the top things to do in January in Cincinnati
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Wonderful Things To Do This January In Cincinnati

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The temperature may be dropping, but that doesn’t mean you’re destined to spend the next couple of months trapped in your house with nothing to do. Here are our top things to do this January in Cincinnati to keep the winter blues at bay.

Catch The Penguin Parade at The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

A beloved tradition every January has been watching the King Penguins parade to their exercise spot during a visit to the zoo. As the King Penguins continue to age, 2024 will be the last year for the Penguin Parade as they retire.

Penguin Parade at the Cincinnati Zoo
Penguin Parade at the Cincinnati Zoo

The morning parade starts at the Zoo’s Bird House at 11 am and ends at the king penguins’ outdoor home away from home at the Children’s Zoo entrance, where they stay until it’s time to march back to the Bird House at 2:30p.

Penguin Parades are on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holiday Mondays (Jan 15 & Feb 19) at 11 am. It must be colder than 50 degrees for the penguins to participate in the Penguin Parades.

  • Saturdays & Sundays & Holiday Mondays
  •  First Parade: Saturday, Jan 13
  •  Last Parade: Sunday, Feb 25
  •  Time: 11:00 am

Note: The annual PNC Festival of Lights continues until January 7th. It is your last chance to grab those hot hippos, see Fiona fairies and the light displays until the next holiday season. 

Head To Fountain Square

The fun doesn’t stop after the holidays are over in downtown Cincinnati. Ice Skating at the UC Health Ice Rink and Ice Bumper Cars will continue until mid-February.

For a unique adventure, try Ice Bumper cars! Bumper cars will run opposite ice skating on select days.

  • Open Skate is $10 and includes admission and skate rental. 
  •  Children under 4 are free with paid adult admission and must always be accompanied on the ice.
  •  Children under 55 inches must be accompanied by an adult while on the ice.
  •  Bumper car punch cards are available for $10 and are valid for five rides each.
  •  You must be at least five years old to operate bumper cars. No Lap Riders

Fountain Square offers many special events throughout the month, so check its Facebook page and website frequently to see what new and exciting things are happening at Fountain Square.

Snow Tubing at Perfect North Slopes

Snow Tubing is a great winter activity for all ages! Venture to Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, for an afternoon or evening full of snowy fun. Snow tubing isn’t the only winter sport being offered. Spend the day skiing or snowboarding down the slopes. 

Snow Tubing at Perfect North Slopes
Snow Tubing at Perfect North Slopes
  • Snow Tubing tickets on Friday-Sunday and holidays will only be sold for a 2-hour limit.
  •  If you have a Lift Ticket valid for skiing/snowboarding, you can add 2 hours of Snow Tubing for $10 at the Tubing Ticket Windows. All season passes do include Snow Tubing. 
  •  Price includes using the snow tube, snow tube runs, and snow tube lift.
  •  A children’s area is available for children ages 3-6, subject to snow availability.
  •  Check the snow report before you go to ensure the slopes are open.

Cincinnati Art Museum

A great place to visit over the winter is the Cincinnati Art Museum. New exhibitions constantly rotate through the museum, offering guests unique opportunities to see exotic art collections and notable artists.

Cincinnati Art Museum

The museum offers the Rosenthal Education Center (REC), which allows kids to make in-person artmaking. Art projects fill the area, inviting families to create their own masterpieces.

Admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is free, with some special exhibitions costing extra. Take advantage of their family-friendly programs, including Baby Art Tours, Family Art Tours, and Sensory Saturdays.

Tour the galleries and art exhibits, then venture outside for the new Art Climb. The Art Climb takes visitors on an art experience as they ascend or descend the stairs leading to the museum. The stairs are at the corner of Gilbert and Eden Park Dr.

Local Tips: 

  • For many events and activities, check the events page on their website for updated information.
  •  The Cincinnati Art Museum is closed on Mondays.
  •  If your family enjoys art, check out the Taft Museum of Art.

Cincinnati Museum Center

One of the most popular things to do in January in Cincinnati is to visit The Cincinnati Museum Center. It is home to three different museums: the Museum of Natural History, The Duke Energy Children’s Museum, and the Cincinnati History Museum. Admission includes visits to all three museums.

cincinnati museum center
Cincinnati Museum Center

The Robert D. Linder Family OMNIMAX Theater, The Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust and Humanity Center, Cincinnati History Library, and featured exhibits can also be found at the Museum Center.

The Cincinnati Museum Center is also known as Union Terminal, as it was once Cincinnati’s premier train stain. The magnificent Rotunda with beautiful mosaics still greets guests as they visit.

