12 Great Road Trips from Cincinnati in Under 4 Hours

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Cincinnati lies in the heart of the Midwest. As much as locals love their Queen City, everyone wants to escape for a while.

With the busy nature of life,  you may not have days to enjoy a break. Thankfully, there are tons of road trip destinations from Cincinnat offering country sides, adventures, mountain vistas, and other cities with great attractions. So, get your car packed, and let’s see which road trip peaks your interest.  

This is a relatively new road trip adventure (2016) that begins about 45 minutes outside Cincinnati. You pick up a doughnut passport and have them checked at each designated stop.

There is far more to the 80 mile trail than just one treat. 

Some offer puddings, cakes, and fresh squeezed juice just to name a few. 

If you drive from Cincinnati for just over 1 hour, you can reach Yellow Springs. There’s a little bit of everything here, enough that you could make a weekend trip out of it, if you wish. Go cycling, hiking, visit an orchard, and much more. For a taste of the environment visit Glen Helen Nature Preserve. The footpaths are easy going, taking you by streams and wooded fields.

For some waterfall action, check out the views at Clifton Gorge , or enjoy a limestone gorge at John Bryan State Park.

Your road trip from Cincinnati to Louisville takes about 1 hour 30 minutes. If you enjoy horse racing, this is a great spot. Home to the Kentucky Derby at the Churchill Downs, Louisville has much to offer by way of other sites and activities.

When you are short on time, a “must see” is the Louisville Mega Cavern. This is an old mine beneath the expressway and the Louisville zoo. You can go zip lining, take a walking tour, and try Mega Quest, an aerial ropes competition.

Another treat for the whole family is the Speed Art Museum, a fully interactive project, hosting musicians, lecturers, workshops, and if you happen to arrive in October you can take part in the annual Art of Bourbon event. 

Drive about 1.5 hours outside of Cincinnati and you can enjoy the Museum of Science and Industry in Columbus. The museum spans 320,000 square feet, and features state of the art exhibits.

Enjoy a peek at ancient Egypt, “sight see” the Dinosaur era, ride in a space capsule, climb into a mini-sub, and let your younger child explore the Big Science Park. You’re not done yet. There are also special presentations, gadgets, labs, digital media and a planetarium for your pleasure. You will have no trouble filling out a full day here.

This museum is also only a short road trip from Cincinnati, just about 1.5 hours. While the museum isn’t huge, it’s a great treat for your baseball lovers. Plus, you will have plenty of time for a lunch or early dinner afterward.

The Louisville Slugger Museum celebrate the role of Slugger baseball bats throughout the sport’s history, while also looking to the future. Trivia and memorabilia lovers won’t want to stop looking at the exhibits during the tour. Tip: you could include this on your day or weekend trip to Louisville proper. 

Moving into the range of a 2-hour road trip from Cincinnati, you can visit the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. You can easily spend a day here exploring. The venue offers things like exploring Greek culture, American Pop, Blown Glass, and learning how weather works.

For an out of the world event, take a step into their international space station to see what an astronaut’s life is really like.

Heading to Kentucky, just two hours away by car, bourbon lovers will enjoy an incredible 14-distillery tour. Kentucky is world-renown for Bourbon. You can plan a ½ day or full-day complete with tastings and great food.

Craft tours include distilleries in Lexington, Radcliff, Franklin, Paris, Shelbyville, Pembrok, Sparta, and Ludlow (just to name a few).

Getting to Red River Gorge from Cincinnati takes just under two and a half hours. Nestled in the Kentucky hills, you can tour by day and camp by night if you desire. Above ground people enjoy them most popular Midwest destination for rock climbing.

Underground you can tour the Gorge Grotto on your own kayak. Your guides share the Grotto’s history, and keep your eye’s peeled for some beautiful Rainbow Trout. 

Red River is also home to the Daniel Boon National Forest,host to a huge diversity of birds, trees, plants, and animals. The park spans 21 counties and 2,000,000 acres of land. Water lovers can swim, boat, canoe, or go tubing. On land, there are 600 miles of trails, of which the Sky Bridge Trail comes recommended for folks who only want to walk a short distance (and have their dog along). There’s also Rock Bridge Trail with breathtaking waterfalls.

Are you ready for a relaxing get-away road trip from Cincinnati? How about a destination stop in Hocking Hills. 2.5 hours away? Here lies Ravenwood Castle. You can go for a night (or more) of romance, or take the whole family there.

You can join the Ravenwood Detective Agency to solve murders using clues and puzzles. BTW there is no cable or cell connection, and no WiFi. This is really “getting away from it all” in Medieval opulence. 

Millersburg is a 3.5 hour road trip from Cincinnati. It’s a charming, historic town where you can see quality Amish features woven into nearly every home and building. Small gatherings of the Amish are all around Millersburg, including Yoder’s Amish Home.

This farm sits on 116 acres, offering tours daily (psst: there’s a bakery for your sweet tooth). And if you’re looking for a cozy cafe for eating great food, you’ll find a bunch of them using seasonal ingredients and great home cooking. 

Getting close to the four-hour mark on great road trips from Cincinnati, head to Ann Arbor, MI. Summer is probably the perfect time to visit. If you look closely at the entryways and walls near downtown you’ll find little fairy doors, for hosing the Wee people.

Picnics, a trip to the breweries, and grand cafes await you. If you love to shop, the region offers many specialty stops for graphic novels, local foods, and much more. Ann Arbor is also home to galleries, museums, and musical organizations hosting performers from all over the world. 

Clocking in at, or just over, a four hour road trip from Cincinnati is Put-In-Bay. Located just of the coast of Northern Ohio, this area is a summer getaway for numerous visitors to the Midwest. (nearly 2 million to be exact). Make sure to take in Cedar Point Amusement Park for breathtaking roller coasters.  

Nearby, there are three islands, North, Middle, and South Bass Island (home to Put-in-Bay). Boat and water sports enthusiasts will love it here. You need to take a ferry to get to them, and the only island offering camping is North Bass island.


I'm the owner of Beast Auto. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I love anything automotive related, and taking road trips all across my beautiful state.