My Cincinnati Travel Guide will tell you all of the best places to eat, explore, take the perfect Instagram photos, and where to stay with suggestions about what to do while enjoying The Queen City. In the past decade, the city of Cincinnati has experienced explosive growth and much of the city’s gorgeous architecture and public spaces have been revitalized or completely overhauled, making it a beautiful midwest destination for those who love art, fine dining, the great outdoors, museums and gardens, live entertainment and performances, and so much more.
Famous for its Italianate and Queen Anne architectural style neighborhoods, chili, and for being one of the first places in the nation to fight back against prohibition (they had more speakeasies than most other cities in the country), Cincinnati has an awesome culture a ton of pride in their town. It was exciting to see how excited everyone we spoke with was about their city!
Cincinnati has more nicknames than just about anywhere else. It’s also known as Cincy, The Queen City, ‘Nati, Queen of the West, and The City of Seven Hills.
When to Visit
The weather is warmest and most inviting from May to October. If you like snow, lower prices for accommodations, and smaller crowds, visiting November-April is a great way to enjoy a cozy winter getaway in the midwest, plus you don’t have to feel guilty about staying indoors and sampling all of the incredible food and drinks the city has to offer.
Where to Stay in Cincinnati
We loved our stay at 21C Museum Hotel on Walnut Street. The location was very convenient, the hotel was quiet and comfortable, and the hotel’s spa was a wonderful relaxation experience. The first two levels of the hotel are an art museum that’s open to guests and the public 24/7, and there’s even a rooftop bar at the top of the hotel, making it one of the most interesting places to stay in the midwest. Read all about why we loved the hotel so much in my hotel guide, here.
Where to Eat in Cincinnati
Cincinnati has a plethora of wonderful dining options, whether you’re looking for something vegan, meaty, or something somewhere in between. Below are some of our favorite places to eat in Cincinnati, along with what I recommend ordering at each.
21C Rooftop Cocktail Terrace
The rooftop bar of our hotel, drinks and light bites are served by 21C’s friendly staff until well after the sunsets. It’s a fantastic spot to enjoy the sunset, take in the city at night, and enjoy a handcrafted cocktail featuring Kentucky bourbon, or any other liquor you could imagine.
Enjoy nightly live entertainment in this patio and bar spot, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main road and order any drink you can imagine.
This gorgeous restaurant was the perfect spot for a romantic dinner in the city. Read my restaurant guide to find out why we loved Boca so much, here.
I Recommend: Pommes Soufflées, Spring Vegetables, Cappellacci di Giano, Spring Onion Ravioli, and the Buckeye Candy Bar with a Blushing Wolf or Fountain of Youth to drink
Coppin’s at Hotel Covington
Technically across the river in Covington, Kentucky, this magnificent restaurant is absolutely worth the drive, and something Cincinnati tends to claim as its own, so we had to try it! We enjoyed a beautiful brunch here as a light rain gently hit the glass enclosed dining room, which was reminiscent of a beautiful greenhouse. I’ll be posting a full restaurant recap soon.
I Recommend: Breakfast Bread Pudding, Avocado Toast, Artisanal Yogurt & Fresh Organic Berries
This large, indoor complex of small businesses features more than 40 different market stalls selling everything from meat and seafood to coffee, gelato, and fresh, organic produce. There’s usually a farmers market behind Findlay Market as well.
French Crust Café & Bistro by Pastry Chef and Chocolatier Jean Philippe Solnom
We absolutely loved this French inspired café and bistro by Pastry Chef and Chocolatier Jean Philippe Solnom. There’s something for everyone in this Over-the-Rhine eatery, and we loved exploring the city through food here.
I Recommend: Lemon Tart, Double Espresso, and the Apple, Endive and Gruyere salad with walnuts & arugula
Try Cincinnati’s famous doughnuts and enjoy a stroll down Vine Street, which has lots of excellent shopping.
