25 Things to Do in Cincinnati When It's Hot AF Outside

Summer in Cincinnati can be sweltering, but there’s no lack of cool ways to spend your days — both literally and figuratively. Whether you’re looking to relax poolside, stuff yourself with fried festival food or catch an outdoor concert, there’s an activity for every vibe as the temperatures rise.

This list of 25 things to do when it’s hot AF outside will help you navigate the season, taking you from creamy whips and Kings Island to air-conditioned attractions and everything in between. (Note: This is not a comprehensive list of everything you can do or attend this summer.)
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Cool off in air-conditioned attractions
Need to beat the heat? Take a break in the air conditioning. Local museums are a great option for a cool retreat, and the Taft Museum of Art reopens to the public with Jane Austen: Fashion & Sensibility on June 11, featuring costumes from famous Austen film and TV adaptations. Another big indoor attraction opening this summer is Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, a large-scale digital art and virtual reality experience at the former Gidding-Jenny department store downtown. It opens June 1 and there is an entry fee. Escape under the sea at the Newport Aquarium, which features everything from shark bridges and touch tanks to glowing jellyfish and a new 60,000-gallon coral reef tunnel.
Photo: Kevin J. Watkins | The Taft Museum of Art

Cool off in air-conditioned attractions

Need to beat the heat? Take a break in the air conditioning. Local museums are a great option for a cool retreat, and the Taft Museum of Art reopens to the public with Jane Austen: Fashion & Sensibility on June 11, featuring costumes from famous Austen film and TV adaptations. Another big indoor attraction opening this summer is Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, a large-scale digital art and virtual reality experience at the former Gidding-Jenny department store downtown. It opens June 1 and there is an entry fee. Escape under the sea at the Newport Aquarium, which features everything from shark bridges and touch tanks to glowing jellyfish and a new 60,000-gallon coral reef tunnel.
Take a dip in a public pool
The good news is that many public pools will be opening in Greater Cincinnati this summer. The bad news is that because of staffing shortages, not all of them can. The Cincinnati Recreation Commission is opening eight of its 24 pools, with the goal of hiring additional lifeguards to open more. The pools at Dunham, McKie and Oakley are currently operational and Dempsey, Evanston, Hirsch, Lincoln and Pleasant Ridge open June 6. Daily and season passes are available. Covington’s Goebel Park Pool, Randolph Park Pool and the Latonia Water Park/Splash Pad open June 8 and entry is free for residents (with registration). In Newport, the pool at Veteran’s Memorial Park is open with a $3 entry fee (free for seniors, military and those under age 4). Over-the-Rhine hotspot Ziegler Pool is also open for the season and only requires reservations for early-morning lap swimmers. Entry is $4 per day. Check each pool’s website for amenities — slides, climbing walls, concessions, etc. — and full details.
Photo: Provided by Cincinnati Recreation Commission | Pleasant Ridge Pool

Take a dip in a public pool

The good news is that many public pools will be opening in Greater Cincinnati this summer. The bad news is that because of staffing shortages, not all of them can. The Cincinnati Recreation Commission is opening eight of its 24 pools, with the goal of hiring additional lifeguards to open more. The pools at Dunham, McKie and Oakley are currently operational and Dempsey, Evanston, Hirsch, Lincoln and Pleasant Ridge open June 6. Daily and season passes are available. Covington’s Goebel Park Pool, Randolph Park Pool and the Latonia Water Park/Splash Pad open June 8 and entry is free for residents (with registration). In Newport, the pool at Veteran’s Memorial Park is open with a $3 entry fee (free for seniors, military and those under age 4). Over-the-Rhine hotspot Ziegler Pool is also open for the season and only requires reservations for early-morning lap swimmers. Entry is $4 per day. Check each pool’s website for amenities — slides, climbing walls, concessions, etc. — and full details.
Splash through a sprayground
You don’t have to be a kid to revel in the fun of a sprayground. Similar to running through a giant sprinkler, these centrally located public splash pads feature fountains, jets and other water elements to cool you down on a hot day. Bonus? They’re free to enjoy and open daily. The Cincinnati Recreation Commission operates nine spraygrounds — Caldwell, College Hill, Dyer, McKie, North Fairmount, Oakley, Oyler, Pleasant Ridge and South Fairmount — featuring fun and colorful sculptural elements. In the heart of the city, there are also spraygrounds at Washington Park, Smale Riverfront Park and Ziegler Park; the Otto Armleder Memorial Aquatic Spray Ground at Sawyer Point is closed this summer for maintenance.

