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Travel,  Weekend Trips

30 Awesome Day Trips Within Two Hours From Cincinnati

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We share our best day trips from Cincinnati to help inspire your next adventure.

Whether you are looking for a quick family getaway or a couples retreat, we have come up with various day trips from Cincinnati that are only two hours away or less.  From going on safari to unique ways to cool off during the summer, we have the perfect adventure to put on your bucket list.

These great destinations make great day trips or even weekend getaways from Cincinnati. It’s time to get off the bucket list because you will be adding a few of these immediately. This page contains affiliate links.

30 Top Day Trips Within Two Hours From Cincinnati

Get Behind The Wheel Of A Race Car During The Rusty Wallace Racing Experience

day trips from Cincinnati

If you are hunting for an exhilarating adrenaline-pumping experience, sign up for the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Hendricks County, Indiana.  This is one of the few experiences that let you drive in a racecar unattended.

That is correct, after taking an hour course on safety and driving, you suit up and get behind the wheel of an actual racecar without an instructor.  This once-in-a-lifetime experience will have you white-knuckled as your approach upwards of 155 MPH.

For those not quite ready to take on the track along, they do offer a ride-along where you get zipped along the track by a professional driver.

Go On A Safari At The Wilds

It is quite bizarre to think one can go on an actual safari in Ohio. On the contrary, The Wilds, located in Columbus, offers guests a truly unique safari experience. See giraffes, rhinos, and other rare and endangered animals from your open-air vehicle as you make your way through the vast savannah.

Great lodging options are available, from a family-friendly lodge to adults-only yurts overlooking the wildlife. This is one of the coolest things you can do within two hours of Cincinnati.

Relax In Croctail Creek At The Columbus Zoo

After your Wild’s experience hop over to the Columbus Zoo for even more fun.  One of the great things about the Columbus Zoo is that it is home to an aquarium and a waterpark called Zoombezi Bay.

Zoombezi Bay is home to the adults-only Croctail Creek. This adult-only lazy river lets you sit back, soak up the sun, and float around with your favorite beverage.  This little sanctuary is a great place for adults looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy waterpark.

Sip And Shop Your Way Through Little Nashville

Girls Weekend In Brown County Indiana

Known to many as “Little Nashville”, the town of Nashville, Indiana, boasts trendy boutiques, charming restaurants, and local wineries.  Imagine the most darling county store with a garden of beautiful wildflowers and turn it into a town; that is “Little Nashville”.

Quaint shops full of rustic charm line the bloom-filled streets. Every nook and cranny is home to a specialty shop that can’t be overlooked.  Whether you want to glam up your wardrobe, take home that perfect antique or find an original piece of art in one of the galleries, you can find it here in Nashville.

Brown County, Indiana is also known for scenic Brown County State Park, which comes alive with color during the fall months. The best is that this great getaway is two hours from Cincinnati.

Indulge In A Piece Of Chocolate Cake From The Cake Bake Shop

If you happen to be passing through Hamilton County, Indiana, it would be a sin to not stop by The Cake Bake Shop for a slice of their famous Chocolate Cake.  The experience of going to this exquisite cake shop is one that you will not forget.

the cake bake shop
Cake Bake Shop

The restaurant’s elegance, beauty, and interior are straight out of a fairytale. It is easy to see why this was one of Oprah’s favorite things.  I recommend trying a few of their tasty temptations and then taking a few things home as a souvenir.

Bike The Monon Trail

fun experiences within 2 hours of cincinnati

The Monon Trail is an abandoned railway that has been paved and welcomes bikers, runners, and those seeking a stroll.  Running from Indianapolis to Sheridan, Indiana, the Monon Trail is roughly 27 miles long, with plenty of great stops to explore along the way.

The trail cuts through Hamilton County, Indiana, home to a gorgeous art district, breweries, and plenty of family-friendly activities.  Bring a bike or rent one there but start planning this fun experience today!

