Who doesn't love free things? I know I do! Vacations can be stressful, especially if you're on a fixed budget. Which is why I love to get out and experience all the low- to no-cost options for fun in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Got an eye for art?
21c Museum Hotel
This art gallery is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week showcasing contemporary art in a restored historic building in downtown Cincinnati. Go ahead and splurge on a craft cocktail at the chic Cocktail Terrace rooftop bar with the money you saved on free admission!
Contemporary Arts Center
The CAC features rotating exhibitions of contemporary art in an internationally-renowned landmark designed by world-famous architect Zaha Hadid. It was the first U.S. museum designed by a woman. Love that!
Cincinnati Art Museum
Not only does the museum boast a collection of more than 67,000 objects spanning 6,000 years with art from around the world, it also houses relevant pieces of Cincinnati's own art history including pieces of Rookwood Pottery and paintings from the city's "Golden Age".
Weston Art Gallery
Located inside the Aronoff Center for the Arts, this gallery showcases emerging and professional artists in galleries on two levels with 3,500 square feet of exhibition space. And you're just feet away from dining and shopping in the heart of downtown Cincinnati.
Northern Kentucky’s largest and only multidisciplinary arts venue houses five art galleries in addition to a theater and education classes. That's a lot of art!
Taft Museum of Art (Free on Sundays)
This National Historic Landmark was home to the half brother of President William Howard Taft. (President Taft accepted accepted the nomination for U. S. president underneath the house’s portico.) It now features works of art by Rembrandt, Goya, Gainsborough, Whistler, Sargent and more, as well as the greatest Gothic ivory sculpture in America.
* ALSO: check out local art galleries during Final Fridays and Northside Second Saturdays. You can experience the area and enjoy great art and even meet some of the artists! Or take a self-guided tour of the ArtWorks Public Art and Murals found all around the region.
Looking for family-friendly entertainment?
Smale Riverfront Park
Enjoy the sunshine and river breezes at this 45-acre park along the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. Kids will love all the activities at the playground and go Vibrantscape which includes slides, rock climbing, a giant foot piano and misters and fountains to cool off on a hot summer day.
From live music to salsa dancing to festivals to markets, there's always something fun happening in the heart of downtown Cincinnati at the Square! Or just enjoy a leisurely lunch or an ice cream cone in the sunshine during the warmer months. Even when it gets cooler you can enjoy football tailgating, holiday events and the Fountain Square Ice Rink (there is a fee for ice skating).
This park right across the street from historic Music Hall features an event lawn, playground for kids, interactive water features, a bandstand gazebo with live musical acts, a dog park and more. It's great for hanging out, enjoying a picnic, or participating in any of the free programming like movie nights, live music, kids activities and special holiday events.
Newport on the Levee
This riverfront destination features shopping, dining and amazing views of the river and Cincinnati skyline. Enjoy live music Thursday evenings in warmer months, and many weekends offer free live entertainment or special events, as well.
Free fests and even more!
We love to celebrate – food, seasons, sports, you name it! – and many popular annual festivals offer free admission! Plan to visit Taste of Cincinnati during Memorial Day Weekend or Western & Southern/WEBN Fireworks during Labor Day Weekend; or maybe come for Oktoberfest Zinzinnati and MainStrasse Village Oktoberfest in the fall or Macy's Downtown Dazzle on Fountain Square during the holidays!
Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Enjoy a relaxing read in the urban library's Walnut Street Garden with lush plantings and bubbling fountain walled off from the hustle and bustle of the city. Or view one of its rotating art exhibits or partake in the frequent free programming throughout the year. First Lady Michelle Obama presented the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service to the library so you know it must be good!
Bottom line: There are so many great free things that we can't possibly list them all, so make sure to check out even more free events in our online calendar.