Travel: Cincinnati’s Eden Park is a Budget-friendly Weekday Getaway

Eden ParkWhen the weather is especially bright and warm, we want to get away for a day without spending a lot of money. The perfect solution for those living within 80 miles (1.5 hours) of Cincinnati: a day in Eden Park at The Cincinnati Art Museum and Krohn Conservatory.

First stop is the majestic Cincinnati Art Museum, one of the oldest art museums in the United States. And because of generous benefactors, the museum is always free, except for a $4 parking fee.

On a Friday, three of us traveled from Lexington, Ky., and arrived when the facility opened at 11 a.m. We spent four hours there (including lunch), and we could have stayed until they closed at 5 p.m. and still not have seen it all.

Visitors enter the lobby and are immediately struck by the cobalt Chihuly piece dangling from the ceiling. Before starting out, grab a map from the front desk to ensure that you don’t miss any exhibits. From African and Asian folk art to local Cincinnati history and everything in between, the museum is an incredible mix of culture, history and identity from across the globe.

For lunch, The Terrace Café located within the museum is a popular option. Outdoor seating in the sun-filled courtyard is a perfect break from some of the less-lighted exhibits.

However, to keep this weekday getaway budget friendly, pack a picnic lunch. Museum visitors can come and go from the building, so grab the cooler and snack bag from your car and stake out a lunch spot at one of the wooden picnic tables in the museum’s front lawn near the entrance gate.

After re-energizing with a picnic lunch outdoors and finishing up at The Cincinnati Art Museum, head to Krohn Conservatory, a mile away on the other side of Eden Park. The Conservatory is extremely popular in the spring and summer for its Moroccan butterfly exhibit that ends in June. Even without a special exhibit, the Conservatory is a wonderful little desert and rain forest adventure for both kids and adults.

Admission to the Conservatory used to be free when there weren’t any special exhibits. We were charged $3 a person, and it was completely worth it. Visitors can spend an hour or more exploring the more than 3,500 species of plants and trees from across the world, beautiful orchids in their own special room, a desert exhibit, a lush rain forest exhibit with a waterfall, and more.

Let’s assess: How budget friendly is this weekday getaway for a group of three traveling from Lexington, Ky.?

Cincinnati Art Museum admission: free
Cincinnati Art Museum parking: $4/vehicle
Picnic lunch: free
Krohn’s Conservatory admission: $3/person
Total gas cost (average 25 mile/gal at $3.50/gal): $23

Total: $36/3 = $12/person

Bonus: Before you leave Eden Park, take a stroll around the pond. You don’t realize how high above the city you are until the pond gives you the perspective. One stroll around the pond is 0.3 miles, so get your workout in while you’re there, and make sure to be respectful of the runners.