Go Snorkeling In A Crystal Clear Lake

A quick getaway roughly 90 minutes from Cincinnati is Natural Springs Resort, located in New Paris, Ohio. Snorkel in the crystal clear lake, snag the perfect fishing spot, then end the day with a marshmallow roast over a campfire. Natural Springs is one place that the family will want to come back to year after year with so much to do. 

The crown gem of Natural Springs Resort is the sparkling freshwater lake with a stunning rock quarry backdrop. This spring-fed lake offers many family fun activities, such as snorkeling in the clear waters and relaxing on the beach to rent a boat.

Explore the Old Athens Lunatic Asylum

The eerie mysteries that shroud the Athens Lunatic Asylum have intrigued and peaked curiosities for years. Now known as The Ridges, the Athens Lunatic Asylum operated from 1874 to 1993. The Asylum saw various patients, including civil war veterans, children, and those deemed mentally unwell.

Fun Things To Do In Athens Ohio

It was meant to only house 550 patients when it opened; the Athens Lunatic Asylum surpassed nearly 2,000 patients by the 1950s. Later, small housing units were built to create small communities for patients to live in.

The hospital became known for its infamous lobotomy procedures along with electroshock therapy, hydrotherapy, and the use of psychotropic drugs.  I would recommend  pairing this with a progressive brewery making this a great couple or friends weekend getaway from Cincinnati

Learn more about the Ridges and start planning your visit to Athens with our Guide of Things To Do In Athens, Ohio.

Discover The Historic Side Of Lexington

A great day trip from Cincinnati is Lexington, KY. Lexington is home to plenty of fascinating history. With several of the historic homes and places, visitors to the area can go on a self-guided walk through downtown Lexington to scout out these historic landmarks.

Brochures featuring The Lexington Walk can be found online or at the Lexington Visitors Center.  While it is highly encouraged to walk the route, it is also drivable.  Discover the home of Mary Todd Lincoln, historic churches, the Hunt-Morgan House, and more. Hop in the car to see even more great historic homes, such as Ashland and the Waveland State Historic Site.  For a fun stop, be sure to swing into the Parkette Drive-In for a great meal.

Stay In A Historic Shaker Village

day trips from Cincinnati

While you are in Lexington, be sure to check out Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.  The Shaker village has over 34 historic structures and 3000 acres from the early 1800s.

Opportunities are endless as you discover Kentucky’s Largest National Historic Landmark and learn about Shaker culture through demonstrations and programs. A truly unique aspect of Shaker village is that they offer 72 guest rooms located within 13 of the historic buildings.

This allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in history while experiencing top-notch hospitality.  Each room hosts a countryside view and is furnished in the traditional Shaker style.

They offer many unique and fun events throughout the year, including Trick-Or-Treat and Holiday Festivities. Since it is less than 2 hours from Cincinnati, you can return for all the special occasions.

Catch An Outdoor Drama In Chillicothe

Located in Chillicothe, The Tecumseh Outdoor Drama drew visitors for decades. The drama tells the life story of the legendary Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, who struggles to defend his sacred homelands in Ohio country during the late 1700s.  

VIP experiences and behind-the-scenes tours are also available. While in Chillicothe, explore the Hopewell earthworks throughout the area.

Check out our complete list of the best things to do in Chillicothe.

Create Your Own Unique Bourbon Trail Experience

Fun getaways from Cincinnati

Are you are bourbon enthusiast?  Whether you enjoy bourbon or not, this is a bucket list experience you don’t want to miss. Kentucky is home to Bourbon Trail, which is full of great distilleries, craft distilleries, and even bourbon fudge made by monks.

Working your way through the entire Bourbon Trail could take days or even weeks. One perk of living so close is that you can customize your experience. Selecting a few distilleries each trip, is one getaway that can be a different experience each time you go.  After hitting the trail a few times, we have developed a list of favorite Bourbon Trail Stops.

