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What to Do in Cincinnati: Uncover the Amazing Gems

What to Do in Cincinnati: Uncover the Amazing Gems

Welcome to the vibrant heart of the Midwest — Cincinnati, OH! Affectionately known as “Cincy,” this gem along the Ohio River is teeming with personality and flair. It’s a place where every street corner is a canvas, every menu is a culinary adventure, and the spirit of discovery is as ubiquitous as the city’s rich history. In this bespoke guide, we’ll share what to do in Cincinnati, a city that’s anything but ordinary.

what-to-do-in-cincinnati-ohio

With an insider’s passion and some local secrets, your visit to these hallowed grounds of Americana will be nothing short of extraordinary. Prepare for a feast of the senses; here’s your ultimate checklist for exploring metropolitan Cincinnati!

A Taste of Tradition and Innovation

Cincinnati’s culinary scene is a tapestry of flavors. Begin your day with a Belgian twist at Taste of Belgium. While their waffles are undoubtedly the main event, it’s their Original Galette, adorned with ham, gruyère, and a perfectly runny egg, that has me coming back every time.

On the sweeter side, the S’More Waffle will whisk you back to those fireside camping nights.

taste-of-belgium-chicken-and-waffle

For those with a flair for vibrant spices and colors, Nada beckons with its chic vibe and chef-inspired Mexican dishes. Here, a medley of salsas awaits your palate’s verdict, best enjoyed with their handmade tortilla and plantain chips.

And the habanero “kreeper” salsa? Simply divine.

nada-salsa-flight

No tour of Cincy is complete without a scoop of Graeter’s Ice Cream, a local tradition originated right here almost a century and a half ago. Their Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, with shards of chocolate, is a spoonful of heaven.

graeters-scoop-of-ice-cream

Coffee aficionados, fear not. The Coffee Emporium serves up a morning brew that sings harmoniously with an irresistible pastry selection. The choice of teas is quite impressive, too.

For an iconic taste of the city, sink your teeth into a Skyline Chili hot dog, a local legend since the 1940s. Whether you opt for the classic coney or dare to venture through the 3-way to 5-way (chili, spaghetti, cheese, beans, onions) chili delights, your taste buds will thank you.

skyline-chili-cheese-coneys

Wildlife Whimsy and Green Escapes

The famed Fiona, the world’s most beloved hippo, resides in the heart of the Cincinnati Zoo. Who is Fiona? Fiona was born six weeks early at the Cincinnati Zoo. She became a social media sensation and the world fell in love with her. She is big sister to Fritz and the possible girlfriend to Timothy at the San Antonio Zoo.

Fiona’s charm and playful antics are a treat for animal lovers of all ages.

fiona-hippo-at-cincinnati-zoo

Beyond this charismatic hippo, the zoo captivates with its painted dogs, elephants, meerkats, World of Insects exhibit, and a world-class Turkish Reptile House. This zoo, the nation’s second oldest, is a verdant paradise where stories spring to life and every visit tells a new tale.

adorable-penguin-at-cincinnati-zoo-

A Haven for History and Culture Buffs

The American Sign Museum illuminates Cincinnati’s heritage with a neon glow. Endlessly fascinating, this neon wonderland is packed with nostalgia and charm and appeals to the inner child in us all. A few favorites for me were Speedee McDonalds, Sputnik, and the fiberglass Big Boy.

neon-museum-in-cincinnati

For a different slice of Cincinnati’s vibrant history, step into the bustling Findlay Market, in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, where local vendors offer an abundance of fresh produce alongside mouth-watering hot meals. This is Ohio’s oldest market and easily the best.

findlay-market-cincinnati-reds-bench

From BBQ delights to flavorful pierogis, foodies will find themselves spoilt for choice. During the warmer months, you’ll find farmers’ market vendors outside the market, as well.

findlay-market-finds

History thrives at the Taft Presidential Site, the former birthplace and home of William Howard Taft. It’s an intimate glimpse into the life of the 27th President, filled with period pieces and artifacts that each have a story to tell.

Architectural Marvels and Picturesque Walks

Take a stroll across the stunning John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge—Cincinnati’s bridge to beauty, connecting two states across the Ohio River with historic grace. It’s an architectural masterpiece that has stood the test of time and a must-visit for every photography enthusiast.

Fun Fact: This bridge was the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge.

john-roebling-bridge-cincinnati

Majestic Views on the Belle of Cincinnati

Hop aboard the Belle of Cincinnati, a riverboat that exudes Victorian splendor and offers a touch of nostalgic romance. Imagine gliding along the waters with the stunning Ohio landscape sprawling before you.

cincinnati-skyline-and-reds-ballpark

Indulge in a delightful lunch buffet (chicken, beef tips, veggies, cheesecake, salad, drinks) while soaking up stories that paint a vivid picture of the riverbanks’ history. With a range of cruises from dining to seasonal festivities, the Belle invites you to relish in delectable fare and enchanting vistas.

Note: Cruises take place rain or shine. Boarding ramps and main decks are accessible. There is an elevator for reaching the other decks.

lunch-and-scenic-cruising-belle-of-cincinnati

Another fun city to enjoy a riverboat cruise is Savannah, GA. Read more about it here.

Cheer at Cincinnati’s Premier Sporting Events

There’s nothing quite like the electric atmosphere surrounding Cincinnati’s professional sports scene! Join the roaring crowds as you catch the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ball Park or experience the heart-pounding action at a Cincinnati Bengals game in the cutting-edge Paul Brown Stadium.

