati
21. Trivia at a local brewery
Trivia at a local brewery is a fantastic way to spend a winter evening in Cincinnati. With a pint of craft beer in hand, you and your friends can team up to answer questions on various topics. It’s a casual, laid-back atmosphere where you can both challenge your mind and enjoy some hearty brews, making it a perfect escape from the winter chill. We try to head to trivia a few times a month- we’ve found it’s a great way to break up the week as well as have a little fun.
22. Escape Rooms
Escape Rooms offer a thrilling experience that’ll warm you up in no time. Gather a group and test your problem-solving skills as you work together to crack codes and solve puzzles. It’s an adrenaline rush and a great indoor activity that’ll make you forget all about the freezing temperatures outside. Whenever we travel, we look for escape rooms, and Cincinnati is home to several options.
23. Krohn Conservatory
My favorite time to visit a conservatory is in the winter, and in Cincinnati, The Krohn Conservatory is a lush, tropical oasis amidst the winter gloom. With various themed gardens, you can explore exotic plant species and even catch some seasonal floral shows. It’s a tranquil setting that provides a much-needed break from the winter blues, offering a warm escape without leaving the city.
24. Stock up at Jungle Jim’s
Jungle Jim’s is not just a grocery store; it’s an adventure. It’s a rare visit to Cincinnati for us where we don’t stop! Even the teens (and their friends) love Jungle Jim’s. Winter is an excellent time to explore new cuisines at this international food market. With over 180,000 products from around the world, you can travel the globe through your taste buds, all while staying cozy indoors.
There are two locations in Cincinnati, but the original one is my favorite. If you aren’t a local, be sure to pack a cooler because I guarantee you’re going to want to bring some fun food and treats home after your visit.
25. Chill out at a coffee shop
Are you on a budget? Chilling in a local coffee shop is one of my favorite cheap things to do in Cincinnati in the winter. It offers a simple yet satisfying pleasure. Cincinnati has some terrific coffee shops where you can sip on a hot latte or indulge in a freshly baked pastry. It’s a perfect setting to read, work, or catch up with friends, adding a sense of comfort to your winter days.
26. Visit a craft brewery
Visiting a craft brewery lets you explore Cincinnati’s burgeoning beer scene. There are so many delicious breweries in the city – and it seems like new ones are popping up weekly. Many local breweries offer indoor tours and tastings, allowing you to learn about the brewing process while sampling a variety of unique ales and lagers.
It’s a cozy, communal experience that’s great for socializing. One of our favorite winter weekends was a brewery trip we took to Cincinnati with good friends – we visited several breweries each day and had a blast!
27. Visit a winery
Finally, indulging in a wine tasting adds a touch of elegance to your winter outings. Cincinnati has several wine bars and wineries where you can savor a curated selection of reds, whites, and rosés. With expert guidance, it’s a delightful way to expand your palate and unwind, making it an ideal choice for a romantic date or a girls’ night out.
Get active with these fun things to do in Cincinnati in the winter
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t stay active. Try one (or more) of these fun active winter activities in Cincinnati.
28. Go ice skating
Ice skating in Cincinnati is a classic winter activity that brings a touch of magic to the season. Whether you’re gliding around the rink at Fountain Square downtown or at one of the local indoor arenas, it’s a delightful way to embrace the chill in the air. We always go ice skating a time or two in the winter because it’s a perfect outing for families or couples.
👉 Do you find yourself ice skating several times a year as we do? Then you might want to consider picking up your own pair of skates – they are surprisingly affordable and it’s so nice to not have to wear rentals! Plus, they last for years.
29. Winter sports at Perfect North Slopes
I love winter sports and just a short drive from Cincinnati is Perfect North. This winter sports haven offers downhill skiing and snow tubing options for all skill levels. You can spend the day carving through the snow or racing down a hill in a tube, making it a winter wonderland that’s right at Cincinnati’s doorstep. When we can’t get up to Boyne Mountain, Michigan, Perfect North is a terrific downhill skiing option.
30 & 31. Roller skating and bowling
Roller skating or bowling provides an awesome indoor alternative when the weather outside is a bit too frightful. Local roller rinks and bowling alleys offer a nostalgic vibe and are a hit with families, friends, and couples alike. It’s a great way to get some light exercise and engage in a little friendly competition. You’ll find both options in Cincinnati, so grab some skates or bowling shoes and enjoy!
32. Axe Throwing
Axe Throwing is another indoor activity that’s gained popularity and, let me tell you, it’s as fun as it sounds. After a brief safety orientation, you can unleash your inner lumberjack and try to hit the bullseye. It’s a unique way to spend an evening and offers something a little different from the usual winter outings.
