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 2021.

ault park cincinnati parks
Ault Park

Get Movin’ with these active events:

Head to beautiful Summit Park (City of Blue Ash) for some action packed activities Line Dancing with Erica on Tuesdays (5:30pm), Yoga with Stacy on Wednesdays (5:30pm), Zumba with Jeaunita on Thursdays (5:30pm), Yoga with Body Alive on Sundays (9am), and Zumba with Lori on Sundays (10:15am). Classes scheduled to begin in June, 2021.

Move it with Workout on the Green at Washington Park: Sessions are happening on Tuesdays (sage hot yoga and Vinyasa Flow) plus FitCamp (HIIT) and a rotating Bootcamp from the YMCA on Wednesdays this year.

Kids Bowl Free at Gilmore Lanes, Northwest Lanes, RollHouse Entertainment, Batavia Bowl, Crossgate Lanes, Eastgate Lanes, Scene75, S&S Western Bowl, and Stones Lanes; must register online; full details at Kids Bowl Free

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

Great Parks of Hamilton County will be hosting Outdoor Fitness Classes at Winton Woods. Weekly Naturally Fit classes are taught by a Great Parks MovNat-certified trainer. Offerings taught by certified YMCA of Greater Cincinnati instructors rotate among high-intensity workouts, boot camp and Zumba. Don’t forget to bring your water bottle! Classes take place every Tuesday evening starting June 1 at 7pm. Great Parks is following protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ohio Department of Health. Physical distancing and sanitation recommendations will be followed. Winton Woods/Harbor Amphitheater (Free)

Wellness on the Levee returns for 2021. Grab your mat and meet up on the 2nd floor of The Exchange (Newport on the Levee) on Fridays at 9:00 AM to get your weekly dose of Zen! All class participants will be required to wear masks in accordance with Kentucky health and safety guidelines

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. Happening from 6-9pm.

looking out the window at Memorial Hall

Movies, movies, movies! Catch these free flicks:

The list for free movies became soooo long that we had to separate them into their own article!

Check out all the free movie opportunities in Cincinnati: Free Summer Movies in Cincinnati {2021}

Carol Ann's Carousel at Smale Riverfront Park

Bring the family:

Carol Ann’s Carousel at Smale Riverfront Park is currently closed (last updated 5-30-2021). 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.

Sharon Woods has an indoor playground – Adventure Station; park sticker required* and admission is charged. NOTE: the indoor playground is currently closed (last updated 5-30-2021).

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 open for registered horseback riding lessons, walking and barnyard viewing. (last updated 5-30-2021).

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: 2021 date is TBD (last updated 5-30-2021).

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

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

There’s no shortage of free tunes:

Newport on the Levee has its new Summer Music on the Levee featuring local live music, Thursday evenings through Sept. 2, 2021, 7-10pm.

The City of Blue Ash has free concerts on Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the summer.

Head to Washington Park for Jazz in the Park on Monday evenings , 6-9pm.

Music returns to Piatt Park on Tuesday and Thursdays at lunchtime. Enjoy “Acoustic Lunch” starting at 11:30am.

Enjoy “The Takeover” on the Square at Union Centre, 6-9pm on Thursday evenings. Each night offers free, live music; dinner & dessert options from some of the area’s tastiest food trucks; and cold beverages from local craft brewers DogBerry and Grainworks as well as from West Chester Township distributor Ohio Eagle Distributing.

Wednesdays in the Woods features free concerts at the Burnet Woods Bandstand; Wednesdays beginning June 2, 2021.

The Keehner Park Concert Series happens at Keehner Park,  7-9 p.m. on select Saturdays. Bands play free shows from the Amphitheater stage. There is no charge for admission and all guests are welcomed to bring food and drink for the evening.

Head to The Square at Liberty Center for the Summer Concert Series. Happening on Thursday evenings from 6 to 9pm, look for a new live band each week.

Butler County wants to help you out on Wednesdays with their “Hump Day Concert Series“. The concerts are held at Voice of America MetroPark from 7 to 9pm on most Wednesdays.

Rockin’ The Roebling Summer Concert Series is returning for 2021. The concerts take place on the Schmidlapp Lawn (next to Moerlein Lager House) from 6 to 10pm on select Thursdays.

Anderson Township Parks hosts Concerts in the Park at the Beech Acres Park Amphitheater; Thursdays from 7 to 9pm.

City Flea in front of Music Hall

Enjoy the arts:

Enjoy the sounds of the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra with their Summer Series at Devou Park – scheduled to begin July 10, 2021.

Shakespeare in the Park will be happening all over town from June through September. Check out the dates and performances when you click the link above.

The City Flea blankets Washington Park with indie crafters, great food, and more (no admission). Summer Markets include June 5 and July 10, and August 10, 2021.

Opera in the Park – Celebrate the opening of Summer at Summit, Cincinnati Opera’s 2021 Summer Festival, with a magical evening of music at Summit Park in Blue Ash! This free outdoor concert features a selection of unforgettable opera and musical theater favorites performed by stars of the 2021 season, the Cincinnati Opera Chorus, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and enjoy an evening of opera under the setting sun. Opera in the Park is free but reservations are required. Happening on July 11, 2021.

sawyer point water playground

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

From Washington Park to Smale Park to Home of the Brave, there are a number of great spraygrounds and water playgrounds to enjoy.

Find the full list of here: Splash Pads in Cincinnati

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

Grab a disk and play! There are lots of Disc Golf Courses all over town.

Take your four legged friends for a romp around the park at any of the 13 Best Dog Parks in Cincinnati.

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” returns in 2021 but it will be a fireworks display only.

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. Be sure to also check out the nearby Cincinnati’s New Art Climb while you’re there!

The Contemporary Arts Center offers free admission to the galleries. The museum is open but they do require registration to maintain limits on visitor capacity. Masks are required. (last updated 5-30-2021).

Are you a Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library card holder? Don’t miss your chance to pick up a Discovery Pass and gain free admission to many of our area museums and attractions.

* 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 thoughts on “50 Free and Cheap Things to do in Cincinnati this Summer”

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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-

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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! 🙂

  14. 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…

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. 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

  22. 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

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

  24. 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 🙂

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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!!!

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

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