Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Cincinnati

If Cincinnati isn’t on top of your list of places to visit, reconsider! This is a vibrant, bustling city along the banks of the Ohio River with an abundance of attractions to enjoy. There are festivals, parks, museums, and historical sites to explore. Plus, you will definitely eat and drink well (Cincy is also well known for its eighty-plus breweries).

Whether you have just a weekend or a longer stay in mind, the city will have plenty to keep you busy. Here, you’ll learn the details on 10 cool things to do in Cincinnati, as well as tips to make planning and paying for your trip that much easier.

Ready to explore the best things to do in Cincinnati? Read on.

Best Times to Go to Cincinnati

Cincinnati has warm summers that typically don’t get scorchingly hot, as well as reasonably temperate spring and fall seasons. Those can be the prime seasons to visit.

Located in the southwest corner of Ohio, winters can be warmer than Ohio towns and cities further north, but they can get quite cold, snowy, and icy. In general, April through October is the best time, weather-wise, to plan a trip.

If you enjoy attending festivals, Cincinnati has plenty in the summer and early fall. So, choose ones of interest and plan accordingly. Some of the more popular festivals include:

•   Oktoberfest oktoberfestzinzinnati.com/

•   Cincinnati Music Festival www.cincymusicfestival.com/

•   Bunbury Music Festival bunburyfestival.com/

•   BLINK, a light and art festival in October blinkcincinnati.com/

If sports games are more your thing, check the schedules of the Cincinnati Reds MLB team and the Bengals NFL teams — or one of the many played by students at the University of Cincinnati.

If these fun things to do in Cincinnati have captured your attention, you may want to decide where to keep a travel fund and start saving.

Bad Times to Go to Cincinnati

You’ve already read that winters can be, well, wintery and perhaps not the best time to visit. If you’d like to walk around and enjoy the sights, you may be put off by the low temperatures and how roads can be snow clogged and slippery during that season.

Also, Cincinnati can experience traffic congestion, especially downtown. Hectic times can include opening days for the sports teams or when a big game is about to be played — or during an in-demand festival. So if you’re not planning to attend any of these events, consider avoiding those dates when downtown is likely to be especially crowded.

Also investigate the status of the bridge over the Ohio River that connects Cincinnati, Ohio to Kentucky. When there is bridge construction or people are traveling to Kentucky in higher numbers, traffic can get backed up into downtown Cincinnati.

Average Cost on a Cincinnati Vacation

On average, a trip to Cincinnati costs a solo traveler $146 a day or $1,025 weekly. Plenty of factors impact the price, however. If driving, gas prices play a role. If flying, knowing how to get cheap flights can reduce your costs.

Hotels range from budget inns to luxurious lodging with in-demand amenities and luxury add-ons, and restaurants can be quick bites at a fast food establishment or an indulgent meal at a steakhouse.

What you choose will of course affect the prices. To help with financial planning, consider your credit card rewards and how you can leverage them to splurge.

If some of things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio for couples catch your eye, know that an average Cincy hotel price for two is $163. Knowing how to save money on hotels can help to cut back the average weekly cost of $2,050 for two.

10 Fun and Affordable Must-Dos in Cincinnati

Cincinnati is an intriguing city with highly enthusiastic sports fans alongside those who have a passion for art and culture (and those who love both!). Not surprisingly, then, the things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio are quite diverse: art, nature, and history venues as well as dining, shopping — and even world-class amusement park experiences.

Here, you’ll find a list of 10 fun things to do in Cincinnati, gathered from top-ranking online reviews as well as city-smart travelers.

1. Visit the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Founded in 1873, this highly rated zoo is the second-oldest one in the United States. Although the initial collection of animals was quite small (including a talking crow), today’s zoo will introduce you to gibbons, gorillas, lemurs, manatees, hippos, and more. An international leader in wildlife conservation, this zoo is now one of the country’s largest and can be a terrific place to spend some time while in Cincinnati. cincinnatizoo.org/

2. Tour a Massive Museum

The Cincinnati Art Museum is one of the oldest in the country — and quite large with more than 67,000 pieces of art that span 6,000 years of creativity. The collection ranges from African and East Asian art to contemporary American works, European sculptures, musical instruments, and so much more. cincinnatiartmuseum.org/

3. Take a Walk in the Park

After touring the art museum, step outside! You’ll find yourself in Eden Park with the Hinkle Magnolia Garden, Mirror Lake, walking paths, eye-catching sculptures, playgrounds, and more. The grounds are also home to the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Krohn Conservatory, outdoor concerts — and an incredible view of the Ohio River with Kentucky located just on the other side. This can be a great place to spend a couple of hours if you’re traveling with a pet, plus it’s a free thing to do in Cincinnati. cincinnati-oh.gov/cincyparks/visit-a-park/find-a-parkfacility/eden-park/

4. Appreciate More Art

The Taft Art Museum is a terrific journey back in time. Housed in an 1820 National Historic Landmark that’s a treat to visit, the art collection includes French Renaissance enamels, Chinese porcelain, European and American paintings, and more. You’ll view works by Rembrandt, Goya, Whistler, and other prominent artists. taftmuseum.org/

5. Go for a Ride

When looking for fun things to do in Cincinnati, put Kings Island on the list! There are big-time roller-coaster adventures plus three dozen water slides. If you’re traveling with children, there are thrills for the smaller set, such as the Planet Snoopy kiddie rides. Plus, you’ll find plenty of mouthwatering in-park dining options along with quality live entertainment to applaud.

Look for coupons online or check with your hotel’s concierge; discounts can be a way for families to afford to travel. visitkingsisland.com/

6. Immerse Yourself in History

Located near the banks of the Ohio River — a geographic feature that once divided states where slavery was legal from those where it wasn’t — the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center contains permanent and traveling exhibits. Visitors will learn about this challenging time in history and the heroes of the Underground Railroad. freedomcenter.org

Across the street, there’s a sign spelling “Cincinnati” in script with plenty of people taking selfies there before they go.

7. Watch a Baseball Game

Also located by the Ohio River, this is the stadium for America’s first professional baseball franchise, the Cincinnati Reds. So, if in town on a game day, buy tickets! You’ll walk by a statue of the Hall of Fame baseball catcher, Johnny Bench, and can visit the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum to celebrate the glory days of the Big Red Machine and more. Plenty of exhibits exist, including interactive ones, and players sometimes schedule personal appearances. mlb.com/reds/ballpark

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8. Stroll Around an Arboretum

Although cemeteries aren’t typically on a vacation list, Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is one of only two historic cemeteries to achieve Level III arboretum standards. Its stunning gardens focus on Midwest natives along with non-indigenous species with a focus on demonstrating the “vital relationship that exists between plants and people.” springgrove.org/arboretum/

9. Get Acquainted with an Aquarium

From white alligators to stingrays to penguins, the award-winning Newport Aquarium offers unique views of thousands of types of exotic aquatic life, along with amazing interactive adventures. Cross the world’s first rope bridge above a tank full of sharks, explore a sunken ship at “Shipwreck: Realm of the Eels,” and much more. newportaquarium.com/

10. Eat Well (Really Well)

If you are looking for delicious things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio, for couples or a family, stop by the Findlay Market. This is the state’s oldest surviving municipal market house. A huge range of good eats are available; if one of you is vegan and the other isn’t, no problem! There is something for everyone here: pho, arepas, BBQ, and more. Maybe take one of the market’s walking tours so you don’t miss anything. findlaymarket.org/

A Note About Getting Around

Although it’s not totally true that all of Cincinnati attractions are located downtown, many of them are. So, keep that in mind while engineering your itinerary for each day and when seeking convenient lodging.

