The "Queen City" is named after royalty for a reason. With its stately 19th century Downtown architecture, elegant skyscrapers, acres and acres of green space and superb museums, Cincinnati is as classy as they come.
If you want a high-class cultural getaway, Cincinnati delivers, with its Music Hall staging opera, ballet and classical events and a clutch of galleries like the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Taft Gallery adding up to a real feast for senses.
But if classical music isn't your thing, don't worry. Cincinnati is a down to earth family destination as well. Take the kids to the Great American Ballpark to watch the Reds, cheer on the Bengals or visit the Cincinnati Zoo. Enjoy a taste of early 20th-century Americana at Coney Island Amusement Park or just wander the beer halls and bars of Over-the-Rhine, sampling the city's famous lagers.
That's why people love Cincinnati so much. It has something for everyone, and nobody will leave disappointed.
Cincinnati is the Midwest's most historic city. It's been a major urban area for over 200 years, attracting waves of British, German, Italian, Greek, Latin-American, African and Asian migrants. The Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is like nowhere else in America. For decades it was almost completely German-speaking. Now, you can tour the beer halls, churches, and homes of the area and down a few German beers when the tour is over.
Cincinnati is a fantastic destination for sports lovers. Head to the Great American Ball Park to see the Reds play in Major League Baseball, or slip on your Bengals jersey and buy tickets to the Paul Brown Stadium to watch the city's team battle it out in the NFL.
Families will never run out of things to do in Cincinnati. For one thing, there's the excellent city zoo, with a world-famous collection of animals from every continent. There are traditional amusement parks like Coney Island and more than 5,000 acres of green space to relax in.
Cincinnati is a cultural hub as well. The Cincinnati Art Museum ranks up there with the Art Institute of Chicago, with a particularly stunning collection of locally made Rockwood Pottery. The Underground Railroad Freedom Center is an important memorial to slavery, while Harriet Beecher-Stowe House is where the famous author wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, which helped bring slavery to an end.
Cincinnati's German heritage means that it's very much a beer-drinking city. Find out about today's leading breweries on the Cincinnati Brewery District Lager Tours, be there during Oktoberfest in September or Bock Fest in spring. If you like German lager, Cincinnati is the destination for you.
Inaugurated in 2004, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center pays tribute to the struggle for freedom of American slaves who escaped from bondage by crossing the Ohio River from the South. The building, designed by Boora Architects of Portland and Blackburn Architects of Indianapolis, features three pavilions that celebrate the courage, cooperation, and perseverance of our freedom fighters. The structure's exterior is wrapped in travertine stone and copper. The center houses an original slave pen, which was reconstructed from an actual jail shipped from Kentucky that held slaves prior to auction. The installation also includes a theater, an interactive display, a library, a multimedia room, and a "freedom quilt".
A 186-acre urban green, Eden Park overlooks the Ohio River valley. Acquired by the city in 1869, the park - a former vineyard - was designed by renowned landscape architect Adolph Strauch. The park includes a reflecting pool and several baseball fields. Home to several city landmarks, including the 1883 Elsinore Arch, the 1904 Spring House Gazebo, and the 1933 Krohn Conservatory. There's also the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Seasongood Pavilion, which hosts live performances. This park provides a wealth of outdoor entertainment for Cincinnati residents and visitors.
A former nineteenth century railroad station, the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, which was redesigned as an Art Deco structure by Paul Philippe Cret and Roland Wank, features art galleries, theaters, and a library. The building's rotunda contains the largest semi-dome in the western hemisphere and the exterior is covered in bas-relief carvings created by Maxfield Keck. Inside, visitors can view a series of oversized mosaic murals designed by Winold Reiss, as well as artwork by Pierre Bourdelle, the son of the French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle.
Instituted in 1871, Fountain Square features a number of shops, restaurants and hotels. Centered around the Tyler Davidson Fountain, which honors the brother-in-law and business partner of Cincinnati entrepreneur Henry Probasco, the structure features the Genius of Water surrounded by four figures. The square, which is known as the symbolic center of the city, is a popular site for cultural events, such as the EcoSculpt exhibition and the largest Oktoberfest in North America. In the winter, the square houses an ice skating rink.
Opened in 1875, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is the second-oldest zoo in the U.S. Ranked among the top zoos in the country, the facility is set on 65.4 acres in the center of the city. The zoo is renowned for its breeding programs, which have increased the population of California sea lions, South African cheetahs, Malayan tigers, Masai giraffes, and Sumatran rhinoceroses, among others. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, the zoo features the Reptile House, the Elephant House, and the Passenger Pigeon Memorial - which honors Martha, the last known passenger pigeon, who died in 1914.
In terms of weather, the best time to visit Cincinnati is the fall, when the heat and humidity of high summer leaves, to be replaced by lovely, dry and mild weather. Spring is almost as appealing, but don't travel too early, as March and early April can still be pretty chilly. Try late April and May or September to October. You'll find bargain accommodation prices and plenty to do, all with ideal weather conditions.
