The 20 Best Day Trips from Cincinnati

While there are plenty of things to do and places to explore within Cincinnati, there are also several neat places to visit outside of the city that you can travel to and from in under a day.

Thanks to the Queen City’s convenient location along the border of southern Ohio, it’s close to several attractions in northern Kentucky, Indiana, and other places in Ohio. 

In this post, we share the 20 best day trips that you can take from Cincinnati.

Indianapolis

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 50 minutes (112 miles)

One of the most obvious destinations for a day trip from Cincinnati is its eastern neighboring city of Indianapolis. As the largest city in the state, Indianapolis offers a wide variety of things to do and places to see including a zoo, the largest auto racetrack in the world, the White River State Park, the world’s largest Childrens Museum, a city market, a canal walk, and much more.

Hoosier National Forest

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 2 hours 5 minutes (138 miles)

Photo Source: Indiana State Parks

Located in south central Indiana, Hoosier National Forest is home to over 200,000 acres of forests, rolling hills, back-country trails, and wildlife. Just a two hour drive from Cincinnati, this national forest is one of the best places to escape from the city and immerse yourself in nature.

The national forest also hosts several events, activities, and outdoor programs throughout the year, which are excellent for family activities. Be sure to check out the Hoosier National Forest site to stay up to date on all activities and programs taking place at the national forest.

Yellow Springs

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 10 minutes (68 miles)

Photo Source: Only In Your State

Located just over an hour north of Cincinnati, Yellow Springs is truly one of Ohio’s most unique cities. Filled with more than 75 small shops, galleries, restaurants, and pubs, Yellow Springs has something for everyone. There are so many unique places to check out in the city that it’s easily possible to spend an entire day exploring. 

Yellow Springs also hosts several street fair events and festivals throughout the year. Be sure to keep tabs on the city’s website to stay up to date on the latest events taking place around the city.

Young’s Jersey Dairy

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 15 minutes (72 miles)

Photo Source: Young’s Dairy

Located just over one hour north of Cincinnati, Young’s Jersey Dairy is one of the most popular places to visit in all of southwest Ohio. This dairy farm has live animals that you can pet (and feed), a putt-putt golf course, a batting range, and some of the best ice cream that you can find in the entire state. Located just outside of Yellow Springs, one popular day trip experience is to walk around the city and then head to Young’s for some ice cream afterwards.

Young’s also hosts several events throughout the year, so be sure to check out their site to stay up to date on all of the latest events and activities.

Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 17 minutes (73 miles)

Photo Source: ODNR Division of Natural Areas & Preserves

Clifton Gorge is a 268-acre preserve that contains one of the most spectacular limestone gorges in Ohio along with a 2-mile stretch of the Little Miami State River. Located just three miles outside of Yellow Springs, this is an excellent place to do some hiking, bird watching, and trail running. The preserve is particularly awesome to visit during spring to see the wild flowers in full bloom.

Glen Helen Nature Preserve

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 13 minutes (70 miles)

Photo Source: Dayton Local

Founded in 1929 when Hugh Taylor Birch donated the land to Antioch College in memory of his daughter Helen, Glen Helen Nature Preserve is home to over 1,000 acres packed with over 25 miles of hiking trails and footpaths.

Located right outside of Yellow Springs, the preserve contains a wide variety of wildflowers, 400 year-old trees, limestone cliffs, and waterfalls. This is an excellent place to do some hiking, bird watching, and simply immerse yourself in nature.

John Bryan State Park

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 15 minutes (72 miles)

Photo Source: ODNR Division of Natural Areas & Preserves

Located just one mile outside of Yellow Springs, John Bryan State Park is home to over 750 acres of nature. The park offers trails for hiking, several places for rock climbing and rappeling, and several spots for canoeing and fishing along the Little Miami Scenic River. The park also has several picnic areas and shelters, which are excellent places to host a family event or a party.

Hocking Hills State Park

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 2 hours 22 minutes (136 miles)

Photo Source: Hocking Hills

Located in southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park is one of the top parks to visit in Ohio. Packed with forests, hiking trails, camping spots, waterfalls, gorges, and wildlife, this state park offers something for everyone.

Check out the video below for a quick overview of the park:

Hueston Woods State Park

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 57 minutes (46 miles)

Photo Source: Ohio Division of State Parks & Watercraft

Located just one hour north of Cincinnati, Hueston Woods State Park is an excellent place to visit if you’re interested in hiking, birding, trail running, fishing, canoeing, or fossil hunting. The park itself surrounds the 625-acre Acton Lake and offers campsites, cabins, and a resort lodge all available to be rented. 