•   If you want to avoid highly trafficked places to stay, spread out from the downtown area when looking for options, perhaps into Kentucky.

•   Although most attractions are open year round, check to ensure the ones you want stay open through the winter.

•   Consider the streetcar with its eighteen downtown stops if you’d like to see key places without having to drive.

•   If the attractions you want to see are quite far apart, you might look into renting a car to make sure you hit all the highlights.

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The Takeaway

Fun things to do in Cincinnati take place throughout the year, depending upon your interests. Plenty of options exist for people who love art, nature, sports, music, food, and much more. Most festivals take place in summer and early fall, while football fun extends the fun of visiting further into the year. Whether you are traveling solo, with friends, or with family, you are likely to have more top things to do in Cincinnati than you can pack into a single trip.

Whether you want to travel more or get a better ROI for your travel dollar, SoFi can help. SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members that lets you budget, plan, and book your next trip in a convenient one-stop shop. SoFi takes the guessing game out of how much you can afford for that honeymoon, family vacation, or quick getaway — and we help you save too.


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FAQ

What foods is Cincinnati famous for?

Chili! A Greek family brought its special recipes to the United States in 1949, and its been loved by Cincinnati residents and visitors ever since. This is also the city for beer lovers with its eighty-plus breweries and nightlife spots. Need a third one? Ice cream!

Is Cincinnati in two states?

Although you may hear portions of Kentucky and Indiana referred to as part of the greater Cincinnati metro area, the actual city lies within the geographical boundaries of just one state: Ohio.

Can you walk in downtown Cincinnati?

Yes! Cincy is a walkable city, and it isn’t unusual to see significant numbers of people strolling by on the sidewalks as well as in parks and other venues.


Photo credit: iStock/pawel.gaul

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Columbus, Ohio

While cities like New York and San Francisco may soak up a lot of the travel attention, a trip to Columbus, Ohio, can offer a great getaway in the middle of the country. Columbus is a vibrant city with one of the country’s top Millennial concentrations — which means that dining, festivals, concerts, and other entertainment options are often (but certainly not always) targeted towards a youthful, energetic demographic. This large, bustling city is filled with diverse neighborhoods and communities, each with its own unique vibe.

So, check out these fun things to do in Columbus, Ohio. You’ll learn about the 10 best things to do in town, plus find tips on when to travel and how to make your visit as affordable and enjoyable as possible.

Best Times to Go to Columbus, Ohio

Consider the weather. Columbus tends to experience a nice spring (although spring and summer can both have rainy spells), and summers are warm without typically being too hot. Autumn can be gorgeous with mild temperatures.

Columbus is a city of festivals throughout the year, particularly as temperatures warm up, covering a wide range of interests and audiences. Explore ones of interest, and schedule your trip for a time that dovetails with the activities you want to attend. Bonus: Many festivals are free, ideal for the frugal traveler.

The jewel in the crown is the Ohio State Fair (ohiostatefair.com/), chock full of entertainment (including but not limited to live concerts), food, playgrounds, competitions, and so much more.

Other festivals of interest include the:

•   Columbus Arts Festival columbusartsfestival.org/

•   Pride Parade columbuspride.org/

•   Jazz and Rib Fest hotribscooljazz.org/

•   Dublin Irish Festival dublinirishfestival.org/

If you’re a college football fan, you’ll likely love visiting Columbus in the early fall and being surrounded by serious pigskin energy among some of the most passionate fans in the land. You’ll encounter tailgate parties, pep rallies, and random people on the street, shaping and shouting the letters “O” and then “H” before listening to people holler back and shape with their arms the letters “I” and then “O.”

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Bad Times to Go to Columbus, Ohio

Two factors may cause you to reschedule: weather and traffic. From November through February, temperature can be darned cold with ice and snow often in the forecast. If you are flying into Columbus at that time of year, you may want to see if your credit card travel insurance will cover you, should your flight get significantly delayed or canceled.

March can be pretty chilly, too. Plus, if you aren’t going to Columbus for Ohio State-related activities, you might want to avoid steer clear; roads can be congested with restaurants, bars, and other venues likely to have long waiting times.

The same can be true when students are coming and going at the beginning and ending of semesters and when fair goers are flocking to the Ohio State Fair.

Average Cost of a Columbus, Ohio Vacation

Costs will vary based on how you’ll get there: driving, for example, or flying. If the former, current gas prices will play a role; if the latter, it’s wise to look into how to get cheap flights.

Here are more specifics:

•   If you’re traveling solo, expect to pay about just about $900 for a week’s trip. What you’ll spend, of course, depends on where you’ll stay and whether it’s a budget inn or a more luxurious hotel; where you’ll eat; and admission prices to anywhere you choose to visit.

•   No matter how frugal or freewheeling you plan to be, it’s helpful to know how to save money for a trip. You can then enjoy yourself without worrying that you don’t have enough cash for what you’d hoped to do.

•   The average price for a hotel room for a couple is $115 and, altogether, the average price of a trip for two is about $1,800 although the same caveats exist as described above. Here’s how to save money on hotels so you’ll have more in your pocket for dining, sightseeing, and so forth.

•   Using your credit card and taking advantage of credit card rewards can help with expenses, leaving you more for discretionary spending.

•   Columbus has walkable sections and an excellent public transportation system (more on that below). However, if you are looking to zip around from one end of the city to another, you may want to look into renting a car and add the amount needed to the goal you are saving in your travel fund.

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10 Things You Must Do in Columbus, Ohio

Columbus truly is an exciting, diverse city — and so, when you visit for the first time, it just makes sense to enjoy that variety: art, music, science, nature, history, sports, architecture, shopping, and good eats. Then, when you return, you can explore the kinds of places you appreciated in more depth.

Here are 10 of the best things to do in Columbus, culled from top-rated online reviews and in-the-know travelers.

