50 Free and Cheap Things to do in Cincinnati this Summer

Looking for something free (or cheap) to do this summer in Cincinnati? We’ve got you covered with this list of 50 free and cheap things to do in Cincinnati for the summer of 2020.

ault park cincinnati parks
Ault Park

PLEASE NOTE: A significant number of our 2020 summer events will start late, have been rescheduled, or will be canceled this year. Be sure to double check with your event before heading out the door – links are provided for each listing below.

Get Movin’ with these active events:

Head to beautiful Summit Park (City of Blue Ash) for some action packed activities: H.I.I.T. (high intensity interval training)  on Mondays (5:30pm), Crossfit on Tuesdays (5:30pm), Yoga on Wednesdays (5:30pm), Kickboxing on Thursdays (5:30pm), Yoga on Sundays (9am), and Zumba on Sundays (10:15am). Classes scheduled to begin in June, 2020.

Grab your dancing shoes and head to Fountain Square on Thursday evenings for “Salsa on the Square” featuring live local and regional  Latin bands specializing in Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Latin Jazz. In addition to the live music, local dance instructors host large dance classes teaching basic and intermediate Latin dancing. Happens from 7-10pm and event is scheduled to start in July, 2020.

Move it with Workout on the Green at Washington Park: Sessions are happening on Tuesdays (yoga and pilates), Wednesdays (rotating classes and Barre), and Saturdays (rotating). Classes are scheduled to begin the in July, 2020.

Kids Bowl Free at Batavia Bowl, Eastgate Lanes, S&S Western Bowl, Heid Bowling Lanes, Stones Lanes, Madison Bowl, Crossgate, and Colerain Bowl; must register online; full details at Kids Bowl Free

Put your dancin’ shoes on and head out to Ault Park in June for their Summer Music Festival (live music too)

Info for free fitness with Great Parks of Hamilton County has not been announced for 2020.

looking out the window at Memorial Hall

Movies, movies, movies! Catch these free flicks:

Washington Park is hosting Summer Cinema – a series of Wednesday night movies in the park. The movies are scheduled to begin in July, 2020.

Deerfield Township offers “Movies in the Park” is scheduled to begin on June 12, 2020. Movies include Secret Life of Pets 2 (6-12-2020), Jumanji: The Next Level (7-24-2020), Sonic the Hedgehog (8-28-2020), and Mulan, live action (9-25-2020).

Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is hosting a Date Night Movie Night on July 10, 2020 (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood). Registration is required.

Summer classic movies are featured as part of “Cinema in the City” at Seasongood Pavilion; live music too! The 2020 schedule has not been released yet.

Liberty Center does not have any info out yet about their plans for 2020.

Anderson Township Park District usually hosts “Movies in the Park” . 2020 details have not been announced.

Colerain Township usually offers free movies as part of their Movies in the Park Series. The 2020 line-up has not been announced yet.

Enjoy free kids’ movies on several mornings at the Kenwood, Mariemont, and Esquire Theatres. 2020 dates and titles have not been announced.

Cinemark Cinemas in Western Hills and Milford are still closed at this time. We will continue to watch for their free kids movies this summer.

Carol Ann's Carousel at Smale Riverfront Park

Bring the family:

Carol Ann’s Carousel at Smale Riverfront Park is currently closed (last updated 5-20-2020). When they are open, you can buy a token for a ride for just a few bucks; stick around Smale Riverfront Park for all kinds of free family fun including huge swings, playgrounds, walking paths, water playgrounds and more.

The $1 admission at The Cincinnati Zoo for “Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival” is up in the air this year as the Cincinnati Zoo is currently closed (last updated 5-20-2020).

Sharon Woods has an indoor playground – Adventure Station; park sticker required* and admission is charged. NOTE: the indoor playground is currently closed (last updated 5-20-2020).

