If you are not traveling by plane for a summer vacation, think about fun day trips to interesting outdoor places. There are many local and state parks as well as other outdoor adventures to enjoy.
Here is a list of outdoor places that can be reached within a 3.5-hour drive of our region in Southwestern Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana. Pack a picnic lunch, some sun screen and remember to be mindful of social distancing.
Check with your destination first before heading out. Many places have COVID-19 rules in place.
OHIO OUTDOOR SPACES
Cincinnati Art Museum Art Climb
953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio (local)
Walk the steps up to the Cincinnati Art Museum. The “Art Climb” has 164 steps. At the top, enjoy a view of the city. (Steps are not ADA accessible.)
Downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine
Self-Guided ArtsWorks Mural Tour (local)
Take a walk through downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine via a self-guided tour. Here is a pdf of map. (If you prefer a guided tour, go here for information.)
501 West McMillan Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45219 (local)
Incredible panoramic view of the Cincinnati skyline, Union Terminal and the Ohio River. Playground and picnic tables are available. Walk a 1.2 mile loop from Ravine Street to West McMillan.
Hocking Hills State Park
19852 OH-664, Logan, Ohio 43138 (2.5-hour drive)
9,000 acres with hiking and rock climbing.
John Bryan State Park
3790 OH-270, Yellow Springs, Ohio (local)
752-acre park with a limestone gorge.
Mt. Airy Forest
5083 Colerain Avenue, Cincinnati , Ohio 45223 (local)
Cincinnati’s largest park with almost 1,500 acres. Enjoy hiking and biking trails, bridle paths and picnic areas. There’s even a treehouse!
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park
763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton, Ohio (local)
Outdoor (and indoor) exhibits with 60 sculptures on 300 acres.
Scioto Audubon Park
400 W. Whittier Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215 (1.5-hour drive)
120 acres of wildlife and green spaces along the Scioto River. Find wetlands, an outdoor climbing wall and the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. Follow on Facebook.
KENTUCKY OUTDOOR SPACES
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
2075 Clermont Road, Clermont, Kentucky 40110 (2.5–3 hour drive)
This 16,000-acre area has lots of “forest giants”. These sculptures combine art with nature and are large-than-life productions! There are also hiking trails and fields of flowers to enjoy. Follow on Facebook.
Big Bone Lick State Park
3380 Beaver Rd, Union, Kentucky 41091 (local)
Visit the bison, go hiking along 4.5 miles of trails and enjoy the museum. Picnic grounds and play areas available.
Castle & Key Distillery
4445 McCracken Pike, Frankfurt, Kentucky 40601 (1.75-hour drive)
There are 114 acres on the property. Tour the distillery and grounds including the springhouse and gardens. Follow on Facebook.
Cove Spring Park
100 Cove Spring Road, Frankfort, Kentucky (2-hour drive)
Scenic trails, waterfalls and flowers are found at this 240-acre nature preserve. It’s a very scenic area to visit.
Daniel Boone National Forest
1700 Bypass Road, London, Kentucky 40744 (2.75-hour drive)
Hike, picnic, boat, fish and more!
315 Joe B. Hall Ave, Shepherdsville, KY 40165 (3-hour drive)
This is the home to the world’s largest go-kart track with 1.5 miles. There’s also miniature golf, bumper boats, batting cages and an arcade.
Louisville Mega Cavern
1841 Taylor Ave, Louisville, Kentucky 40213 (2.5-hour drive)
Underground zip lines and adventure tour; Indoor bike park
Mammoth Cave National Park
1 Mammoth Cave Parkway, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky 42259 (3.5-hour drive)
Largest cave system in the world! Descend and explore! The national Park has hiking, horseback riding and water activities.
Red River Gorge
3451 Sky Bridge Road, Stanton, Kentucky 40380 (2.5-hour drive)
Waterfalls, trails and bridges to explore.
Yew Dell Botanical Gardens
6220 Old Lagrange Rd, Crestwood, Kentucky 40014 (1.5 hour drive)
There is a magical castle surround by a garden full of plants and paths. Enjoy the English estate garden and wildflower field. Follow on Facebook.
INDIANA OUTDOOR SPACES
Columbus People Trails
506 Fifth Street, Columbus Indiana 47201 (1.75-hour drive)
See wildflower gardens, creeks, parks and more
Aurora, Lawrenceburg and Greendale, Indiana (local)
Trails along the Ohio River through Aurora, Lawrenceburg and Greendale, Indiana
Hoosier National Forest
811 Constitution Avenue, Bedford, Indiana (2-hour drive)
A 203,000-acre forest! Hike, camp, fish and bike!
Indianapolis Cultural Trail
132 W Walnut St, Indianapolis, IN 46204 (2-hour drive)
Trail links significant sites.
9100 Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis, Indiana 45240 (2-hour drive)
This trail stretches across Indiana. (In Indianapolis, you can follow the trail by the Indiana State Fairgrounds before it intersects with the Indianapolis Cultural Trail on the east end of Massachusetts Avenue). There are several major access points with free parking: 91st St., 86th St., 75th St., 67th St., 65th St., 62nd St., 56th St., 54th St., 49th St., Westfield Blvd., Broad Ripple Ave., State Fairgrounds.)
Walk or bike along the trail!
White River State Park
801 W Washington St, Indianapolis, Indianapolis 46204 (3-hour drive)
Enjoy the trails, and canal. This park is also home to the Indianapolis Zoo, Indiana State Museum, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art and more.