1. Tour Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Stroll through 13 acres of lush gardens, exotic plant life, and seasonal beauty while also viewing art exhibits and cultural presentations. Attend a class — whether arts and crafts, culinary, gardening and so forth — and visit the iconic 1895 John F. Wolfe Palm House. fpconservatory.org

2. Revel in Some Art

To soak in more beauty, visit the Columbus Museum of Art, which focuses on outstanding American and European works of art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries: paintings, photography, folk art, glassworks, and more. Frequently changed special exhibits ensure that each visit can be fresh and interesting. columbusmuseum.org/

3. Explore German Village

This is a unique neighborhood where German settlers arrived in the mid-1800s, and it’s now one of the country’s largest privately funded historic districts. Homes from the 1840s to 1890s are preserved — not recreated — and visitors today can stroll through the neighborhood, appreciating the architecture and shopping and dining. germanvillage.com

4. Visit Capitol Square

Another fun thing to do in Columbus is to see its seat of power. Located just eight blocks from the German Village, Capitol Square includes the Ohio Statehouse, Senate Building, and Atrium where public tours are offered. The stunning Statehouse is designed in the Greek Revival style, a popular choice in the early and mid-1800s because democracy was born in Ancient Greece. ohiostatehouse.org

5. Cheer on the Team at Ohio Stadium

Ohioans love their Ohio State Buckeyes football team with its 39 Big Ten Championships and eight National Championships. Getting tickets to a game wouldn’t be easy, but the stadium itself is a sight to see, the fourth largest on-campus football facility in the nation with a seating capacity of 102,780. Since opening day in 1922, more than 36 million people have watched games here: ohiostatebuckeyes.com/sports/m-footbl/facilities/ohio-stadium/

6. Shop Til You Drop

Imagine more than 1.7 million square feet of shopping, dining, and entertainment venues with plenty of open air squares, parks, and fountain — and that’s Easton Town Center. This is one of the leading urban retail centers in the country with more than 30 million annual visitors and 200 retailers (including Gucci and Tiffany).eastontowncenter.com/

7. Be Surprised by Science

When thinking about things to do in Columbus, Ohio with kids, COSI Center of Science and Industry) jumps in front of mind. From skeletons of giant dinosaurs like T. Rex and pterosaurs to a planetarium that helps children and their families to explore space, COSI is full of engaging science exhibits and interactive experiences. The Big Science Park is perfect for play and the Little Kidspace is ideal for fun exploration.cosi.org/

8. Time-Travel at Ohio Village

Need another top 10 thing to do in Columbus, Ohio? Step back in time to see what village life in Ohio was like in the 19th century, watching artisans demonstrate old-fashioned skills. You can also tour period homes and other building, try circa-1800s activities yourself (which are also fun things to do in Columbus with kids), and perhaps watch a game of “base ball” using rules of the era, ohiohistory.org/visit/ohio-village/

9. Indulge in the Arts

This state-of-the-art center offers culturally diverse performances and provides art education in a 1928 building that was created and managed solely by African Americans. Jazz fans: This is a landmark location for this stellar form of music while also serving as a modern center for multiethnic and multigeneration arts. lincolntheatrecolumbus.com

Enjoy the Riverfront

When looking for free things to do in Columbus, Ohio, no trip is complete without a stop at the Scioto Mile. More than 175 acres of gorgeous parkland stretches along the riverfront in the heart of downtown Columbus. Besides being an ideal place to walk and bike, you can enjoy urban festivals, listen to outdoor music, and much more. If you’re traveling with a pet, this can be a terrific place to spend an afternoon. sciotomile.com/

Advice on Getting Around

Many of these fun things to do in Columbus, Ohio are located in or near downtown, but this is a large, sprawling city of more than 225 miles in size — the biggest city in Ohio. So, when planning your trip, map out where you’re going to ensure that you’ll spend less time traveling from one spot to another and more time enjoying the sights. Although most attractions are open year round, check to ensure the ones you want stay open through the winter.

Although individual areas and neighborhoods—such as German Village, Ohio Village, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and the Scioto Mile are all quite walkable, getting from one section of the city to the next requires transportation. Fortunately, the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) provides bus service; in 2018 and 2020, COTA received the American Public Transportation Association’s Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award. cota.com/

The Takeaway

The best things to do in Columbus, Ohio will depend on your taste, interests, available time, and budget — but one thing is for sure: This vibrant city is filled with places to visit and activities to enjoy. Our list of the 10 best things to do in Columbus, Ohio is a great starting point, and then you can branch out from there. From museums to parks to historical sites and excellent shopping, this city has something (or more) for everyone.

SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members. Through a partnership with Expedia, we make it easy to find the lowest rates and book your reservations — for flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, and more — all in one place. Earn 2x rewards when booking with your SoFi Mastercard or debit card. And when you redeem your SoFi rewards for travel, you get a 25% bonus: $100 of reward points are worth $125.


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FAQ

Is Columbus a walkable city?

Plenty of neighborhoods and venues are quite walkable and, whenever that isn’t practical, the city has an award-winning public transportation system. Some of the best free things to do in Columbus, Ohio, include parks and gardens, each of which is walkable for most people.

What food is Columbus, Ohio, famous for?

Foods include the Columbus-style pizza with thin crusts with toppings right up to the edge, then cut into squares. Buckeye candy — peanut butter and chocolate in a buckeye shape — are in demand. So is the peanut butter and chocolate doughnut from Buckeye Donuts.

Is Columbus, Ohio a fun city?

With its hipster-urban vibe and a plethora of fun things to do, the answer is “yes”!


Photo credit: iStock/Sean Pavone

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When you use your SoFi Credit Card to make a purchase on the SoFi Travel Portal, you will earn a number of SoFi Member Rewards points equal to 3% of the total amount you spend on the SoFi Travel Portal. Members can save up to 10% or more on eligible bookings.
Eligibility: You must be a SoFi registered user.
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You must book the travel on SoFi’s Travel Portal reached directly through a link on the SoFi website or mobile application. Travel booked directly on Expedia's website or app, or any other site operated or powered by Expedia is not eligible.
You must pay using your SoFi Credit Card.

SoFi Member Rewards: All terms applicable to the use of SoFi Member Rewards apply. To learn more please see: https://www.sofi.com/rewards/ and Terms applicable to Member Rewards.
Additional Terms: Changes to your bookings will affect the Rewards balance for the purchase. Any canceled bookings or fraud will cause Rewards to be rescinded. Rewards can be delayed by up to 7 business days after a transaction posts on Members’ SoFi Credit Card ledger. SoFi reserves the right to withhold Rewards points for suspected fraud, misuse, or suspicious activities.
©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Salt Lake City

Many first-time visitors to Salt Lake City, Utah, find it to be an unexpected gem. The better-known sites of this state capital include Temple Square downtown — home to the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the lake that gives the city its name, and the Uinta and Wasatch mountains in the distance.

What you may not know is that, in addition to all there is to do in town, there’s also an array of things to see and experience just outside the city. The other-worldly expanse of the Bonneville Salt Flats, sunsets with the bison on Antelope Island, world-class skiing, mountain botanical gardens, and unique historical experiences are just some of the fun things to do in Salt Lake City.

Here, you’ll learn more about why a trip to this city can make for a memorable getaway.

Best Times to Go to Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City’s weather is typically pleasant three out of four seasons. Summer travel in July and August will bring you a high average temperature of 90 degrees. Late spring, early summer, and early fall are typically around 70 degrees, which many people find just right for exploring outdoors.

If you’re looking for a skiing vacation, you’ll want to go between December and March. Ski resorts usually open in November and close in April, but it all depends on snow accumulation. Some years are drier than others.

Pro tip: There’s usually still snow in the nearby mountains in March — and sometimes April. That’s when you’ll find fewer crowds, more hotel availability, and lower prices. Timing your travel to take advantage of this window can be how families afford to travel.

Bad Times to Go to Salt Lake City

If you’re not a skier, winter will probably be the least desirable time to visit Salt Lake City. In January, for instance, the temperature will often be below freezing.

