Free Things to Do in Cincinnati, Ohio

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Cincinnati Art MuseumThe Cincinnati region is a vibrant destination on the scenic Ohio River. Located about two hours from Indianapolis, the city’s arts and culture scene rivals that of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. There are plenty of free things to do in Cincinnati as well.

Cincinnati Art Museum
Explore the Cincinnati Art Museum’s rich encyclopedic collection of more than 60,000 objects, spanning 6,000 years of world art. Ranked “Top Art Museum for Families” by Parenting magazine, the museum offers public tours and educational activities for all ages.

Contemporary Arts Center
Free Mondays 5-9 p.m.
The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) showcases “art of the last five minutes” in a building that has gained international acclaim for its extraordinary architecture. Nestled in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, the CAC has served as a beacon for progressive thought in the community for more than 70 years. Founded in 1939, the center was one of the first institutions in the United States dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art. The CAC focuses on new developments in painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, performance art and new media.

Final Friday Gallery Walk in Cincinnati
Last Friday of the month.
Starting with the Pendleton Art Gallery, over 20 galleries in Over-the-Rhine open their doors the last Friday of every month. Get a close-up look at the artists and artisans at work. The historic neighborhood, walking distance from downtown, is  rich in 19th century architecture.


Findlay Market
Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market, Findlay Market is also in Over-the-Rhine. The market is home year-round to about two dozen indoor merchants selling meat, fish, poultry, produce, flowers, cheese, deli, and ethnic foods. On Saturdays and Sundays from April to November the Market also hosts a thriving farmers market, dozens of outdoor vendors, numerous street performers, and lots of special events. 

New Year’s Eve on Fountain Square
December 31
Enjoy free ice skating, music by a live DJ, the Christian Moerlein Ice Bar, and fireworks at midnight at Fountain Square downtown.

Taft Museum of Art
The National Historic Landmark built circa 1820, the Taft Museum of Art is home to nearly 700 works of art, including European and American master paintings; Chinese porcelains; and European decorative arts. The museum reopened in 2004 after extensive renovations that doubled the size with a new special exhibitions gallery, redesigned gardens, parking, and museum shop.

Taste of Cincinnati USA
Memorial Day
The Taste of Cincinnati takes place every Memorial Day weekend in downtown Cincinnati. It is now the nation’s longest running culinary arts festival attended by half a million visitors each year, making it one of the nation’s largest street festivals. Taste foods from 40 area restaurants and enjoy live music and entertainment on several stages.
Cincinnati Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati USA

Third weekend in September.
Held on the third full weekend in September on six blocks of Fifth Street, Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati USA showcases the rich German heritage of southwestern Ohio, as well as tasty samples of German-style music, food and beer. First held in 1976, the event has grown to be North America’s largest Oktoberfest with more than 500,000 people attending each year. And don’t miss your chance to participate in the world’s largest chicken dance.

P&G Riverfest
Labor Day weekend.
P&G Riverfest has one of the largest fireworks displays in the Midwest – the Cincinnati Bell/WEBN Fireworks. This signature Cincinnati event began 34 years ago, when WEBN treated the tri-state to a fireworks show in honor of the radio station’s 10th anniversary. The party at Sawyer Point, held annually on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, has grown into an all-day affair with music, food and family fun, and entertainment all day.


Teresa J. Shaw is Web Content Director and also writes about Southeast Michigan for Traveling Mom. Follow her on Twitter at @TeresaShaw.

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One Reply to “Free Things to Do in Cincinnati, Ohio”

  1. I have never been to Cincy, but all 3 festivals you mention sound like great experiences. I think I may be planning on going to the P&G Riverfest.

    Thanks for highlighting festivals!

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