Day 256 – a Downtown Christmas

It’s Day 256 of “365 Things to do in Cincinnati” and today we are rounding up all of the great things you can do downtown at Christmas time.  I actually went downtown to see the Hilton’s Cincinnati in Gingerbread display and found so many other things to see (lots of them free) that I thought I’d throw it all into one post.  So if you’re heading downtown be sure to see…

gingerbread city christmas display hilton cincinnati

The Cincinnati Hilton / Netherland Hotel has a fabulous gingerbread replica on display.  The diplay features a number of Cincinnati landmarks – Great American Ballpark, The P&G Towers, the Carew Tower, Paul Brown Stadium and more… all done up in gingerbread.  This display is in the Hilton lobby, is free and is open 24 hours a day.

tower place carew tower christmas tree

After you see the gingerbread display, head over to the lobby of the Carew Tower to see their trees and soldiers.  The lobby itself is gorgeous any day of the year but is particularly pretty at Christmas time.

carew tower cincinnati

How long has it been since you’ve been to the top of the Carew Tower (pictured above)?  You can take elevators up to the observation deck (on the roof) and see the city and all the surrounding areas.  See our post on The Carew Tower here for more information.  There is a nominal charge to go to the observation deck but it’s well worth it!

fountain square christmas tree cincinnati

And of course you can admire the gorgeous live tree on Fountain Square (free).  And you can bring your ice skates (or rent them) and take a few laps around the Fountain Square Ice Rink (fees apply).  Amenities include skate rental, lockers, benches, and a heated tent with vending machines for snacks and drinks.

fountain square ice rink cincinnati

Right across the street is the lobby of the Westin Hotel.  Stop in to see their HUGE Christmas tree which sits just inside the doors (free).

westin hotel christmas cincinnati

Want to get inside for a bit?  Walk down to the Duke Energy Center to see the FREE Holiday Train Exhibit, now in its 65th year!  They often have carolers and free cookies in addition to one of the best and biggest train exhibits ever!  See our Day 249 for more information.

duke energy holiday train exhibit cincinnati

And don’t forget The Taft Museum of Art (also downtown) is FREE on Sundays and they currently have the “Antique Christmas” exhibit on display.  See our Day 217 for more information on the Taft Museum of Art.

taft museum of art cincinnati antique christmas

So be sure to leave at least an afternoon to go downtown this Christmas season.  There’s plenty to do and plenty to see!  You’ll enjoy yourself!


  1. Ann Crable says

    I wanted to let you know how much I love reading your blog. As a long-time resident of Cincinnati, I thought I really knew my city, but not a week goes by that you write about numerous gems that I had no idea existed. Today, for example, I learned about the gingerbread exhibit at the Hilton – and so I stopped by – delightful. I then went to the library and stumbled upon an exhibit honoring Charles Schultz – also very enjoyable. Here’s the link if you haven’t had a chance to see it yet:

    Thanks so much for your blog and keep up the great work! Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    • Bridgett says

      HI Meghan, I will be doing a similar piece again this year. The decorations won’t be up until after Thanksgiving so I’m not sure if the same places will still have decor…. but watch for an updated post soon.

  2. Andrea Baker says

    Nice to know you can still take your family downtown to look at a decorated Cincinnati. I thought the trains had moved to Cincinnati Museum Center? Or are there two train displays? Thanks for the information. Are there more, and what about the free horse and buggy rides? I will be taking a group of children to town soon and what to show them as much as possible.

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