Cincinnati Travel Guides (By Locals)
Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Cincinnati
Why We Love Cincinnati: Cincinnati isn’t a famed tourist destination, but there are many reasons to visit the Queen City. Nestled on the north banks of the Ohio River, this is definitely an area where you can admire some amazing scenery. In addition, you can experience tastes of city life, especially in places like Over-the-Rhine. Sports fans can attend a variety of professional games, and art enthusiasts can enjoy a range of museums and performances. Cincinnati is also known for its food, like Cincinnati chili, Graeter’s ice cream, and a great craft brewery scene.
Best of Cincinnati
✨ Things to Do
There is no shortage of things to do in the Queen City. Whatever your interests happen to be, you’ll find something to your liking here.
- Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden – Located in Avondale, the sixth-oldest zoo in the US. is home to over 1,800 animals and 3,000 plant species.
- Findlay Market – The oldest public market in Ohio, where you’ll find an incredible selection of locally-sourced and artisanal foods.
- Great American Ball Park – Home to the Cincinnati Reds! Watch a game, then take in a view of the adjacent Ohio River.
- Roebling Suspension Bridge – An iconic bridge over the Ohio River. Take a walk on this feat of engineering, held together by cables.
- Krohn Conservatory – A botanical garden in Eden Park with endless greenery and a koi pond. It’s often used as a private event venue.
If you’re visiting Cincinnati, these are some of the best places that you can choose to stay.
- Downtown Cincinnati (Central Business District) – A great spot for first-time visitors, adjacent to the Ohio River. It’s within walking distance of many attractions.
- Over-the-Rhine – Once run-down, OTR has undergone an incredible revival and is now a mecca for beer enthusiasts and foodies.
- Eden Park – A natural park setting with urban surroundings, great for families. It’s home to Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
👉 Read the complete guide to where to stay.
🛎️ Best Hotels
There are many fantastic hotels in Cincinnati. Find options for every budget, location, and preferred amenities.
- 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati – Not just a hotel, but a contemporary art museum. It’s also home to Metropole, a fine dining fusion restaurant.
- The Lytle Park Hotel, Autograph Collection – A historic building from the early 20th century, located in downtown Cincinnati. Expect a memorable hospitality experience.
- Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown Hotel – Luxurious rooms in an elegant, historic building. This hotel is mere minutes away from numerous downtown attractions.
Cincinnati’s culinary scene definitely has a lot to offer. No matter what type of cuisine you like, you’ll find something that suits your palate!
- Sotto Cincinnati – Old-world Italian fare, close to the Aronoff Center. The goat cheese and honey alone demand a visit.
- KungFood AmeriAsia – Technically, this restaurant is in Covington. But it’s worth the trip to try the cold beef salad and dumplings.
- Jeff Ruby’s Precinct – A must-visit for anyone who loves steakhouses. This upscale restaurant used to be a police station!
- Toast & Berry – The place to go for anyone who loves brunch. Drink an amazing mimosa or try the delectable avocado toast!
- Skyline Chili – Arguably the most famous chili parlor in Cincinnati. Try a chili dog, or a chili and spaghetti dish.
🚗 Day Trips
- Mammoth Cave – A national park in Kentucky famed for the longest-known cave system, in addition to steep hills and valleys.
- Hocking Hills State Park – A state park in Logan full of natural wonders. These include seven hiking areas and jaw-dropping waterfalls.
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – The largest children’s museum in the world! Explore five floors of exhibits, along with outdoor activities.
- Center of Science and Industry (COSI) – A museum in Columbus with temporary and permanent exhibits that will wow children and adults alike!
- Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – See over 7,000 animals, visit the golf course, and enjoy special seasonal activities.
- Downtown Cincinnati (Central Business District) – The site of various festivals and concerts. This neighborhood is within walking distance of many worthwhile city attractions.
- Over-the-Rhine – A trendy area that has experienced a recent rejuvenation. Find many upscale restaurants, bars, hotels, and breweries in this area.
- Queensgate – Home to the Cincinnati Museum Center/Union Terminal and very close to Cincinnati’s city center.
- Clifton – A campus area with unique boutique shops, affordable eateries, and an abundance of cultural activities.
- Avondale – Home to the Cincinnati Zoo, adjacent to a college campus, and a great place for those on a budget.
- 16-Bit Bar+Arcade – Enjoy wines, craft beers, and signature cocktails while playing classic arcade games from your childhood.
- Sundry and Vice – A great spot if you want something quiet and intimate. Sip elaborate cocktails in a sophisticated atmosphere.
- The Blind Lemon – A local favorite known for its ambiance as well as its drinks. Enjoy beers and cocktails in the heart of Mount Adams.
