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 2018.

ault park cincinnati parks
Ault Park

Get Movin’ with these active events:

Skip the gym and exercise outdoors this summer at a Great Park! Free classes, fresh air and expert instructors from YMCA of Greater Cincinnati make it easy to start a new routine for a better you. Happening at Winton Woods on Tuesday evenings (no class on July 3), 7-8pm.

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 and Thursdays (5:30pm), Yoga on Wednesdays (5:30pm) and Sundays (9am), Zumba on Sundays (10am), and Salsa on select Fridays (7:00pm)

Grab your dancing shoes and head to Fountain Square on Thursday evenings for “Salsa on the Square

Move it with Workout on the Green at Washington Park: Tuesdays with HIRT (High Intensity Resistance Training) Bootcamp (6pm) and Hip Hop Yoga (7pm) and continue on Wednesdays with Strength Bootcamp (6 pm) and Turbokick (7pm)

Weekends Workouts at Washington Park features rotating fitness classes led by licensed YMCA instructors, Saturdays 9-10am.

Kids Bowl Free at S&S Western Bowl, Heid Bowling Lanes, and Colerain Bowl; must register online; full details at Kids Bowl Free

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

looking out the window at Memorial Hall

Movies, movies, movies! Catch these free flicks:

Enjoy free kids’ movies on Monday and Wednesday mornings at the Kenwood, Mariemont, Eastgate, and Esquire Theatres starting on June 4, 2018.

Washington Park is hosting Summer Cinema – a series of Wednesday night movies in the park. Titles include: Mulan, The Land Before Time, National Lampoons Vacation, Pride Week Movie- TBA, Love and Basketball, Independence Day, The Lion King, A League of Their Own, Jumanji, The Big Short, Star Wars the Last Jedi, Black Panther, Grease, Dead Poets Society.

Deerfield Township offers “Movies in the Park” on select Fridays during the summer.

Colerain Township is offering free movies as part of their Movies in the Park Series

Anderson Township Park District hosts “Movies in the Park” at Beech Acres on June 1 (“Despicable Me 3”) and August 24 (“Wonder”), starts at dusk.

Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum offers some free outdoor movies – It’s a Date Night Movie Night on July 13 (title TBD – Spring Grove Cemetery) and a second outdoor movie on August 2 (title TBD – Oak Hill Cemetery).

Summer classic movies will be featured as part of “Cinema in the City” at Seasongood Pavilion; live music too! June 8 – “The Sandlot” with music by Comet Bluegrass Allstars; July 13 – “Elf” with music by Sound Body Jazz Orchestra; August 10 – “Labyrinth” with music by Jake Speed and the Freddies.

Liberty Center offers Movies Under Moonlight on Tuesdays starting at dusk (June 5 – August 28, 2018)

Cinemark Cinemas in Western Hills has a Summer Movie Clubhouse deal – $1 per person per show. All movies are on Wednesdays at 10am (June 6 – Aug. 8). See the line-up here.

Carol Ann's Carousel at Smale Riverfront Park

Bring the family:

Take a spin on Carol Ann’s Carousel at Smale Riverfront Park this summer; buy a token for a ride for just $2; stick around Smale Riverfront Park for all kinds of free family fun including huge swings, playgrounds, walking paths, water playgrounds and more.

Enjoy $1 admission at The Cincinnati Zoo for “Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival” on July 18, 2018 (10am-6pm); parking is $10

Sharon Woods has an indoor playground – Adventure Station; park sticker required* and admission is charged (2018 = $4 per child ages 2-12, kids under the age of 2 are free)

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 (2018 = $4/child , free for adults and kids under 2)

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: August 17-19, 2018

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:

Anderson Township Parks hosts free concerts in the parks on Mondays starting June 7, 2018; Beech Acres Park Ampitheater; free, 7-9pm

Enjoy Roots Revival, an evening of free Bluegrass, Roots, and Americana music over at Washington Park’s bandstand.  Thursdays, 6-10pm starting May 31, 2018.

Head to Washington Park for Friday Flow, a free R&B series , 7-10pm starting June 1, 2018.

The City of Blue Ash has free concerts on Tuesday nights at 7pm (Blue Ash Nature Park) and Friday nights at 8pm (Blue Ash Towne Square).

Newport on the Levee has its Summer Concert Series featuring live music on the large patio every Thursday evening (7-10pm)

Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum has a few summer concerts include the Fillmore Philharmonic Brass on June 13,  Blue Stone Ivory on July 11, 2018,and Big Trouble Blues Band on August 1

Butler County wants to help you out on Wednesdays with their “Hump Day Concert Series”, May 31 – August 22 at Voice of America MetroPark, 7-9pm (park pass required, click here for info)

Enjoy “The Takeover” on the Square at Union Centre, 6-9pm on Thursday evenings, June 7 – August 30 2018

Wednesdays in the Woods features free concerts at the Burnet Woods Bandstand; Wednesdays (May 31 til August 9) at 7 pm at CCAC.

The West Chester Concert Series happens at Keehner Park,  7-9 p.m. on select Saturdays from June 2 to Labor Day at the amphitheatre.  Guests are welcome to pack a picnic for the evening.

City Flea in front of Music Hall
The City Flea at Washington Park

 Enjoy the arts:

Shakespeare in the Park kicks off with free community performances on June 24, 2018. This year’s selections include Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and  Romeo and Juliet.

The Cincinnati Opera offers free community events throughout the summer

The City Flea blankets Washington Park with indie crafters, great food, and more (no admission) – May 19, June 16, July 21, August 18, and more

Enjoy the sounds of the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra with their Summer Series at Devou Park – first Saturday of the month

sawyer point water playground

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

Washington Park (free)

Smale Riverfront Park (free)

Armeleder Memorial Sprayground, Sawyer Point – pictured above (free)

Parky’s Ark at Winton Woods*, admission charged

Parky’s Wetland Adventure at Woodland Mound*, admission charged

Parky’s Pirate Cove at Miami Whitewater Forest*, admission charged


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


geocache tube

 Other activities and events:

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

Enjoy live performances (Pat Benatar and John Waite) plus Rozzi fireworks at “Red, White, and Blue Ash” . 4-10:30pm on July 4, 2018. Free admission.

Tour Spring Grove Cemetery under the full moon with their ‘lanterned’ guides for a unique view of the Historic sections of the grounds IN THE DARK. July 28, 2018. Advanced registration required.

photo credit to Art Museum's Facebook page
photo credit to the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Facebook page

Discounts and freebies for major attractions:

The Cincinnati Museum of Art offers free admission

The Contemporary Arts Center offers free admission


* 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.

About Bridgett Raffenberg 888 Articles
Cincinnati lover, Mom, wife, travel enthusiast, Wordpress lover (not necessarily in that order). Founder of 365 Things to do in Cincinnati.


  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!

    • 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!

  2. 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 http://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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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-

  6. 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.

  7. 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

    • 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! 🙂

    • 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!

  8. 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

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

      • 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

    • 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

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

  19. 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 🙂

  20. 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.

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