The 27 Best Free Things to Do in Cincinnati

From public parks to art galleries to hiking trails to free museums to scenic overlooks, Cincinnati is filled with tons of neat places to check out and things to do that are completely free.

Best of all, there are free things to do in nearly every neighborhood around the city, which means you probably don’t have to travel far to find something fun to do.

In this post, we share the 27 best free things to do around the Queen City.

Map of Things to Do

The following map shows the locations of every place mentioned in this post:

1. Visit the Cincinnati Art Museum

One of the most fun free activities that you can do during any season is visit the Cincinnati Art Museum, which features over 67,000 pieces of individual art, both modern and historical. The museum is completely free to visit and they even offer free parking. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday (closed on Mondays) and because of how large it is, it’s possible to spend an entire day walking through the various exhibits.

2. Enjoy Free Scenic Views of the City

The popular travel magazine Thrillest ranked Cincinnati among the top 10 cities in the U.S. with the best skyline and it’s easy to see why. Fortunately, there are tons of great points around the city where you can stop and get an incredible view of the skyline. Check out this post where we share the best eight spots around the city where you can get a free scenic view of Cincy.

3. Visit One of the City’s Many Art Galleries

If you’re interested in artwork of any kind, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of unique art galleries sprinkled throughout Cincinnati. Best of all, they’re all completely free to visit. Check out this post where we share the 10 best galleries around the city.

4. Check out Cincinnati’s Most Hidden Library

Located on the 11th floor of The Mercantile Library Building in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati, The Mercantile Library is arguably the Queen City’s most hidden library. So hidden, in fact, that most locals who have lived in the city for years have never visited it, let alone even know it exists. You’ll have to pay an annual membership fee if you want to actually rent books from the library, but it’s completely free to visit and explore.

5. Enjoy the Nature and Views at Alms Park

Alms Park is a beautiful park located on the east side of the city that offers incredible views of the Ohio River, the Little Miami River, the hills of northern Kentucky, and the Lunken Airport. With over 94 total acres, the park is home to several hiking trails, a playground, picnic areas, a pavilion, and several incredible overlook points. Check out our complete guide to Alms Park here.

6. Check out Ault Park

Ault Park is one of the most well-known and scenic parks in the city that covers over 224 total acres and includes paved walking paths, a beautiful garden, picnic areas, nature trails, a pavilion, and an excellent lookout point. Check out our complete guide to Ault Park here.

7. Visit Eden Park

Another one of Cincinnati’s most well-known parks that offers some beautiful views of the Ohio River and Northern Kentucky is Eden Park. Located on the outskirts of the Mt. Adams neighborhood, the park covers 186 total acres and features several hiking trails, a basketball court, a gazebo, plenty of green space for picnics, a pond with a fountain, the Krohn Conservatory, and the Seasongood Pavilion.

8. Walk Around Smale Riverfront Park

Located directly on the Ohio River, Smale Riverfront Park is a beautifully landscaped, well-maintained park that has a long winding walking trail with several swinging benches to sit on and enjoy the views of the River and the bridges that cross over into Northern Kentucky.

9. Visit Peaceful Glenwood Gardens

One of the more hidden green spaces in Cincinnati is Glenwood Gardens. Located on the north side of the city in between the neighborhoods of Woodlawn and Glendale, Glenwood Gardens encompasses over 335 acres and offers several miles of both paved and dirt walking trails, a scenic overlook, benches scattered throughout the park, and an overall peaceful atmosphere to escape from the city.

Glenwood Gardens is a member of The Great Parks of Hamilton County, which technically requires a motor vehicle permit ($10 for Hamilton County Residents and $15 for non-residents), but rarely will anyone actually check your vehicle in the parking lot.

10. Explore the American Sign Museum

One of the most unique museums to check out in Cincinnati is the American Sign Museum, which is 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. Expect to spend at least an hour walking through the entire museum. 

Note: Normally the museum isn’t free, but you can get two free tickets to the museum simply by owning a Cincinnati Library card and by using the Online Reservation System to reserve tickets for a specific date.

11. Check out Sunday Fundays at the Taft Museum of Art

On the third Sunday of each month, the Taft Museum of Art offers Sunday Fundays from 1PM to 4PM, which they describe as “a free afternoon of great art, hands-on fun, family-friendly performances, and animal encounters. Most activities are ongoing throughout the afternoon, so stop by when you have time and stay as long as you can.” This is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon for families with kids and it’s completely free. 

