7 Epic Day Trips From Cincinnati, Ohio That Are Less Than 3 Hours Away!
If you live in the Cincinnati, Ohio area (or are visiting), you are smack dab in the middle of some incredible destinations. These places make for excellent day trips from Cincinnati since they are all within in driving distance.
As someone who is based in Cincinnati, I’ve made it easier for you to plan your day trip from Cincinnati by narrowing it down to my top seven favorite spots. Read on to find out where they are plus my tips on what to do and see during each day trip.
Hocking Hills State Park – Logan, Ohio
Distance from Cincinnati: 135 miles – 2.5 hours
If you are looking for an outdoorsy day full of nature Hocking Hills is a great option. Hocking Hills is a State Park located in Ohio that is home to many great hiking trails, nature programs, and events to enjoy.
Hocking Hills Park is home to seven hiking trails ranging from shorter, simpler trails to longer and more challenging trails, making it the perfect spot for hikers of all skill and capabilities. In addition to hiking, you can sign up to learn a new activity like archery or fishing, or do some conservation work and volunteer for the litter pickup program.
While a day trip from Cincinnati to Hocking Hills State Park is more than doable, you might change your mind when you see the beautiful options for campgrounds and cabins at this state park.
Distance from Cincinnati: 100 miles – 1 hour 35 minutes
You can’t compile a list of day trips from Cincinnati without of course including the capital of Ohio! Columbus has so much to offer and is for a great way to spend the day without having to drive too far.
There are so many incredible experiences in Columbus but to highlight some of the most popular I have to mention Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, COSI, and the Easton Town Center:
- Columbus Zoo & Aquarium: The Columbus Zoo is home to 11,000+ animals with nearly 600 unique species. Ranked in the top five for zoos in the United States, the Columbus Zoo is an experience that you do not want to miss out on if you visit the Columbus area with kids or if you’re an animal lover.
- COSI: COSI, an acronym for the Center of Science and Industry, is an interactive Science and Research Museum. This museum is home to so many amazing exhibits that allows visitors to engage in experiments and activities while simultaneously learning the science and history of what is in front of them. Some of the most popular exhibits include “Space” (visitors ride in a space capsule and see what it is like to be an astronaut), “Life” (explore the human body and learn what makes it function), and “Progress” (travel through time and see how technology has evolved beginning in 1898 all the way up to the technology of today).
- Easton Town Center: If shopping is your thing, the Easton Town Center is something you don’t want to miss during your day trip to Ohio’s capital. This is a great way to spend the day because there is so much to offer all within one location. The campus is home to 300+ stores to fit all your shopping needs, there are some of the most delicious dining experiences if you’re looking for something to eat, and if you are wanting some more entertainment, you can even catch a movie at the largest movie theater in the state of Ohio: the AMC Theater in Columbus.
Lastly, if you haven’t seen it before, don’t head back to Cincinnati before stopping to see the stately capitol building.
Distance from Cincinnati: 112 miles – 1 hour 50 minutes
Being the largest city in the state of Indianapolis, the city has so much to do that it makes for a great place to spend a day. Some of the most popular attractions in Indianapolis include the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and White River State Park:
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway: If you are a fan of Nascar I’m sure you are familiar with the Indy 500. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is home to the Indy 500 as well as multiple other Nascar races and is the largest sports venue in the world. Seeing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a very cool experience and one I would highly recommend whether you are into racing or not.
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is the largest children’s museum in the world. With the incredible exhibits that it has to offer, I would highly recommend checking it out no matter what age you are. Some of the most popular exhibits include “All Aboard!”, “The Power of Children”, and “Beyond Spaceship Earth”.
- White River State Park: The White River State Park is home to many Indianapolis attractions including the Indiana State Museum, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Eiteljorg Museum, and Victory Field, the latter of which is home to the Minor League Baseball team, the Indianapolis Indians.
Young’s Jersey Dairy – Yellow Springs, Ohio
Distance from Cincinnati: 72 miles – 1 hour 15 minutes
This one may not be the most obvious day trip to those outside of Ohio but it is actually a very popular location and one that is a great place to see some farm animals and have some fun!
Young’s is a dairy farm and while there you can meet, pet, and feed the animals that live on the farm.
In addition to the animals, there is also a putt-putt golf course, a dairy store, and a batting range. There is also ice cream for sale for a delicious treat to finish off your day at the farm.
Throughout the year the farm also hosts seasonal events. Some of these include an annual Easter egg hunt, a pumpkin patch and haunted hay rides during the fall, and a tree farm in where you can choose and cut down your very own Christmas Tree in the winter.
Dayton National Air Force Museum – Dayton, Ohio
Distance from Cincinnati: 60 miles – 1 hour
Being the shortest distance on our list, the Dayton National Air Force Museum is a great place to spend your day and you won’t have to drive very far to get there from Cincinnati.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and it known as the oldest and largest museum focused on military aviation in the world.
While there you will see some of the aircrafts and artifacts from the United States Air Force’s history. Not only is it a great day trip from Cincinnati, but it is also an affordable one. Admission and parking for the museum is completely free! The only thing you will be required to pay for is if you choose to participate in additional attractions such as the flight simulators or the Museum Theatre.
If the National Air Force Museum isn’t enough to fill your day, Dayton also has plenty of shopping, dining, and other attractions in the area to add to your itinerary.
Distance from Cincinnati: 83 miles – 1 hour 20 minutes
If you love horses, you’ll love a day trip from Cincinnati to Lexington, Kentucky. Since Cincinnati is right on the southwest border of Ohio, the main sights of Kentucky aren’t as far as you might think! In less than 90 minutes you can find yourself surrounded by horse farms and race tracks.
Definitely don’t miss a visit to the Kentucky Horse Park where you can visit the International Museum of the Horse and see the Hall of Champions where former horse champions now live. A visit to Keeneland horse track is also a must-do for horse racing fanatics.
Non-horse related activities to do in Lexington include touring the Mary Todd Lincoln house, where you can learn more about the life of Abraham Lincoln’s wife; walk around the Arboretum where you can learn more about the natural world in and around Lexington; and take a tranquil hike through the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. Lexington is also known for its many breweries and distilleries.
And, if you want to go to the most famous horse race of all, you’ll have to go to Louisville where the Kentucky Derby is held each year. Which brings us too our last day trip of this list…
Distance from Cincinnati: 99 miles – 1 hour 30 minutes
Louisville blends southern charm and big city living with a perimeter of gorgeous countryside. It’s also home to Churchill Downs, the racetrack where the Kentucky Derby is held each year.
Even if you’re not in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby, you can still tour Churchill Downs. A visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum will also teach you more about the history of the storied horse race.
If you’re more into baseball than horses, check out the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, where baseball bats are produced for the Major League.
Louisville also has several Bourbon distilleries where you can learn more about the distilling process and taste some local Kentucky Bourbon.
If you are looking to plan a day trip from the Cincinnati area, I would highly recommend one of the above options. These are all great ways to spend your day and make for a quick and affordable escape from your everyday life.
*All mileage and timing was calculated based on the distance from downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Driving times are estimates, but can differ depending on traffic and weather.
About the Author: Courtney is a travel writer who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.