Summer Bucket List Ideas for Cincinnati and Hamilton County Families

Written by Liz Foreman, Marketing Content Team Leader, Downtown Main Library

Summer is a great time for families to get re-acquainted with all of the great places to go in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. So, plan ahead and make family time and learning a priority during National Summer Learning Week, July 12–16. Check out these exciting (and, shhh, educational) destinations thanks to our Discover Summer partners.

Pick Up Your Free Discover Summer To-Go Kit

The Library’s Discover Summer program is underway, with free books to keep, Take & Make kits, and activity booklets available at all library locations. The activity booklets, created with our partners, are packed with fun learning activities to help your kids stay sharp all summer long. It’s not only great family time, your kids can win end-of-summer prizes by completing activities in their booklets then filling out an entry form at the Library or online using our Beanstack app.

Chill Out at the Cincinnati Children's Museum

It's hot outside, but you can cool down inside the recently reopened Cincinnati Children’s Museum inside the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Before you go: Check out a Discovery Pass for free admission.

And, check out the "Charley Harper Symmetry" in Art activity in the Discover Summer elementary school booklet.

Plan a Staycation at Great Parks of Hamilton County

Sleep under the stars! Great Parks has several campsites that are perfect for pitching a tent. Or, spend a day hiking a trail, rowing a boat, or paddling a kayak.

Before you go: Learn about toads. Make a toad abode and learn toad rhymes in this video from Great Parks and the Library. (Activity is also on page 10 of the Discover Summer elementary booklet.)

And check out the "Cincy Letter Hunt" activity in the Discover Summer PreK booklet.

Go Swimming at a CRC Pool

Great news, pool reservations are no longer needed at Cincinnati Recreation Commission pools this summer. And, the CRC is offering free swim lessons this summer.

And check out the "Find Your Path" activity in the Discover Summer teen booklet.

Learn About Upstanders at the Holocaust & Humanity Center

The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center (HHC) exists to ensure the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action today. Visit HHC in person or take an interactive tour online.

And check out the “Be an Upstander” activity in the Discover Summer middle school booklet. Your entire family can learn how to make a change in your community by being an upstander.

Visit the RagGonNon Story Quilt

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has reopened and is launching a new exhibit. We Are the Story: A Visual Response to Racism showcases 53 quilts highlighting the history of civil rights, police brutality, and racism in America. Make sure to view the RagGonNon story quilt, which is mentioned in our PreK activity booklet.

And check out the “Make a Story Quilt” activity in the Discover Summer PreK booklet.

Visit the Cincinnati Art Museum’s New Exhibit

Families with older kids will enjoy visiting the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Paintings, Politics and the Monuments Men exhibit, which opens to the public this Friday, July 9.

Before you go: Check out a Discovery Pass for free admission to the exhibit.

And, check out the “Exhibit Detective” activity in the Discover Summer middle school booklet.

Live Summer Out Loud  with the YMCA

The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati offers programs and activities for all ages, abilities, and stages of life: sports, swimming, and more. Visit one of the area's nine YMCAs. (Psst, visitors to can get a free guest pass.)

And check out the “Create Your Own Vision Board” activity in the Discover Summer middle school booklet.

Find more great summer family activity ideas at In-person, kid-friendly events are starting up again so there's no better time to explore our county. 

The Discover Summer program is possible through the support of our donors, who know that keeping kids curious and engaged helps them get ready for the next school year.