It’s also worth noting, especially for those with respiratory issues, that Salt Lake City is surrounded by mountains, which can cause what’s known as an inversion during the winter. Cold air traps warmer, more polluted air in the valley. If you do ski, however, the mountains above the inversion offer plenty of fresh air and powder.

Average Cost of a Salt Lake City Vacation

The average cost for a vacation to Salt Lake City is $197 per day, or $1,377 per week for each person, according to data compiled by Budget Your Trip, a website that tracks travel pricing. For a couple, that number jumps to $2,794. Some other costs include:

•   Average cost for meals: $40 per day

•   Average cost for a hotel: $190 per night

•   Average cost for transportation: $36 per day

•   Average cost for entertainment: $22 per day.

If you don’t know where to keep a travel fund to budget for these costs, consider a savings account, a CD, or a high-yield savings account (HYSA). Typically, online banks offer higher annual percentage yields (APYs) than traditional banks.

Pro tip: Plan to drive to or rent a car when you visit. The top things to do in Salt Lake City may not actually be in the city. Attractions tend to be spread out, so renting a car can make for a less stressful trip versus taking public transportation.

One other reason to rent a car: It can earn you credit card rewards, which might mean cash back to use on your next meal out or gas-station stop.

10 Fun Must-Dos in Salt Lake City

When visiting, consider this list of fun things to do in Salt Lake City based on recommendations from locals, and visitors who reviewed attractions on Google Travel.

Keep in mind the Salt Lake City metro area is quite spread out. Some of the best things to do may take you upwards of an hour (and sometimes more) away from the city center.

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1. Temple Square

Temple Square is at the heart of downtown. The complex includes a temple, tabernacle, assembly hall, visitor center, and administration buildings. It is the symbolic center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormons), the religion of the pioneers who settled the area. It’s a major architectural landmark surrounded by lush gardens, fountains, reflection pools, and art installations. Tours are free, and you can scan for your own genealogy in the Family Search Center. ChurchofJesusChrist.org/feature/templesquare?lang=eng

2. Bonneville Salt Flats

The Bonneville Salt Flats are almost two hours to the west of Salt Lake City, but most visitors find it’s worth the drive. The white, hardened salt creates a glistening expanse that stretches for miles. You may find yourself feeling as if you’re on another planet. At sunset, the whole sky may turn cotton-candy colors. If you happen to visit after there’s been some rain, you’ll see reflections that seem to stretch to the horizon. You’ll definitely want to spend some time taking photos, regardless of the time or the weather.

There’s no charge to visit the Salt Flats, and you can find a calendar of events (it’s a renowned racing venue) on the Bureau of Land Management’s website. BLM.gov/visit/bonneville-salt-flats

3. Lagoon Park

If you’re looking for things to do in Salt Lake City with kids, consider a visit to Lagoon Park. Lagoon is an amusement park located just 20 minutes north of downtown. Considered the area equivalent to Disneyland, it’s open from March to October.

It’s a pricey attraction, with adult day passes costing almost $100. If you have the right travel credit card, you may be able to offset some of these costs by redeeming credit card points or miles. LagoonPark.com/

4. Utah Olympic Park

One of the quirkier things to do in Salt Lake City is a bobsled run at the Utah Olympic Park. A professional driver takes you through the experience, which is available in winter and summer. Also in the summer, the Olympic Park turns into an adventure park with extreme tubing, alpine slides, airbag jumps, a drop tower, ziplines, and rope courses. UtahOlympicLegacy.org/location/utah-olympic-park/

With all this adventure, you may want to know how credit card travel insurance works. The same holds true if you are planning to do some vigorous hiking or climbing while visiting Utah. It’s good to know that you’re prepared for any unexpected issues while traveling.

5. Take a Hike

Hiking along one of the many trails in and around Salt Lake City can be one of the best things to do when visiting. Trails are well-groomed and easily accessible. The views can be stunning, and your time spent in nature can be a great mood booster. A few trails around Salt Lake City you might want to try:

•   Ensign Peak is a trail above the Utah State Capitol building that offers a bird’s eye view of the city. It’s a fairly short, easy hike and won’t take you away from the city.

•   Donut Falls Summer Trail is a 1.6 mile, easy, family-friendly hike up Big Cottonwood Canyon with a waterfall at the end. Plan for this hike to take an afternoon.

•   Cecret Lake Trail is another fairly easy hike that takes you to a beautiful alpine lake. Note: It’s popular and parking is limited, so you’ll want to plan accordingly. VisitUtah.com/places-to-go/cities-and-towns/salt-lake-city/trails

If you’re traveling with pets, be sure to research any hike ahead of time to make sure your pet is allowed on the trail.

6. Hit the Slopes

Salt Lake City ski resorts are world-class. The climate frequently produces the perfect conditions for snow skiing. The resorts are easy to access, and there’s a variety of accommodations for every budget. If you need to save money on hotels, you’ll likely find something that suits you if you book ahead. Family-friendly activities are everywhere. Ski resorts within an hour of Salt Lake City include:

•   Park City VisitParkCity.com/outdoors/skiing-snowboarding/

•   Deer Valley DeerValley.com/

•   Snowbird Snowbird.com/

•   Alta alta.com/

•   Brighton BrightonResort.com/

•   Solitude SolitudeMountain.com/

•   Sundance SundanceResort.com/

7. Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is one of the most highly-rated attractions in Utah, with an average 4.8 out of 5 stars on Google reviews. The exhibits offer a fascinating opportunity to learn about Utah’s eight federally recognized indigenous tribes, gems and minerals, and much more. There are plenty of interactive activities, perfect for families. The architecture of the building itself is fascinating: It’s a copper-clad eco-friendly structure tucked into the foothills above Salt Lake City. NHMU.utah.edu/

8. Sundance Festival

Want to rub shoulders with celebrities and watch pre-release films? The Sundance Film Festival might be your jam. The event takes place over 10 days in late January every year and is open to all who purchase a pass or ticket. Films are shown in theaters in Salt Lake City, Park City, and Sundance. You could be one of the first to see critically acclaimed films that go on to worldwide success. Sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival/about/

9. Antelope Island

A drive over to Antelope Island is one of the best ways to experience the Great Salt Lake. The island is a state park with bison, mule deer, antelope, coyotes, and birds as its only residents. It’s an unspoiled jewel where you can take in views of the lake and wildlife. There are some basic facilities and trails for use. Sunsets here can be particularly spectacular. StateParks.utah.gov/parks/antelope-island/

10. Red Butte Garden

The Red Butte Garden is a botanical garden that sits high in the foothills directly to the east of downtown Salt Lake City. With nothing but the mountain in the background and an elevation that affords views of the Salt Lake Valley, the setting is a great break from the bustle of city life. Miles of trails along the manicured gardens are the perfect place for a walk. An amphitheater on the sloped hillside hosts a popular outdoor concert series. RedButteGarden.org

One Watch-out When Visiting Salt Lake City

Be mindful that you cannot consume alcoholic beverages in public places; so there’s no cracking open a cold beer after spending an afternoon on a trail. You may drink at bars and restaurants, however, following the establishment’s guidelines. Typically, restaurants require you to order food when consuming alcohol vs. serving just drinks.