Fun fact: The train station is still in operation and is serviced by Amtrak. 

The Duke Energy Children’s Museum is something to do on a rainy day. I think it leaves much to be desired, especially when Cincinnati locals have the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and COSI only a day trip away.

However, I recommend visiting the Museum of Natural History, home to a unique cave and an Ice Age experience.

 The Cincinnati History Museum is also fascinating, with a full-size replica of a side-wheel steamboat you can climb in and a recreated public landing so guests can see how much the city has changed.

Local Tips:

  • Check the museum site for changes in pandemic protocols, hours, and days of operation.
  •  The Museum Center does have restaurants available onsite.
  •  Guests will have to pay for parking.
  •  If you only want to pop in to see the Rotunda. Park in one of the 15-minute parking spots towards the museum entrance.

Contemporary Arts Center

Spark conversation with a visit to the Contemporary Arts Center! Open your mind to the intriguing art installations, galleries and concepts as you make your way through the different floors of the museum.

Metrobot at CAC in Cincinnati
Metrobot at the Contemporary Arts Center

The Creativity Center is an expansion of the long-beloved Sara M. and Patricia A. Vance Education Center—The UnMuseum™. These spaces are a key part of the CAC’s mission to bring art and the creative process to all people. This immersive and interactive floor is free for creative minds of all ages, and open during all regular gallery hours.

Cincinnati Fire Museum

Sound the alarm! The Cincinnati Fire Museum is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Housed in the historic City Firehouse, Engine House #45, the museum is home to one of the country’s best collections of firefighting artifacts.

Cincinnati Fire Museum
Cincinnati Fire Museum

The Cincinnati Fire Museum is listed on the National Historic Registry as a National Historic Landmark, allowing visitors to experience everyday life in the firehouse during 1906. Take a guided tour or stroll through the museum at your leisure and take in the deep-rooted history of fire fighting in our city.

Try Your Hand At An Escape Room

Gather a group of friends and try to see if you can get out of one of the many escape rooms in Cincinnati. With so many different themes, guests can try to break out rooms themed to a prison, a playground, or even the Wild West!

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Another must-see is the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The Freedom Center is rooted in the stories of the Underground Railroad; they illuminate the true meaning of inclusive freedom by presenting permanent and special exhibits that inspire public programming that provokes dialogue and action and educational resources that equip modern abolitionists.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Findlay Market

One of my favorite things to do in January in Cincinnati is to stroll through Findlay Market and come with new goodies to try. As Ohio’s oldest public market, Findlay is packed with local vendors selling quality foods, wines, and more.

best places for a date in Cincy
Findlay Market

Plan to have lunch at one of the many restaurants nearby before hitting the market; otherwise, you may come home with more than you anticipate!

Go For A Winter Hike

Don’t let the cold weather and impending snow stop you from getting outside to appreciate the great outdoors! Cincinnati is full of beautiful winter hikes, including trails at Eden Park, the Cincinnati Nature Center, Ault Park, and more.

Eden Park overlook in the winter
Eden Park Overlook

One of our favorites is The Gorge Trail at Sharon Woods, which has two waterfalls; if it is cold enough, they freeze over.

Even a wintry stroll along Smale Riverfront Park is delightful as the icy Ohio river runs past.

American Sign Museum

A genuinely unique indoor spot to explore in Cincinnati is the American Sign Museum. Packed full of vintage signs, this museum is a Cincinnati treasure. We recommend taking one of their free tours as it brings the museum to life. They also have a neon repair shop where guests can watch the fine art of neon making and repair. It is a sight to behold.

The American Sign Museum - Indoor things to do in CIncinnati
The American Sign Museum

Krohn Conservatory

The weather may be cold outside it is always warm in Krohn Conservatory! Step into a botanical wonderland with a cascading waterfall as you wander through the tropical rainforest created in the Palm House. Take advantage of popular areas such as the Desert House, the John Carroll Bonsai Gallery, and other areas full of beautiful plant species.

Krohn Conservatory
Krohn Conservatory

The Conservatory offers seasonal flower shows, a butterfly show, and other special events yearly.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Winter is the ideal time to catch live performances and shows in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s season is in full swing, offering many monthly performances.

With the Cincinnati Ballet not performing in January, there are more concert options this month than in February since the Orchestra often plays for the ballet.

See the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Schedule to see their performances.

Catch a Show with Broadway Cincinnati

Broadway Cincinnati is proud to bring Beetlejuice to the stage this January at the Aronoff. From January 16th-January 28th, guests can snag tickets for this popular Broadway Musical.

