Best Things To Do in Cincinnati
Nearly every sort of traveler will find a niche in Cincinnati. Foodies have an abundance of options at their disposal, from vegan joints to trendy bars to fancy Zagat-rated restaurants. Sports-lovers will enjoy a game at the Cincinnati Reds' Great American Ball Park or a peek inside the team's Hall of Fame. And if museums are your thing, the Cincinnati Art Museum will keep you busy, as will the museums within the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.
Updated May 14, 2020
- #1View all PhotosfreeEden Park#1 in Cincinnati1.3 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.3 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
On a nice, sunny day, Eden Park lives up to its paradisiacal name. Located next to the trendy Mount Adams neighborhood, the park encompasses 186 acres of green space and tree groves complete with walking paths. There are also a couple of lakes, a magnolia garden and several scenic overlooks.
One TripAdvisor user was blown away by Eden Park's setting, saying it has "beautiful views of the city — especially at night time." However, some travelers say that the park is a little hard to find. To get there from downtown, drive north on Gilbert Avenue until you reach Eden Park Drive. You can also just call a taxi. For more information, visit the Cincinnati Parks website.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Cincinnati4 miles to city centerChurches/Religious Sites, Parks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND4 miles to city centerChurches/Religious Sites, Parks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum was chartered back in 1845, and today exists as one of the pioneers of landscape design for cemeteries. The grounds are idyllic, with gravestones punctuated by ponds, sculptures, footbridges and lots and lots of trees. "It may sound strange to visit a cemetery, but this one is unlike any I have seen before," said one TripAdvisor user. "It is a beautiful and tranquil place to visit and take a walk in the fall."
You can visit the cemetery and arboretum every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with extended hours May 1 through August 31. During the warmer months (April through October), you can participate in public and private tours. Public tram tours run at different times, so you can refer to the cemetery's calendar for further details. Tours cost $5 per person, with discounts for kids and seniors. To book a private tram tour, you can call 513-853-6877 or email email@example.com. These run $75 per person.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Cincinnati1 mile to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND1 mile to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The Cincinnati Art Museum contains more than 60,000 works from across 6,000 years of history. Masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli, Claude Monet and other famed artists adorn the walls of the museum. And all of this art is housed in a building that was erected at the close of the 19th century; though it has undergone several additions and restorations, the structure stands as one of the city's historic – and simply beautiful – gems.
As well as complimenting the museum's extensive collection, past visitors also hail its locale, calling the building "stunning." Meanwhile, others were impressed with the views of downtown Cincinnati.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Cincinnati0.7 miles to city centerSportsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.7 miles to city centerSportsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If the Great American Ball Park seems a pretty lofty title for a stadium, you should know that it is home to the country's oldest professional baseball team — the Cincinnati Reds. And that's where the stadium gets its exalted name. But the Major League Baseball team didn't even start playing at the Great American Ball Park until 2003; since the 1880s, the team has played at seven different stadiums. The team's name has even changed over the course of time: from the "Red Stockings" to the "Reds" to the "Redlegs" and then back to the "Reds."
Today, visitors enjoy the Great American Ball Park for its fun-loving atmosphere and for the great views from nearly every seat. (However, some visitors do mention that the seats are rather narrow.) One TripAdvisor user visited the park with her four kids and was delighted with the availability and cleanliness of its restrooms. She added: "It's nice that you can bring a cooler and snacks and water. It helps a lot for the cost for us. … The view of the river is awesome!"
- #5View all Photos#5 in Cincinnati0.6 miles to city centerMuseums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerMuseums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
This museum, which opened in 2004, sits along the banks of the Ohio River. And it's a very fitting location since thousands of slaves actually crossed the river from Kentucky into Cincinnati when following the Underground Railroad. Today, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center tells the story of slavery in America with several exhibits, giving a broad sweep of three centuries of history and a more detailed look at the Civil War era. The center also works to educate visitors on the slavery that continues to plague the world.
One TripAdvisor user had high praise for the center: "Such a fantastic, educational museum chronicling the Underground Railroad's history. The staff is friendly, the facility is clean, parking is affordable and accessible."
- #6View all Photos#6 in Cincinnati0.3 miles to city centerEntertainment and NightlifeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.3 miles to city centerEntertainment and NightlifeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Opened in 1878, the Cincinnati Music Hall is the home to several performing arts groups, including the Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. The Music Hall's Springer Auditorium can fit 3,516 audience members in its red seats. And that doesn't include the ghosts; the Music Hall was built over a cemetery, which has spawned rumors that it's haunted.
Recent visitors can't stop raving about their experience. According to one TripAdvisor, "You will love any event you attend at the Cincinnati Music Hall. From the beautiful architecture to the sounds of the orchestra. You will not be disappointed." However, some visitors do say that the place is beginning to look worn, citing the faded carpet and crumbling plaster.