Parky’s Playbarn, located at Parky’s Farm in Winton Woods, is a former dairy barn has been converted into an indoor, farm-themed, accessible playground; park sticker required* and admission is charged. NOTE: Parky’s Farm is currently closed (last updated 5-20-2020).

new richmond ohio cardboard boat regatta
New Richmond’s Cardboard Boat Regatta

File these under “You’ve got to see it to believe it!”:

Head to “America’s Cardboard Boat Racing Capital” for the Cardboard Boat Regatta, New Richmond; this is part of River Days: 2020 date is TBD (last updated 5-20-2020).

Watch the hot air balloons light up the sky at Coney Island’s “Balloon Glow” followed by Rozzi fireworks over Lake Como; July 3; admission to the park is free, parking fees do apply.

Swings at Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati, Ohio
Smale Riverfront Park

There’s no shortage of free tunes:

Enjoy Roots Revival, an evening of free Bluegrass, Roots, and Americana music over at Washington Park’s bandstand.  Thursdays, 7-9pm starting June 4, 2020.

Head to Washington Park for Friday Flow, a free R&B series , 7-10pm starting in July, 2020.

The City of Blue Ash has free concerts . 2020 schedule is coming soon (last updated 5-27-2020).

Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum will host The Belairs Show Band on July 8, 2020.

Enjoy “The Takeover” on the Square at Union Centre, 6-9pm on Thursday evenings. June concerts are canceled. Dates begin in July but there’s a message to say they are going to re-evaluate on a month by month basis (last updated 5-20-2020).

Wednesdays in the Woods features free concerts at the Burnet Woods Bandstand; Wednesdays beginning in July, 2020.

The West Chester Concert Series happens at Keehner Park,  7-9 p.m. on select Saturdays from July to Labor Day at the amphitheater.  Guests are welcome to pack a picnic for the evening. Dates begin in July but there’s a message to say they are going to re-evaluate on a month by month basis (last updated 5-20-2020).

Concerts on The Square at Liberty Center on Wednesday nights – dates for 2020 TBD.

SummitFest the premier country music festival, has been canceled for 2020.

Butler County wants to help you out on Wednesdays with their “Hump Day Concert Series”. 2020 information is not available (last updated 5-20-2020).

Newport on the Levee has its Summer Concert Series features live music on the large patio. 2020 plans have not been published (last updated 5-20-2020).

Sawyer Point Summer Concert Series gives us another riverfront option. Their 2020 plans have not been announced

Rockin’ The Roebling Summer Concert Series has not released any details for 2020. Last year’s events happened on the Schmidlapp Lawn (next to Moerlein Lager House).

Anderson Township Parks hosts free concerts in the parks at the Beech Acres Park Amphitheater; their 2020 plans have not been posted as of 5-20-2020

City Flea in front of Music Hall

 Enjoy the arts:

Shakespeare in the Park is still TBD for 2020 (last updated 5-20-2020).

The City Flea blankets Washington Park with indie crafters, great food, and more (no admission). They are hoping to return on Jun 20, 2020 but that’s TBD as of 5-20-2020.

Enjoy the sounds of the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra with their Summer Series at Devou Park – 2020 dates are TBD.

Cincinnati Opera in the Park has been canceled for 2020.

sawyer point water playground

Can you hit up all of these water playgrounds this summer?

Washington Park (free) – info on openings and closings to come soon, last updated 5-20-2020

Smale Riverfront Park (free) – info on openings and closings to come soon, last updated 5-20-2020

Armeleder Memorial Sprayground, Sawyer Point – pictured above (free) – info on openings and closings to come soon, last updated 5-20-2020

Parky’s Ark at Winton Woods*, admission charged – info on openings and closings to come soon, last updated 5-20-2020

Parky’s Wetland Adventure at Woodland Mound*, admission charged – info on openings and closings to come soon, last updated 5-20-2020

sharon woods walking trails
Sharon Woods, Hamilton County Parks

Cincinnati area parks got it goin’ on!

Find LOADS of free Great Parks of Hamilton County Park District* events on their Event Calendar (park sticker required for admission to park)

The City of Cincinnati Park District offers many free and low cost events

Many parks have Disc Golf courses

Geocaching in Cincinnati

Other activities and events:

Learn to Geocache and you’ll have something to do all summer – Geocaching for Beginners

“Red, White, and Blue Ash” has been canceled for 2020.

Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati Art Museum

Discounts and freebies for major attractions:

The Cincinnati Museum of Art offers free general admission everyday and parking is free. The museum is currently closed (last updated 5-27-2020).

The Contemporary Arts Center offers free admission to the galleries. The museum is currently closed (last updated 5-27-2020).


* Great Parks of Hamilton County requires a park sticker to enter the park. Park stickers are available at a manned station as you pull into each park. Get the prices and details here.

All events were accurate at the time of this posting but things do happen and events do occasionally get canceled or postponed. You should always double check with the event source before you head out the door. Links for each event are provided so that you can be sure the date is still accurate before you head out.

52 Comments

  • Can you include an NKY (beyond the riverfront neighborhoods) section? I know my neighbors get so tired of seeing West Chester, Mason, Milford and other suburbs included, but not Florence, Union, Independence, Alexandria… We are ALL greater Cincinnatians!

  • Hi Lindsay, Thanks for the reminder. I live north of the city myself, making it hard for me to get south of town on a regular basis. I do definitely consider Northern Kentucky as part of Cincinnati too. You’re completely right. I need to find a NKy contributor!

  • Parkland Theatre located in Sayler Park offers a family friendly environment at really discount prices. Admission is only $3 and most concessions including drinks, candy and popcorn are $2 or less!The Parkland Theatre has a long history and dates back to the period before the advent of motion pictures. The theatre was built as a vaudeville house in 1881 and was converted to a silent movie house in the 1920’s. Remnants of those vaudeville days remain. The theatre had a stage with trap doors which are used for live performances on occasion. The Parkland is the oldest operating movie house in Cincinnati.

    The last few years the inside of the theatre has been renovated to include state of the art lighting, sound, and projection systems. Over 80 black leather reclining seats have been installed in stadium style seating, its more comfortable than the recliner at home. Hot food will be made to order and delivered to you in your seat, so you dont miss any of the movie! Visit https://parklandtheatre.com/ for show times and information for theatre rental for birthday parties, or special events. You can even play your favorite video games on the big screen! This theatre is truly a hidden gem in the west side! So come check it out, and you will instantly fall in love!

  • I know of a 51st Thing to do in Cincinnati. On September 27th 2014 for only a donation of canned food clothes of money you can dress like a zombie, and walk from the Freestore Foodbank down to Fountain Square where S.T.A.R.S. Cincinnati will try to take on the Infected Hordes. https://www.facebook.com/CincinnatiZombieWalk The Cincinnati Zombie Walk is presented by https://www.facebook.com/STARSCincinnati and the https://www.facebook.com/CincyComicExpo and all proceeds go to the Freestore Foodbank.

  • I don’t understand why some bill won’t be written and signed to merge the so-called “tri-state” together. Just make Cincinnati one giant city. That’d be better.

  • You could add Free movies on Friday nights at Rivers Crossing Community Church in July.

  • Thank you very much for mentioning some of the wonderful things that the Hamilton County Park District has to offer, but I feel the need to mention it is now called Great Parks of Hamilton County and more free programs can be accessed at greatparks.org-

  • Swimming is free at East Fork Lake. We go every year (sometimes weekly) and like to go to the nearby Starlight Drive – ins afterwards at least once each summer.

  • Thanks for all the info! I take everybody’s input as insightful. I sent this to relatives that are moving back to Cincinnati. I will also reference for things to do. I would love to get the neighbor Cincinnatians to comment on their neighborhood restaurants. We don’t like to go to chain restaurants and always looking for a new place with good food and drinks. Thanks again! Lisa

  • Can you post things for Hamilton or near by please I’ve tired looking but guess I’m looking in wrong place lol but this website had a good selection of things I’m going too go do

  • Great write-up! Thank you so much! One of my favorite free things to do is enjoy the train museum in Tower A within the glorious Union Terminal. Don’t know if it was mentioned above, but wanted to point it out. Free admission, parking fee applies if you park on the grounds however there is plenty of free parking near by. Thanks!