Top things to do in Cincinnati in January - Broadway shows

Based on Tim Burton’s dearly beloved film, this hilarious musical tells the story of Lydia Deetz, a strange and unusual teenager whose whole life changes when she meets a recently deceased couple and a demon with a thing for stripes.

Getting season tickets to Broadway Cincinnati has been one way that we ensure we get out of the house during those grey winter months. There are so many great shows making their way through so don’t miss out.

Enjoy Coffee and Cats at the Kitty Brew Cafe

What better way to spend the day than with a cup of coffee and cuddling cute kitties? The Kitty Brew Cafe in Mason offers guests an opportunity to not only engage with the cats, but all of them are adoptable as well.

Kitty Brew Cafe

The $13 Cat Lounge fee per person goes to help maintain the cafe and care for the sweet cats looking for their forever homes. You will need to make a reservation as spots fill up quickly.

Here are a few helpful tips before you go:

  • Kids under 13 are not allowed to pick up cats.
  • Children under 13 have to be accompanied by a paying adult.
  • You will need to sign a waiver.

Archery Arena

Gear up for an epic battle of archery dodgeball at the Archery Arena. Players compete in an indoor arena in archery dodgeball, trying to shoot padded arrows at their opponents skillfully. Each session is typically 60 minutes with 10 minutes of instruction.

Archery Dodgeball at Archery Arena
Archery Arena

Tips For Visiting The Archery Arena

  • Guests can choose to join a public game or reserve a private session.
  •  A public game is best for kids 10+, while a private match can be for ages 7+. This is because adults can join in on public games, which could be discouraging for younger players.
  •  The arrows are padded, so they don’t leave a bruise or mark if you get hit.
  •  Wear workout clothes and gym shoes.
  •  Bring a water bottle.

Take a Cincinnati Food Tour

What better way to get through January in Cincinnati than by eating around town. Sign up for a Cincinnati Food tour to get a unique taste of the city. Take part in the original Findlay Market Food Tour or sign up for the Hyde Park Food and Drink Tour. With ten tours, it will be hard to decide which one to do first!

Newport Aquarium

When cabin fever hits, head into Northern Kentucky to visit the Newport Aquarium. The aquarium is on the Newport on the Levee, which has plenty of restaurants and additional entertainment.

Newport Aquarium - Top things to do in Cincinnati this winter
Newport Aquarium

The aquarium offers guests hands-on experiences like touching stingrays, sharks, and tide pool creatures. Walkthrough the underwater tunnels, getting you up close with sharks, stingrays, and a sea turtle.

A visit to the Newport Aquarium is never complete without a visit to the penguins or white alligators. For those brave enough, try to cross Shark Bridge. Shark Bridge is the world’s first suspended rope bridge where guests can walk just inches above various sharks, rays, and more than 300 fish.

Local Tips

  • It may be best financially to invest in a season pass if you are local. The pass typically pays for itself after two visits.
  •  Sharky’s Cafe offers a variety of meals, snacks, and drinks. My advice: There are better food options throughout Newport on Levee.

Try Splatter Painting

Create a unique work of art by trying your hand at Splatter Painting. The Craft Lab in Milford offers this fun experience for the whole family. It is the ideal out-of-the-box experience that will break those winter blues.

Splatter Painting at the Craft Lab
Splatter Painting at the Craft Lab

Scene 75 In Milford

This award-winning family fun center offers 13 incredible indoor attractions and entertainment options. Try your hand at a round of black-light mini-golf, take a lap around their indoor go-kart track, then top your evening off with a visit to the Pin Deck for bowling. This is a great spot to get a gift card for birthdays and holidays. There are plenty of dining options as well, including a snack zone.

Go Indoor Skydiving

Adventure seekers will love to learn how to fly! iFly in West Chester offers thrills for kids and adults alike. Take to the air with the help of your instructor as you learn how to control your body in a wind tunnel. Many guests often choose to return to learn more skills and eventually do flips and fly backward!

Things To Do With Kids In January In Cincinnati

Kids are full of pent-up energy this time of year. We share some of the best places to take the kids this January in Cincinnati.

Check out our article Six Free Indoor Play Spots In Cincinnati for more inspiration!

The Dungeon at King Arthur’s Court Toys

Step into times of yore at the most fantastic toy store in Cincinnati for a day full of play, adventure, and maybe a little shopping. King Arthurs has been selling unique gifts and toys in the heart of Oakley for decades.

The Dungeon at King Arthur's
The Dungeon at King Arthur’s

Tucked in the basement of King Arthur’s is a dungeon-themed play area. The Dungeon offers free admission to everyone and is a great way to spend a snowy afternoon. With a zipline, archery, and plenty of climbing structures, kids will want to return again and again. 