The Takeaway

Travelers and locals agree that once you’ve been to Salt Lake City, you realize how much more there is to do than you imagined, from great museums to a lively downtown, from skiing in winter to exploring trails and outdoor experiences during the rest of the year. This state capital offers an incredible combination of convenient access to outdoor adventure along with urban entertainment.

SoFi Travel is a new service offered exclusively to SoFi members. Earn 2x rewards when booking with your SoFi Mastercard or debit card. Then apply those rewards to your next trip when you book through our travel portal. SoFi makes planning a getaway fast, easy, and convenient — perfect for people on the move.


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FAQ

What is popular in Salt Lake City?

The most-visited attraction in Salt Lake City is its historic Temple Square, a large complex including the Temple, Tabernacle, gardens, and more.

What do people do on the Salt Lake?

It’s the biggest lake in the state of Utah, and you can go sailing, kayaking, and wildlife spotting. However, beware the brine flies. One of the best places to experience the Great Salt Lake is from Antelope Island, where you can get up close and personal with bison, birds, and other wildlife but fewer bugs. Sunset pictures from this location are stunning.

Is Salt Lake City good for tourists?

Yes. Salt Lake City has some interesting attractions and unique restaurants, and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Just up the canyons from Salt Lake, you’ll find excellent hiking, biking, and skiing.


Photo credit: iStock/DenisTangneyJr

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**Terms, and conditions apply: The SoFi Travel Portal is operated by Expedia. To learn more about Expedia, click https://www.expediagroup.com/home/default.aspx.
When you use your SoFi Credit Card to make a purchase on the SoFi Travel Portal, you will earn a number of SoFi Member Rewards points equal to 3% of the total amount you spend on the SoFi Travel Portal. Members can save up to 10% or more on eligible bookings.
Eligibility: You must be a SoFi registered user.
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You must book the travel on SoFi’s Travel Portal reached directly through a link on the SoFi website or mobile application. Travel booked directly on Expedia's website or app, or any other site operated or powered by Expedia is not eligible.
You must pay using your SoFi Credit Card.

SoFi Member Rewards: All terms applicable to the use of SoFi Member Rewards apply. To learn more please see: https://www.sofi.com/rewards/ and Terms applicable to Member Rewards.
Additional Terms: Changes to your bookings will affect the Rewards balance for the purchase. Any canceled bookings or fraud will cause Rewards to be rescinded. Rewards can be delayed by up to 7 business days after a transaction posts on Members’ SoFi Credit Card ledger. SoFi reserves the right to withhold Rewards points for suspected fraud, misuse, or suspicious activities.
©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).


SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do on a London Vacation Trip

With its history, art and architecture, and all things royal, plus Harry Potter, the city of London is teeming with fun things to do on vacation.

The challenge can be narrowing down all that good stuff to a manageable list of absolute must-sees — whether you’re visiting on your own, as a couple, or with friends or family.

You could have a brilliant time just focusing on bucket-list basics, like Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. Or you could take in the sights while strolling the city’s famous streets (or meandering off the beaten path).

Why not do a little bit of everything? Thanks to loads of intel from seasoned travelers about the best things to do in London, here is a list of can’t-miss adventures. You’ll also learn tips and tricks for making your vacation as smooth and affordable as possible.

Best Times to Go to London

The weather can be unpredictable in London — just as it is in the U.S. — but the summer months, June to August, are typically the warmest and sunniest. If you’re opting for summer travel, though, it can also be the most crowded time to visit, with kids out of school and lots of sporting events, festivals, and concerts scheduled. That also usually means that prices may be higher.

Spring and fall are trickier weatherwise, but less crowded. And though it’s colder and wetter in the winter months, visiting London at Christmas time could be a dream-come-true for Dickens fans. Just be aware that many attractions are closed around the major holidays.

Bad Times to Go to London

January and February can be gloomy and gray in London, there are fewer events, and the city is a bit quieter at this time of year. If you dream of shopping for antique treasures at Portobello Road in T-shirt weather, this is not going to be ideal for you.

But lodging prices may be lower, so this can be a good way to save on hotels. Also, lines at popular attractions will likely be shorter, and there’s still plenty to see.

Average Cost of a London Vacation

The cost of a London vacation can vary significantly, depending on how long you stay, when and where you stay, and other factors. But travel sites generally put the average cost of a weeklong trip at about $1,000 to $2,500 for an individual and $1,700 to $4,000 for a couple, not including airfare. (If you’re bringing your kids or traveling with pets, the cost could be significantly more.)

Here are just a few of the costs you may want to consider when you’re budgeting for your trip (and when you’re figuring out how to make the most of your credit card rewards):

Getting There

Roundtrip airfare to London can average from about $600 to $1,200, based on where you’re flying from and when you’re traveling. (Don’t forget to look at how credit card travel insurance works, just in case your flight is canceled, your luggage gets lost, or some other mishap occurs.)

Accommodations

If you’re willing to stay at a budget hotel or a hotel outside the city, you may be able to save some serious money in this category. Otherwise, you can expect to pay about $150 to $250 (or more) per night for a mid-range to luxury hotel in London.

Dining

The average spend per person for food in London can range from $25 to $45 per day. But your tab may go up or down (just like at home) based on how often you dine out, the pubs and restaurants you choose, and if, say, you like a nice bottle of wine with your dinner. A pub meal, for example, can cost less than $15, while a three-course meal in a nice restaurant might be $50 or more per person.

Sightseeing

There are many free things to do in London, including many of the top museums and attractions. Tickets for other attractions typically cost $35 or less for an adult.

Transportation

Depending on where your hotel is, you may be able to walk to many attractions in London. If your destination is farther out, you can get one of London’s famous black cabs, or take the Tube (the subway), or a bus. Black cabs are metered, and the minimum fare is $3.93. Fares may be higher for rides to and from Heathrow, and on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

Bus fares vary based on the rider’s age: An adult “hopper fare” allows passengers to make as many changes as they want in an hour for $2.15; the daily cap is $6.45 and the weekly cap is $30.33. The cost of a ride on the Tube will depend on where you’re going. Taking public transportation can be an affordable way to get from one neighborhood to another and can also make you feel like a real Londoner.

Recommended: Where to Keep a Travel Fund

10 Fun Must-Dos in London

It would be impossible to squeeze all of the best things to do in London into a single visit. That said, regardless of how long you have to spend in the city, there are amazing attractions that will make incredible memories.

To help get you started, consider these 10 fun things to do in London, culled from dozens of travel sites, blogs, and “best of” lists.

1. Explore the Tower of London

Starting your vacation with the Tower of London can help you get a real feel for London’s grand history. Inside, you’ll find the Crown Jewels, an extensive armory, and amazing architecture. And, of course, you’ll want to check out the Tower Green, where several members of the upper class were executed, including three former queens. You can learn their stories and more with a self-guided tour. Don’t forget to look for the resident ravens. HRP.org.uk/tower-of-london/visit/#gs.t79gau

2. Catch the Changing the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham Palace

The iconic Changing the Guard ceremony takes place at 10:45am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday outside Buckingham Palace, and lasts about 45 minutes. It’s very popular, so you’ll want to arrive early. It’s also free, so it’s a good way that families can afford to travel and see amazing things without breaking the bank.