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is served by major domestic airlines like United, American Airlines, and Delta, as well as a number of international carriers as well. The best route into town from the airport is the TANK bus (Route 2X) which runs into Downtown Cincinnati and costs $2.50.
Cincinnati's Union Terminal is located at 1301 Western Ave, around a mile from the Downtown core. All Amtrak services arrive in the middle of the night, so public transit won't be available. This makes it highly advisable to book a taxi to transfer to your accommodation when arriving by train.
Take I-71 if you are coming from Columbus or Cleveland, or take I-70 from eastern cities like Pittsburgh, Boston or New York. Those coming from Chicago need to take I-75, while anyone driving to Cincinnati from the west should take I-44 or I-70.
The major intercity bus operator into Cincinnati is Greyhound, whose terminal is located at 1005 Gilbert Avenue. Megabus also offer a budget service from selected cities, including Buffalo, Chicago, and New York.
If you are looking for luxury accommodation, look no further than the elegant Cincinnatian Hotel, which has a beautiful late 19th-century building and offers palatial suites for both families and couples. The Hilton Netherland Plaza offers wonderful views from Carew Tower, while the Hyatt Regency has the added bonus of summertime jazz performances in the hotel bar. Lower down the price scale, the Garfield Suites provide self-catering kitchenettes, while the Parker House is a relatively central, family-run B&B.
Downtown Cincinnati – There's no doubt about where the action is in Cincinnati. Downtown is located between Broadway and Central Streets and has a dramatic skyline. There's no better way to experience the view than by ascending the Carew Tower (the blueprint for the Empire State Building). Elsewhere in the Downtown neighborhood, check out the exceptional Cincinnati Art Museum and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which marks the city's crucial role in helping escaped slaves before the Civil War.
Avondale – If you are looking for a convenient, safe and family-friendly neighborhood in Cincinnati, Avondale fits the bill. Not only are there great golf courses like Indian Valley and the Taft Museum of Art, but Avondale is also home to the city's world-famous zoo - a great place for kids to spend an afternoon learning about nature.
Clifton – Probably the best area of Cincinnati for food and nightlife lovers, Clifton is diverse and welcoming. In the Clifton Gaslight neighborhood, you'll find great French restaurants like La Poste or Indian eateries like Amol. And you'll also find cultural attractions like the Clifton Performance Theater. It's ideal for younger visitors who want a lively area to base themselves.
Buses are the dominant form of public transportation in Cincinnati. The most useful routes for tourists are operated by SORTA (Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority). Exact change is needed to pay fares, and most fares will be $1.75, although there are slightly higher charges out to suburban destinations. South of the river, TANK is the operating authority. They run the airport buses, as well as a network of routes in Kentucky, and their basic fare is $1.50. If you transfer between TANK and SORTA buses, you will have to pay a small transfer fee of around 50 cents.
Taxis in Cincinnati generally cost $3.50-3.60 for the initial mile, then $1.60 per subsequent mile, so they are an expensive way to get around the city. Uber offer a cheaper option, with their UberX vehicles charging a meter drop of $1, then $0.80 per mile after that.
Driving around Downtown Cincinnati is fairly simple thanks to the Downtown grid system, although outside the central core, the grid disappears and one-way streets can be confusing. This makes is handy to have GPS installed in any rental vehicles. Finding a parking space in busy areas is rarely a problem, with 4,000 metered spaces. Prices vary, but are usually around $2 per hour.
If you are looking for unique souvenirs, the Clifton Gaslight neighborhood is the place to head. You'll find a wide range of art galleries selling works by local artists, creative boutiques like Pangaea Trading Company and imaginative jewelry at Toko Baru. Over-the-Rhine is another neighborhood to visit. Don't miss the beautiful creations of Rookwood Pottery Company or Findlay Market, where you can buy artisan food gifts and local produce. There are also plenty of conventional malls, like Tower Place, the Cincinnati Mall and Kenwood Town Center, where you can find major brands like Sak's, Macy's and American Eagle Outfitters.
If you are self-catering and want to splash out on the finest fresh produce Cincinnati has to offer, Findlay Market is the place to go. However, there are many supermarkets and delis dotted around the center of town where you can stock up. Along with specialty stores like Happy Asian Mart, you'll find Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Walmart and Kroger in relatively central locations. Expect to pay around $2.60 for a gallon of milk, $1.90 for a pound of apples and $10-13 for a good bottle of wine.
If you come to Cincinnati, you should definitely try a bowl of the city's famous chili. Easy on the tomato and spiced with cinnamon, but lacking beans or onions, Cincinnati chili is a mixture of Greek and Latin-American cooking. The best places to order it are Empress Chili and Price Hill Chili - but Skyline outlets across the city are easier to find and almost as good. Aside from chili, Cincinnati has a diverse food culture. Explore the city's German roots at the Christian Moerlein Lager House, fill up on noodles at Shanghai Mama's or dine al fresco on the terrace at Teller's of Hyde Park. There's no shortage of great eating options. Expect a mid-range meal to cost around $15 and a high-end evening out to cost not much more than $30.