12. Visit the Lucky Cat Museum

One of the most unique museums that you can visit in all of Cincinnati is the Lucky Cat Museum, which is home to over 2,000 waving Lucky Cat dolls that you frequently see welcoming customers at the entrance of Asian restaurants. Rows upon rows of these dolls line shelves, walls, and glass cases in the museum. It’s truly a unique and quirky place to check out. The museum is free to walk through, although tips are accepted.

13. Check out the City Flea

The City Flea is Cincinnati’s original curated, urban flea market that takes place once a month at Washington Park in the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood. The flea market offers a variety of vendors selling everything imaginable and it’s an attraction that draws visitors from all over the city. Check out the dates and locations of the city flea for the coming year here.

14. Visit the Mt. Airy Treehouse

Hidden within the largest city park in Cincinnati sits a huge public treehouse. The treehouse has been sitting in the park buried in the forest since 2006 and draws visitors from all over the city. It’s a quirky spot well worth checking out.

15. Play a Round of Frisbee Golf

Arguably the most fun, free sport that you can play outdoors when the weather is warm is frisbee golf. Fortunately for Cincinnatians, there are tons of frisbee golf courses scattered throughout the city. Check out our post here to find a course near you.

16. Visit a Dog Park

If you’re a dog owner in Cincinnati, then you’re in luck: there are tons of great dog parks located all over the city. One of the most fun free activities that dog owners can do during the warmer months (or colder months, too) is visit a dog park. For those interested, check out this post where we share the 13 best dog parks around the city.

17. Shoot Some Hoops at a Public Basketball Court

Sticking with the outdoor theme, another fun free activity that you can do is get a group of friends together to play at one of the many public basketball courts located around the city.

18. Walk Around the Stanley Rowe Arboretum

One of the more hidden outdoor arboretums in Cincinnati can be found in the upscale neighborhood of Indian Hill: Stanley Rowe Arboretum. Covering about 9 acres, the arboretum offers a peaceful getaway from city life and offers some 1,800 different species of trees and shrubs to admire, along with several intertwining trails to walk along.

19. Wander through Findlay Market

Located on the northern end of Over-The-RhineFindlay Market is Ohio’s oldest farmers’ market and one of the most unique free places to check out in Cincinnati. Hundreds of different vendors fill the market and sell a variety of foods, drinks, and accessories.

20. Walk through the Contemporary Arts Center

Founded in 1939 as the Modern Art Society by three visionary local women, the Contemporary Arts Center was one of the first institutions in the United States dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art. Today the Contemporary Arts Center is a non-collecting museum that focuses on new developments in sculpture, painting, photography, drawings, architecture, performance art and media. It’s free to walk through and it’s a neat place to check out for anyone interested in art.

21. Visit Fountain Square

Fountain Square is the most well-known downtown city square in Cincinnati. It serves as home to food trucks, local vendors, free public concerts, and it hosts a wide variety of events and festivals throughout the year. This is a cool spot to check out during any time of the year.

farmers markets

22. Check out Washington Park

One of the more popular city parks is Washington Park, located in the heart of the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood. The park hosts a variety of free public events throughout the year – check out their online calendar to see what events they have upcoming.

23. Check out the Loveland Bike Trail

One of the largest bike trails in the Cincinnati area is the Loveland Bike Trail. Covering 70 total miles, the trail is perfect for bike lovers and it’s also accommodating for anyone who wants to walk along the trail, admire the views, and check out the many restaurants and shops that line the trail.

For those who are interested in simply walking a stretch of the trail, we recommend checking out the part of the trail that runs through Downtown Loveland or Downtown Milford, which are both filled with shops, restaurants, and breweries.

24. Take a Self-Guided Mural Tour

Cincinnati is filled with murals in the Downtown area and in Over-The-Rhine. Fortunately, Artworks Cincinnati has published a map of where each mural is located, which makes it easy to take a self-guided tour through the city to check out the incredible larger-than-life drawings.

25. Walk Along the Roebling Bridge

The John A. Roebling Bridge, which spans across the Ohio River and connects Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky, is one of the more scenic bridge in Cincinnati and it’s completely free to walk across for individuals. The views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River make this a particularly fun walk to take.

26. Enjoy some Art at the 21c Museum Hotel

The 21c Museum Hotel is a boutique hotel, a contemporary art museum, a cultural civic centre, and a restaurant all wrapped into one. Located in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati across the street from the Aronoff Center for the Arts, 21c features a rotating list of both solo and group exhibitions that highlight 21st century art.This is one of the coolest free places to check out in the Downtown area.

27. Explore the Spring Grove Cemetery

The Spring Grove Cemetery is the second largest cemetery in the U.S. and one that is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Covering over 733 total acres, the area includes a variety of lakes, trees, flowers, and natural fauna. This is an excellent place to go if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.

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