Summer heats up in Cincinnati with festivals, sporting events, river cruises, nature hikes, thrill rides, strolling on the riverfront, and more. No matter what you’re into you’ll find fun things to do in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky this summer.

Cincy Amusement & Water Parks

Banshee roller coaster at Kings Island (photo: Provided by Kings Island
Banshee roller coaster at Kings Island (photo: Provided by Kings Island


With more than 100 rides, shows, and attractions plus Soak City Waterpark, Kings Island offers the perfect combination of world-class thrills and family attractions. Climb aboard Mystic Timbers, a wooden coaster offering 16 airtime moments and an enticing mystery. Or try out the new giga coaster, Orion, a steel coaster that reaches speeds of 91 miles per hour.

Up north, test your endurance at the inflatable obstacle course in Land of Illusion's Aqua Adventures park or relax paddleboarding on Paddle Bay. Enjoy food and drinks in Sandy Cove and Aqua Lounge.


Cincinnati Summer Sports

Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park (photo: @real.mayhem)
Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park (photo: @real.mayhem)


Feel the breeze from the river, hear the crack of the bat and crunch on some peanuts or Cracker Jack, and celebrate the return of fans at Cincinnati Reds games! The kid's area at the Great American Ballpark is a true playground. A Red’s whiffle ball field, batting cages, and a playground–the Great American Ballpark is a kid’s dreamland. Come about 45 minutes early and snag some player autographs during batting practice.  For big Reds fans, no trip to the ballpark is complete without a visit to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame

Get even closer to the action at a Florence Y'alls baseball game. A member of the independent Frontier League, the games offer post-game bands, fireworks, giveaways, discounted tickets, food and drink specials, and more.

If you’ve never experienced Major League Soccer, an FC Cincinnati game is the place to be. Throw on your blue and orange gear and join the pre-match party at Washington Park. March with a lively crowd of all ages to the brand-new TQL Stadium in the West End.

Get a first-hand view of the fanfare at the Western and Southern Open at Lindner Family Tennis Center. See some of the best players from around the world play plus the tournament offers a fantastic fan experience that includes a variety of local food vendors, wine, beer, shopping, live music, and more.


Family-Friendly Summer Attractions in Cincinnati

Feeding a giraffe at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (photo: David Bradbury)
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (photo: David Bradbury)


The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s 75 acres is home to more than 580 animal species and 3,000 plant varieties making it one of the largest zoo collections in the United States. Be sure to visit Africa, an exhibit designed to bring guests closer to animals including Cheetah Encounter, Hippo Cove, the Meerkat Exhibit, and Painted Dog Valley. You can even walk among kangaroos in the new Roo Valley. For adventure seekers, check out the Kanga Klimb high ropes course. This attraction is great for kids and adults alike.  

Newport Aquarium – located in the Newport on the Levee entertainment district – offers a million gallons of fun. Touch stingrays in Stingray Hideaway's 17,000-gallon touch pool, walk the Shark Bridge and enjoy the new Shipwreck: Realm of the Eels. While at the Levee, try your hand at some spares and strikes at Rotolo Bowling or hit up the arcade games at GameWorks.

The Duke Energy Children’s Museum at Cincinnati Museum Center encourages kids to climb, crawl, explore, and learn about themselves and the world around them. Get more hands-on fun in the new Science Interactive Gallery inside the Museum of Natural History & Science. Then swing by Dinosaur Hall to view this new exhibit that includes six gigantic prehistoric creatures. 

Enjoy a scenic cruise along the Ohio River aboard BB Riverboats. BB offers themed cruises for kids all summer, like Pirates of the Ohio, Princess, and Ice Cream Social cruises.

Ark Encounter is a full-sized reconstruction of Noah's Ark and the attraction includes a restaurant, gift shop, and the Ararat Ridge Zoo home to Tibetan yaks, kangaroos, and ostriches. Plus, take a ride atop a donkey or camel.


Free Things to Do in Cincinnati in the Summer

Kids playing in the interactive fountains at Washington Park (photo:
Interactive fountains at Washington Park (photo:


Washington Park in historic Over-the-Rhine is popular day and night. Let the kids enjoy the playground and splash ground during the day. Then return in the evening for nightly entertainment or simply relax on The Porch while sipping a local beer. 
Fountain Square has long served as a gathering place in downtown Cincinnati. Buy or bring lunch to enjoy while watching the fountain or the latest offerings on the big screen. In the evening, they offer nightly entertainment like trivia, salsa music & dancing, and more. 
Explore Smale Riverfront Park along the river in downtown Cincinnati and enjoy the large porch swings, water play, and splash grounds, kids' play area, giant foot piano, and much more. 
There are also plenty of free ways to experience local arts. Cincinnati Art MuseumContemporary Arts Center, and 21c Museum Hotel all offer free admission, and the Taft Museum of Art is free on Sundays. Plus, see public art including more than 120 murals created by Artworks throughout the region.
From free museums to plentiful parks, there are so many free things to do in Cincy

Cincinnati Summer Festivals & Events 

Glier's Goettafest (photo: @hidekikealoha)
Glier's Goettafest (photo: @hidekikealoha)


Nothing says summer quite like dancing and singing to your favorite songs during an outdoor concert on the river. Check out the schedule at Riverbend Music Center and snag tickets to see your favorite bands.

Feel the fluttering wings of butterflies from around the world during the annual Butterfly Show at Krohn Conservatory. Or choose from one of these local events to celebrate the 4th of July with a bang.

Celebrate the delicious Cincy tradition of goetta for two weekends every summer at Glier's Goettafest. This food fest happens along Newport's riverfront featuring creative Goetta foods, live music, goetta games, and more.

If handmade and local goods are your thing, check out popular outdoor shopping events like City Flea, Art on Vine, or the O.F.F. Market. 

Send summer off with a bang at Riverfest. This end-of-summer Cincy celebration is held the Sunday before labor day and features a 30-minute fireworks display over the Ohio River. 

Plan out your Cincy summer trip with this helpful list of 13 can’t-miss summer festivals.