Make a Day of It
Have a day of family fun with a day trip to a nearby city
By Ethan Nichols & Corinne Minard
Cincinnati families looking to take a day trip will find themselves with a plethora of options. Dozens of attractions are just a car ride away. Not sure where to start? Try one of these three cities for a family-friendly day trip.
At just under two hours away, Indianapolis, Indiana, is ideal for a family day trip. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the world’s largest children’s museum in the world, at 482,950 square feet with five floors of exhibits. The museum receives more than 1 million visitors each year. Opening in 1988, the Indianapolis Zoo is one of the largest privately funded zoos in the country. As of 2020, the zoo housed about 1,400 animals of 235 species as well as about 50,000 plants from nearly 3,000 species. It averages around 1.1 million visitors each year.
Located on a 152-acre property, The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields includes multiple buildings besides the main museum including Lilly House, a 26-acre historic estate and house museum and The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, a public art park. The collection includes over 54,000 pieces of art ranging from American to European to African. White River State Park offers outdoor trails and greenspaces as well as educational, cultural and recreational opportunities. Attractions include an IMAX theater, Indiana State Museum, NCAA Hall of Champions, Indians Baseball, Eiteljorg Museum and more. The park is also home to the Indianapolis Zoo.
Just south of Cincinnati is Louisville, Kentucky, which offers a variety of family friendly activities. The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is a must-visit stop for any baseball fans. Visitors to the museum get to see how the bats are made, have their picture taken with the world’s biggest bat and take a swing in the museum’s batting cages. Kentucky Kingdom amusement park has more than 70 family-friendly rides between its amusement park and water park. Standout rides include the Storm Chaser, the first roller coaster in the country to feature a barrel roll drop from a 10-story lift hill; the Kentucky Flyer, a family coaster with 12 airtime moments; and the Musical Carousel, in which all the seats are designed to look like musical instruments.
Thrill seekers can also try underground ziplining at the Louisville Mega Cavern. The tour features six underground zip lines that take you through a portion of the 17 miles of caves under Louisville.
Those wanting to stay within the state can head north to Columbus for family fun.
The Center of Science and Industry, called COSI, is packed with hands-on learning fun. Visitors can use a lever to lift a car, ride a unicycle 17 feet above the ground and climb into a mini sub.
At the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, families can explore 40 acres and discover plants from around the world. Popular exhibits include the Paul Busse Garden Railway, the Topiary Takeover and the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is also worth visiting. Home to more than 10,000 animals, visitors can see tigers, alligators, bison, orangutans, polar bears, sea lions and more. In addition, the zoo has several rides, including a carousel, dinosaur boat ride and pony rides.