Here Are 20 Great Road Trips from Cincinnati

Looking for weekend road trips from Cincinnati or maybe a fun place to road trip this summer? Cincinnati is located in the middle of America, a prime launching spot for so many great road trips across the U.S. Here’s a list of great road trips from Cincinnati to start planning for your upcoming travels this year!

1. Nashville, TN

road trips from Cincinnati

Nashville, one of the best road trips from Cincinnati, is an ideal destination for music lovers! There’s music everywhere you go – from the world famous Grand Ole Opry to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Stroll down Broadway for dozens of Honky Tonks with live bands and musicians looking for their next big break! Nashville also has great music themed museums for greats like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Glen Campbell and more!

2. Indianapolis, IN

Obviously, Indy is famous for hosting the Indy 500 and a tour of the famous speedway is a must when you visit.  But Indy is great for more than just race cars.  Start with a look at the famous Monument Circle downtown and work your way to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – hands down the greatest museum for families in the country. It’s amazing!  Check out the beautiful canal walk that runs through White River State Park, or go for some Duck Pin bowling in Fountain Square. And if you’re a foodie, the city is loaded with great restaurants, making Indianapolis is one of the best road trips from Cincinnati!

3. Detroit, MI

Detroit tends to get a lot of bad press but make no mistake – it’s a city on the rise! From the historic Motown Studios, to the nearby Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn – there’s a lot to see and do around the Motor City! It’s definitely worth adding to your list of road trips from Cincinnati! Take in a game – basketball, baseball, football, hockey – they’ve got it all! The beautiful Fox Theater is one of the best live theaters in the country and the Detroit Institute of Art is a world class museum worth visiting.

4. St. Louis, MO

St. Louis is one of the great road trips from Cincinnati! The Gateway City has so much to offer for an affordable family getaway! Check out (all for free) the Gateway Arch, Zoo, Art Museum, Science Center, and Missouri History Museum! Busch Stadium is a great place to see a baseball game if the Reds are in town, and so much great food! Grab a great Italian meal on “The Hill” or dine in one of the county’s 80-plus municipalities with every kind of cuisine you can think of!

5. Milwaukee, WI

Clocking in at just under six hours, Milwaukee is an underrated midwestern town worthy of being on your list of road trips from Cincinnati! Milwaukee may be known worldwide for cheese and beer but there’s so much more!  You can keep busy for several days exploring places like the Harley-Davidson Museum, the Milwaukee Public Market, and watching the famous wings open on the Milwaukee Art Museum

If you love a good festival – Milwaukee has lots and lots of them including the world’s largest music festival each summer.  The city has an endless amount of great food for all tastes, and don’t forget the beautiful views of Lake Michigan.  Take the time to explore some of the historic downtown neighborhoods and don’t leave without buying a bag of fresh cheese curds for your road trip home.

6. Parke County, IN

Parke County, Indiana is best known as the “covered bridge capitol of the world”! Located less than than two hours from downtown Indy, you’ll find a great relaxing destination with some much needed peace and quiet. You can grab an old fashioned map (remember those?) at the local visitors center and then set out to find as many of the historic covered bridges as you can, making it a perfect romantic getaway.

Consider booking a room or campsite at Turkey Run State Park, Indiana’s most popular state park, for your home base. They offer brand new, minimalist cabins as well. The park has plenty of great hiking trails for all skill levels.

7. Adventures On The Gorge, WV

The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the most impressive architectural feats in American history. One of the many daring activities offered through Adventures On The Gorge in Lansing, West Virginia is called “Bridge Walk”. You can literally walk along the catwalk beneath the third highest bridge in the U.S. It’s not for everyone, but an unforgettable experience for thrill seekers! During your stay at the adventure resort, you can zip line, climb trees, enjoy incredible sunsets, and of course – some of the best whitewater rafting in the world.

8. Pigeon Forge, TN

Is there anything better than looking up and seeing the Smoky Mountains in the skyline while you play mini golf, ride an alpine coaster, or walk into a gigantic replica of the Titanic? Pigeon Forge is a family friendly destination with lots of fun attractions, entertainment, and one of the best theme parks in the country – Dollywood!

Best of all – you’re a hop, skip, or a jump away from the nation’s most visited National Park. If you’ve never seen it in person – it’s a life changing experience. Nothing like it! And admission to the park is absolutely free. Pigeon Forge is also home to one of the neatest crime museums I’ve ever seen – Alcatraz East Crime Museum is definitely worth a visit!

9. Abingdon, VA

road trips from Cincinnati

Take a bike ride on the nationally recognized Virginia Creeper Trail, check out local artists, or see a show at the historic Barter Theater downtown. Abingdon is home to more restaurants per capita than New York City – with a great meal for just about any taste and plenty of cool places to stay including the Martha Washington Inn & Spa. You’re also a short drive from Bristol – the birthplace of country music.

10. Dayton, OH

Dayton is best known as the place that gave birth to modern aviation. The Wright Brothers called Dayton home and the city is full of historic places that will give you a front row seat to the history of the “flying machine” which is how the first airplane was trademarked. One of the original Wright Brothers bicycle shops is still in tact, and you can see an original Wright Flyer at the Carillon Historical Park.

Take a ride over to Huffman Prairie Field where the brothers tested out there invention or tour the mansion where they lived. Best of all – Dayton is home to the Museum of The United States Air Force – an unbelievable airplane museum that consists of four different hangars and impossible to see in a single day. See rare military aircraft and even go on board a retired Air Force One plane. And it’s free!