Ohio Caverns

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 48 minutes (105 miles)

Photo Source: Ohio Caverns

Known as “America’s most colorful caverns,” Ohio Caverns is the best place in Ohio to explore underground caverns. One of most popular tours is the National Wonder Tour, which takes guest on a 1-mile walk through parts of the caverns discovered after 1925. This tour includes the largest stalactite in Ohio, The Crystal King, along with several other incredible formations and colorful crystals.

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 33 minutes (29 miles)

Photo Source: Cincinnati USA

Pyramid Hill is one of the few sculpture parks in the U.S. The park originally opened in 1996 and today hosts more than 60 massive contemporary sculptures. The park itself covers over 335 acres and is home to concerts, special events, and kids programs held throughout the year. This is an excellent place located just a short drive outside of the city to take a day trip with the family.

COSI Columbus

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 42 minutes (107 miles)

Photo Source: Sand and Snow

COSI is a science center located in Columbus Ohio that offers a truly unique interactive experience for people of all ages. The center is wildly popular for its hands-on approach to learning science.

With over 300 interactive experiences, nine galleries, and a constantly rotating list of live shows, COSI is an excellent place to take friends, family, and kids for a day of fun and learning. Be sure to check out their site for an updated list of activities and events that take place at the center throughout the year.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 2 hours 6 minutes (125 miles)

Photo Source: Columbus Zoo

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium offers an incredible wildlife and outdoor experience for both adults and kids alike. With a massive variety of exhibits and an even larger variety of animals and aquatic creatures to check out, it’s well worth the visit and it’s incredibly easy to spend an entire day exploring the exhibits. Be sure to check out their site for an updated list of activities and programs taking place around the year.

Dayton National Air Force Museum

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 58 minutes (60 miles)

Photo Source: National Museum of the United States Air Force

Located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton Ohio, the National Museum of the United States Air Force is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world.

The museum collects and conserves a massive variety of aircrafts and artifcats from the Air Force’s history. For anyone who is interested in aviation or military history, this is a must-visit museum. Be sure to check out their site to plan your visit ahead of time so that you can make the most of your trip.

Dayton Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 57 minutes (56 miles)

Photo Source: Wikipedia

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a children’s museum, science and tech center and zoo located in Dayton, Ohio. The museum has a wide variety of interactive exhibits, displays, and live shows along with an extensive natural history collection. It’s easy to make an entire day out of a visit to this museum and it’s one of the best places to take young kids to learn about nature, history, and wildlife.

Big Bone Lick State Park

Big Bone Lick State Park

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 32 minutes (25 miles)

Photo Source: Wikipedia

Named after massive megafauna fossils found in the region, Big Bone Lick State Park is located at Big Bone in Boone County, Kentucky. Located just 25 miles outside of Cincinnati, this state park offers hiking, camping, fishing, birding, putt putt golfing, and much more. Be sure to check out their site for a complete list of activities and things to do around the park.

Red River Gorge

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 2 hours 19 minutes (146 miles)

Photo Source: Southern Living

With over 29,000 acres of wildlife and nature, Kentucky’s Red River Gorge is designed as a National Natural Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The gorge offers some of the best places for hiking, trail running, birding, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities near Cincinnati.

There are also a plethora of rock shelters, sandstone cliffs, natural bridges, and waterfalls that make this area one of the most scenic in all of the midwest. Be sure to visit Red River Gorge to plan out your trip in advance so that you can make the most of your experience.

Kentucky Horse Park

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 11 minutes (74 miles)

Photo Source: Visit Lex

Located just an hour south of Cincinnati, the Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm and an educational theme park that has been opened since 1978 in Lexington, Kentucky. The park is an excellent place to visit for anyone who loves horses or is interested in the history of horse racing in Kentucky. Be sure to check out their website for a complete list of activities and attractions available to see at the park.

Louisville Mega Cavern

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 37 minutes (102 miles)

Photo Source: Expedia

Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the Louisville Mega Cavern is a massive underground man-made cavern that contains more than 17 miles of underground passageways. The cavern offers zip lining excursions, walking tours, tram rides, and e-bike tours. This is by far one of the most unique attractions to visit within a 2-hour radius of Cincinnati.

Elk Creek Winery

Driving Time From Cincinnati: 1 hour 2 minutes (55 miles)

Photo Source: Kazzit

Located in Owenton, Kentucky, Elk Creek Winery is a must-visit for wine lovers. The winery offers a huge variety of award-winning wines that are produced and bottled on-site. They also offer an art gallery, cooking classes, bed and breakfast lodging, live entertainment, and outdoor entertainment at their amphitheater during spring and summer. 

Locations of the 20 Best Day Trips from Cincinnati

The following maps shows the locations of the 20 places mentioned in this post:

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