Drive Through A Cave In Louisville

Another great experience less than 2 hours from Cincinnati is the Louisville Mega Cavern. This cavern is full of adventure, including zip lines, an aerial ropes course, bike tours, and more. This cavern has more than 4,000,000 square feet of space, which they utilize year-round.

During the holidays, the Mega Cavern offers Lights Under Louisville, in which visitors do a self-guided drive through a specular light display all underground!

Another popular reason to venture down to Louisville is for the Kentucky Derby!

Hike The Trails Of Red River Gorge

A great outdoor adventure awaits at a breathtaking Red River Gorge. This two-hour drive from Cincinnati is well worth it for those seeking to exchange the sounds of the city for those of nature. The gorge is known for its natural bridge, jaw-dropping view, and beautiful trails.

The Daniel Boone National Forest is also home to rafting, canoeing, ziplining, and more. Be sure to explore the gorge underground as you kayak through the cavern. Cabins, campgrounds, and nearby hotels are available for those looking to overnight.

Explore all of Dayton’s 5 River’s Great MetroParks

Fun family day trips from Cincinnati

Dayton is home to an extraordinary park system. The Five Rivers MetroParks offers nearly 16,000 acres of green space across 25 facilities. This includes 18 parks, conservation areas, and the 2nd Street Market. Each park offers great outdoor experiences and its unique activities for guests to enjoy.

From kayaking and hiking to horseback riding, there is something for everyone. Did I mention that there is no cost to enter any of the MetroParks?!  A few of our favorites include Carillon Historical Park and the Weygerzyn Gardens. Exploring the various parks makes for many different day trips from Cincinnati.

Discover Preble County’s Historic Bridges

day trips from Cincinnati

A well-kept secret of Preble County, Ohio, has been preserving eight historic covered bridges. Many of which are still in use today.  Each covered bridge has a story to tell, or should I say each person in Preble County has a story about a covered bridge.

Many bridges have overcome fires, tornados, and oversized trucks, but the more romantic side of the covered bridges captures visitors’ attention. Take a day to explore all of the covered bridges in Preble County.  Nearby Hueston Woods is a great spot to stay the night or do a little hiking.

Embrace The Irish Culture In Dublin, OH

Whether you have a little Irish in you, or wish you did, Dublin is full of Irish charm for you to take in and savor.  It’s easy to get into the Irish spirit, as Dublin is home to the country’s largest three-day Irish Festival and The Celtic Cocktail Trail. There are plenty of things to do in Dublin Ohio that will surprise you. One of the most unique things to see in Dublin is the Corn Henge, a field of concert corn!

A tour of their famous public art, go zipling, venture a fairy trail, and more. May multiple day trips from Cincinnati to check off all the public art!

Peer Inside Old Man’s Cave

A little over two hours from Cincinnati is one of Ohio’s most scenic parks, Hocking Hills State Park.  There are many great hiking options here, but one of the most popular is Old Man’s Cave.  Many hikers choose to start at the Upper Falls because the Grandma Gatewood Trail begins its six-mile course connecting three of the park’s areas: Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls to Ash Cave.

Fun Getaways From Cincinnati
Fun Getaways From Cincinnati

However, for those seeking a quick peek, a short hike from the designated parking area will leave you with a beautiful view of the cave.  This natural wonder is fun to visit anytime; however, try going in the winter months for a less crowded and more serene visit. The frozen waterfalls genuinely make it a spectacular sight.

Get our complete list of the ten best hikes in Hocking Hills.

Walkthrough The Vibrant And Eclectic Town Of Yellow Springs

day trips from Cincinnati

From a lively downtown scene to sipping on ice-cold brews from Yellow Springs Brewery, this is one of our favorite day trips from Cincinnati to make with or without kids. Yellow Springs, OH, has laid-back coffee shops, unusual boutiques, and plenty of delicious food.

