Whether you are looking for a quick family getaway or a couples retreat, we have come up with 20 awesome experiences that are within two hours from Cincinnati. 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 getaways near Cincinnati make great day trips or even weekend retreats. It’s time to get out the bucket list because you will be adding a few of these to it right away. This page contains affiliate links.
20 Experiences Within Two Hours From Cincinnati
Get Behind The Wheel Of A Race Car During The Rusty Wallace Racing Experience
If you are on the hunt 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 that 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 from 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. While the zoo if fun to visit anytime a trip during the summer months should include a stop at the Croctail Creek located in the Zoombezi Bay. This adult-only lazy river lets you sit back, soak up the sun and float around with your favorite beverage. Be sure to check out all the other great water slides, wave pull, and water activities.
Sip And Shop Your Way Through Little Nashville
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 elegance, beauty, and interior of the restaurant is 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
The Monon Trail is an abandoned railway that has been paved and welcomes bikers, runners and those seeking a leisurely 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 which is home to a gorgeous art district, breweries and plenty of family-friendly activities. Bring a bike or rent one their but start planning this fun experience today!
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 drivable as well. 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 Historical Site. For a fun stop be sure to swing into the Parkette Drive-In for a great meal.
Stay In A Historic Shaker Village
While you are in Lexington be sure to check out Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. The Shaker village consists of over 34 historic structures and 3000 acres that date back 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 gives visitors the opportunity 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 plenty of 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 was been drawing in visitors for decades. The drama tells the life story of the legendary Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, as he struggles to defend his sacred homelands in the Ohio country during the late 1700s. VIP experiences and behind-the-scenes tours are also available. While in Chillicothe be sure to spend time exploring the earthworks throughout the area.
Create Your Own Unique Bourbon Trail Experience
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. By selecting a few distilleries each trip this 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 a few of our favorites here.
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, 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!
Hike The Trails Of Red River Gorge
A great outdoor adventure awaits at breath-taking 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 the 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
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 own unique activities for guests to enjoy. From kayaking, hiking to horseback riding, there is something for everyone. Did I mention that there is no cost to enter any of the MetroParks?! With so many great options this is a day trip from Cincinnati that you make again and again.
Discover Preble County’s Historic Bridges
A well-kept secret of Preble County, Ohio has been their preservation of eight historic covered bridges. Many of which are still in use today. Each of the covered bridges has a story to tell or should I say each person in Preble County has a story to tell about a covered bridge. Many of the bridges have overcome fires, tornados and oversized trucks but it is the more romantic side of the covered bridges that captures the attention of visitors. 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 just 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. A tour of their famous public art, a hot chocolate trail, a fairy trail and more!
Peer Inside Old Man’s Cave
A little over two hours from Cincinnati is one of Ohio’s most popular caves is Old Man’s cave located in Hocking Hills. 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. However, for those seeking a quick peek a short hike from the designated parking area will leave you in the with a beautiful view of the cave. This natural wonder is fun to visit anytime, however for a less crowded and more serene visit try going in the winter months. The frozen waterfalls truly make it a spectacular sight.
Walkthrough The Vibrant And Eclectic Town Of Yellow Springs
From a lively downtown scene to sipping on ice-cold brews from Yellow Springs Brewery, this is a day trip to make with or without kids in tow. Yellow Springs, OH is full of laid back coffee shops, unusual boutiques and plenty of delicious food. 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 go-to getaway for families because of its award-winning Children’s Museum. While the Children’s Museum is always a great stop, Indy is full of tons 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 all about the history of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Stroll through galleries of stunning at Newfields or swing into the Eiteljorg Museum to view their collection of American Indians and Western Art. Indianapolis has something for everything from its vibrant food scene, deep history and plenty of family-friendly fun.
Add A Layer Of Paint To The Worlds Largest Ball Of Paint
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 Record Holding attraction have the chance to add on a layer to the ever-growing ball. The attraction is free to the public however you will need to 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 in 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 the age of 18 can bring a pool raft, noodle, kayak or paddleboard and relax. While you are visiting be sure to visit Mainstreet La Grange where it is one of the few places in the country where the train runs right down the middle of the road.
Looking for more great weekend getaways within two hours from Cincinnati? Head over to our Weekend Trips From Cincinnati section and get inspired!