Nature trails, holiday shopping, and more: These Cincinnati day trips will have you exploring all the fun things to do near Cincinnati in winter.
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 Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky.
This year, the Improveit team shared and collected their favorite wintertime Cincinnati day trips. With a busy 2023 calendar for the season, there’s 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
Ice Skating in Fountain Square
Nov. 4, 2023 – Feb. 19, 2024 | Cincinnati, OH
The UC Health Ice Rink, presented by Fifth Third Bank, opens in Fountain Square on Nov. 4. Skate rental is available, along with a full-service concessions tent, restrooms, and on-site parking. Skaters of all ages are welcome, and on-ice bumper cars adds extra fun during select time periods. Hours change during the season. Check the website to plan your visit.
King's Island WinterFest
Nov. 24 – Dec. 31, 2023 | Mason, OH
King’s Island’s winter celebration transforms the beloved amusement park into 11 enchanting winter wonderlands. Ice skate by the Eiffel Tower, enjoy the Wonderland Parade, and wander through more than 5 million lights throughout the park. Twenty rides including Mystic Timbers and Kings Mills Antique Autos will be running so the whole family can enjoy the fun. Select nights, check the website for full schedule. visitkingsisland.com
Christmas at the Junction
Nov. 24, 2023 – Jan. 2, 2024 | West Chester, OH
Families with little ones will love taking a magical journey through a Winter Wonderland during Christmas at EnterTrianment Junction. From Mrs. Claus in her kitchen to Santa’s reindeer and elves at the North Pole, kids will get to enjoy the world’s largest train display, the A-Maze-N FunHouse, and more. Take in all the “EnterTRAINment” with extended hours on select days in December. entertrainmentjunction.com
Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights – Staff Pick
Nov. 17, 2023 – Jan 7, 2024 | Cincinnati, OH
The 41st annual 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. 24, 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. decktheyalls.com
Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
Nov. 24 & 25, Dec. 1 & 2 2023 | Madison, IN
Enjoy the charm of historic Madison in a whole new way with two weekends of historic home tours. 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 St. Michael the Archangel Church, the Wade Home, and more.
Perfect North Slopes – Staff Pick
Dec. 2023 - Feb. 2024 | Lawrenceburg, IN
With skiing, snowboarding, and 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.
Washington Park Winter Market Weekends
Nov. 25 - Dec. 18, 2023 | Cincinnati, OH
This festive shopping experience includes four weekends of rotating artisans so you can find gifts for everyone on your list – and yourself! Vendors’ cozily designed huts add to the winter market atmosphere, and the event will partner with different organizations each week, including Vibe Cincinnati, Cincinnati Pride, and the City Flea. washingtonpark.org
Light in the Forest at Rowe Woods
Dec. 1 - 30, 2024 | Milford, OH
On select evenings through December 30th, Cincinnati Nature Center will open the trails of their Rowe Woods location to the public. The vast lights display will include installations by five regional light artists. Other attractions include a bonfire, holiday shopping, and children’s activities. Timed arrival tickets are available from 5:30-9pm on select dates.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops
Dec. 8-10, 2023 | Cincinnati, OH
The Music Hall will be dressed for the holidays as the CSO is joined by chorus groups, dance troupes, and local ensembles to bring seasonal classics to life. Handbell ringers Queen City favorite Capathia Jenkins join the festivities. Multiple performances will be held throughout the weekend, with a livestream on Saturday evening. cincinnatisymphony.org
Cincinnati Day Trips to Dayton & Columbus
Winter Solstice Trial Race
Dec. 16, 2023 | Yellow Springs, OH
Ring in the winter with a brisk pace in some brisk weather. Hosted by the Ohio River Road Runners Club, the Winter Solstice Half-Marathon Trail Race will take runners through picturesque John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs. Race day registration will take place in the Campground shelter. Multiple awards will be given by age group. orrrc.org
Columbus Winterfair Artist & Gourmet Market
Dec. 1 – 3, 2023 | Columbus, OH
Your ticket is valid for all three days of this event hosted by the Ohio Designer Craftsman non-profit. Hundreds of artisans will be on-hand displaying their artwork, jewelry, home goods, tasty treats, and more. Find gifts for everyone on your holiday list – and for yourself! winterfair.org
Christmas in Historic Springboro
Nov. 17-19, 2023 | Springboro, OH
The festivities last all weekend as Springboro kicks off the holiday season with their opening ceremony and tree lighting on Friday evening. Free activities are available in the children’s tent and entertainment tent. Start Saturday morning with the event’s 10th annual 5K run/walk, followed by a holiday parade on Main St. More than 70 crafters and 25 food vendors will be on hand with all your seasonal favorites. springborofestivals.org
Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo – Staff Pick
Nov. 17, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024 | 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.