Envelop yourself in the local passion – whether it’s for the crack of a baseball bat or the thunderous cheers of a touchdown.

cincinnati-bengals-football-game

Revel in Cincinnati’s Street Art Splendor

Cincinnati’s streets are a canvas showcasing some of the most awe-inspiring murals across the country. With every corner turned, you’ll encounter bursts of creativity – from the fierce gaze in Ezzard Charles’s portrait to the eclectic charm of the Ice Cream Daydream mural.

Take a walking tour and immerse yourself in the vibrant colors that make Cincinnati an urban artist’s haven.

mural-in-cincinnati

Encounter Culture at the Cincinnati Art Museum

Perched elegantly on a scenic hill, the Cincinnati Art Museum is your gateway to a world-class collection of art that won’t cost you a dime. Welcome your curiosity with the whimsical greeting of a Pinocchio statue, or lose yourself in the transcendent beauty of the deep blue Chihuly glass piece hanging inside the door.

dale-chihuly-at-museum-of-art-cincy

It’s a place that speaks not just to your eyes, but to your soul—with every sculpture, painting, and artifact whispering stories of faraway lands and eras. Artist collections include Rookwood pottery, glass dresses by LaMonte, and Botticelli.

botticelli piece at cincinnati art museum

If you are craving more amazing art galleries, check out Toledo, Ohio.

Immerse Yourself in the 21c Museum Galleries

Within the chic precincts of the 21c Museum Hotel, discover a totally free art gallery that presents the bold visions of the 21st century. Masterpieces from Kehinde Wiley and innovative installations will challenge and inspire you.

Each piece, deftly curated within this urban oasis, invites you to ponder and appreciate the grand tapestry of modern artistry.

art-in-lobby-at-21c-hotel-cincinnati

Admire Exquisite Collectibles at the Taft Museum of Art

Enter the world of the Taft Museum of Art, a secret jewel tucked away in Cincinnati’s historical tapestry. Each room unfolds the narratives of art legends, from Rembrandt’s brushstrokes to timeless Japanese antiques.

Don’t miss the awe-inspiring Duncanson landscape murals—artworks that hold a place of pride in America’s rich cultural mosaic as the first African American artist to earn international prestige.

taft-museum-of-art-landscape-murals

Discover Treasures South of the River – A Jaunt to Newport, KY

Prepare to be whisked away by the allures of Newport on the Levee, a mere stone’s throw from downtown Cincinnati. In just 10 minutes, you can find yourself amidst the buzz of this top-tier locale, a treasure trove for fans of outdoor fun, tantalizing food, and the joy of retail therapy.

newport-on-the-levee

The crown jewel here is the illustrious Newport Aquarium. This vibrant underwater kingdom invites you to interact with its creatures — think touch tanks teeming with life and a mosaic of colorful dart frogs, pufferfish, eels, sharks, and seahorses.

It’s a magical world where both the young and young at heart can marvel in equal measure.

And who could forget those amazing jellyfish floating upside-down, or the delightfully playful Gentoo penguins? Trust me, these unforgettable experiences are beckoning you to cross that bridge and add an extra sprinkle of adventure to your Cincinnati travels.

fish-and-eels-at-newport-aquarium-ky

Crafting Your Cincinnati Itinerary – Accommodations

21C Museum MGallery Hotel

Nestled in the heart of the city lies the 21c Museum MGallery Hotel, an award-winning oasis of chic luxury and modern art. Revel in the experience of a hotel that doubles as an art gallery, proudly featuring arresting artworks across expansive spaces, offering guests an immersive cultural stay.

cincinnati-21c-museum-hotel-room

Imagine unwinding in a 699-square-foot corner suite; it’s your personal canvas of comfort with plush sofas and quirky chairs you can’t help but sink into. Amid the expansive cityscape glimpsed from your dining area, you’ll find yourself enveloped in inspiration, whether you’re hammering out emails or savoring a meal.

The bathroom, a signature of 21C Hotels, is a lavish wet room famed for its artful Rookwood Pottery tiles — unwind in robes so soft they might as well be woven from clouds. Oh, and for the enthusiasts, keep an eye out for the iconic glittering gold penguins that call this spot home.

21c-museum-hotel-cincinnati-oh

For dedicated 21C fans, this location’s penguins are gold.

Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

Alternatively, step back in time with a stay at the storied Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, a marvel of French Art Deco grandeur. Each of the 561 guest rooms whispers tales from the past while offering all the modern luxuries, including an indoor pool perfect for making a splash any time of year, a shopping arcade, and state-of-the-art gym.

Stroll down from your queen Serenity bed junior suite and be swept into a culinary reverie at Ohio’s top-rated Orchid at Palm Court. There’s nothing quite as grand as dining amidst architecture that echoes a bygone era while indulging in modern gastronomical artistry.

orchid-club-cincinnati-hotel

Both establishments stand proudly as distinguished members of the Historic Hotels of America, ensuring that your stay not only comforts but also connects you to the rich tapestry of Cincinnati’s past.

Your Cincinnati Expedition Awaits

Whether you’re crossing bridges or crossing items off your bucket list, Cincinnati travel is sure to stay with you long after your footsteps have faded. Ready for a rendezvous with adventure?

Thanks to the Cincinnati CVB for a portion of my visits. I also received complimentary tickets and reservations for a few of the museums, zoo, and attractions. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.

Check out more of our posts: 

Ultimate Travel Guide to Charleston, WV

Things to Do in Toledo, OH

4 Reasons You Should Visit Dayton

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Barb

Wednesday 1st of August 2018

Fascinating article, I used a credited snippet for my Amazon Alexa Skill. Please check it out.

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