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla currently reside at Clarence House, a short walk away, but the palace remains the center of operations, so keep an eye out if you hope to spot a royal. Want to go inside? Parts of the palace are open to the public on select dates in winter and spring and for several weeks during the summer.
RCT.uk/visit/buckingham-palace

3. Tour the Harry Potter Movie Sets

If you’re a die-hard Harry Potter fan, “The Making of Harry Potter” tour at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London will likely be a worthwhile stop on your itinerary. You’ll get to visit the sets, see the props and costumes, and learn more about how the movies were made. The tour is in Leavesden, England, which is about 20 miles from central London, so you may want to rent a car or travel by bus, the Tube, or taxi. (To be sure you can get tickets, book in advance.) WBStudiotour.co.uk/

4. Visit the Churchill War Rooms

Another of the top things to do in London: Visit the Churchill War Rooms. World War II buffs and anyone interested in history can get an up-close look at the underground nerve center where British leaders met to plan an Allied victory. Then it’s on to the extensive and interactive Churchill Museum for more exhibits and information about the intriguing Prime Minister himself. IWM.org.uk/visits/churchill-war-rooms

5. Sip Afternoon Tea at Sketch London

If your goal is to enjoy afternoon tea, why not do it in style in The Gallery at Sketch? It’s a quirky yet elegant venue located in an old Georgetown townhouse in London’s chic Mayfair district. Afternoon tea is a splurge (75 pounds for adults), but you’ll feast on finger sandwiches, scones, passionfruit and mango tarts, and have the opportunity to pick your pot from a dozen or more tea varieties. Afterward, you can do some shopping, or wander down the road to people-watch at the historic Piccadilly Circus. Sketch.london/the-gallery/

6. See the Sights from the London Eye

For a truly unique view of the city, you can climb into one of the glass pods of the London Eye (like a gigantic enclosed ferris wheel) and rise 443 feet above the Thames River. The ride lasts 30 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to spot Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and other landmarks. Time it right, and you could see the sunset or the lights of the city at night. This can be a fun and memorable thing to do in London with kids. LondonEye.com/tickets-and-prices/

7. Take a Day Trip to Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, the historic home of the British monarchy, is open to the public from Thursday to Sunday year-round, so visitors can see its magnificent rooms and royal treasures. While you’re there, you may also want to visit St. George’s Chapel, which has been the site of several royal weddings, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, aka Harry and Meghan. (The tombs of 11 monarchs are also located there.) You could also wander over to the nearby pub at The George Inn for a pint and a bite to eat. The castle is about a 22-mile trip from the city. RCT.uk/visit/windsor-castle

8. Step Back in Time at Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey has been the monarchy’s coronation church since 1066, and in May 2023, was the site of the coronation of King Charles III. It was also the site of the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in 1947. The public is welcome to tour the famous abbey every day except Sunday and when it’s closed for special events. You can attend most religious services there free of charge.

When you’re done with your guided or self-guided tour — and you’ve seen the Coronation Chair, visited the garden, and learned about all the famous people buried at the Abbey — you can take a short walk to see Big Ben. The iconic clock tower has been going through a yearslong renovation, but Big Ben is now ringing again. (Access to the inside of Big Ben is limited, however.) Westminster-Abbey.org/visit-us

9. Museum Hop

The British Museum is known around the world for its vast collection of ancient artifacts. Must-sees like the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, and Egyptian mummies have made it the most-visited attraction in England. To make your visit more manageable, the museum offers three different “Object Trails” that highlight the most popular objects on display. BritishMuseum.org/visit

Ready for something a little more contemporary? At the Tate Modern, visitors can shake off the traditional and gaze upon amazing modern and contemporary works by artists like Picasso and Cezanne. And the museum’s location, on the Thames River, is breathtaking. You can see the permanent collection for free, and if you bring children, there are creative activities just for them. Tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern

Recommended: Where to Find Book Now, Pay Later Travel

10. See a Show

Whether you want to see Shakespeare, a musical, a comedy, or something avant garde, see what’s available at the West End theaters and elsewhere. You might see anyone from Oscar-winner Mark Rylance to singer-songwriter-actor Lily Allen on stage.

Another option: Take a backstage tour of the National Theatre to gain a bit of context about the London stage scene. NationalTheatre.org.uk/your-visit/things-to-do/theatre-tours/

Insider Tips

While researching the top things to do in London, we picked up a few insider tips that could improve your trip, including:

Choose Your Home Base

To help make your London trip more manageable, you may want to keep your sightseeing goals in mind when choosing your accommodations. The Southbank neighborhood may be your best bet, for example, if you want to be close to popular tourist attractions, including the London Eye and Tate Modern. The West End is another popular area for tourists looking to stay in the city center, and it’s known for its shopping and nightlife. And the Mayfair area, near Hyde Park, is a posh yet welcoming place to explore.

No matter where you stay, it’s a good idea to make sure you have easy access to London’s public transportation system, so you can get where you need to go quickly and inexpensively.

Avoid the Long Lines at Attractions

The lines can be long at London attractions, but there may be ways to get around them. If you can, avoid peak hours and dates when visiting popular attractions. And look for “skip-the-line” entrance tickets you can purchase in advance on many attraction websites.

Have a Plan for How You’ll Pay

It can be a good idea to bring some cash, your debit card, and a couple of credit cards to pay for various things when you’re in London. (VISA and Mastercard may be more widely accepted than other cards.)

You also may want to bring at least one travel credit card so you can get rewarded for qualifying purchases while you’re abroad. And if you can, bring a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

It can be wise to budget for the amount of money you’ll bring with you as well as how you will pay for some larger expenses. Those can earn you rewards that, whether you opt for cash back vs. miles, can help you afford your next trip.

The Takeaway

London is full of historic delights, whether that means watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony, touring the Tower of London, or taking in a show in the West End. Because there’s so much to do in London, planning your trip can be a little daunting. Deciding which experiences are on your personal list of top things to do, however, can be a good place to start. Having a “must” list can help you decide where to stay, how much you’ll need to budget, and how you’ll pay for it all. That way, you can be sure that whatever activity you daydream about most (from high tea to seeing where Harry Potter was filmed) can be accommodated.

Whether you want to travel more or get a better ROI for your travel dollar, SoFi can help. SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members that lets you budget, plan, and book your next trip in a convenient one-stop shop. SoFi takes the guessing game out of how much you can afford for that honeymoon, family vacation, or quick getaway — and we help you save too.

SoFi Travel can take you farther.

FAQ

Where can you see art in London?

You can see great art in museums all over London or simply by strolling through the city and keeping an eye out for street art. Look for some amazing (and ever-changing) art in the Leake Street Tunnel in Central London, in the Shoreditch area of East London, and on the Millennium Bridge, which pedestrians use to cross the Thames.

What’s the nightlife like in London?

Like any major city, there’s a wide variety of clubs, bars, pubs, and other activities for night owls to enjoy in London. You can ask your hotel concierge for suggestions or research your options online.

