Nature trails, holiday shopping, and more: These Cincinnati day trips will have you exploring all the fun things to do near Cincinnati in winter.
One of the best parts about living near the Ohio River is the blend of big cities and country towns that you can explore throughout the seasons. Whether you crave the activity of downtown Cincinnati, or the slower pace of a small town along the river, winter is a beautiful time of year to explore the region.
With that in mind, the Improveit team shared and collected their favorite wintertime Cincinnati day trips. With a busy 2022 calendar for the season, there’s certainly no lack of things to do near Cincinnati in the winter! Take a look at the event calendar below, embrace the chill, and plan your Cincinnati day trips to explore Ohio and Kentucky all season long.
Things to Do Around Cincinnati, Southern Ohio & Northern Kentucky
Coney Island Nights of Lights – Staff Pick
Nov. 11 – Jan. 2, 2022 | Cincinnati, OH
Drive through this huge light display with your car radio tuned to the synchronized radio station for an immersive holiday experience! Sing along with the holiday jams, take in the glowing snowflakes, and enjoy the beautiful tunnel of lights right from your car as you drive around the 2.5-mile route around Cincinnati’s Coney Island. A holiday-themed activity packet is available to keep kiddos entertained before and after the drive.
Nov. 17 – Dec. 31, 2022 | Portsmouth, OH
Portsmouth’s Market Square becomes a winter wonderland in mid-November. Take a turn on the skating rink, or book your own event with private rink rental for your friends and family. Snow tubing, carriage rides, and a vendor village will keep you busy all day. Then grab a warm beverage and relax in the glow of millions of lights!
Nov. 18, 2022 – Jan. 1, 2023 | Hamilton, OH
This award-winning drive-through light display turns Hamilton’s Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum into a winter wonderland. More than a million lights will illuminate the park’s independent art installations and natural features along a 2.5 mile path. Enjoy the 24th anniversary of this Pyramid Hill tradition from the comfort of your car.
Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights – Staff Pick
Nov. 18, 2022 – Jan 8, 2023 | Cincinnati, OH
Celebrating its 40th year, the PNC Festival of Lights is bright and beautiful way to spend a family-friendly day in Cincinnati. Come early to see the animals in their winter habitats, keep your eyes out for five “Fiona fairies” in honor of Fiona the hippo, take in a Wild Lights show, and stop for s’mores!
Deck the Y'alls
Nov. 25, 2022 – Jan. 1, 2023 | Florence, KY
The Florence Y’alls amateur baseball team keeps the fun going during the off-season by decking out the ballpark for the holidays. Themed areas, holiday shopping, ice skating, and carnival attractions are just the beginning, with more than 2 million lights brightening the ballpark. Holiday movies, pet-friendly dates, and a sensory-friendly evening are all on the calendar.
Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
Nov. 25-26, Dec. 2-3 2022 | Madison, IN
Enjoy the charm of historic Madison in a whole new way with two weekends of historic home tours. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Candlelight Tour of Homes gives visitors a view into historic sites, private homes, and a local church all on Madison’s sprawling National Historic Landmark District, and all beautifully decorated for the holidays. Stops include the Lanier Mansion, the Masonic Schofield House, Saddletree Factory, and more.
Perfect North Slopes – Staff Pick
December 2022 | Lawrenceburg, IN
With skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing all in one place, Perfect North Slopes is a fun way to take advantage of the region’s hills. Located in Lawrenceburg, IN, the ski resort is an easy drive from Cincinnati. Whether you like to plan your snow days in advance or get a surprise day to enjoy the winter weather, the lodge has everything you need from food, to ski tuning, to a stocked gear shop.
Cincinnati Day Trips to Dayton & Columbus
John Bryan State Park & Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve – Staff Pick
Year Round | Yellow Springs, OH
Scenic John Bryan State Park and neighboring Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve make for a beautiful day trip to take in the beauty of fall and winter in the region. A variety of trails, including a popular Storybook Trial, wind through the park past the Little Miami River. A sledding hill is available near the lower shelter house, and cross-country skiing is also welcome under the right weather conditions. Enjoy dining and shopping options in nearby Yellow Springs after your time outside!
Hocking Hills Holiday Treasure Hunt
Nov. 1 – Dec. 12, 2022 | Logan, OH
Take a few weeks to explore Ohio’s Hocking Hills region with the Hocking Hills Holiday Treasure Hunt. Get your treasure map stamped at any six of more than two dozen participating shops for a chance to win gift cards to stores in the region, or the grand prize of a 2-night stay for four in a Hocking Hills cabin! Be sure to visit Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, and other beautiful features of Hocking Hills State Park while you’re out and about!
