19 Best Road Trips From Cincinnati, Ohio

road trips from cincinnati
Nicole
Nicole 
Contributing Writer
Updated
| 8 min read

Set on the Ohio River, Cincinnati is a captivating city that is famed for its remarkable century-old structures and dramatic cityscape. It is a side of Ohio that is like other cities worth exploring. If you are planning a visit to Cincinnati with your family, be sure to swing by Cincinnati Museum Center and let your kids’ creative imagination run free at the children’s section. Also, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is another worthy attraction to visit in the city. Romantic hotels are some of the best hotels to stay in the city, and you should book yours soon! Once done with all the sights to see and places to visit in the city, you might want to go on an exciting road trip with your loved ones. Scroll down to find a list of the best road trips from Cincinnati, Ohio.

1. Hocking Hills State Park, OH

Ash Cave complex in Hocking Hills State Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dustin M. Ramsey used under CC BY-SA 2.5

There are plenty of interesting things to do in Cincinnati. If you are looking for more, then you must plan a driving trip from Cincinnati to Hocking Hills State Park, which spans approximately 132 miles (212.43 kilometers) and offers an ideal road trip that encapsulates the beauty of Ohio’s landscapes. As you traverse this scenic route, you’ll be treated to a captivating blend of rural charm and natural splendor, making it a fantastic getaway for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

Upon reaching Hocking Hills State Park, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking tapestry of lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and rugged cliffs. The park’s crown jewels include the iconic Old Man’s Cave, a captivating gorge with sandstone caves and waterfalls; Ash Cave, a massive recess cave with a stunning waterfall backdrop; Cedar Falls, renowned for its picturesque cascades; and the scenic trails of Conkle’s Hollow.

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2. Lake Cumberland, KY

Lake-Cumberland-from-127-ky
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Brian Stansberry used under CC BY 4.0

Covering a distance of approximately 200 miles (321.87 kilometers), the road trip from Cincinnati to Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, offers a wonderful adventure brimming with picturesque vistas and recreational opportunities. This journey is a delightful escape for nature lovers and water enthusiasts, promising a mix of rolling hills and serene landscapes along the way.

Upon reaching Lake Cumberland, you’ll have access to boating, fishing, and outdoor relaxation. With over 1,200 miles (1931.21 kilometers) of shoreline, the lake boasts a plethora of activities, from water skiing to houseboat living. At Lake Cumberland State Resort Park, you can savor breathtaking views, indulge in hiking trails, and enjoy the lush ambiance of the region.

The lake’s allure extends to its enchanting caves, like the impressive Yahoo Falls and Cumberland Falls, aptly known as the “Niagara of the South,” where moonbow sightings are a rare and magical phenomenon.

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3. Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge - Motherlode 1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user user:Jarekt used under CC BY 3.0

The city has plenty of fantastic walking trails, but a driving vacation from Cincinnati to Red River Gorge promises a greater level of excitement. The trip is a great option for a weekend getaway and you can make the 2.5-hour drive with sufficient ease.

Red River Gorge is a canyon system tucked within the Daniel Boone National Forest and spreads to about 29,000 acres (11,735 hectares). The place features rock shelters, waterfalls, natural bridges, and sandstone cliffs. This attraction in Kentucky has become a world-famous rock climbing spot and has even earned the nickname “The Red” from visitors. It is registered at the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated National Natural Landmark.

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4. Millersburg, OH

MillersburgOhio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

When you want to explore more of Ohio’s hidden gems, Millersburg is a little over 3 hours northeast of Cincinnati, with a distance of about 191 mi (307 km). It is a great place to get yourself acquainted with how tight-knit communities are in small towns. Visit the historic downtown where you’ll find a variety of quaint shops, pubs, and restaurants. Holmes County, for which Millersburg is the county seat, is home to one of the largest Amish communities in the States.

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5. Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg, Tennessee IMG 6598
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Don McCulley used under CC0

Being a gateway town to the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg in Tennessee is one of the finest destinations from a Cincinnati road trip. Within six hours from Cincinnati, the vacation trip spans around 290 mi (467 km) of driving distance. The mountain town is home to a picturesque downtown with a view of the national park in its background. You’ll most definitely find a plethora of quaint and vibrant shops that will keep you hooked during your visit. Other attractions in the town include the Gatlinburg Space Needle and Ober Gatlinburg, an amusement park and ski resort.