Sgt. Peppercorn's Beatles Marathon
Late December 2023 (TBD)| Columbus, OH
Join popular Beatles cover band Sgt. Peppercorn for their annual marathon concert covering all 214 officially released Beatles songs (in chronological order no less), along with select solo singles. The band will be joined by a wide range of Columbus musicians. Patrons are welcome to come and go throughout the day, though some try to muscle through the entire noon-to-midnight concert. peppercornmarathon.com
Ohio RV & Boat Show
Jan. 5 - 14, 2024 | Columbus, OH
The largest and longest-running show of its kind lets you leave the winter weather in the rearview mirror and start thinking about what you’ll do when spring arrives. The whole family will love exploring and touring RVs, boats, golf carts, ATVs, camping, and watersports exhibits. Spend time at the on-site beer garden while you indulge in your daydreams and planning your next adventure. ohiorvandboatshow.com
Franklin Park Conservatory Aglow
Nov. 18, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024 | Columbus, OH
For 2023, the annual Conservatory Aglow event has multiple new features, lights synchronized with holiday melodies, immersive light installations, outdoor illuminated games, and festive igloos with tabletop games. Outdoor ice skating, a life-size gingerbread hours, and a magical train display add to the festive atmosphere.
Downtown Dayton Holiday Festival
Nov. 24, 2023 – Jan. 3, 2024 | Dayton, OH
Running from Thanksgiving weekend through the New Year, holiday festivities in Downtown Dayton were created in 1972 to ensure children of any means could enjoy the magic of the season. Free and low-cost attractions include the Grande Illumination and Children’s Parade on opening night, a gingerbread house contest, horse-drawn wagon rides, ice skating, a family movie series, and more.
2024 Meltdown Winter Ice Festival
Jan. 26-27, 2024 | Richmond, IN
This exciting weekend event draws world-class ice carvers from around the country to Richmond for activities throughout the Depot District. More than 22 tons of ice will be transformed during the festival, and carvers will go head-to-head to vie for best ice sculpture and fasted sculptor. Enjoy an interactive ice park with games created entirely from ice, as well as carriage rides, a frozen fairy trail, a frosty mug pub crawl, live music, food trucks, fireworks and more. richmondmeltdown.com
59th Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike
Jan. 20, 2024 | Logan, OH
Enjoy everything witner has to offer in this 6-mile trek from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave in Hocking Hills State Park. The family-friendly event offers continuous starts from 9 to 11am, and the Logan Kiwanis Club’s famous bean soup and cornbread will be waiting for you at Cedar Falls. A shuttle bus returns hikers to the Old Man’s Cave parking area. Layered clothing and good footwear are recommended.
Lexington & Louisville Holiday Events
Lights Under Louisville
Nov. 10, 2023 - Jan. 1, 2024 | Louisville, KY
This one-of-a-kind underground holiday light show will take you on a 30-minute drive through a portion of the Louisville Mega Cavern. More than 6.5 million lights and the only domestic holographic Santa will give visitors a megadose of holiday cheer.
Paristown Fete de Noel & Brent Street Holiday Market
Nov. 24, 2023 - Jan. 2, 2024 | Louisville, KY
Louisville’s only authentic outdoor ice skating rink is the centerpiece of this annual holiday festival. Alongside the Brent Street Holiday Market and the Paristown Express trackless train, visitors will enjoy everything the holidays have to offer. paristown.com
Historic Downtown Frankfort Candlelight Weekend
Nov. 9-11, 2023 | 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. downtownfrankfort.com
A Kentucky Christmas at Ashland
Dec. 2, 2023 | Lexington, KY
Enjoy a full day of seasonal activities on the beautiful grounds of the historic Henry Clay Estate. Start with the Christmas Market at noon, leading up to the Kentuckians Chorus and Ashland Illumination in the evening, and candlelight tours into the night. henryclay.org
Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour
Dec 2-3, 2023 | Louisville, KY
Returning on the first full weekend in December, the Holiday Home Tour gives visitors a glimpse inside these historic Victorian mansions and townhouses stylishly dressed for the holidays. The self-paced, easy walking tour lets you take your time enjoying participating homes with docents to greet you on your way. Tickets fees support the Old Louisville Historic Preservation District. oldlouisville.org