There are plenty of things to do in Cincinnati on a small budget as the city is a gateway to the famously affordable Midwest. Like many Midwest destinations, it offers plenty of budget-friendly activities that any traveller can enjoy. Whether you prefer to get out in nature and explore the great outdoors, or you’d rather stroll around an art museum taking in works from around the globe, you can find ways to do so while on a budget in Cincinnati.

    Families, in particular, can find budget-friendly fun in the city, thanks to plenteous green space, free museums for all ages and more. If you’re considering visiting the Midwestern United States in the near future and you want to do so without breaking the bank, you’ll definitely want to add Cincinnati and the following highlights to your itinerary.


    Smale Riverfront Park

    Explore riverfront views near some of Cinci’s greatest landmarks

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Couples
    • Photo

    Smale Riverfront Park is a beautiful green space right on the Ohio River, which separates Cincinnati from Northern Kentucky. Enjoy views of not only the river but the city behind you as well, in addition to the historic, architectural marvel that is the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge (which, if you’re so inclined, you can also walk across for free).

    The park itself features plenty of unique spaces, including a carousel and adventure playground. You’re also right within walking distance of some of Cincinnati’s most notable landmarks, such as Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ball Park.

    Location: 166 West Mehring Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 11 pm


    Mount Airy Forest

    Hike through this historically significant forest

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    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    Mount Airy Forest, first officially recognised in 1911, is one of the earliest – some argue the first – urban reforestation projects in the United States. It’s the largest park in the Cincinnati parks system, at 1,500 acres.

    What can you find across that expansive acreage? Expect hiking, horseback riding, gardens, a disc golf course, dog park and historic structures built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. An arboretum is also onsite, as well as a wheelchair-accessible treehouse.

    Location: 2885 Diehl Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45211, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 513-357-2604


    photo by Daderot (CC0 1.0) modified


    Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal

    See multiple museums in 1 (free) spot

    • Families
    • Budget
    • History

    Adult travellers and families will enjoy the Cincinnati Museum Center, which welcomes more than 1 million free visitors per year. The complex sits within Union Terminal, an Art Deco train station and national landmark.

    The complex itself is comprised of the Cincinnati History Museum, the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science and the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX Theater. In total, you’ll find nearly 2 million artefacts across the complex. There’s almost something for everyone here.

    Location: 1301 Western Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45203, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 513-287-7000


    photo by Greg Hume (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Spring Grove Arboretum

    Take in a bit of nature with a side of the macabre

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    Try a visit to the Spring Grove Arboretum if you enjoy a visit to a spooky spot during your trip in Cincinnati. Yes, you’ll enjoy a Gothic Revival-style arboretum and 733 acres of gardens, but you’ll also find a historic, 1800s cemetery set across the sprawling grounds as well.

    The cemetery is the 3rd-largest in the United States and features breathtaking architecture in addition to a few notable burials. Visitors will find the graves of Civil War figures, founders of some of America’s most well-known brands (such as Procter & Gamble), politicians and more.

    Location: 4521 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45232, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 513-681-7526


    Taft Museum of Art

    See renowned works of art in this small museum

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    • History

    The Taft Museum of Art, named for former US president William Howard Taft, sits in the oldest domestic wooden structure in downtown Cincinnati. Once a residence for the city’s elite, it now holds an impressive collection of fine art.

    Likely the most well-known artist on display is Rembrandt, but there are many other international works from the 1800s, as well as American paintings and Duncanson murals. Other galleries display Chinese porcelain, enamels, sculptures, furniture and even antique watches.

    Location: 316 Pike Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Friday from 11 am to 4 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 11am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 513-241-0343


    photo by Greg Hume (CC BY-SA 2.5) modified


    Contemporary Arts Center

    Discover the “art of the last 5 minutes”

    • Budget

    The free Contemporary Arts Center in downtown Cincinnati is known for hosting an endlessly rotating range of exhibits. A non-collecting museum, it always has something new and boasts what it calls “the art of the last 5 minutes.” The striking exterior reveals a contemporary space within, holding not only paintings but also sculptures, architecture, photography, new media and performance art.

    Featured art themes and subjects in the past have been quite controversial. One thing’s for sure: you’ll always find something at the Contemporary Arts Center to shock, amaze or awe.

    Location: 44 East 6th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, USA

    Open: Saturday–Monday from 10 am to 4 pm, Wednesday–Friday from 10 am to 9 pm (closed on Tuesdays)

    Phone: +1 513-345-8400


    photo by Eric Inglert (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Cincinnati Art Museum

    Visit this free museum set amid a sprawling park

    • Budget
    • History
    • Unusual

    The Cincinnati Art Museum is expansive, to say the least. With more than 67,000 works of art, you can find something from just about any period over the last 6,000 years of history. The types of art on display range from contemporary and decorative to textiles and musical instruments, African and East Asian art to photography and prints.

    The museum itself is notable as it was the first purpose-built art museum west of the Alleghenies (founded in 1881) and it’s now home to one of the Midwest’s most expansive art collection.

    Location: 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm, Thursday until 8pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 513-721-2787


    photo by Warren LeMay (CC0 1.0) modified


    Rookwood factory tours

    Uncover the history behind American art pottery

    • Shoppers
    • History
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    The Rookwood Pottery Company in Cincinnati’s charming and culturally significant Over-the-Rhine neighbourhood has been churning out beautiful works of ceramic art since 1880. Now, the company boasts an 88,000-sq-ft production facility, where it creates some of the finest art pottery and architectural tiles in the country with a small team of just under 100 employees.

    You can see the company’s process and how a piece goes from inception to market when you take the free Rookwood factory tour.

    Location: 1920 Race Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, USA

    Open: Friday at 10.30 am and 1.30 pm

    Phone: +1 513-381-2510


    Fountain Square

    Stop by this bustling square in the middle of the city

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    Fountain Square, founded in 1871 in Cincinnati’s Central Business District, is always bustling and filled with interesting events or attractions – and it has been since the city’s settlement. Originally the site of a Native American mound, the current site features a mammoth fountain that’s grown to be one of Cincinnati’s most recognisable features.

    On any given day, you can find street performers, art displays, dining and shopping on the square. During the week, it becomes a hub of activity for businesspeople, as the square is surrounded by several major headquarters, including the headquarters for Macy’s Inc.

    Location: 520 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, USA


    photo by Ryan Pflaum (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    William Howard Taft Home

    Take a tour of a historic presidential home

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    • History
    • Photo

    The William Howard Taft Home is a 2-storey Greek Revival house sitting atop a Cincinnati hill. The elegant and lavish 1838 home was the birthplace of 27th US president, William Howard Taft.

    A visit will teach you not only about the Taft family and the son’s rise to political fame, but also about Cincinnati’s history and historic class divisions. Many of the house’s furnishings are original or from the period. A separate structure on the property acts as an education centre.

    Location: 2038 Auburn Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45219, USA

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 4.45 pm

    Phone: +1 513-684-3262


    photo by Chris Light (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    Holly Riddle | Contributing Writer

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