It’s no secret that winter time in Cincinnati can be a bit gloomy. It’s cold outside, the sun sets early in the day, and sometimes it feels like there’s nothing to do but wrap up in a blanket and watch some Netflix.
To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to stay inside and lounge around. In fact, Norwegians even use the term Hygge to describe the positive feeling that arises from being cozy and comfortable.
But if you think there’s nothing to do around the Queen City in the winter, you’d be mistaken! There are a surprising amount of things to do, places to visit, and experiences to have around the city during the winter, despite the cold weather.
In this post, we share 35 fun things to do in the winter in Cincinnati.
35 Fun Things to Do in the Winter in Cincinnati
1. Attend a Cincinnati Cyclones Game
One of the most fun things you can do during the winter in Cincinnati is attend a Cyclones game. The Cyclones are Cincinnati’s mid-level professional hockey team that play in Heritage Bank Center (formerly U.S. Bank Arena) along the riverfront during the months between late October and early April.
Despite not being a professional team, the Cyclones always offer a fun experience for fans. Nearly every home game has a “theme” such as Superhero night, dollar beer night, weiner dog racing night, blanket giveaways, and much more.
Tickets are typically $18 per person on days leading up to games and $20 on game day. Check out their online schedule to see when the Cyclones play next.
2. Try Out Last Call Trivia
Another fun activity that’s perfect for winter time is playing a round of trivia. A company called Last Call Trivia hosts various trivia nights at bars and restaurants around the city every day of the week. It’s completely free to play and because there are so many places around the city that host trivia nights, it’s easy to find a place near you to play at.
Whether it’s just you and your significant other, or a larger group of friends and family, trivia is always a fun activity that everyone can participate in. Check out Last Call Trivia to find an updated list of venues and dates where you can play a round of trivia near you.
3. Check out the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo
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Each year from late November to early January, the Cincinnati Zoo transforms into a “Wild Wonderland” filled with Christmas lights and holiday decorations. The zoo recently won the award for “Best Zoo Lights in the Country,” which is no surprise to anyone that has actually attended the event. This is hands down one of the most fun things that you can do in the Queen City during the winter.
Be sure to check out the zoo’s website for specific details on admission and hours.
4. Participate in an Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl
Another fun thing that you can only do during the winter time is participate in an Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl. The concept is simple: you wear a goofy holiday sweater and go on a guided tour of bars throughout Over-The-Rhine. This is the perfect holiday event to attend with a group of friends.
Tickets start at $15 per person. Be sure to check out the Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl Cincinnati website for specific details about this year’s crawl.
5. Go Ice Skating at Fountain Square
Another fun activity that you can only do in the winter is go ice skating at Fountain Square’s ice rink. Each year the square sets up a rink that is open to the public from early November all the way through early February. This is a fun activity to do whether you’re going on a date, hanging out with friends, or spending time with the family.
Admission is $6 per person, which includes skate rentals. Check out their site for more details.
6. Check out the Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island
Sticking with the holiday theme, another fun thing to do during the winter is check out the Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island, an impressive 2.5-mile light show synchronized with holiday music that you can drive through in your car.
The show is open each night starting at dusk from early November through early January. Tickets are $6 per person and can be purchased at the gate upon arrival. Check out their site for more details.
7. Do An Escape Room
One of the most fun things that you can do at night with a group of friends or family is complete an escape room!
Our personal pick for the best escape room in all of Cincinnati is The Escape Game. Located in The Banks, The Escape Game offers five unique rooms that you can choose from and allows group sizes up to 8 for most of the rooms.
With themes ranging from breaking out of a prison to solving an art museum heist and more, The Escape Game offers a unique and fun experience that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Refer to their online schedule to book a game.
8. Explore the Krohn Conservatory
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One of the things that people miss during winter is seeing fresh, green foliage. Fortunately, there’s an incredible place where you can get a healthy dose of green: the Krohn Conservatory.
Located in Mt. Adams, the conservatory was built in 1933 in Eden Park and is home to over 3,500 different plant species. Admission is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for youth (5-17). The conservatory rotates through different exhibits on a seasonal basis, so be sure to check our their site to see which exhibits they currently have open.
9. Walk Around Jungle Jim’s International Market
You might think that walking around a supermarket sounds boring, but that’s only because you haven’t been to Jungle Jim’s, a massive international market that boasts over 200,000 square feet of shopping space and over 180,000 products to choose from.
The reason people love walking around Jungle Jim’s is because it’s funky. They have exotic foods from all over the world, an incredible selection of craft beer and wine, and a variety of interesting displays. Along with the food and drinks, Jungle Jim’s hosts cooking classes, festivals, liquor tastings, and even open mic nights.
Jungle Jim’s has two locations: one in Fairfield and one in Union Township. Be sure to check out their online calendar to keep tabs on what events they have coming up.