- Lost & Found OTR – A casual neighborhood hangout with creative mixed drinks that somehow just work!
- Cincinnati Museum Center – An iconic museum complex including three museums, an Omnimax theater, a library, and a train station.
- Cincinnati Art Museum – Set in Eden Park, this collection of more than 67,000 art pieces spans six millennia of human history.
- Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum – An elaborate homage to the history of the Cincinnati Reds, adjacent to the Great American Ball Park.
- American Sign Museum – A unique look at signs through the ages. See everything from gold leaf lettering on glass to rotating neon signs!
- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – A pensive look at the struggle for freedom and Cincinnati’s role in the history of the Underground Railroad.
- Dead Low Brewing – Come here for over a dozen beers, seltzers, and more. The beer cheesecake is shockingly good!
- MadTree Brewing Co. – Sample 32 taps at a huge, dog-friendly beer garden. This brewery takes pride in donating to environmental causes.
- Sons of Toil Brewing – Sip beer on a patio featuring lawn games like cornhole. This company is dedicated to helping farms feed livestock.
- Urban Artifact – Enjoy locally-sourced craft beers and a fun environment, with trivia, stand-up comedy, and live music!
- Rhinegeist Brewery – The biggest brewery in OTR, where you can drink ales and its patented Cidergeist on a spacious seasonal deck.
- Holy Grail Tavern & Grille – A great place for sports fans who want to unwind after a game. This spot is frequently visited by professional athletes.
- Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar – The perfect place for whiskey fans. Sample over 400 whiskey varieties, including over 250 Kentucky bourbons.
- Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati – Multiple restaurants and bars in a casino. Enjoy almost 100 table games, a poker room, and slot machines.
- Mount Adams Pavilion – Dance your heart out, enjoy delicious food, and refresh yourself with fun cocktails!
- The Famous Neons Unplugged – An elaborate outdoor patio featuring games, live music, and signature cocktails.
- Aronoff Center for the Arts – A huge performing arts center downtown. See plays, musicals, stand-up comedy shows, and much more.
- Cincinnati Ballet – Fascinating ballet performances, in addition to different types of dance classes for all skill levels.
- Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra – Wonderful concerts for lovers of classical music. This full orchestra plays classical pieces from every era.
- Cincinnati Pops Orchestra – Unconventional performances by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Listen to diverse genres, including folk, pop, and movie themes.
- The Murder Mystery Company – Murder mystery dinner performances that make for a unique night out with friends. Both public and private events are available.
- Eden Park – Home to multiple landmarks, this green oasis in the middle of downtown features stunning hilltop views.
- Smale Riverfront Park – A conduit between downtown Cincinnati and the Ohio River. Enjoy water games, a foot piano, and a huge play area.
- Washington Park – Minutes away from the bars and eateries of OTR, this park is always full of activity and hosts many popular events.
- Ault Park – A fantastic park in Mount Lookout with breathtaking scenery. It’s popular for private events, such as weddings.
- Sawyer Point Park – This park overlooks the Ohio River and other lovely scenery. Play pickleball, watch fireworks, or gaze at the river.
- Cincinnati Nature Center – A nature preserve featuring 15 trails of varying difficulty and length.
- California Woods Nature Preserve – Home to several short hiking paths for pedestrians, mountain bikers, and horses. This is a great place to observe local flora and fauna.
- Glenwood Gardens – Explore woods and wetlands on the Wetland Loop Trail, or take the Garden Loop Trail across a stone bridge and to a gazebo.
- Sharon Woods – Established in 1932, this park is reminiscent of life in the 1800s. Explore 730 acres of trails, playgrounds, and pavilions.
- Caldwell Nature Preserve – Enjoy 3.5 miles of popular trails. One paved and level trail leads into the woods and is wheelchair accessible.
Cincinnati Travel Advice
🗓️ Best Time to Visit
Cincinnati always has a lot to offer, but some times of the year are better for travel than others. The best time to visit depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation.
- 🍂 Fall – The summer heat has subsided and the temperatures are moderate. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the lovely fall foliage!
- ❄️ Winter – Cincinnati can be extremely cold this time of year, but the upside is that flights and hotels will be cheap.
- 🌼 Spring – Temperatures are moderate, trees are green, and flowers are blooming. However, this is the rainy season.
- 🌞 Summer – A great time to visit, especially if you love to swim. However, prepare for crowds and extreme heat.
🚌 Getting Around
The best way to get around Cincinnati is by car. Here are some quick tips for getting around in Cincinnati:
- 🚶♀️ Walking – The Central Business District has a walkability score of 98. However, the suburbs are less walkable.
- 🚗 Driving – A car is typically the best option for getting around, particularly in the suburbs.