Nature lovers come prepared to hike, as on of the top things in Yellow Springs is to get out and enjoy their parks. The John Bryan State Park offers many hiking trails, while Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve has stunning limestone gorges.

Don’t miss out on a visit to the Glen Helen Nature Preserve to see the famous yellow springs and beautiful waterfalls.  After a good hike, head over to Young’s Dairy for a scoop of their delicious homemade ice cream!

Get Hand’s On At One of Indianapolis’ Famous Museums

Indianapolis is known as the perfect day trip for families because of its award-winning Children’s Museum. While the Children’s Museum is always a great stop, Indy is full of other great museums to explore. Consider visiting a museum full of percussion instruments that you can play at The Rythmn Discover Center or learn about the history of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Indianapolis Children's Museum
Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Stroll through galleries of stunning at Newfields or swing into the Eiteljorg Museum to view their collection of American Indian and Western Art. Indianapolis has something for everything from its vibrant food scene, deep history, and the Indianapolis Zoo!

Add A Layer Of Paint To The Worlds Largest Ball Of Paint

fun experiences within 2 hours of cincinnati

Tucked away in Alexandria, Indiana, hanging from an industrial size hook, is the World’s Largest Ball of Paint. What once started as a humble baseball now has over 26,000 layers of paint and counting.

Visitors to this Guinness Book of World Records Holding attraction can add a layer to the ever-growing ball. The attraction is free to the public; however, you must call ahead and schedule a time.

The World’s Largest Ball of Paint is at the Carmicheal home and is open by appointment only. A quick google search will yield the current phone number to contact to set up your tour.

Go Swimming at an Old Quarry in La Grange, KY

Another great day trip within two hours from Cincinnati is La Grange, KY.  Adults can cool off at Falling Rock Park.  It is an old rock quarry that is maintained solely through rainwater! Anyone over 18 can bring a pool raft, noodle, kayak, or paddleboard and relax.

While you are visiting, be sure to visit Mainstreet La Grange, one of the few places in the country where the train runs right down the middle of the road.

Hartman Rock Garden In Springfield Ohio

Hartman Rock Garden

Venture off the beaten path with a visit to the Hartman Rock Garden a spectacular collection of art made by self-taught artist Ben Hartman. One man’s legacy has become a unique Ohio roadside attraction drawing thousands of visitors annually. The garden is free to visit and is open year-round.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

One of the best day trips from Cincinnati is a visit to the Wright-Patterson Airforce Base, known as the National Museum of the United States Air Force. This historic treasure is the world’s largest  Military Aviation Museum. The Museum is FREE to the public and is open daily, except holidays.

day trips from Cincinnati

The Air Force Museum has an impressive collection of iconic planes that will leave your inner child wanting to climb inside each one. The history and artifacts found throughout the museum are second to none.  Learn about the history of the Wright Brothers, see the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, and then check out the rockets in the space exhibit.

Tip: Be sure to check their special events to see when they will having their annual Airshows!

Explore Downtown Hamilton Ohio

One of our favorite day trips from Cincinnati is to Hamiton, Ohio. This small town is the perfect shopping retreat as chic boutiques, trendy restaurants, along with new experiences are popping up all over. Take a stroll along the Greater Miami River, visit Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, and learn about the fascinating history of Fort Hamilton. Start planning your trip to Downtown Hamilton Ohio.

Big Bone Lick State Park

Big Bone Lick State Park in Union, Kentucky, gives visitors the unique opportunity to view bison completely free! Remains of ancient mammoths and Pleistocene megafauna have been found in the area, making it known as the Big Bone Lick State Historic Site.

Big Bone Lick State Park

With plenty of hiking trails, a family-friendly campground, educational exhibits, a visitor center, and a museum, Big Bone Lick is the perfect Kentucky day trip or weekend getaway.

Tip: Big Bone Lick is near the Rabbit Hash General Store.

