As we were publishing our monthly free guide, it dawned upon us that Cincinnati offers lots of free family fun all year long! From world-class museums to awesome arts programs, always-open exhibits to park programs, Cincinnati has lots of affordable options for families, January through December. (Just another reason to love the Queen City, are we right?)
Here are 20 Kid-Friendly Things You Can Always Do For Free in Cincinnati:
ArtWorks youth Apprentices and artists turn bare walls into public masterpieces that you’ve probably seen around town. There are over 130 public murals in 44 Cincinnati neighborhoods and seven nearby cities. Download a map and take a self-guided tour with your kids!
Big Bone Lick State Park
Located in Union, KY, Big Bone Lick State Park is a true hidden gem. Admission is free, and kids can peruse a museum at the Visitor’s Center, enjoy tot-friendly hikes and see America’s largest mammal – the bison!
Cardboard Boat Museum
The Cardboard Boat Museum (the world’s only cardboard boat racing museum), is located in the heart of Downtown New Richmond, an Ohio River town east of Coney Island, and is a fun and inspiring place to spend an afternoon.
Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati Public Library programs
We just love the Cincinnati Public Library, and between weekly story times, special classes and even summer camps, you’ll always find something fun – and FREE – at your local branch! (N. KY parents – check out the offerings at the Boone County Library!)
Contemporary Arts Center
Like the Art Museum, admission to the CAC is always free! Featuring three floors of changing exhibits including the kid-friendly UnMuseum, the Contemporary Arts Center is a fun way to explore the arts with your kids.
Eat for free
Don’t feel like cooking? Take the kids out to eat for free at one of these local establishments.
Dubbed “Everybody’s Treehouse,” Mt. Airy Treehouse is as charming, unique and accessible as the Queen City herself, and is worth a visit with your family.
Fire station tours
You don’t have to venture far to get a fire education — in most Greater Cincinnati suburbs, you can tour your local fire station, for free!
Foodie fests and finds
Between Taste of Cincinnati, Taste of Blue Ash, Findlay Market and Jungle Jim’s, Cincinnati offers something for every local foodie! Admission to the first two festivals is free, and both Findlay Market and Jungle Jim’s offer lots of free samples to satisfy all palates.
Miami University museums
Miami University isn’t just for college students; the Main Campus boasts several museums that are free and open to all! The Art Museum & Sculpture Park, the Karl E. Limper Geology Museum and the Hefner Museum of Natural History.
From record-breaking horseshoe crabs to triceracopters to *castles, Cincinnati has some very unique roadside attractions. (All of the aforementioned are free; if you want to tour the inside of the Loveland Castle, you’ll pay a small admission.)
Part playground, part park, playscapes are awesome places for kids to interact with nature — and Cincinnati has some awesome FREE ‘scapes! UC has a stellar playscape, as does the Behringer-Crawford Museum – and this spring, Summit Park will open their brand-new playscape!
Purple People Bridge
The Purple People Bridge is a one-of-a-kind, pedestrian-only interstate connector that’s, of course, purple. At 2,670 feet long, a round-trip across this iconic Cincinnati bridge is roughly a mile, making it the perfect length for little kids.
Splash parks (Smale Park pictured)
Ohio’s Stonelick State Park hosts The Friends of the Observatory’s Dark Sky Viewing Site, where public stargazing events happen regularly throughout the year (as long as skies are clear). Get the 2018 schedule here.
Third Sunday Funday at the Taft
Did you know the Taft Museum hosts monthly Sunday Fundays? These family-friendly afternoons are held the third Sunday of most months, and feature crafts, special guests (like The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati on tour or Sunrock Petting Zoo, to name a few), music and more!
Trammel Fossil Park
Trammel Fossil Park is located in an industrial area of Sharonville. From the road, this “park” looks like any other hilly, undeveloped area off the interstate. It’s 10 acres of rocky, rugged terrain, exposed to the elements – and totally rich with remnants from the past. Kids can dig for fossils and take home their finds!
Explore a world of virtual reality at the Lane Community Technology Center in Hamilton – for free! The center has over 50 different experiences, games, and simulators to choose from and allows you to reserve the virtual reality room for up to two hours.
William Howard Taft Historical Site
Located in Mt. Auburn, the William Howard Taft Historical Site is the house where Taft was born and raised. It’s also one of Ohio’s eight National Parks. Tours are just 20 minutes long and feature lots of fun facts about the 27th President!
As we approach spring (and summer!) break, be sure to bookmark this list for a fun, family-friendly free outing! What’s your favorite free thing to do in Cincinnati? Share in the comments below!