Splash through a sprayground

You don’t have to be a kid to revel in the fun of a sprayground. Similar to running through a giant sprinkler, these centrally located public splash pads feature fountains, jets and other water elements to cool you down on a hot day. Bonus? They’re free to enjoy and open daily. The Cincinnati Recreation Commission operates nine spraygrounds — Caldwell, College Hill, Dyer, McKie, North Fairmount, Oakley, Oyler, Pleasant Ridge and South Fairmount — featuring fun and colorful sculptural elements. In the heart of the city, there are also spraygrounds at Washington Park, Smale Riverfront Park and Ziegler Park; the Otto Armleder Memorial Aquatic Spray Ground at Sawyer Point is closed this summer for maintenance.
Ride the 11 original attractions at Kings Island
This summer marks Kings Island’s 50th anniversary. The amusement park staked its claim in Mason in 1972 as a replacement for the longtime — and frequently flooded — favorite Coney Island. While Coney only closed from 1971-1973 before reopening its attractions along the banks of the Ohio River, many of its classic rides (and employees) made their way to Kings Island. According to King Island’s area manager, digital marketer and roller coaster-enthusiast Don Helbig, there were only 60 attractions when the new theme park opened; today, there are more than 100. While we have loved and lost many favorites to retirement (RIP Phantom Theater), these 11 attractions have been around since the park opened in 1972, though several have been renamed, multiple times: Eiffel Tower, Dodgem, Grand Carousel, The Racer, K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad, Monster, The Scrambler, Peanuts’ Off-Road Rally (fka Pee Wee Raceway), Linus’ Beetle Bugs (fka Funky Phantom), Race for Your Life Charlie Brown (fka the Kings Mills Log Flume) and Woodstock Express (fka The Beastie). visitkingsisland.com.
Photo: Paige Deglow | Kings Island

Ride the 11 original attractions at Kings Island

This summer marks Kings Island’s 50th anniversary. The amusement park staked its claim in Mason in 1972 as a replacement for the longtime — and frequently flooded — favorite Coney Island. While Coney only closed from 1971-1973 before reopening its attractions along the banks of the Ohio River, many of its classic rides (and employees) made their way to Kings Island. According to King Island’s area manager, digital marketer and roller coaster-enthusiast Don Helbig, there were only 60 attractions when the new theme park opened; today, there are more than 100. While we have loved and lost many favorites to retirement (RIP Phantom Theater), these 11 attractions have been around since the park opened in 1972, though several have been renamed, multiple times: Eiffel Tower, Dodgem, Grand Carousel, The Racer, K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad, Monster, The Scrambler, Peanuts’ Off-Road Rally (fka Pee Wee Raceway), Linus’ Beetle Bugs (fka Funky Phantom), Race for Your Life Charlie Brown (fka the Kings Mills Log Flume) and Woodstock Express (fka The Beastie). visitkingsisland.com.
Watch the sunset while sipping a drink at a rooftop bar
During summertime, it doesn’t get dark until late in the evening, which provides a perfect excuse to watch the sun go down and the city lights come up with a cocktail in hand. Follow the link to find the city’s top 10 rooftop bars, as voted by CityBeat readers in the 2022 Best Of Cincinnati issue.

Watch the sunset while sipping a drink at a rooftop bar

During summertime, it doesn’t get dark until late in the evening, which provides a perfect excuse to watch the sun go down and the city lights come up with a cocktail in hand. Follow the link to find the city’s top 10 rooftop bars, as voted by CityBeat readers in the 2022 Best Of Cincinnati issue.
Stuff yourself at a food festival
Go Greek for the day or gorge on goetta at some Cincinnati favorite food festivals. Follow the link to find 15 Queen City area summer food festivals.
Photo: Mackenzie Frank | Panegyri Greek Festival

Stuff yourself at a food festival

Go Greek for the day or gorge on goetta at some Cincinnati favorite food festivals. Follow the link to find 15 Queen City area summer food festivals.
Play some pickleball
Invented in the 1960s by the family of a congressman who used ping-pong paddles and wiffle balls on a badminton court when they couldn’t find their shuttlecock, pickleball seems to be Cincinnati’s new favorite sport. It can be played on tennis courts or regulation pickleball ones. Sawyer Point is in the process of resurfacing its popular pickleball courts through mid-summer, so players will have to find elsewhere to enjoy some friendly competition until then. Locally, the Cincinnati Pickleball Club connects players, has a comprehensive list of places to play, and explains how to sign up to reserve a court. cincinnatipickleballclub.com.