What are some off-the-beaten-path things to do in London?

For unusual things to do in London, you might visit one of the quirky historic homes/museums in the city, like Leighton House or Sir John Soane’s Museum. You might also take a colorfully painted London “waterbus,” a picturesque ride down a canal linking Camden Market and Little Venice neighborhoods.


Photo credit: iStock/TomasSereda

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When you use your SoFi Credit Card to make a purchase on the SoFi Travel Portal, you will earn a number of SoFi Member Rewards points equal to 3% of the total amount you spend on the SoFi Travel Portal. Members can save up to 10% or more on eligible bookings.
Eligibility: You must be a SoFi registered user.
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You must book the travel on SoFi’s Travel Portal reached directly through a link on the SoFi website or mobile application. Travel booked directly on Expedia's website or app, or any other site operated or powered by Expedia is not eligible.
You must pay using your SoFi Credit Card.

SoFi Member Rewards: All terms applicable to the use of SoFi Member Rewards apply. To learn more please see: https://www.sofi.com/rewards/ and Terms applicable to Member Rewards.
Additional Terms: Changes to your bookings will affect the Rewards balance for the purchase. Any canceled bookings or fraud will cause Rewards to be rescinded. Rewards can be delayed by up to 7 business days after a transaction posts on Members’ SoFi Credit Card ledger. SoFi reserves the right to withhold Rewards points for suspected fraud, misuse, or suspicious activities.
©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).


SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Paris

Planning a trip to Paris is exciting, bien sûr (that’s French for “of course”). There’s so much to do and see, from the grand boulevards and gorgeous architecture to the renowned museums and boutiques to the fun of hitting flea markets or just sitting at a café and people-watching.

It can be tough to whittle down all the amazing things to experience in the City of Light to a short list of absolute “must-dos.” Should you stick with tried-and-true bucket-list items, like visiting the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre? Or should you wander a bit outside those boundaries and book a bicycle tour or train trip?

The best answer may be to do a little of everything. Here, you’ll learn seasoned travelers’ tips and picks for fun things to do in Paris so you can create your own list of adventures.

Best Times to Go to Paris

Although many say there is no wrong time to go to Paris, you may want to choose your travel dates based on when the weather is at its best (based on your personal preference), how well you can deal with crowds, and the celebrations and festivals that might be occurring during your visit.

For example, if you want to attend the Carnaval de Paris, with its colorful Mardi Gras-like parade, you’ll want to time your trip so you’re there in the late winter. Or if you’re into fashion, you may wish to visit in the fall, during Paris Fashion Week, to soak up the excitement (just be warned, hotel rooms may be scarce and pricier than usual).

Frequent travelers tend to prefer Paris in the late spring and summer, when the skies are mostly clear and the weather is warm. But if you don’t mind the cold, the city also sparkles in the winter, especially during the holidays.

Bad Times to Go to Paris

Because many Parisian families take their vacations in August, you may run into more restaurant and shop closures during that month. That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad time to go — but you may want to check ahead to be sure you’ll still be able to see and do what you want while you’re in the city.

Also, of course, the summer travel season is when the city tends to welcome the most visitors. If you’d like to avoid the crowds, you might prefer to plan your Parisian vacation for spring or fall.

Average Cost of a Paris Vacation

The cost of a Paris trip can vary significantly, depending on how long you stay, when and where you stay, and other factors. For instance, are you happy grabbing inexpensive fare on the go, or are you the type who wants to dine at Paris’s most exclusive eateries?

Travel sites put the average cost of a weeklong Paris trip at about $1,550 for an individual and $2,600 for a couple. This represents daily costs of lodging (two people to a room), plus local transportation and basic food costs. (If you’re traveling with your kids or traveling with pets, the cost can be significantly more.)

Here are just a few of the costs you may want to consider when you’re budgeting for your trip:

Getting There

Roundtrip airfare to Paris can range widely, based on where you’re flying from, when you’re traveling, how many stops you’re willing to make, and the class of service you choose. A search in April 2023 found that an economy flight with one stop from Chicago to Paris cost $1,167 or more round-trip for flights in May. Want to fly nonstop? That will cost about $1,500 round-trip. (Don’t forget to look at how credit card travel insurance works, just in case your flight is canceled, your luggage gets lost, or some other mishap occurs.)

Accommodations

If you’re willing to stay at a hostel or a budget hotel, you may be able to save money on hotels, possibly a significant amount. Otherwise, you can expect to pay from $150 to $600 per night for a mid-range to luxury hotel in the city, though prices can certainly vary depending on the time of year and how far in advance you book.

If there are several people in your group, you might look into renting an apartment for a true “live like a Parisian” experience and lower price tag. This can also be how families can afford to travel.

Dining

The average spend per person for food in Paris is about $45 per day. But your tab may go up or down (just like at home) based on how often you dine out, the restaurants you choose, and of course, how many cocktails you consume.

If you opt for fast food or a simple ham sandwich eaten on a park bench, you will obviously spend less than if you are having an exquisite lobster dish at a top-notch bistro.

Tip: Are you splurging on luxurious meals? You may want to consider how to charge those expenses to make the most of your credit card rewards.

Sightseeing

You can wander the beautiful streets of Paris for free, but the museums and other tourist attractions typically cost $15 or $20 per person. The famed Louvre Museum, for instance, typically charges about $18; at the Musée d’Orsay, the cost is similar. However, you may luck out here and there: The Petit Palais’ incredible permanent collection is free.

If you hire a guide or buy souvenirs, it could be more. But you also can save by purchasing a multi-day Paris Pass or Paris Museum Pass to gain entry to various top attractions. (A pass also may get you past the long lines at some attractions.)

Recommended: Where to Keep a Travel Fund

10 Fun Must-Dos in Paris

No matter how fast a walker and how high-energy you may be, there is no way to see everything when you go to Paris. There’s just so much, it would be impossible to squeeze it all into a week, or two, or 10. But if you go in with a plan — and some word-of-mouth recs from friends and frequent travelers to France — you can up the chances that you’ll hit your fair share of Paris highlights.

Here, culled from dozens of travel sites, blogs, and “best of” lists, plus frequent visitors’ advice, is a lineup of the top things to do around the city.

1. Take in, Then Dine in, the Eiffel Tower

Of course, you can’t miss the Eiffel Tower! You can see it during the day, from a tour boat, from the street, or by climbing the tower stairs (or taking an elevator) with or without a guide. Or you can take your experience to a whole other level and book a table at the Michelin-starred Jules Verne restaurant on the second level of the tower. The Jules Verne is open for lunch and dinner every day except July 14 (Bastille Day). Restaurants-TourEiffel.com/en/jules-verne-restaurant.html#b9

2. Visit the Louvre Museum

The Musée du Louvre makes every Paris “must” list, and here’s why: Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” is there along with other amazing works by da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt. In fact, there are tens of thousands of works of art at the museum and some amazing artifacts. (Let’s face it, the architecture alone is worth a visit.) Worried you’ll be overwhelmed? You can always sign up for a theme-based tour or take a break in the museum’s gardens. Louvre.fr/en/

3. Walk Like a Parisian

The Rive Gauche, or Left Bank, is home to many of Paris’s memorable attractions, including the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre-Dame Cathedral (see also below). But if you want to get a taste of what life is really like for a Parisian, you also may want to plan a leisurely stroll through this part of the city.

