5 Fun Things to Do in Cincinnati in the Winter for Families

The weather outside may be frightful, but the season is undoubtedly delightful! Whether you love finding cozy spots indoors or want to brave the frigid weather, there are plenty of fun things to do in Cincinnati in the winter.

The area offers everything from holiday-centric activities to events you can attend well past Christmas. No matter your preference, here are five things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the winter with your family. Of course, be mindful of social distancing and safety, but the city welcomes these events in 2021.

Head to Lumaze Christmas Light Festival & Market

Train in Lumaze

Part holiday market, part Christmas celebration, Lumaze truly has something for everyone. Taking place at the spacious Duke Energy Convention Center, this festival has safety top of mind.

This year’s theme is Glow Around the World, so the event is focused on various countries such as China, France, and Mexico, to expose folks to global celebrations. Interactive light features, Louis the Locomotive, and the Magic Castle Playground make Lumaze one of the most fun things to do in Cincinnati in the winter for families.

Go ice skating in Fountain Square

people ice skating.

Ice skating is enjoyable for all ages — even little ones who are stable walking. This year the activities at Fountain Square open on November 6th and close on February 22nd. Not only can you take the family skating, but you can also enjoy the bumper cars. The ring splits into two sections, and your 90-minute session allows you to skate and bump to your delight for $15, including skates.

There are times where the entire rink is for skating only. During these sessions, the cost is $10 for a 60-minute period, which also includes skates. Reservations are required for ages five and up, and kids under four are free. Plus, we’ll let you in on a bit of a secret. Groups spending $60 or more can save 20 % with the code FSQFAM.

Climb aboard the North Pole Express

picture of locomotive and tracks in the forest

A train ride is a perfect way to view the countryside through windows while enjoying the Christmas spirit inside. Catch the North Pole Express, which is around 40 minutes northeast of Cincinnati. Book coach seating or reserve a private car for your adventure. Santa and his elves visit with passengers throughout the ride, and everyone receives a cookie for the journey.

Various weekend and weekday departures leave for a unique, interactive 75-minute ride through Ohio’s Warren County. Tickets range from $22-$39, and springing for a private car costs $1500 for up to 40 passengers. Have a preschooler? Children under five can ride for $5 if they sit on an adult’s lap.

Visit the Cincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights

Christmas lights on trees in the night.

Animal lovers can have added holiday-centric fun when they visit the PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. 4 million lights are viewable by walking or riding the North Polar Express train, included with zoo entry.

Also of interest is the Wild Lights show that takes place on Swan Lake. Be sure to stop by one of the S’mores and More stands for a sweet treat while you’re at the zoo. The event runs from November 19th through January 9th, so there is plenty of time to schedule a visit. According to locals, after 39 years of displays, the festival is one of the best downtown Cincinnati winter activities.

Watch a Christmas parade

Santa and Christmas paraphernalia during holiday parade.

Bundle up, arrive early, and secure a prime spot to view one of the many Christmas parades. Watching floats and characters go by is one of the most fun winter activities in Cincinnati! The theme for the Harrison Christmas Parade is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

On December 4th at 5 pm, get ready to see local displays followed by a tree lighting at 7:15. In combination with a Christmas Festival, Lebanon has a parade with horses as the show’s stars. The Annual Horse Drawn Carriage Parade happens at both 1 pm and 7 pm. Choose the time that’s best for your family, and kick off the holiday season in an old-fashioned way.

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