- 🚇 Public Transit – Metro buses are very efficient downtown, but expect sparse service elsewhere in the city.
- 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft are very commonly used, but prices can surge during busy periods.
- 🚴♀️ Biking – Cincinnati is becoming more bike-friendly, with paved paths and a bike share system.
- 🛴 Scooters – Bird and Lime can be found in downtown Cincinnati, but not usually in other areas.
👉 Tips & Things to Know
- ⛈️ – Weather can be harsh and extreme – Summers can be extremely hot and humid in Cincinnati, and winters can be extremely cold. Be prepared for the risks associated with each.
- 🚗 – You’ll probably need a car – This is not a city where you can expect to get around without a car. Public transit is fairly limited outside of downtown.
- 🌿 – Know the 420-related laws – In 2019, marijuana possession (up to 100 grams) was decriminalized. However, it’s not legalized, so play it safe here.
- 🚦 – Be aware of traffic cameras – Even if there are no cops around, be careful not to speed or run red lights at the risk of getting a camera ticket in the mail.
- 🗳️ – Avoid talking about politics – Ohio is a swing state. Cincinnati has areas that lean either way, so try not to get into any political arguments with locals.
- 👟 – Good walking shoes – Whether you’re going to the zoo, visiting a museum, or hiking, you’re going to need good walking shoes to get around here.
- ☂️ – Umbrella – It rains a lot in Cincinnati, and this isn’t always predicted. Have an umbrella on hand regardless of the weather forecast.
- 💧 – Water bottle – Whether you’re wandering the city or out for a hike, you should definitely make an effort to stay hydrated while outdoors.
- 🔋 – Portable power bank – With all the outdoor activities, you may not be able to find a charging outlet. A portable power bank is a great solution.
- 🧥 – Jacket – Again, the weather here can be very unpredictable. Even if the weather forecast is warm, it’s good to have a jacket handy.
🧳 Read our full Cincinnati packing list.
🤓 Facts & Info
- Census Population (2020) – 309,317 (city), 1,746,000 (metro area)
- Time Zone – Eastern Time (UTC -5 / UTC -4 during daylight savings)
- Area Codes – 513
- Airports – Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport (LUK)
- Nickname – The Queen City, The City of Seven Hills
- Demonynm – Cincinnatian
- State – Ohio
- Country – United States of America
💵 Costs & Budgeting
- 3 Star Hotel Room – $70-200/night
- 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $60-450/night
- Rental Car – $60-70/day
- Public Transit Ticket – ~$2 ($1.50 to airport from center)
- Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $45
- Take Out Meal for Two – $15-30
- Sit Down Dinner for Two – $25-100
- Draft Beer – $7-14
FAQs About Visiting Cincinnati
Is Cincinnati safe for tourists?
Cincinnati is generally safe for tourists. The property crime and violent crime rates are higher than the national average. However, these crimes are typically concentrated in certain neighborhoods. You’ll be fine if you stay in safe areas as much as possible and exercise vigilance in the more dangerous neighborhoods.
What are the best attractions in Cincinnati?
The best attractions in Cincinnati include a variety of parks, museums, and other sites. There is the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Cincinnati Museum Center, and Cincinnati Art Museum. The Findlay Market, Eden Park, Kings Island, and Coney Island are other sites worth visiting. There are also numerous natural attractions, including hiking trails.
Is it worth visiting Cincinnati?
Cincinnati is worth visiting for a variety of travelers. Whether you are interested in sports, culture, history, or performing arts, there is something for you here. Outdoorsy people will enjoy the many natural parks and hiking trails. Meanwhile, foodies will enjoy the unique culinary offerings of the Queen City.
What is Cincinnati famous for?
Cincinnati is famous for its various attractions. These include the Findlay Market, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and American Sign Museum. In addition, it is known for Skyline Chili and the many breweries in the area.
📰 Ohio Travel Guides
You can find many other guides to Cincinnati, as well as the rest of the state of Ohio, on Travel Lemming. These are very useful if you’re planning a visit anytime soon. Here is an index to all the guides currently available on this city and its home state:
- Cincinnati Packing List (22 Things to Bring)
- 23 Best Places to Visit in Ohio (in 2023)
- Where to Stay in Cincinnati (Best Neighborhoods & Areas)
- Is Cincinnati Safe? (Honest Guide for 2023)
Meet Our Cincinnati Travel Expert
Nilani Thiyagarajah is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. Nilani enjoys exploring the Windy City whenever she has free time. Having grown up in Cincinnati, Ohio, she enjoys seeking and finding all of the best-kept secrets that any area has to offer. Nilani loves traveling and learning about new cultures and plans to do a lot more of it in the coming years!