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6. Chicago, IL

Chicago
Source: Photo by Flickr user Pedro Szekely used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Who wouldn’t enjoy being in Chicago? If you’re contemplating a road trip to a big city from Cincinnati, this magnificent place should be on your list. It is almost a five-hour road trip to the northwest, with a distance of 295 mi (474 km). Chicago is a place that needs no further introduction, but some of its must-visit attractions are Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, and famous buildings like Willis Tower and John Hancock Center. On your way to this city, you’ll be passing by the wonderful state of Indiana.

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7. Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor sunset 2018
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user JuwanGOAT used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Planning a driving vacation to Michigan? One of the best places to visit in the state is Ann Arbor which is about 250 mi (402 km) and takes about 4 hours to complete. Ann Arbor, renowned for being a center of fields like culinary, arts, and technology, is where the University of Michigan is located. Take your special someone for a romantic stroll along with Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Conservatory or catch a show with your family at the famous Michigan Theatre. Either way, you’ll have plenty of experiences in Ann Arbor.

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8. Nashville, IN

Nashville Indiana - Corner of Main street (6236000023)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Serge Melki used under CC BY 2.0

No time for a long road trip from Cincinnati? One of the closest drives that sure is worth visiting is Nashville, Indiana, which is notable for being the founding center for the Brown County Art Colony. The town’s main tourist attractions include the galleries and works of resident artists. In downtown Nashville, visitors will find an abundance of unique stores that sell antiques and art, as well as restaurants and small entertainment centers. The drive from Cincinnati normally takes 2 hours at a distance of 111 mi (178 km).

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9. George Washington National Forest

White Rocks Little Sluice Mountain GWNF
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Aneta Kaluzna used under CC BY-SA 2.5

If you prefer a trip to the great outdoors, another long (but truly worthy!) drive from Cincinnati is George Washington National Forest in Virginia. This national forest is combined with Jefferson National Forest, sprawling to 1.8 million acres (728,434 hectares) of land in the Appalachian Mountains. Some of the activities you can do within the area are, of course, hiking, mountain biking, and even hunting. Trail running is a popular activity at George Washington National Forest too, and it has even served as the location for quite a few Ultramarathons in the past.

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10. Asheville, NC

Asheville
Source: Needpix

After a fabulous much-deserved vacation in Cincinnati, you might want to take the adventure elsewhere and continue making lasting memories with the people that are dear to you. If you agree with the idea, travel all the way to Asheville in North Carolina and be captivated by its charm. Asheville is only a 364 mi (586 km) journey that will take you almost 6 hours to reach. Asheville will overwhelm you with its majestic natural landscapes or vast plains, lush forestry, and mountainous backdrop.

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11. Shawnee National Forest

Shawnee National Forest
Source: Photo by user Erik Cooper used under CC BY 2.0

If you are a hardcore adventure-seeker and you want to spend your time amid nature, reconnect with it by spending some quality time in Shawnee National Park. Nestled in Herod in Illinois, it is a breathtaking natural forest and a piece of heaven on earth. Exploring the site will let you see wildlife in their natural habitat, encounter rare flora, and marvel at the beauty of nature, including lakes, woodlands rock formations, and more. From Cincinnati, a journey to Shawnee National Forest will take you less than five hours of non-stop travel via I-71 S and I-64 W. You will pass by the stunning city of Louisville where you can stop by for a quick energy boost.

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12. Memphis, TN

Looking East on Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee, June 2014
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user used under CC0

If you have been to Asheville and Shawnee National Forest, and you want to travel to a place that you’ve never been to in your life before, the charming city of Memphis might pique your interest. Compared to the first two places on this list, it is farther in distance. From Cincinnati to Memphis, a journey covers 482 mi (776 km) of scenic drive, When you get there, you will be enchanted by the beauty of the Mississipi River as it accentuates the cityscape. Plus, this city is all about the Rock and Roll heritage, and you can feel Elvis Prestley’s presence from every corner of it.

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13. Paris, TN

Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee, November 30, 2013
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ed and Eddie used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Looking for a unique vacation spot within 8 hours of Cincinnati? Situated in Henry County in Tennessee, Paris is your next fantastic road trip destination. A replica of the Lady of Steel, also known as Eiffel Tower in Paris is one of the city’s remarkable highlights. This marvelous city has an abundance of parks and recreational areas, which makes it a delightful place to spend a much-deserved vacation with family. If you want to visit the city after your Cincinnati escapade, be prepared for a 5-hours-30-minute drive via I-71 S and Western Kentucky Pkwy, which covers 345 mi (555 km).