11. Springfield, IL

Standing in front of the only house President Lincoln ever owned and it’s still standing in Springfield, Illinois.

This is a great road trip idea for history lovers – Abe Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois! You can spend an entire weekend exploring where Lincoln served in the Illinois legislature, worked as a self-taught lawyer, and lived with his family. You can tour the only home he ever owned which is beautifully preserved along with the neighborhood where he lived. Lincoln is also buried in the local cemetery beneath a massive tomb. You can also enjoy some Route 66 history and tour the state’s capitol building as well as the Governor’s mansion.

12. Holland, MI

If you thought Holland was in Europe – you are correct!  But, America’s Holland is located in Michigan and it’s a cool town worth exploring.  Pick up a pair of wooden shoes and walk along the streets of downtown for great shopping and lots of dining options.  (Fun fact:  the streets of downtown Holland are heated so they don’t have to plow snow in the winter. Genius!) 

Holland is also home to the only authentic Dutch wind mill that is still operational in the U.S.  If tulips are your thing – visit during the annual festival each spring.  The Holland Bowl Mill is also very cool – ask them for a quick tour of the production and find a one of a kind wooden bowl to take home!

13. Louisville, KY

Of course most people know Louisville as the place where the famous Louisville Slugger baseball bats are made, but that’s just the start!  Downtown Louisville offers a wide variety of attractions from the Muhammad Ali Center to Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby takes place.  For an adventure – try out the world’s only underground zip line at Louisville Mega Cavern or a cruise on the historic Belle of Louisville.  Lots of great restaurants for all tastes and cool places to stay including 21c and The Galt House Hotel.

Bill’s Advice: Louisville is a great weekend trip!  If you love Kentucky Fried Chicken, pay your respects to Col. Sanders himself.  His grave site is a short drive from downtown.  Just follow the yellow line at Cave Hill Cemetery and you’ll find it.  Don’t be surprised if you see a bucket of chicken sitting on the tombstone.  No, seriously. 

14. Fort Wayne, IN

Fort Wayne is probably not a spot that’s been on your radar but Indiana’s second largest city has a lot going on.  Its minor league baseball stadium is award winning and its local library is known as the best genealogy research center in the country.  The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is one of the best designed kid-friendly zoos around and a brand new, beautiful riverfront project has injected new energy into the town.  You’ll also find lots of opportunity for outdoor recreation.

Bill’s Advice: For something unique, visit the headquarters for Sweetwater – one of the largest music and instrument stores in the world.  Vera Bradley is also headquartered in Fort Wayne and has events during the year.  

15. Columbus, OH

Columbus is one of the easier road trips from Cincinnati. Known to locals as “C-Bus” and the capital city of Ohio. It’s been going through major growth over the last decade and is a destination worthy of a road trip. The sprawling downtown is easily accessible with the new CBUS Circulator, free to use for visitors. Check out the Short North Arts District for galleries, dining, and locally owned shopping. Local attractions include the Franklin Conservatory and Botanical Garden, the COSI Science Museum, Columbus Art Museum, and the Columbus Zoo which is one of the best in the country. Be sure to take a free tour of the Ohio state capitol building as well!

16. Pittsburgh, PA

Famous for having more bridges than any other U.S. city, Pittsburgh is a terrific destination for a weekend or extended getaway. You can take in a baseball game with beautiful views of the Sixth Street Bridge, take a ride on the historic Duquesne Incline, or visit the city’s quirky bicycle museum. If you grew up watching Mr. Rogers, Pittsburgh was his home town and you can spend a day exploring all things Mr. Rogers – including seeing the very sets from the iconic television show and his puppets! If you loved Mr. Rogers – add Pittsburgh to your list of road trips from Cincinnati!

Check out my story: Finding Mr. Rogers in Pittsburgh.

17. Huntsville, AL

Huntsville is best known as home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. This is the place where kids from all over the country have come to take part in “Space Camp” over the years. It’s a wonderful museum dedicated to the space program and definitely worth a stop. While you’re visiting Huntsville, be sure to check out their beautiful Botanical Garden, maintained almost exclusively by volunteers.

If you’re into camping, you can check out the peaceful surroundings at Monte Sano State Park. There are a lot of great restaurants in Huntsville as well.

18. Babcock State Park (Clifftop, WV)

Bill On The Road

If you’re looking for one of the best low-key adventure road trips from Cincinnati – consider the great outdoors! This is an amazing state park in West Virginia. Check out my article on visiting Babcock State Park – where you can rent a small cabin and have a front row seat to beautiful scenery, hiking trails, and other outdoor recreation. The old mill and waterfall in the park is awesome for pictures and you never know what kind of wildlife you’ll get to see!

19. Maumee Bay, OH

Maumee Bay Lodge offers 120 guest rooms, each with private balcony overlooking the Maumee Bay of Lake Erie. Guests can enjoy the full-service dining room, cocktail lounge and snack bar. The lodge also offers free WiFi, racquetball courts, indoor racquetball/wallyball courts, game room, fitness center, saunas, hot tubs, whirlpools, indoor and outdoor pools and kids’ splash garden. Rent a bike and enjoy the trails or other outdoor recreational activities.

20. Chicago, IL

The Windy City is full of world class museums and fine dining. Take in the views from the Willis Tower – formerly the tallest building in America, take a river cruise to learn about Chicago history and architecture, or book a Chicago Pizza Tour to enjoy the many delicious styles of Chicago pizza including its best known style – deep dish! Chicago is one of the most iconic road trips from Cincinnati!

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