Outdoor Adventures Within 3 Hours Of Cincinnati

Looking for outdoor adventure ideas for your next getaway?

I’m sharing more about destinations that can be a great day trip from Cincinnati or a nice place to visit for an extended stay for your next road trip.

on top of Natural Bridge

Red River Gorge in Kentucky

Distance: 2 hours – Red River Gorge is located in East-Central Kentucky

Things to do at Red River Gorge

Top Things to Do at Red River Gorge

The Red River Gorge region offers plenty of outdoor adventure for all ages and comfort levels.

If you traveling with younger kids, you will want to keep them really close. The cliffs at the Gorge are no joke and safety rails are few and far between.

hiking at Red River Gorge

Go Hiking

You’ll find plenty of hiking options throughout the 29,000 acres within the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Top 10 Hikes at Red River Gorge

The following hikes are recommended by

  1. Indian Staircase and Indian Arch (3.5 miles – unmarked – difficult)
  2. Whittleton Arch (2.5 miles – easy)
  3. Double Arch, Star Gap Arch, Arch of Triumph (5.6 miles – unmarked – moderate)
  4. Gray’s Arch (4.0 miles – easy)
  5. Auxier Ridge & Courthouse Rock (5.0 miles- moderate)
  6. Natural Bridge & Laurel Ridge Trail (3.0 miles – easy)
  7. Silvermine Arch & Hidden Arch (5.1 miles – moderate)
  8. Turtle Back Arch & Rock Bridge (4.0 miles – unmarked – moderate)
  9. Rock Bridge Loop (1.5 miles – unmarked – easy)
  10. Chimney Top Rock, Princess Arch, & Half Moon Arch (1.8 miles – easy)

Rock Climbing

Red River Gorge is known for rock climbing by enthusiasts from around the world. Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition is a great resource for the best places to climb at Red River Gorge. 

via ferrata Southeast Mountain Guides Red River Gorge Kentucky

Via Ferrata at  Red River Gorge with Southeast Mountain Guides

1617 North, KY-11, Campton, KY

Guests aged 10 years old and up can challenge themselves and try Via Ferrata on a climbing path that spans ¾ of a mile of the rugged sandstone cliff line.

Climbers are equipped with cables to clip into and have iron hand and foot rungs to hold and step onto as they travel horizontally across the mountain.

Guided Rock Climbing or Guided Rappelling

Another option for guests is a guided rock climb or rappel.

Climbers can choose a half-day that is up to 4.5 hours or a full day that is up to 8 hours.

Guided Climbs are recommended for ages 6 and up.

Guided Rappelling is recommended for ages 6 and up but they do not have an age restriction.

Natural Bridge Skylift

Scenic Skylift (Chair Lift) at Natural Bridge

2135 Natural Bridge Rd, Slade, KY

Ride the Scenic Skylift one way toward the top of Natural Bridge. The chair lift is open seasonally on weekends starting in March.

For a small fee, you can choose to ride the Scenic Skylift one way or round trip if you don’t want to hike back down or up.

natural bridge slade ky

View Natural Bridge From Above or Below

Natural Bridge is 65 feet in height and spans 78 feet in length with 360 views of the natural surrounding area.

The trails from the bottom give you a view from under the arch and you can walk on top of Natural Bridge after you pass through the narrow one-way trail between giant rocks.

Red River Gorge Zipline in Kentucky e1584130051624

Red River Gorge Zipline

455 Cliffview Rd, Campton, KY

Thrill-seekers will love the 2-hour adventure that takes you 300 feet above the gorge.

There are 5 ziplines including 2 side by side racing lines. Reservations are strongly suggested and the longest line is 1900 feet long.

Go Kayaking in a Cave with The Gorge Underground

Go Kayaking in a Cave with The Gorge Underground

2478 Glen Cairn Road, Rogers, Kentucky

Experience Red River Gorge from another perspective with The Gorge Underground.

In addition to kayaking, The Gorge Underground offers boat tours and guided paddleboard tours through an abandoned Limestone mine.

The tours last an hour and the cave temperatures are around 52-55 degrees year-round.