You could start with coffee at Café de Flore (CafedeFlore.fr/?lang=en), for example, one of the city’s most famous cafés. Then maybe stop to shop at the oldest department store in Paris, Le Bon Marché (LeBonMarche.com/en/store-2), known for its architecture and fantastic fashions. You won’t want to miss the macarons at Ladurée on Rue Bonaparte (Laduree.fr/en/). And from there you can take a 10-minute walk to Le Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens; ParisInfo.com/ paris-museum-monument/71393/Jardin-du-Luxembourg), one of the best free things to do in Paris. It’s a beautiful park with sculptures, fantastic flowers, and a pond where kids and adults sail their toy boats.

4. Watch the Sunset at Montmartre

Paris’ Montmartre neighborhood is a favorite among travelers, who love its quirky bohemian vibe and breathtaking sunsets from the steps of the beautiful Basilique du Sacré-Cœur basilica (Sacre-Coeur-Montmartre.com/english), with its iconic domed silhouette. During the day or at dusk, you’ll get a panoramic view of Paris, and if you hang around long enough, you’ll also see the city’s lights start to twinkle.

5. Check out the World Famous Churches

With its magnificent Gothic architecture and its amazing history, Notre-Dame de Paris (NotreDameCathedralParis.com/) is, for many travelers, a bucket-list destination. Though the iconic structure was nearly destroyed in a 2019 fire, its restoration is well underway, and a full reopening is scheduled for 2024. Along with Notre-Dame and Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (mentioned above), there are many beautiful churches worth visiting in Paris, including La Sainte-Chapelle (Sainte-Chapelle.fr/en) and Église Saint-Eustache (Saint-Eustache.org/).

6. Whip Up Some Fun at Chateau de Chantilly

Looking for fun things to do in Paris with kids? At the Château de Chantilly, there are horses, history, and even whipped cream workshops! The castle is actually about 40 kilometers (24 miles) outside Paris, but you can easily get there if you’re renting a car or take the train. (Take a taxi or bus from Chantilly Station). ChateaudeChantilly.fr/en/access/

7. Make Time for the Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay is the second-largest museum in Paris and a must-see if you’re a fan of Impressionist art. You’ll find works by Claude Monet, Edward Degas, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin, as well as sculptures, photography, and more. And the building that houses the museum, the former Orsay railway station, is an architectural gem. Another plus: The crowds tend to be a bit more manageable than at the Louvre. The museum is closed on Mondays, however, so plan accordingly. Musee-Orsay.fr/en/visit

8. Get Chills at the Arc de Triomphe

The exterior of the iconic Arc de Triomphe is in and of itself something to admire, with its four massive bas-reliefs depicting important events in French history: The Entry of Napoleon, The Departure of the Volunteers (also known as La Marseillaise), The Conquest of Alexandria, and The Battle of Austerlitz. But the monument also has a viewing platform with a sweeping view of Paris, and it will likely be less crowded than the Eiffel Tower. fr/en/paris/article/arc-de-triomphe

9. Tour the Père Lachaise Cemetery

You may have heard of the Cimetière du Père Lachaise, France’s largest and most famous graveyard. Many actors, singers, writers, musicians, and other personalities are buried there, including Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, and Gertrude Stein. It’s also a lovely, lush green space, filled with remarkable sculptured tombs. You can take a guided tour to get the history and locations of some of the hardest-to-locate gravesites, or you can scan a QR code just inside the entrance to get a map. Pere-Lachaise.com/

10. Take a Cruise Down the Seine

If you want to kick back and relax a bit while you see the sights, you may want to consider a river cruise down the Seine. Cruises range from one-hour sightseeing tours to hop-on-hop-off day trips, to weeklong voyages that can take you from Paris to the Normandy beaches and beyond. You’ll get a different perspective on the city, and a close-up look at its beautiful bridges, including the Pont Neuf, believed to be the oldest stone bridge in Paris, and the Pont Alexandre III, with its ornate sculptures.

Insider Tips

Follow these tips to enhance your time exploring the best things to do in Paris:

Location, Location, Location

Paris consists of 20 districts (the French call them arrondissements), and each is a little different. Some have lovely streets to stroll, while others may be closer to famous attractions or have better shopping. Keeping your sightseeing goals in mind when you choose your accommodations can make your time in Paris even more enjoyable.

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Avoid the Long Lines at Attractions

The lines are notoriously long at Paris attractions, but there are ways to get around them. If you meet up with a guide, for example, you typically can bypass the lines and go right inside. Many attractions also offer skip-the-line entrance tickets you can purchase in advance on the website. Or you can buy a Paris Museum Pass or Paris Pass to avoid the wait at popular venues. (You’ll still have to go through security lines, however.)

Get Yourself Some Wheels

If just the idea of walking everywhere in Paris is giving you foot cramps, you may want to consider renting a bicycle or a motorized bike for a day or two. You can go your own way at your own pace or take a guided bike tour of the city.

Of course, the city’s metro (or subway) system also stands at the ready and can be a fast way to zip around, albeit underground.

Have a Plan for How You’ll Pay

Even if you are planning a “book now, pay later” vacation, it’s wise to develop a budget and follow it.

When you actually head to the airport, it can be a good idea to bring some cash, your debit card, and a couple of credit cards to pay for various things in Paris. (VISA and Mastercard may be more widely accepted than other cards.) You also may want to bring at least one travel credit card so you can get rewarded for qualifying purchases while you’re abroad. And, if you can, bring a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

When it comes to money and plastic, remember that big, crowded cities anywhere have their share of pickpockets, so pay attention and keep your wallet and bag secure.

The Takeaway

Because there’s so much to do, traveling to France can be a little daunting. So plan ahead and decide which experiences are on your personal list of top things to do in Paris. Having a “must” list can help you decide where to stay, what you’ll need to bring, how much you’ll need to budget, and how you’ll pay for it all. Then you’ll be set to visit the city’s world-famous landmarks, stroll through its wonderful neighborhoods, and feast on French food. You’re bound to have a magical, memorable time.

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FAQ

How much French do I need to know to visit Paris?

You don’t have to take a language course, but you may want to keep a few basic French phrases at the ready, such as bonjour (hello), merci (thank you), pardon (sorry/excuse me), and “Parlez-vous anglais?” (Do you speak English?).

What are things you cannot miss when visiting Paris?

Many people feel that a visit to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame cathedral (currently under restoration) are must-see locations in Paris. Also, sitting outside at a café and watching the world go by is a pleasure.

What are some non-touristy things to do in Paris?

If you long to get away from other tourists but still do fun things in Paris, France, you could visit Paris’s largest open-air food market, Marché Président Wilson, in the 16th arrondissement. You can join shoppers from the neighborhood and beyond buying vegetables, flowers, wine, and pastries. You might also visit one of Paris’ wonderful but lesser known parks, like Parc des Buttes Chaumont in the 19th district.


Photo credit: iStock/Eloi_Omella

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