Play some pickleball

Invented in the 1960s by the family of a congressman who used ping-pong paddles and wiffle balls on a badminton court when they couldn’t find their shuttlecock, pickleball seems to be Cincinnati’s new favorite sport. It can be played on tennis courts or regulation pickleball ones. Sawyer Point is in the process of resurfacing its popular pickleball courts through mid-summer, so players will have to find elsewhere to enjoy some friendly competition until then. Locally, the Cincinnati Pickleball Club connects players, has a comprehensive list of places to play, and explains how to sign up to reserve a court. cincinnatipickleballclub.com.
Shop an outdoor pop-up
Warm weather means open-air markets, from maker-friendly pop-ups to outdoor antique fairs. Follow the link to find some upcoming summer shopping dates.
Photo: Provided by Charm at the Farm

Shop an outdoor pop-up

Warm weather means open-air markets, from maker-friendly pop-ups to outdoor antique fairs. Follow the link to find some upcoming summer shopping dates.
Catch a movie at a public park
While Cincinnati has two great drive-in theaters nearby for some outdoor cinema — Starlite Drive-In and Holiday Auto Theatre — plenty of parks in Greater Cincinnati also offer screenings of family-friendly (and not-so-family-friendly) movies throughout the summer. Follow the link to find eight outdoor summer movies series to attend in Cincinnati this summer.

Catch a movie at a public park

While Cincinnati has two great drive-in theaters nearby for some outdoor cinema — Starlite Drive-In and Holiday Auto Theatre — plenty of parks in Greater Cincinnati also offer screenings of family-friendly (and not-so-family-friendly) movies throughout the summer. Follow the link to find eight outdoor summer movies series to attend in Cincinnati this summer.
Go berry picking
Summertime means berry time, and several local farms offer the public u-pick opportunities throughout the season. Crops can ripen at different rates based on weather, so check with each farm before heading out with your basket in tow. Blooms & Berries Farm Market in Loveland offers the chance to pick blueberries by the pound, typically in June and July. Indian Springs Berry Farm in Fairfield Township lets you harvest your own USDA-certified organic blackberries, generally starting in July. Alpine Berry Farm in Batesville, Indiana, opens around Father’s Day for blueberry picking. And Hidden Valley Orchard  in Lebanon offers multiple u-pick options throughout the summer, including strawberries, blueberries, peaches, grapes and apples. As of press time, Bright Star Acres blueberry farm in Kenton County, Kentucky has yet to list its 2022 dates.

Go berry picking

Summertime means berry time, and several local farms offer the public u-pick opportunities throughout the season. Crops can ripen at different rates based on weather, so check with each farm before heading out with your basket in tow. Blooms & Berries Farm Market in Loveland offers the chance to pick blueberries by the pound, typically in June and July. Indian Springs Berry Farm in Fairfield Township lets you harvest your own USDA-certified organic blackberries, generally starting in July. Alpine Berry Farm in Batesville, Indiana, opens around Father’s Day for blueberry picking. And Hidden Valley Orchard in Lebanon offers multiple u-pick options throughout the summer, including strawberries, blueberries, peaches, grapes and apples. As of press time, Bright Star Acres blueberry farm in Kenton County, Kentucky has yet to list its 2022 dates.
Take a tour of creamy whips
Is it even summer without a visit to a neighborhood creamy whip? Follow the link to find a list of 23 walk-up ice cream joints sling soft serve, chili dogs and nostalgia with a smile.
Photo: Sami Stewart | Putz's Creamy Whip

Take a tour of creamy whips

Is it even summer without a visit to a neighborhood creamy whip? Follow the link to find a list of 23 walk-up ice cream joints sling soft serve, chili dogs and nostalgia with a smile.