Miguels Pizza Red River Gorge e1583929181594

Where to Eat at Red River Gorge

Miguels Pizza

1890 Natural Bridge Rd, Slade, KY

Miguels Pizza is THE place to go after a long day of adventuring at the Gorge.

Guests can enjoy great pizza by the whole or the slice with a bottle of Ale-8-One. “Kentucky’s soft drink” tastes like ginger ale and always seems to taste better at the Gorge.

pizza at Miguels Pizza at Red River Gorge

There are still plenty of other menu food and drink options if you want to try something else.

Guests customize their menu selections by choosing from 50 toppings for a custom pizza, salad, pasta, or sandwich on an order slip.

the Lodge at Cliffview Resort in KY e1564536466377

Extend Your Stay at Red River Gorge at Cliffview Resorts

Cliffview Resort is a great option if you want to stay overnight.

Located 10 minutes from Natural Bridge State Park, you will find that Cliffview Resort’s location is both convenient to area attractions and easy to get to at less than 10 miles from Exit 33 for KY-11 toward Slade/Beattyville.

Cliffview Resort can accommodate a variety of guest sizes and preferences from their lodge to cabin options.

Looking for additional lodging options?

You can compare prices and save on vacation rentals and hotels here.

Hocking Hills Ash Cave

Hocking Hills State Park

Driving Distance: 2 hrs 20 minutes

Old Mans Cave Hocking Hills

Top Things to Do at Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills is a great place for a day trip or overnight getaway trip. 

Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum in Ohio

Visit the Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum

13178 State Route 664 South
Hocking Hills Welcome Center
Logan, OH

A tiny but mighty museum that has a wide assortment of pencil sharpeners through the years on display. You can find more unique things to do in Hocking Hills here.

The museum is located next to the Welcome Center. I highly recommend getting tips from the Welcome Center staff for hike recommendations during your visit.

Old Mans Cave 3

Go Hiking

What I love about hiking at Hocking Hills is the contrast of scenery on each of the scenic trails. The winter is a beautiful time to go hiking at Hocking Hills when it’s less crowded.

Another angle of Rock House

Great Hikes at Hocking Hills

  • Ash Cave
  • Old Man’s Cave
  • Upper and Lower Conkle’s Hollow
  • Rock House
  • Cedar Falls
  • Cantwell Cliffs
  • Hemlock Bridge
on the water Hocking Hills Adventures

Go Kayaking or Canoeing with Hocking Hills Adventures

31251 Chieftain Dr, Logan, OH

There are kayak or canoe trips available ranging from 2-3 hours to 3-4 hours. If you are traveling with a younger family I recommend opting for shorter trips.

Additional activities at the Fun Center for Hocking Hills Adventures are mini golf, Splash Pad, go-karts, and the game room.

Ash Cave Fire Tower

Climb Ash Cave Fire Tower

You can climb to the top and get an incredible view of the surrounding area at Hocking Hills from the Ash Cave Fire Tower.

The tower only allows 6 people at a time. It’s a lot of stairs if you climb to the top so take breaks and bring water.

Super Zip view

Go Ziplining at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours

10714 Jackson Street, Rockbridge, Ohio

You can choose your own adventure and thrill level with a variety of options from Hocking Hills Canopy Tours. At Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, your experience also includes FREE photos.

After Super Zip

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours offers the following tour options:


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Where to Eat at Hocking Hills:

In between hikes or outdoor adventures, it’s nice to stop for a sit-down meal.

Milestone BBQ 22

Millstone BBQ

12790 Grey St, Logan, OH

Barbeque fans will enjoy southern smoked meats that have been smoked on-site for 15-17 hours. The atmosphere is casual and there are non-barbeque and vegetarian options too.

KOA Hocking Hills 29

Where to Stay at Hocking Hills

Logan / Hocking Hills KOA

29150 Pattor Rd, Logan, OH

The Hocking Hills KOA Campground has both cabin rentals and campsites available for guests. We’ve previously stayed in the cabin and loved it.