Wonderland Play

One of the best things to do with kids during the winter in Cincinnati is visit Wonderland Play. For parents that can remember, remember the old Discovery Zone’s or Leaps and Bounds.

Wonderland Play in Anderson
Wonderland Play in Anderson

This indoor play area is located in Anderson and has three fun areas for kids to play with, including an area designated for toddlers! My daughter particularly loved the Ninja Course and the obstacle course at the soft play area!

Playtime is in two-hour time slots. Reservations are required and are easy to make online. Socks are necessary; bring your own from home or purchase them there.

Local Tips:

  • Wonderland Play has one of the nicest toddler/baby areas we have seen. There is plenty for them to climb on and explore.
  •  There is a snack bar inside that sells coffee.

Lily Pad Play

Lily Pad Play is one of the top places to bring young kids to in Cincinnati. With a small play structure and plenty of imagination stations such as a kitchen, store, and train area, kids will love spending their mornings exploring the play space.

They are unique because they also offer an art area where children can paint, color, and draw freely.

The area is smaller than the other play areas, but it is best served for kids four and under. Older kids may find it challenging to keep busy or become bored. Lily Pad offers various classes such as Zumbini, music classes, and more.

Dig N Play

One of the best places to bring younger kids when the weather is cold is Dig N Play. My daughter claims this to be her favorite place for multiple reasons.

Dig N Play - Things to do with kids in January in CIncinnati
Dig N Play

There is a fun play structure, inflatables, dress-up, and a massive sand table full of sand. Dig N Play is aimed at kids seven and under.

Kids can run from one activity to the next. Play in the kitchen, build with Legos, bounce in the bounce house, then dig in the sand. Dig N Play does have a concession area offering wine, beer, coffee, and plenty of snacks and kid entree options.

Local Tips

  • Outside food is not allowed. However, Dig N Play does let you leave and come back.

The Happy Hangout

The West Side of Cincinnati has a wonderful play area called the Happy Hangout. This creative play area has a darling Main Street full of imaginative play areas! Be a vet, go to the salon, or run a store!

The Happy Hangout
The Happy Hangout

They also have a great play structure, a small space for kids two and under, and plenty of fun activities!

Check their calendar for incredible themed days. During our visit it was music day, and the small room was filled with instruments to try out. Special events, such as princess visits, family game night, are scheduled throughout the month.

Local Tips

  • The Happy Hangout is best served for ages 1-8.
  •   Socks are required for the play structure.
  •  The Happy Hangout does not sell food. You are allowed to bring in your snacks and lunch. They have lounge areas where families can eat!
  •  I recommend getting there early for a less crowded experience.
  •  Pair this with a visit to West Fork Park for a great time.

Great Wolf Lodge

Treat your kids to a family fun day at the indoor water park inside Great Wolf Lodge. Zip down water slides, splash in the wave pool, and then enjoy Howl at the Moon mini-golf or bowling at the Ten Paw Alley.

Indoor water parks in Ohio
Great Wolf Lodge Mason

Budget Tip: Book a room during the week for more budget-friendly options and be on the lookout for Groupon deals.

EnterTrainment Junction

If there is a train enthusiast in your family, then EnterTrainment Junction is a must-see. Their spectacular 25,000 sq ft area train display is the world’s largest indoor train display!

EnterTrainment Junction Play Area
EnterTrainment Junction Play Area

Stop by the Coney Island exhibit and interact by running the coaster, carousel, and other rides. Don’t forget to visit the Imagination Junction, featuring a variety of interactive exhibits, and there is even a toddler play area.

Urban Air Adventure Park

This indoor fun zone is way more than a trampoline park! Kids have the opportunity to go through ninja courses, ropes courses, sky rider, climbing walls, the leap of faith, and more.

Wipeout is always a fan favorite as kids try to avoid being knocked over by a moving arm all while on trampolines! Urban Air is the perfect spot for kids to burn off some of that pent-up energy that rainy or snowy days bring.

Urban Air in Oakley
Urban Air In Oakley

Jumperoo At Urban Air In Cincinnati

Urban Air opens up exclusively on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30–12:30 pm for kids five years old and younger during the school months. While the bigger attractions are not open, kids and parents can access the trampolines, a big play structure, a dodgeball court, a ninja course, and more.

Recreation Outlet

Come run, jump, and play at the Recreation Outlet in Milford. The kids will go wild over the huge playsets and trampolines to explore. Don’t forget to shoot some hoops and try out all the fun toys that are available.

Did you enjoy this article? Check out these related articles for more fun things to do in Cincinnati in January!

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What to do in Cincinnati in January