Nestled along the banks of the Ohio River, Cincinnati is a thriving Ohio city where new and old coexist and where the Midwest and the South converge. Nicknamed the “Queen City” due to its tremendous growth shortly after settlement in the 1700’s, the city seems to be beaming with pride at her newly shined crown. Historic Art Deco architecture mingles seamlessly with modern structures, while the glowing effects of revitalization creates a palpable renewed sense of pride throughout the city. I welcome you to explore one of my favorite cities in the Midwest with these 10 things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Cincinnati’s food scene is one of the best in the Midwest, check out this Cincinnati, Ohio Food and Drink Guide.
1. Visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center:
As a monument to freedom and to those who have been affected by acts of slavery throughout the world, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center discusses the importance of freedom, portrays the horrific struggles of past and present slavery around the world and is a somber reminder to never allow slavery history to repeat itself.
2. Take a Self-Guided Bridge Walking Tour:
Cincinnati is a city of bridges, with numerous spanning the Ohio River connecting the Queen City to Northern Kentucky’s riverfront. Four of the bridges are pedestrian-friendly: John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, Purple People Bridge, Taylor Southgate Bride and Clay Wade Bailey Bridge welcomes foot-traffic, making it easier for pedestrians to traverse the Ohio River. Take a self-guided bridge walking tour to discover lovely views of Cincinnati’s riverfront and skyline and marvel at each bridge’s unique architecture.
3. Enjoy Sky High Views from atop the Carew Tower:
Sitting as the highest elevated building in the city, the Carew Tower, built in 1930, is Cincinnati’s second tallest building. Head up to the 49th story observation deck for breathtaking panoramic views of the area.
4. Ride the Cincinnati Bell Connector Streetcar:
Linking riverfront attractions to northern downtown neighborhoods, the Cincinnati Bell Connector electric streetcar makes eighteen stops along a 3.6-mile loop at the city’s most popular attractions and neighborhoods. At $1 for two hours or $2 for a day pass, I think it’s one of the best and cheapest ways to explore the Queen City.
5. Visit Over-the-Rhine:
As the largest collection of 19th century Italianate architecture in the country, the historic Over-the-Rhine (OTR) neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After a decade-long revitalization, the beautiful historic neighborhood is once again the cultural hub of the city. Stroll the historic streets, admire the colorful buildings, marvel at the remarkable architecture, peruse local shops, dine at local restaurants and explore Washington Park.
6. Queen City Ultimate Underground Tour:
Step back in time with stories of the historic Over-the-Rhine (OTR) neighborhood with a tour from American Legacy Tours. The Queen City Ultimate Underground Tour explores OTR above ground then heads down below the historic streets to explore the underground tunnels once vital to Cincinnati’s brewery heritage. Stories of saloons (OTR once had 130 saloons!) and iconic entertainers like Buffalo Bill Cody, tales from the crypts of Cincinnati’s first residents and lager tunnels used prior to prohibition; the tour divulges all the scandalous tales of this historic neighborhood. The tour ends at the Christian Moerlein bottling plant and tap room where you can sample some of Cincinnati’s famous brews.
7. Explore Findlay Market:
As Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market, Findlay Market has been providing locally sourced farm fresh produce and foods since 1852. With more than 40 indoor merchants selling meat, fish, produce, flowers, artisanal, ethnic and specialty foods, Findlay Market is a great way to sample the local flavors of Cincinnati.
8. Take a Self-Guided Street Art Walking Tour:
Cincinnati has wonderfully vibrant murals located throughout downtown and in Over-the-Rhine. Adventure on a self-guided art mural treasure hunt to see the colorful masterpieces. ArtWorks Cincinnati offers a free downloadable map, making it easier to find your favorite mural.
9. Visit the American Sign Museum:
The American Sign Museum is the largest public museum dedicated to signs in the country. Visitors can explore more than 100 years of American signs in the 20,000 square-foot building and will see signs from the early 1900’s, signs in the original shipping crates, classic Americana signs from the 1950’s and local Cincinnati signs. As one of the most unique museums I have ever visited, this vintage and history lover squealed with delight at seeing the colorful historic signs shining brightly once again!
10. Taste Cincinnati Chili:
Cincinnati has a unique spin to the classic hearty comfort food. Cincinnati-style chili, with less beans and savory soupiness, is served piled high upon spaghetti, hot dogs or French fries and topped with cheese, onions or beans. Eat with a fork and learn the Cincinnati-style chili terms such as 2-way, 3-way, 4-way and 5-way. The best place to savor this local delicacy is at Camp Washington Chili, serving award-winning chili since 1940.
Other great places to visit in the Queen City include: The Banks, Smale Waterfront Park, Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati Art Museum, Krohn Conservatory, watch a live performance at Music Hall, explore the city’s neighborhoods like Walnut Hills and Mount Adams, attend a Cincinnati Bengals or Cincinnati Reds game or say hello to Fiona, the adorable baby hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
Looking for more on Cincinnati? Read Cincinnati, Ohio Food and Drink Guide.
A special thanks to Cincinnati USA for showing me how much there is to love in the Queen City! I was an invited guest of Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau. As always on Ohio Girl Travels, all thoughts, opinions and travel guides are my own!