Christmas in Historic Springboro
Nov. 18-20, 2022 | Springboro, OH
Halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati, Springboro, OH is ready to celebrate its 35th Christmas in Historic Springboro this year. The weekend activities include a 5k run/walk, parade, 75 craft vendors, live music, plenty of food, and much more!
Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo – Staff Pick
Nov. 18 – Jan. 1, 2022 | Columbus, OH
Animated light displays and character ambassadors are must-see attractions at the annual Wildlights event at the Columbus Zoo. Stop to see the Zoo’s reindeer herd in their winter habitat on your way to visit the Santa Experience and 12 Days of Wildlights train ride. Visit the s’more station for a treat, and check the Wildlights calendar for craft beer offerings on select nights, plus many more activities.
Franklin Park Conservatory Aglow
Nov. 19, 2022 – Jan. 8, 2023 | Columbus, OH
For 2022, the annual Conservatory Aglow event has multiple new features, including a light show in the rainbow tunnel, a disco dance party, and a musical light show in the Grand Mallway. The outdoor event is also adding interior attractions this year, with candlelit paths to lead guests through the interior biomes featuring illuminated glass installations from artist Dale Chihuly. Live entertainment is performed on select nights.
Dayton Holiday Festival
Nov. 25, 2022 – Jan. 2, 2023 | Dayton, OH
Celebrating 50 years, the 2022 Dayton Holiday Festival has a full calendar of events for the whole season. Enjoy the Grande Illumination tree lighting to open the event, stop by Rike’s department store to view the holiday window displays, and visit the Downtown Jingle Lights interactive light show choreographed to your favorite holiday tunes. A multitude of shops, museums, theatres, and entertainment venues participate in the festivities so there’s always something to do.
Levi & Catharine Coffin House Candlelight Tours
Dec. 2, 2022 | Fountain City, IN
Mark your calendar for a one-night-only candlelight tour of the Levi & Catharine Coffin house. The Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites hosts this special event to showcase the home often called the “Grand Central Station” of the Underground Railroad. Visitors will learn why freedom-seekers chose to stop in Fountain City, and why wintertime was a common season for escapes to the North.
Lexington & Louisville Holiday Events
Historic Downtown Frankfort Candlelight Weekend
Nov. 10-12, 2022 | Frankfort, KY
Settle into the season during the second weekend in November when Downtown Frankfort offers carriage rides, carolers, and crafts. Take advantage of small business discounts and dining specials to enjoy everything Downtown Frankfort has to offer.
First Mate’s Market
Nov. 19, 2022 | Louisville, KY
Head to the river to board the historic Belle of Louisville for this free maker’s market event. Unique gifts and crafts from dozens of small business vendors will help you check loved ones off your holiday shopping list. Pilot house tours, food trucks, giveaways, and more make this a great event to anchor your day spent along the Louisville Riverwalk.
Floracliff Thanksgiving Eve Long Hike
Nov. 23, 2022 | Lexington, KY
If you need a break from the holiday hustle and bustle, consider spending it outdoors in one of Ohio or Kentucky’s beautiful state parks or nature preserves. Floracliff Nature Preserve hosts a series of hikes in November, including a Thanksgiving Eve long hike through the Elk Lick Valley. The 5-mile hike will showcase the Kentucky River, Elk Lick Creek, and other natural features with scenic views after the leaves have fallen.
Light Up Bardstown
Nov. 25, 2022 | Bardstown, KY
Court Square and The Gallery are the epicenter of Main Street holiday festivities in historic Bardstown. Meet and greet with local artists, enjoy the kids corner with hot cocoa, cookies, and face painting, and stay until the official lighting of the Bardstown Christmas tree, lampposts, wreaths, stars, and more.
ChristmasTime at Ark Encounter – Staff Pick
Nov. 25 – Dec. 30, 2022 | Williamstown, KY
A unique experience awaits at this life-size Noah’s Ark replica. A stunning light display around the property, live Christmas concerts and shows, carousel rides, and animal encounters are all free. Arrive early for a tour inside the Ark too! ChristmasTime events take place on select dates during the season. www.arkencounter.com/christmas
Nov. 25, 2022 – Jan. 1, 2023 | Louisville, KY
By popular demand, the Winterwoods Spectacular is now a walk-through event in Louisville’s Iroquois Park. Enjoy the winter weather amid the glow of millions of lights set to music as you walk through the park. Glowing lanterns and life-size gingerbread houses bring a special sense of wonder. A special sensory night will also be added to the calendar.