33. Burn off energy at an indoor playground
An indoor playground is a godsend for families looking to let the little ones burn off some energy. Cincinnati has several options where kids can climb, slide, and explore in a safe, supervised environment. It’s a fantastic way for them to stay active and social during the colder months. My favorite choice is Recreation Outlet. When the kids were little we would often take them there to play. Yes, it’s a showroom for their equipment, but also a fun place for the kiddos.
Recreation Outlet, 885 State Road 28, Milford, OH
Have you ever heard of fowling? It is a quirky hybrid game that combines football and bowling, and it’s catching on in Cincinnati. It’s played in a warehouse-style setting, and the objective is to knock down your opponent’s bowling pins by throwing a football. It’s addictively fun and you can enjoy a drink from the bar while you play too. Kids are allowed during the day, but in the evening it’s adults only.
More fun things to do in Cincinnati in the winter
35. Indulge at a food tour
A food tour in Cincinnati during winter is an epicurean delight that you won’t want to miss. Think about it: strolling from eatery to eatery, sampling the city’s iconic dishes, and checking out the hottest restaurants.
It’s such a fun way to experience a lot of different dishes in one outing AND you get to explore various neighborhoods and local food scenes, all while staying warm and satisfied. Food tours are a fun activity for teenagers too – my son and I had a ball on a recent one in Ybor City.
🍷 Here’s a great food tour to check out in Cincinnati – check it out and add it to your winter adventures.
36. Learn something new on a city tour
City tours offer a fantastic way to learn about Cincinnati’s rich history and culture, even when it’s cold outside. From architectural marvels to historical landmarks, you can discover the city’s hidden gems either by hopping on a bus tour or going on a guided walking tour. Just bundle up, grab a hot drink, and you’re good to go! It’s an educational experience that will make you appreciate Cincinnati on a whole new level.
💥 Check out this Over the Rhine tour and learn about one of the iconic neighborhoods of Cincinnati.
37. Take a day trip to Indy
Feeling like a change of scenery? Consider a day trip to Indy, just a couple of hours’ drive from Cincinnati. Whether you’re exploring the renowned Children’s Museum of Indianapolis or taking a stroll along the historic Canal Walk, Indianapolis offers a host of attractions that make for a worthwhile day excursion. As a resident of an Indy suburb, I can guarantee you’ll have a blast in the Circle City!
38. Gamble at Hard Rock Casino
Finally, for those who are looking to up the stakes, the Hard Rock Casino in Cincinnati offers an exciting night out. With a variety of games like poker, slots, and table games, there’s something for every level of player. When the kids were little, they would stay at Grandma’s and we’d take the occasional weekend trip with friends to Cincinnati, and we’d always hit the casino. So much fun!
Where to Stay in Cincinnati
There are SO many choices for where to stay in Cincinnati – something for every budget for sure. Often (especially for soccer or when the whole family travels) we’ll stay in the suburb of West Chester – in which case we always stay at the Staybridge.
My Top 3 Picks: Hotels in Cincinnati
How to Get Around Cincinnati
If you want to visit any attractions that aren’t downtown, you’ll need a car in Cincinnati. The city is quite spread out, and with a car, you can visit the suburbs as well as nearby Newport, Kentucky.
🚗 Check out the rentals from DiscoverCars to help you find the best deal!
FAQs: Winter Activities in Cincinnati
What is winter like in Cincinnati?
The weather will get cold, and there may be snow, but there will also be a few temperate days here and there.
What is Cincinnati Ohio most famous for?
German immigrants settled the area and began brewing beer. Today it has over 50 breweries!
Does Cincinnati Ohio get a lot of snow?
Cincinnati averages over 20 inches of snow each year, but that’s spread across the winter months.
What is the most famous street in Cincinnati?
Vine Street – home of Bogart’s and the Cincinnati Zoo
What is the nickname for Cincinnati?
Conclusion: Fun Things to Do in Cincinnati Ohio
Cincinnati in winter is far from a sleepy town; it’s a vibrant city brimming with activities, experiences, and flavors waiting to be discovered. From the artistic allure of its museums to the adrenaline-pumping action at local sports arenas, and even day trips that let you explore beyond the city limits, Cincy offers something for everyone during the winter months.
Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, an adventurer, or just someone looking to create some unforgettable memories, this Midwestern gem is sure to capture your heart. So go ahead, bundle up and dive into the amazing winter activities that Cincinnati has to offer. Trust me, you won’t regret it!