If you are from Cincinnati, you know that we love to say, “If you don’t like our weather, just wait for about ten minutes and it will change.” This means anytime you plan an outdoor activity, you might need to pivot and find something to do indoors, no matter which season it is.
The good news is, there are lots of fun things to do indoors in Cincinnati! Here is a list of some of the coolest places to go and things to do whether you are running solo or hanging out with friends or family.
ACTIVITY 1 – ARCHERY DODGEBALL AT ARCHERY ARENA
If you are looking for great physical activity, this is definitely the best around! Archery dodgeball is great for all ages and is super family-friendly. It gets you moving and builds skills while you are having fun!
Archery dodgeball takes old-school dodgeball and gives it an amazing innovative twist. You replace the ball with bows and foam-tipped arrows! Not only do you get your heart racing, but you get to build your athletic skills and compete for fun.
Archery Arena hosts public games that an individual can join (the activity requires four people) or bring your own group. It’s perfect for families, friends, coworkers and great for parties too.
This is a high-energy, physical activity that develops physical and social skills. There is a fee for entry.
ACTIVITY 2 – THE FALCON THEATRE
The Falcon Theatre is a cool place to view a show because it is more of a small intimate setting. You will have the opportunity to see some of the best local talents perform in comedies, dramas and so much more.
The theater was founded in 1989 and is enjoying a bit of a resurgence with its re-opening. They performed the comedy “Beyond Therapy” as their opening show all those years ago and now features many types of productions including titles such as “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Letters from Vietnam.”
This is a family activity and can be an educational opportunity as well. This is a quiet activity that doesn’t involve much physical activity.
ACTIVITY 3 – CINCINNATI MUSEUM CENTER AT UNION TERMINAL
An Art Deco architectural wonder, Union Terminal is home to several museums. You can visit many interactive exhibits, including a replicated limestone cave at The Museum of Natural History & Science. Learn through play with entertaining and interactive exhibits for children at The Children’s Museum. Check out the Cincinnati History Museum and learn about the past including Cincinnati’sown riverboat history with a replica steamboat.
The complex also includes the Cincinnati History Library, the Arts Consortium of Cincinnati, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX Theater, and the Cincinnati Railroad Club.
This attraction involves a lot of walking and is an all-day activity. Some of the museums have fees.
ACTIVITY 4 – CAROL ANN’S CAROUSEL
This one works as indoor activity if you are trying to avoid the rain. The Anderson Pavilion Culinary Group cares for and operates the carousel. It is made up of 44 characters, all with a Cincinnati-centric theme. This is an awesome way to learn a little bit about the city while having fun.
The carousel has decorated panels featuring the artwork of Jonathan Queen, a Kentucky native who studied at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. He specializes in vintage objects and often works with toys or depictions of antique toys. The panels depict animals in local Cincinnati parks. Full of Ohio heritage, the carousel was built by Carousel Works in Mansfield, Ohio.
There is a small fee for this activity and small children must be accompanied onto the carousel by an adult. This is a fairly relaxed and quick activity.
ACTIVITY 5 – THE NEWPORT AQUARIUM
There are thousands of exotic aquatic creatures awaiting your discovery at the Newport Aquarium. There is an exciting “shark bridge” which lets you come within feet of some of the most dangerous sharks in the world. There is everything from penguins to alligators to stingrays and more.
Check out their shipwreck that lets you explore how an unexpected reef can grow and support a whole world of aquatic wildlife. Come and meet the penguins. Find out what it is like to touch a shark. The aquarium is home to literally a million gallons of water that houses your next sea adventure.
This activity takes the better part of an afternoon and involves a lot of walking. It’s family-friendly and a fee is charged for entry.
ACTIVITY 6 – THE AMERICAN SIGN MUSEUM
This is a museum that seems mostly just for fun, but it actually tells many great stories and encompasses a lot of history. There are more than 100 years worth of signs here that show you plenty of historical advertising as well as some other interesting signage.
Come and check out the nostalgia of neon and flashing lights galore. This visual extravaganza does require a fee for entry and involves a lot of walking. You don’t have to spend the whole day though and it doesn’t cover near the area of some of the city’s more mainstream museums.
ACTIVITY 7 – ARCADE LEGACY
This is another nostalgic treat. The classic-style arcade is located in the all but abandoned Cincinnati Mills mall. It is a strange location, but for people who grew up here and remember Forest Fair Mall as it was, playing arcade games here harkens back to childhood.
This is for memory lane only, though, because the activity is neither relaxed or physical. The 70 arcade games and 20 classic consoles provide great entertainment but likely won’t entertain the younger generation, plus alcohol is served there, so not a great family option. Most games there are free as long as you are buying food and drinks.