10. Attend a UC Basketball or Xavier Basketball Game
Cincinnati is fortunate to have not one, but two college basketball teams that both have an impressive track record of making it to the big dance during March Madness: University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. One fun thing to do during the winter is attend a game at one of the two schools.
You can find Xavier’s basketball schedule here and Cincinnati’s basketball schedule here.
11. Visit the Cincinnati Observatory
One particularly fun indoor activity to do during the winter in Cincinnati is visit the Cincinnati Observatory, which is home to the world’s oldest telescope still in use nightly by the general public. The observatory offers daytime tours and also regularly hosts public events, which include festivals, guided stargazing, and much more.
Whether you’re looking for a unique place to go with friends and family or simply interested in learning more about the science of astronomy, the Cincinnati Observatory is a great spot to visit.
12. Attend a Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Show
If you love combining great food with great entertainment, then attending a dinner detective murder mystery show is the perfect winter activity to try.
The most well-known company that hosts murder mystery dinners in Cincinnati is Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, located across the river in Covington, Kentucky. The company describes the experience as follows:
At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you feast on a fantastic dinner. Just beware! The criminal is lurking somewhere in the room, and you may find yourself as a Prime Suspect before you know it!
Our shows are geared toward adults and carry a PG-13 rating. Some mild content, loud noises, and adult humor will be present. Children ages 15+ with adult supervision are permitted.
Admission is $59.95 per person. Find more details about show times and admission on their site.
13. Check out one of the 45+ Independent Cincinnati Coffee Shops
One fun winter activity is trying out a coffee shop you’ve never been to before. Fortunately, there are plenty of shops to explore around the city.
Did you know that there are over 45 different independent coffee shops in Cincinnati? If not, you can get to know each shop by checking out our complete guide to Cincinnati coffee shops. Whether you’re looking for a hot caffeinated beverage or a cozy place to get away from the cold and enjoy a drink with a friend, a coffee shop is the perfect place to do so.
14. Paint & Sip Wine
You can paint a picture and drink some wine during any time of year, but it’s a particularly great activity to do during winter when you’d rather be inside anyway. There are a few different places around Cincinnati where you can take a guided painting class and enjoy some wine. This can be a fun way to spend a winter evening with a group of friends or a loved one.
15. Visit the Cincinnati Art Museum
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🎁 Sleigh your wishlist! Today and tomorrow from 11am-5pm, join us as we continue the tradition of our seasonal gift market. In addition to our museum shop we're bringing together local artists and makers in one festive shopping experience. Shoppers will enjoy 10% off all purchases, and museum members receive 20% off. Enjoy complimentary gift wrapping throughout the event. 💝
Another fun thing to do during the winter is visit the Cincinnati Art Museum, a museum that features over 67,000 pieces of individual art, both modern and historical. The museum is completely free to visit and is open Tuesday through Sunday (closed on Mondays). Because of the sheer size of the museum, it’s possible to spend an entire day walking through the various exhibits.
16. Explore the Cincinnati Museum Center
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In partnership with @cinstate Interpreter Training Program, Deaf and hard of hearing guests are invited to experience #CincyMuseum in a whole new way. Interpreters from #CincinnatiState will be on-site, from the box office to exhibit galleries. They will ensure that all of our guests have access to all of the exhibit’s information, programs are accessible to guests of all hearing levels and all questions can be interpreted and answered by our knowledgeable staff. These special #DeafDays will occur from 2 to 5 p.m. and are included with admission on these days and exhibit areas: – Nov 17: #DestinationMoon – Nov 17: In the Audubon Tradition – Dec 8: #HolidayJunction with Santa's signing elves – Jan 11: #DestinationMoon
Sticking with the museum theme, another great spot to check out is the Cincinnati Museum Center located at Union Terminal. The Center is home to the Cincinnati History Museum, the Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Holocaust & Humanity Center, and the OMNIMAX Theater. If you’re interested in museums of any type or you’d like to learn more about the culture and history of Cincinnati, this is the place to go.
17. Visit the Taft Museum of Art
Yet another museum to check out during the winter is the Taft Museum of Art, one of the finest small art museums in the country. Originally opened in 1932, the museum is home to an impressive collection of art that includes European and American paintings, Chinese porcelains, and ivory sculptures. The museum also has an outdoor garden, free on-site parking, and a museum shop and cafe.
18. Walk Around the Newport Aquarium
Another fun indoor activity to do when it’s cold out is walk around the Newport Aquarium. Located just across the Ohio River in the northern Kentucky city of Newport, this aquarium has over 70 unique exhibits and five acrylic tunnels that connect 14 different galleries. Because of its size, it’s possible to spend several hours here wandering around with friends and family.
19. Visit EnterTRAINment Junction
If you’re looking to spend a winter day admiring the world’s largest indoor train display, look no further than EnterTRAINment Junction. Located in West Chester, EnterTRAINment Junction offers a variety of interesting exhibits to explore, including train displays, the world’s largest marble display, and a massive mirror maze. This is a great place to check out if you have young kids, but it’s also neat place to visit for people of all ages.