Explore Columbus

Columbus provides a mecca of entertainment options, from the bizarre art at Otherworld to the acclaimed LEGOLAND and everything in between! It is easy to spend a day or a week exploring all that this capital city has to offer.


Whether you are venturing up for an overnight at the Brewdog Hotel or planning a visit to COSI, Columbus makes the perfect day trip from Cincinnati.

See The Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals

Where the Scioto River meets the Ohio River lays the sleepy small town of Portsmouth, Ohio. Stroll the magnificent floodwall murals, hunt for antiques, or take a peaceful hike through Shawnee State Park.

A Guide To Portsmouth Ohio Floodwall Murals
Portsmouth Floodwall Murals

The Portsmouth Ohio Floodwall Murals are an iconic Ohio landmark that portrays the local history through exquisitely painted murals. Over 55 murals adorn the floodwalls, each depicting a moment in time.

While you are there, discover these Great Things To Do In Portsmouth, Ohio.

Catch The View From Rising Park

Soak in breathtaking views of Lancaster, Ohio, by climbing to the top of Rising Park’s Mount Pleasant. Arguably one of Ohio’s most spectacular views, Mount Pleasant overlooks the city of Lancaster with the surrounding foothills in the distance.

Rising Park in Lancaster, Ohio
Rising Park in Lancaster, Ohio

To get to the top of Mount Pleasant, visitors enter through Rising Park. A parking lot is adjacent to the trailhead, directly past the tennis courts. The climb is moderate; however, remember that you will gain 206ft in elevation in about .7 miles. It took us roughly 45 minutes round trip, but you can stay up and enjoy the view for hours.

Visit Serpent Mound

Unknown to many, Ohio is home to the world’s largest effigy mound. The Great Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio, is surrounded by mystery, wonder, and tradition. It is a National Historic Landmark that should be on every Ohio Bucket List. Here are five fun things to do during a visit to Serpent Mound.

Ohio is full of remarkable earthworks, so much so that there is an Ancient Trail to help you discover them all.

Serpent Mound In Ohio
Serpent Mound: A great day trip from Cincinnati.

Explore The Charming Small Town Of Troy, Ohio

The charming area of downtown Troy is one of the best-hidden gems in Ohio. Right in the heart of Miami County, Troy offers visitors unique adventures, family-friendly parks, and tons of midwest hospitality. Discover the history, taste the flavors, and join in on incredible local events.

Downtown Troy Ohio
Downtown Troy Ohio

Feeling adventurous? Troy offers one of the few places guests can stay overnight in Floating Tents.

Fun Day Trips Without Leaving Cincinnati

You don’t have to hit the open road to plan a great day trip from Cincinnati. Cincinnati is a huge city full of activities. Here is a list of the best day trips without leaving the city.

  • Explore the riverwalks along the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati.
  • Spend the day riding roller coasters at Kings Island.
  • Stroll the galleries at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
  • Get a day pass to Great Wolf Lodge in Mason.
  • Sign-up for a behind-the-scenes opportunity at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
  • Tour the American Sign Museum.
  • Catch a Red’s Game at the Great American Ball Park.
  • Create your own Streetcar Tour.
  • Eat your way through Findlay Market.

Looking For A Weekend Getaway From Cincinnati? 

On the hunt for a relaxing lake getaway a little over four hours from Cincinnati? Consider a visit to Put-In-Bay.  Known as the “Key West” of the North, many guests come to enjoy the beautiful lake views, entertainment, and history.  Hop on the ferry to the island,  rent a golf cart, and spend the day exploring this unique Ohio destination.

Get our complete guide to one of Ohio’s beautiful islands; Middle Bass Island!

More Day Trips From Cincinnati

Looking for more great day trips within two hours from Cincinnati?

A Girlfriend Getaway To Springfield, Ohio 

17 Things To Do In Santa Claus, Indiana 

11 Outdoor Activities To Do In Richmond Indiana 

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30 Day Trips Within Two Hours From Cincinnati

day trips from Cincinnati