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14. Lexington, NC

Lexington, North Carolina Main Street
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kenneth C. Zirkel used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Another gorgeous city in North Carolina that might interest you is Lexington. It is not that far from Cincinnati, and it will only take you seven hours of journey by land. The road trip from Lexington is filled with picturesque views and safe routes. You can stop by West Virginia for a quick lunch or dinner and footrest. Lexington will surely charm you with its fascinating history and remarkable landmarks, including the 18th-century Davidson County Historical Museum. Also, the kids will surely love playing at Washington Park.

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15. Nantahala National Forest

Nantahala Mtns lookout
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AlexiusHoratius used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A magnificent paradise on earth that is worth exploring, Nantahala National Forest is heaven on earth. If you are an outdoorsy type of person, marvel at the beauty of nature and immerse in its atmosphere at Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. Traveling from Cincinnati, a road trip will cover 338 mi (544 km), and you can also swing by Kentucky. The stunning forest boasts rich vegetation, and it houses some enchanting lakes, creeks, waterfalls, and other bodies of water. Also, you’ll find Gorges State Park in this side of North Carolina.

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16. Talladega National Forest

"Devil's Den", Talladega National Forest
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rick from Alabama used under CC BY 2.0

Make the most of your adventure by visiting Talladega National Forest in Alabama. It is a vast high-altitude natural park with stunning landscapes of rolling hills and enormous plains that are adorned with picturesque sceneries. Talladega National Forest, one of the best places to road trip from Cincinnati, is an ideal hiking and trekking spot as it has safe and scenic routes that are marked for people’s convenience. You can book a room at Cheaha State Park and enjoy easy access to Talladega National Forest. On a different note, from Cincinnati, you will be covering 457 mi (735 km) by road.

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17. Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, GA at night
Source: Photo by user James Rintamaki used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Complete your vacation escapade by moving the adventure from Cincinnati to Atlanta. Atlanta is a charming upscale city where you can enjoy all of your mundane desires. It has high-end attractions, exquisite restaurants, boutique stores, shopping malls, and fantastic leisure sites. Plus, it holds an interesting history that dates back to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. In downtown Atlanta, you’ll find the remarkable Centennial Olympic Park that was once a venue to the world Olympics. A road trip from Cincinnati to Atlanta stretches 460 mi (740 km).

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18. Charlotte, NC

Third Ward, Charlotte, NC, USA - panoramio (1)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user James Willamor used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Nesting in North Carolina, Charlotte is a lovely city that is up to date with 21st-century lifestyle. It houses skyscraping buildings, and when the moon starts to reach its apex, the city glows with a multitude of city lights. Charlotte is acknowledged as a cultural, economic, and commercial center of North Carolina, and will overwhelm you with upscale attractions. Also, it has fascinating museums that talks about its rich history. A testament to that is Levine Museum of the New South. If you want to visit Charlotte, you only have to prepare for an 8-hour drive from Cincinnati. You’ll pass through the beautiful state of Kentucky on your journey.

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19. Fayetteville, NC

TheMarketHouse FAY
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gerry Dincher used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’ve been to Charlotte many times already, why not visit Fayetteville in North Carolina, instead? It is as charming as Charlotte, and it also has a variety of attractions which make it a fabulous road trip destination. This city has Airborne and Special Operations Museum that houses exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia that are essential to the US Military. Also, nature-lovers will have the time of their life at Cape Fear Botanical Garden. A road trip from Cincinnati covers 532 mi (856 km) of travel and will take you about 9 hours to drive.

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Drive to the coolest destinations with your family

Cincinnati is a charming city and a joy to explore, with plenty of theme parks and flea markets to keep your days busy. It charms you with its dramatic cityscape, remarkable century-old structures, and exquisite culinary aspect. If you are an adventure-seeker who fancies some time out from the routine life, go on an exciting road trip with your loved ones. To guide you, here is a list of options for wonderful road trips to cities close to Cincinnati.

Frequently asked questions about road trips from Cincinnati


Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Nicole, a writer and traveler, also identifies herself as a free spirit with a wild heart. She is dedicated to telling authentic stories in a relatable manner. Nicole also enjoys exploring new,...Read more

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