Cincinnati's HOTTEST summer deals for 2016

Posted at 6:00 AM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 14:01:17-04

Ask anyone in the Tri-State where they would love to vacation this summer, and they’ll come up with a bucket list of distant places, from Key West and San Diego in the mainland U.S., to Hawaii, Cabo, Cancun, even Ireland and continental Europe.

But the reality for many families is that a vacation costing $5,000 or more isn’t in the cards right now. Plus, even if you are planning a big summer trip, who wouldn’t want an additional weekend getaway?

So we turned to Cindy Galea of, better known to the TriStaters as “Cincy Cindy,” who shares the latest local activities on 700 WLW andon Twitter @YelpCincy.

Tops for Staycations

The Cincinnati area has so many activities, it’s no wonder that it consistently makes WalletHub’s list of the Top 10 “staycation” destinations in the US.

When many of us think of summer activities, we think of the Big 3:

  • The Cincinnati Reds
  • Cincinnati Zoo
  • Kings Island

But Cincy Cindy says that’s just the start.

One-Tank Trips

For instance, who needs to travel to Michigan for canoeing when Morgan’s Liveryoffers affordable one-day canoe adventures in Brookville, Indiana, and Morrow, Ohio?

The Morrow area also brings zip-lining high above the Little Miami River atOzone Zipline Adventuresat Camp Kern, for $55 a session.

If you would rather hike, Caesar Creek a few miles north offers miles of hiking trails at no charge.

And if you are even more adventurous, Ohio Caverns offers cavern exploration a half-hour west of Columbus near Bellfountaine ($17 per adult) .

Want to get even dirtier? Check out Perfect North Slope’sMud Stash on June 4 and Sept. 10 in Lawrenceburg.

If you are willing to drive 2½ - 3 hours south into Kentucky (still doable as a day trip), you can visit Mammoth Cave National Park, the largest indoor caverns open to the public in the U.S.

Make a weekend of it, and visit the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green (and see the sinkhole where those cars fell in a few years ago).

Closer to Home

Just looking for an afternoon or evening getaway this summer? The immediate Cincinnati area offers hundreds of family activities, many of them free.

Of course, summer is not complete without at least oneCincinnati Reds game Great American Ballpark. Look for the4 for $48 ticket deals for the summer's best value.

Ault Park offers a summer music festival, various evenings.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival hasfree Shakespeare in the Park productions at parks all around Cincinnati, various dates and times. This summer, they are performing "A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream" and "Macbeth."

Thursday nights are great for enjoying free, outdoor music.

  • Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine has Bluegrass Thursdays.
  • Fountain Square brings Salsa on the Square Thursday evenings.
  • Newport on the Levee has an outdoor concert series on Thursdays.
  • Devou Park in Covington has several performances by the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra.

For kids, Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine and Smale Riverfront Park in downtown Cincinnati both offer free dancing fountains where children can put on swimsuits and play.

Smale Park also has its giant indoor carousel, with $2 rides.

Theme Park Deals

Of course, summer in Cincinnati would not be complete without a theme park visit.

The good news is that our theme parks never got the memo that a day pass should now cost $150 (I’m looking at you, Universal Studios.)

If you are traveling to Kings Island, avoid the higher gate price, though, by buying your Kings Island tickets at Kroger stores or at Kings Island’s website, Visitkingsisland. com.

Tickets are just $45 at Kroger, $42 midweek if you buy them online.

Coney Island tickets are $25 at the gate,and $21 online if you print at home. An even better value is the after-4 p.m. ticket, just $16 for all rides.

The Beach Waterpark is $28 a day adults, but as with Kings and Coney Island, you save $5 purchasing online, where an adult pass is $23.

The Newport Aquarium is not exactly a theme park, but it’s great fun for kids, and very close to home. Purchase tickets online and save $2 over the standard $23 adult admission. And this summer, check out their $5 Kid Saver Special, where two kids under 13 get for for $5 each with every adult, Sunday through Friday after 4pm.

Museum Deals

Cincinnati’s Museum Center is under reconstruction right now, but the Children’s Museum remains open, and they will offer special lower pricing this summer. Also look forFree Fridays, when everyone gets in free. The next one is Friday June 3rd,

Members will get free admission intoCOSI, Columbus, Ohio’s amazing science museum, all during the renovations. It's worth it even if you have to pay the$19 adult admission price.

TheCincinnati Art Museum is always free (but don’t get huffy about the parking fee, it’s still an amazing deal).

And just an hour-and-a-half south is Lexington's Kentucky Horse Park, another great one-tank trip.

So sure, you can travel to Orlando and drop a few thousand dollars. But the kids can have an equally good time right here in the Cincinnati area.

Your wallet will thank you, and that way you don’t waste your money.



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