This bar slash restaurant is a little bit midwestern, with a lot of southern influences mixed in. Cincinnati shares more than a border with Kentucky as demonstrated at The Littlefield, where the menu blends famous Cincinnati fare like chili and trendy Asian foods with southern favorites like bourbon, whiske, and pecans.
I Recommend: Falafel, Bahn Mi, Bourbon Triple Brownie
What to Do in Cincinnati
Stop into The Budding Florist for a gorgeous floral themed workshop, to pick up houseplants for your space, or to learn how to care for the plants you already own. The owners and employees are such sweethearts, and their plants are so gorgeous and healthy that I wish I could have stayed here all day talking botanicals with them.
Check out the Ohio Book Store, where you can have books custom bound or even restored, plus shop a large selection of new and used books.
Enjoy a performance at Music Hall, which recently received a $135 Million dollar face lift
Explore 21C Art Museum inside 21C Museum Hotel
Explore the city and discover the more than 140 unique murals and vintage painted-on advertorials. Many of the murals around the city were painted by the city’s young people as part of a program called ArtWorks.
Explore the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and shop this trendy downtown neighborhood.
Go on a brewery or winery tour. There are dozens around the city, and it’s a fun way to sample the city’s refreshments. Rhinegeist was our favorite spot, because it had an excellent rooftop view of the city.
If you love nature like I do, Krohn Conservatory is a beautiful place to see exotic and native plants, and it’s where visitors can experience hundreds of butterflies in their butterfly garden.
If neon signs are more your aesthetic, head to the world’s largest sign museum at the American Sign Museum.
Visit the Cincinnati Art Museum, which is home to more than 60,000 works of art from the last 6,000 years and beyond. Another great art museum in Cincinnati is the Taft Museum of Art.
Visit the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens – one of the cleanest zoos we’ve been to, with the healthiest, most lively animals I’ve ever seen. This zoo does so much to help conserve nature and takes in only animals that can’t live in the wild, so you can feel good about visiting and enjoying your day here! Fiona the Hippo calls the Cincinnati Zoo home, and she is just so precious!
Cincinnati Events & Festivals
Bunburry Music Festival is something we’ve heard about all the way up in Northern Michigan and happens every year in Cincinnati during the last weekend of May.
Celtic Fest Ohio combines my love of all things Scottish with the sounds of bagpipes, amazing food, and fun festivities during the second weekend in June and the 16th-18th of August, 2019.
Cincinnati Pride Festival is one of the largest pride celebrations in the nation, and happens every year in June.
Riverfest & the Rubber Duck Regatta happens the weekend before Labor Day every year, and has Ohio’s best fireworks display to kick off summer.
Spas & Salons
We loved our couples massage at The Spa at 21C Hotel. Our masseuses did an excellent job, afterwards, we were able to enjoy a soak in their massive hot tub pool as well as a large marble steam shower complete with skylights and a rooftop relaxation area. It was truly a wonderful experience!
Sadly, Cincinnati has struggled with high crime rates in the past. However, in the last decade, the city has been revitalized and is safer than ever before. What was once one of the most dangerous cities in the United States is now one of the safest. As with any big city, just be sure not to flash valuables, always lock your car and hotel doors, and stick to well lit areas.
There is ample parking all around the city, ranging from free street parking to parking garages. If you don’t mind walking, I recommend parking your car in any of the many parking garages around town and exploring the city on foot.
Day Trips from Cincinnati
Until next time!
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Amway Grand Plaza: Grand Rapids | Casa de la Marquesa: Querétaro | Conrad Indianapolis | Der Kleine Prinz: Baden-Baden| Grand Hotel: Mackinac Island | Hotel Monteleon: New Orleans | Hotel Walloon: Walloon Lake | Inn at Bay Harbor: Bay Harbor | Irvine Spectrum: Irvine| Radisson Blu Aqua: Chicago | SchlossHotel HugenPoet: Essen | Titanic Chaussee: Berlin | Townsend Hotel: Birmingham | Weber’s Boutique Hotel: Ann Arbor | Zamna: Tulum |
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