ACTIVITY 8 – KROHN CONSERVATORY
Krohn Conservatory is so beautiful that it is popular as a wedding venue. However, the conservatory also makes for a great afternoon getaway.
While there is plenty to see and do outdoors at the conservatory, it also makes a good place to visit indoors because they have several buildings full of amazing plants to see. Check out the desert house, fern house, palm house, or orchid house, each home to their own amazing ecosystem supporting a different type of plant.
You can also visit the John Carroll Bonsai house for a look at the imported trees or see the seasonal floral showroom which has all of the best blooms for the current time of year.
The buildings are spread out, so be prepared to do some walking. What makes this activity good is that it is educational and family-friendly. You can also take as much or as little time as you want to explore the different houses. There is a per-person fee for entry.
ACTIVITY 9 – MAVERICK CHOCOLATE FACTORY
This is a tour that pretty much everyone loves. The Maverick Chocolate Factory is both a factory and a retail store. You can take a tour and your senses will be overwhelmed by the sights, smells, and tastes of their fantastic chocolate.
Get a chance to see how they make their chocolate and have a chat with the chocolatiers and pick their brains about the world’s best tasting candy. You can taste samples along the way and purchase your favorites to take home and savor.
Public tours are free and take just about a half-hour, but you will want to bring some cash to purchase some of their products after sampling. This is a good fun family activity that involves some but not a lot of walking.
ACTIVITY 10 – THE ROOK
The Rook is a special bar that lets you relax and enjoy board games with friends. This is not the most family-friendly activity because one of the main attractions is board game-themed drinks. This could be an awesome evening for co-workers who are already pretty good friends though.
The activity is pretty low-key and can build relationships. Just make sure you pick a designated driver and bring some cash, no one drinks for free.
ACTIVITY 11 – ENTERTRAINMENT JUNCTION
Entertrainment Junction is home to the world’s largest train display. It also features a terrific play area for kids and a railroad museum. It is absolutely designed to be an indoor railroad theme park.
You can also try checking out the A-Maze-N Funhouse, which is like a whole second attraction at the same location.
This is an activity where you can basically pace yourself. There are places for parents to take a break and kids to run out of all of their energy. You can also shop for all of your favorite hobbies and toys here.
There is plenty of walking to do with this activity and there is a fee for entry.
ACTIVITY 12 – JUNGLE JIM’S INTERNATIONAL MARKET
You can explore Jungle Jim’s International Market on your own or take a guided tour. The market is home to some cool statues and animatronics but the real reason to visit is for the outrageous selection of products that they have available.
There is no fee for admission but bring your wallet because you will want to stock up on something. You are almost guaranteed to find that one product you haven’t been able to find in forever among their 200,000 square feet of shopping space and more than 180,000 products.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, there is plenty of walking to do here and if you spent all day, you still probably wouldn’t see everything.
ACTIVITY 13 – TOUR THE AMERICAN WHISTLE CORPORATION FACTORY
You can tour this southern Ohio factory and find out everything that you ever wanted to know about whistles and how they are made. This is the only factory in the United States to produce these familiar metal whistles.
The tour itself takes about 45 minutes and is filled with lots of fun and facts. There is a little bit of walking with this one. While the tour is $5 per person, everyone does get to leave with a brand new free whistle and there is a gift shop on site.
ACTIVITY 14 – RIVERBOAT CRUISE
There is nothing more important in the founding and growth of Cincinnati than the Ohio River and the steamboats that call her home.
Take a ride on a steamboat and see the banks of the Ohio River in a whole new light. You can even book-themed cruises like ones centered around wineries, romance, or a good meal.
There is a fee depending on the cruise that you opt to go on and the size of your group. Of course, any food or drinks on any of the riverboat tours will come at an additional cost. This is a fun and laid-back activity that involves only moderate physical activity and lots of sightseeing.
ACTIVITY 15 – CAREW TOWER
Visit Carew Tower of Cincinnati and climb to the top of the 570-foot tall building to take a magical glimpse at Queen City. You will get an amazing view and there is no better place to snap a selfie. From this view, you can see all of downtown as well as the Ohio River and the surrounding area.
The best part is that the tower has 49 floors of really cool shops and restaurants so there is plenty to explore and do.
There isn’t an entry fee to visit the tower, but you will want to bring along your purse or wallet to enjoy the shopping and food offered by the tower’s many establishments. This can be a visit that takes several hours or can be an all-day exploration, the choice is yours. Wear comfortable shoes, there is lots of walking to do.
Cincinnati has so many fun things to do whether you are a local or are just visiting! Start at the top of the list and work your way down exploring all of the fun activities available no matter what the weather looks like outside.