  • The city of lawrenceburg has a ongoing weekly music concert called music on the river every Thursday night from 6-9, which includes music acts from across the Cincy area for free. Also the first Friday of every month the City of Lawrenceburg hosts a wine walk, where wineries from across southeast Indiana give free wine tastings and local shops open there doors to participants for free appetizers.

  • My daughter and 2 granddaughters (ages 11 & 14) are coming in for a visit from Houston, TX. I live on an extremely tight budget but would like to be able to do something with them during their visit (it’s been 2 yrs, since we’ve seen each other). Any suggestions? I live in Taylor Mill, KY.

  • So many great restaurants in Cincy! Here are just a few on the eastside/central eastside: Arthur’s (Hyde Park and soon-to-be in Anderson), Allyn’s Cafe (Columbia-Tusculum), The Sky Galley (Lunken Airport), Pirate’s Cove @ Four Seasons Marina (Kellogg Avenue, Anderson), Doodle’s (Hyde Park), Gramma’s Pizza (Batavia and Amelia), Ferrari’s Little Italy (Madeira), Main St. Cafe (Newtown), Eli’s BBQ (East End), and the list goes on and on. Happy eating! 🙂

  • Also Starlite will be out of commission this summer and possibly shutting down for good. They had damage from the ice and snow this winter. They working on it but if it can’t be fixed…

  • Can you maybe list more adult activities. As much as I appreciate the kid events…I do not have kids yet so me and my husband obviously would not attend those events. Keep it up though. We appreciate this info!

  • the Loveland Chamber of Commerce is hosting a food truck rally May 9, 2pm -11pm. Live music, bounce houses and lots of cool (15 different) food/beverage trucks. 531 Loveland Maderia Rd, loveland.

  • Any ideas for seniors with difficulty walking too much. Perhaps any good places to take rides to or places without steps? Restaurants with patio dining?

    Much appreciate any suggestions!

  • Looking for any “free or cheap” activities for the northern ky. area, can u offer any help?

  • All concerts start at 7:00 and are held at the amphitheatre at Tower Park in Fort Thomas.

    June 4 Northern Kentucky Legends Hall of Fame

    June 16 Naked Karate Girls (Brighton Center Benefit)

    June 30 The Klaberheads

    July 14 Powerhouse Boogie Bands

    July 21 Florence Community Band

    July 28 Ohio Valley Big Band

    Aug 11 Fort Thomas Cabaret

    Aug 18 Beginnings

    Sept 8 Cincinnati Metropolitan

  • Lots events at the museums and parks. Also concerts in the park in Fort Thomas, if you sit at thevtop of the ampitheatre no steps and parking is close.

  • Hi Trina, Is Music on the River something I have listed incorrectly or are you letting me know about it? If you’re letting me know about it, would you have a website for the event?

  • I want to know how to add events ? We have a FREE Americana craft show Saturday june 27 th
    Summerside United Methodist Church
    638 old State Route 74
    Cincinnati oh 45244
    9-3pm

  • Don’t forget the great art galleries this summer. All are offering free summer exhibitions!
    Malton Art Gallery is hosting ALL STAR VISION, an art show all about baseball! July 7-25

  • This is a great website for so many affordable or free (even better) fun things to do with friends and grandchildren. Thanks.

  • I live in Northern Kentucky too and would love “free and cheap things to do” added for our benefit add well. Maybe folks would like a trip across the river for a change 🙂

  • Bards- Burgers bad Fries- “The Dive that’s worth the Drive” in Latonia, KY (Covington)

    They were on food network for their ginormous burger! And they’re a great local spot!

  • Final Fridays at the Pendleton art center!!! Amazing evening seeing wonderful art for sale!! It is the last Friday of every month!! Not sure about summer hours.

  • As a parent and student, I am so grateful to you for sharing this information. My family and I will have an even better summer thanks to you. Much appreciated!!!

  • The Whitewater wet play ground. Parkys Pirate Cive is closed this year with no plans of reopening

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