DAY TRIP: Head to Cincinnati for an idyllic holiday excursion with ice bumper cars and illuminated art

Pyramid Hill’s Holiday Lights on the Hill in Hamilton.
Pyramid Hill’s Holiday Lights on the Hill in Hamilton.

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the very fabric of our holiday celebrations this year. For many, new restrictions put in place to respond to the pandemic means that a vast majority of the season will be spent at home and not doing the traditional things, like visits with Santa Claus and ice skating, that have come to define the season.

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Thankfully, though, there are still several traditional holiday activities that can be done safely — and might just cure your cabin fever. And, as it turns out, the city of Cincinnati offers quite a few opportunities for safe holiday fun.

So, in the spirit of the holiday season, we are giving this gift to you: a perfect itinerary to make your day-trip holiday excursion to Cincinnati truly magical, thanks to ideas supplied by local author Rick Pender. We have lifted these ideas from “100 Things to do in Cincinnati Before You Die,” a book written by the Cincinnati author and journalist to inspire others to explore all that the Queen City has to offer.

⛄❄SHOP FOR CHRISTMAS TREES AND OTHER HOLIDAY ITEMS AT FINDLAY MARKET

Findlay Market in Cincinnati makes for a fine destination year-round, including the holidays. KARA DRISCOLL/STAFF
Findlay Market in Cincinnati makes for a fine destination year-round, including the holidays. KARA DRISCOLL/STAFF

Location: 1801 Race St., Cincinnati

Hours: Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More info: Website | Facebook

Start your day off with a trip to Findlay Market in downtown Cincinnati, the state’s oldest continuously operating public market, where you’ll have the chance to pick up the perfect holiday decorations, including Christmas trees, wreaths, ornaments, wrapping paper and more.

The market is home to more than 50 full-time merchants who sell meat, fish, poultry, produce, flowers, cheese, deli items, ethnic foods and seasonal items.

During the holiday season, Nova Scotian Balsam Firs and wreaths are available in the Findlay Market Biergarten until Sunday, Dec. 20. With every tree purchase, customers will receive a free commemorative 2020 Findlay Market ornament made by Lucca.

While at the market, customers are required to wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines.

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⛄❄GO SKATING AT FOUNTAIN SQUARE

Fountain Square ice skating rink in downtown Cincinnati.
Fountain Square ice skating rink in downtown Cincinnati.

Credit: Fountain Square

Credit: Fountain Square

Location: 520 Vine St., Cincinnati

Hours: Ice rink open through Feb. 15, while hours may vary. Check Fountain Square’s website for updated hours.

More info: Website | Facebook

After your jaunt through Findlay Market, head to Fountain Square for an equally magical holiday excursion complete with ice skating, ice bumper cars and hot chocolate. Ice bumper cars are brand new to Fountain Square this year, and offer customers old and young an opportunity to indulge in a game of bumper cars on the ice.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, customers are required to make reservations to skate or use the ice bumper cars for a specific date and time, and masks must be worn at all times. A reservation to enjoy the ice bumper cars and skating is $15 per person; a reservation for skating only is $10 per person. Reservations can be made by visiting Fountain Square’s website.

ExploreWORTH THE DRIVE: Hop on an ice bumper car in Cincinnati’s Fountain Square

⛄❄GET DRINKS AT THE PORCH

Location: 1230 Elm St., Cincinnati

Hours: Hours vary. Visit The Porch’s Facebook page for updates.

More info: Website | Facebook

Located in Washington Park, The Porch offers customers a chance to enjoy wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages on a beautiful patio space outfitted with heaters.

This recently renovated space is directly adjacent to the dog park and spans a total of 2,926 square feet. It has the capacity to house more than 200 guests.

⛄❄ENJOY THE HOLIDAY LIGHTS DISPLAY AT PYRAMID HILL

Journey Borealis drive-thru holiday light display at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Journey Borealis drive-thru holiday light display at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Location: Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, 1763 Hamilton Cleves Rd., Hamilton

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, 6-10 p.m.

More info: (513) 863-8336 | Facebook | Website

Just after the sun sets, head to Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park to enjoy the Holiday Lights on the Hill display. For the third year in a row, this popular drive-through display will offer guests a holiday light experience that brings art and nature together in the 300-acre sculpture park. This year, the theme is called Journey Borealis, and promises to provide an artful take on holiday lights. A few of the traditional features will include decorated ponds with swans, and a skating pond with a sequence of skaters that light up and doves overhead.

The price of admission is $20 per carload from Monday through Thursday and $25 per carload from Friday through Sunday. Admission for Pyramid Hill members presenting a current membership card is $15 every day. Hamilton residents can view for free on Tuesdays.

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