Check out their website for specific details on admission, pricing, and hours.
20. Enjoy Scenic Winter Views of the City
Cincinnati is particularly scenic after snowfall. This is why it can be so fun to check out views of the Queen City during the winter. Check out our list of the eight best places to get scenic views of the city.
21. Go Snowboarding, Skiing, or Tubing at Perfect North
The most obvious outdoor activities that you can enjoy during the winter in Cincinnati are snowboarding, skiing, and tubing. The most popular place to enjoy these activities are at Perfect North, located just across the border in southeastern Indiana. Check out their site for hours and pricing.
22. Visit the American Sign Museum
One unique indoor activity that you can do during the winter time in Cincinnati is walk through the American Sign Museum, the largest public museum dedicated to signs in the United States. With over 20,000 square feet of indoor space, this museum is packed with all types of signs that are fun to explore and learn about.
The video below provides a brief one-minute overview of the museum:
Check out the American Sign Museum website for specific details on admission and hours.
23. Check out the Winter Events Offered by the Great Parks of Hamilton County
The Great Parks of Hamilton County is a network of 17 parks scattered throughout Cincinnati. The parks frequently host family events like guided yoga, outdoor guided tours, archery lessons, and other activities, even during the winter months. Some of the events are free while others require payment. Check out their online calendar to see a list of their upcoming events.
24. Check out the Winter Events Offered by the Cincinnati Nature Center
Another nature-oriented place that offers a variety of events throughout the winter is the Cincinnati Nature Center. Events include guided full moon walks, guided craft-making, guided maple tree tapping, and much more. Check out their online calendar to see what events they have coming up.
25. Visit one of Cincinnati’s Many Breweries
Here’s a no-brainer winter activity in Cincinnati: visit one of the city’s many breweries. Not sure which one to visit? Check out this helpful list that we compiled of every brewery in the Queen City, complete with a location and description of each brewery.
26. Visit Santa
One event that’s perfect for December in Cincinnati is visiting Santa!
There are several places around the Queen City where you and your family members can visit Santa in person, including:
- Bass Pro Shop
- Entertrainment Junction
- Cincinnati Museum Center
- Washington Park
You can also schedule personalized visits from Santa himself! Here at Wander Cincinnati we recommend Santa John, who offers virtual visits as well as at-home visits.
27. Check out one of Cincinnati’s Art Galleries
Another indoor activity that you can enjoy during the colder months is exploring an art gallery. Fortunately, Cincinnati has plenty to choose from. From large scale art museums to small non-profit galleries, to hotel museums, to boutique art shops, the Queen City has a variety of places where you can see paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other pieces of contemporary and historical art alike.
Check out our list of Cincinnati’s 10 Best Art Museums to find a place near you to enjoy some art.
28. View a Film at the OMNIMAX Theater
When it’s cold outside, there’s no better activity to enjoy than watching a good film. One of the best places to do so in Cincinnati is at the OMNIMAX Theater at Union Terminal, a 5-story domed screen with surround-sound showing science & nature films. Check out their site to see which films they’re currently playing.
29. Catch a Concert at Bogart’s
Another activity that can be enjoyed indoors during the winter is a live concert. One of the most popular places to enjoy a concert at in the Queen City is Bogart’s, a venue located near the UC campus where a variety of different big name bands and artists perform throughout the year. Check out their site to see who’s performing this winter.
30. Watch a Performance at Playhouse in the Park
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Winter time is also a great time to watch a live theater performance. The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, located in Mt. Adams, is one of the best places in the city to do so. The playhouse is known for its top-notch musicals and plays that draws thousands of visitors in each year. Check out their site for details on upcoming plays.
31. Go Roller Skating
Another activity that can be enjoyed during the winter months is roller skating. Cincinnati has several rinks scattered throughout the city where you can spend an evening with friends or family skating around to old school music.
32. Go Bowling
Another fun winter activity that you can enjoy with some friends is bowling. Check out our list of the six best places to go bowling in Cincinnati to find a bowling alley near you.
33. Go Axe Throwing
One of the relatively new indoor sports that you can try during the winter in Cincinnati is axe throwing. Two popular places to check out are Urban Axes in Over-The-Rhine and Class Axe in Port Union.
Check out the video below to get an idea of what axe throwing is all about:
34. Paint some Pottery
Winter time is perhaps the best time of year to work on some arts and crafts. One of the more popular crafts that you can enjoy is painting pottery. There are several places around the city where you can paint your own pottery, including Pottery Place, Mad Potter, and Art on Fire.
35. Go Indoor Plant Shopping
Indoor plants can be the perfect solution to combat seasonal depression in the winter. That’s why indoor plant shopping can be such a fun winter activity. Fortunately, Cincinnati has a bunch of great places to buy some indoor plants. A few of our favorites include Fern, Eden Floral Boutique, and Benken.