The cabin came with everything that we need and more. I personally loved that we had a kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms. The kids liked that cabin had a tv and firepit.

The campground location is conveniently located within a few miles of several of the popular hiking destinations in the area.

waterfall on the Heritage Trail at the Preserve at Shaker Village

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky

3501 Lexington Rd, Harrodsburg, KY

Driving Distance: 2 hours

Games at Shaker Village

Top Things to Do at Shaker Village

If it’s been a while since your last visit to Shaker Village, you’ll discover that it has evolved A LOT over the years.  Shaker Village offers so much more in experiences and adventures than just the buildings between the fences.

hiking at the preserve at Shaker Village

Go Hiking at Shaker Village

There are 35 miles of hiking trails at Shaker Village onsite at the Preserve that are open to the public. There is even a waterfall!

The Preserve has 1200 acres of native grasses attracting 500 plant species and diverse wildlife including 150 species of local and migrating birds.

bird observation at Shaker Village


There is an indoor observation area where you can watch birds from the comfort of the inside.

Shaker Village offers a variety of special guided hikes and outdoor events for nature lovers of all ages too.

horse at Shaker Village in Kentucky 1

Horseback Riding on the Trails

You can bring your own horse to take on a trail ride at the Preserve at Shaker Village.

There are 33 miles of horseback riding trails and 15 miles of carriage-friendly trails for the public and overnight guests to enjoy at Shaker Village.

*There is a Daily Equestrian Trail Fee to help cover the cost to maintain and improve the trails. There is trailer parking near the stable. Shaker Village does not provide horses to ride, so you need to bring your own.

donkey at Shaker Village

Visit the Farm Animals

Animal lovers of all ages will enjoy viewing the animals up close. Shaker Village has lots of farm animals to visit on-site.

Make sure that you check the daily schedule for activities going on around the farm.

The farm has a philosophy that the quality of food leads to quality of life for both the animals and humans.

Fishing at Shaker Village

Go Fishing

Paying guests with admission stickers can go catch and release fishing on the property at Shaker Village.

You must have a Kentucky Fishing License and you need to bring your own tackle and bait.

garden at Shaker Village 1

Explore the Gardens at Shaker Village

Get inspired for your garden at home from the gardeners at Shaker Village who don’t use any chemicals in the garden.

The gardener rotates what’s planted and where it’s planted. Many of those items end up at the table for guests at the restaurant on site.

hayride at Shaker Village

Enjoy a Seasonal Hayride

Shaker Village offers evening hayrides or horse-drawn wagon rides seasonally throughout the year.

bike loaner at Shaker Village

Go for a Bike Ride

You can borrow a limited number of loaner bicycles at the Trustees’ Office through the bike share program.

Select the bike number that you want, leave your ID with an employee, and enjoy a bike ride around the property.

Just don’t go too far because those hills are bigger than you realize. Keep in mind that the loaner bikes are only one speed!

Dixie Belle at Shaker Village 1

Enjoy a Riverboat Cruise

Offered seasonally, guests of all ages can enjoy a peaceful ride on the Dixie Belle Riverboat on the Kentucky River.

Riverboat guests depart from the same landing that was used by the Shakers who regularly traded with travelers along the river.

Trustees Table at Shaker Village 1

Where to Eat at Shaker Village:

Trustees Table

Located onsite at Shaker Village, the Trustees Table is a wonderful option.

Meals for special events and at the Trustees’ Table restaurant are locally sourced from the garden and outsourced from local farmers and vendors within very close proximity whenever possible.

Shaker lemon pie

Don’t leave without trying their AMAZING lemon pie.

The restaurant still uses the original Shaker recipe that makes use of every part of the lemon including the rinds.

Room at the Inn at Shaker Village

Where to Stay at Shaker Village

You can stay onsite at Shaker Village. If you want more of a hotel experience, that is close to dining and all of the activities, I recommend staying at The Inn.

There are 13 buildings and 72 overnight rooms for guests at Shaker Village providing lots of options for groups of all sizes.

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Outdoor Adventures Within 3 Hours Of Cincinnati 1

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