The Queen City may attract its own share of visitors, but what if you want to take a break from all of the great local attractions and head out of town for a day? Cincinnati is centrally located where you can travel to three states – Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia – and still be home in time for bed that night. With so many fun and interesting attractions to check out, you can probably plan a day trip from Cincinnati every weekend. Check out these day trips from Cincinnati.
Only a 90-minute drive from Cincinnati, a visit to Louisville takes you from the greatest two minutes in horse racing to home of the world’s largest baseball bat. Churchill Downs is home to the Kentucky Derby, as well as the Kentucky Derby Museum, which showcases the history and tradition of the derby.
- Learn about the greatest horses to win the first leg of the Triple Crown, including Secretariat, stand in the winner’s circle. The museum features a selection of the fashion that’s part of the pomp and circumstance of the Kentucky Derby, including impressive hats worn on race day. The museum also has interactive exhibits for everyone, such as a simulated race.
- Anyone who’s watched a baseball game knows about the Louisville Slugger. Now, take a tour of the famous baseball bat factory and see how bats are made and the story behind them, including holding bats actually used by some of the greatest players to use a Louisville Slugger. The museum also includes a look at the history of baseball and is a must for any sports fan. Be sure to get a picture with the world’s largest baseball bat just outside the factory.
- “Where the world meets Kentucky.” That describes Frazier History Museum, which opened in 2004. The museum tells the story of the state using interactive exhibits, as well as artifacts and memorabilia, involving Daniel Boone, Native Americans, the Civil War, and a miniature figurine collection. The museum also hosts special exhibits, such as the women’s suffrage movement and Kentucky music.
Before heading home, consider grabbing dinner at Hammerheads in the Germantown neighborhood. With unique American fare, Hammerheads features outstanding smoked ribs – both baby back and lamb, sandwiches served on potato buns, including pork belly, lettuce and tomato, beef brisket, and roasted duck, as well as entrees starring shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles. The menu also includes burgers, as well as vegetarian options.
Home to the Indiana state capitol, a tour of the historical building takes a look at the state’s 200 years, from territorial days to the present. Check out the state’s legislative chambers, as well as impressive art. A few blocks away, take a walk around White River State Park, home to 250 acres of nature and attractions, such as the Indianapolis Zoo (featuring animals from around the world, as well as a shark touch pool), Indiana State Museum (offering three floors of state history, from mastodons to contemporary attractions, as well as an IMAX theater), and NCAA Headquarters and Hall of Champions.
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis offers a fun time for kids of all ages (including adults). You know you’re in for a special visit when you spot the dinosaur statues outside looking into the museum or breaking out from the inside. It takes off from there. With a Chihuly blown-glass art piece hanging from the top floor and traversing to the lower floors, the art centers all other exhibits. Have fun as you learn about pop culture, children’s impact on changing the world (including the stories of Ryan White and Anne Frank), as well as dinosaurs and fossils. You’ll have a blast exploring space at the Beyond Spaceship Earth. The museum’s many exhibits also include outdoor attractions.
- Racing fans will love visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, where you can learn about the history of the annual Memorial Day weekend event, as well as check out the impressive race cars on display. From its earliest days to recent races, the museum showcases the race and its stars, including the Andretti family. You’ll be impressed as you watch the evolution of the Indy-style autos over a century of action.
- Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza offers the perfect environment for dinner, whether for a couple, friends, or family. Start with an order of bruschetta and build an outstanding experience from there. Featuring specialty pizzas, such as meatball, buffalo chicken, Caprese, or seafood, you can also build your own pizza pie.
If you’re in the mood for a special, upscale dinner, make reservations at St. Elmo’s Steak House, where you can enjoy a classic steak dinner at its downtown location. The restaurant also offers chicken and seafood entrees.
A trip to Lexington, about 90 minutes from Cincinnati, involves tracing the history of horse racing in America. Take a walk along the Kentucky Horse Park’s memorial and pay respects to past champions, such as John Henry and Man O’ War.
- The park also features sculptures of race champions, such as Alysheba and Secretariat, as well as other notable horses, including Sergeant Reckless of the Korean War and thoroughbred Cigar. The Kentucky Horse Park also offers visitors pony and horse rides and barn tours, which include draft horses and other equines. Stop at the International Museum of the Horse and check out exhibits such as Buffalo soldiers, horses in sport, and Man O’ War.
- Mary Todd Lincoln experienced more loss and sorrow than any person should in their life. First Lady to President Abraham Lincoln, she lived through his assassination in 1865, plus the loss of children. She spent her childhood in Lexington, and the 14-room mansion chronicles her life in Lexington. Decorated with furniture from the era, a tour through the Mary Todd Lincoln House allows you to take a personal look into her early life.
A Lexington favorite for more than 25 years, Winchell’s Restaurant and Sports Bar features a menu that offers homemade comfort food. Order a plate of fried green tomatoes and you are ready for a special meal. Featuring entrees such as fried chicken and grilled salmon, as well as open-face beef brisket and classic club sandwiches, everyone will find something they’ll enjoy.
More than a century old, the Toledo Zoo may be one of the best-kept secrets in the zoo world. With more than 9,000 animals, from polar bears to red pandas, visitors to the Toledo Zoo can check out impressive exhibits, such as the aquarium, arctic encounter, and primate forest. You can spend the entire day at the zoo or a few hours. Either way, you’ll have a great time.
- Located near Lake Erie, Toledo is home to the National Museum of the Great Lakes, which tells the history of the Great Lakes through more than 300 artifacts and interactive exhibits. Following your tour of the uniquely-designed museum, head over to the James M. Schoonmaker, a 617-foot-long ore ship. As you traverse the ship, you’ll learn about it and the role it played in hauling iron, ore, and more through the Great Lakes. You can also the Tug Ohio, which served as a fire tug boat.
- Before driving the three hours back to Cincinnati, stop for a bite at a famous Hungarian hot dog eatery. Tony Packo’s opened in 1932 and has been popular with celebrities, as well as mentioned several times during the television series “M*A*S*H.”
Enjoy Packo’s Original Hot Dog featuring a Hungarian sausage topped with their special sauce, mustard, and onions. You can also order an American hot dog with the same toppings. The menu also features other entrees, such as chili, Hungarian dumplings, and stuffed cabbage.
Daniel Boone National Forest
Plan to spend the day at Daniel Boone National Forest exploring nature with hikes along trails, rock climbing, or just enjoy a drive among the beautiful wooded park.
- Located about 2.5 hours from Cincinnati and with more than 600 miles of trails to explore, you can choose any of the available trails to enjoy a day of exploring. As you choose trails to follow, look for ones that offer opportunities for amazing waterfalls and stone arches. Wildlife you may come upon for viewing include elk, eagles, and falcons. Always respect wildlife and maintain a safe distance.
- Rock climbing and rappelling are among favorite activities people enjoy at national parks. As you choose which areas to climb, ensure you follow park rules and practice safety at all times.
- You may want to pack a basket to enjoy a picnic during your visit to the park. Always practice safety and ensure you don’t litter or leave food for the wildlife.
From learning about famous horses and their races to the Great Lakes role in shipping to exploring nature, it’s easy to find something to do for a day trip from Cincinnati. As you make your plans to explore the world away from home, you have lots of options for a fun and interesting day trip. What are some day trips from Cincinnati that you plan on taking?