- #7View all PhotosfreeFindlay Market#7 in Cincinnati0.6 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Findlay Market first opened in 1855, but only just recently has it expanded into the vibrant mix of ethnic food stalls and flea market vendors that it is today. On the weekends in spring, summer and fall, the streets fill with vendors selling everything from jewelry to kettle corn to purses. You'll also find stalls devoted to goods like chocolate, fresh fruit, vegetables and artisan bread.
Many visitors recommend coming on Saturdays for the best experience — you can sample a variety of international fare while you people watch.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Cincinnati2.5 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND2.5 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Cincinnati is home to the country's second-oldest zoo. It's especially noted for its work with endangered species like black rhinos. The zoo is also known for its innovative birthing programs with animals like the Indian and Sumatran rhinos. On a visit here, you'll see everything from an arctic fox or an African lion to an Indian peacock or an Amazon milk frog.
According to one TripAdvisor, "the Cincinnati Zoo is quite small, but you would never know it from the amazing way they have laid it out and the abundance of animals that they have there." Other visitors agree that the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden feels spacious, though some mention that there are some serious hilly areas that make pushing a wheelchair or stroller rather difficult.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Cincinnati0.7 miles to city centerMuseums, SportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.7 miles to city centerMuseums, SportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
If you're a baseball aficionado — and especially if you aren't able to catch a baseball game at the Great American Ball Park — you might want to drop by the nearby Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. This museum tells the story of the Cincinnati Reds' past with exhibits on famed players like Barry Larkin and Joe Morgan. There's also a movie theater that displays films about the Reds' history, and even a children's play area complete with a miniature Reds locker room.
One of the things visitors most enjoy about the Hall of Fame and Museum is its interactive exhibits — you can actually pitch and field balls inside the museum. A TripAdvisor user had this to say about her experience there: "The museum was neat. I enjoyed watching my husband try to throw a strike ball. Beyond hilarious. I would suggest anyone to go see if you haven't been before."
- #10View all Photos#10 in Cincinnati0.8 miles to city centerParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.8 miles to city centerParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Managed and operated by the Cincinnati Park Board, Smale Riverfront Park was completed in 2015 and offers a comfortable, interactive green space for visitors and locals alike. There are an array of levels and terraces boasting amenities for kids across the park's 45 acres. Such features include jungle gyms, rock climbing walls, a carousel, a water splash area and a giant foot piano. Adults will enjoy taking in scenes of the Ohio River and Roebling Bridge while picnicking in the grass or wandering along the waterfront paths. The park also hosts a number of events throughout the year, including farmer's markets, folk festivals and yoga classes on the event lawn.
Recent visitors said Smale Riverfront Park is a great spot to walk, ride bikes or just hang around. Travelers enjoyed lounging in the large swings along the river and dining at the plethora of nearby restaurants. While most parkgoers noted that there are ample restroom facilities on the premises, some felt they could be better spread out throughout different areas of the park.
- #11View all Photos#11 in Cincinnati1.6 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.6 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The German-style MainStrasse Village is on the National Register of Historic Places and makes for a lovely place to stroll. Nearly every month there is a vibrant event to attend, like Goettafest in June and the World's Longest Yard Sale in August. There are also restaurants that range from French (Chez Nora) to Italian (GoodFellas Pizzeria) and of course, German (Strasse Haus and more). And there are a number of little shops and boutiques to explore as well.
One TripAdvisor user says you "can't go wrong with a walk through the village. Great chops, cute eateries, attractive bars, tree lined cobble streets and a working glockenspiel."
- #12View all Photos#12 in Cincinnati1.3 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND1.3 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal — or the Cincy Museum as it's sometimes called — is actually a compilation of museums housed within the art deco-style Union Terminal building. There's the Cincinnati History Museum, which contains exhibits on everything from the city's various modes of transportation to the city's contributions during World War II. There is also the Duke Energy Children's Museum, which features interactive exhibits for little ones. The center's Museum of Natural History & Science covers a variety of subjects, including dinosaurs, the Ice Age and the astronaut Neil Armstrong. In addition to these museums, the center has an OMNIMAX theater, a library and archives and a research center.
One TripAdvisor user raves about the diversity of attractions housed here: "Whether you are spending the day, or just looking to kill a few hours, the variety and selection of the various exhibit halls is amazing."
- #13View all Photos#13 in Cincinnati0.4 miles to city centerSightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerSightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
For some of the best panoramic views of Cincinnati (and even into northern Kentucky), head to the 49th floor of the Carew Tower. The city's second-tallest building stands at 574 feet, beaten only by the Great American Tower office building, which is about 90 feet taller. Situated in the heart of downtown, the Carew Tower was completed in 1930, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994 and is home to more than two dozen shops and restaurants, as well as offices and the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza hotel.
From the observation deck, recent visitors reported having excellent views of the entire city, including sights like the Ohio River and both the baseball and football stadiums. They liked that the deck is open-air, meaning that no glass or walls get in the way of the views. However, travelers should know that the main elevator does not travel the full 49 floors, so they will need to cover the remaining distance in a smaller, older elevator followed by one flight of stairs, or by skipping the second elevator and walking up four flights. This may not be feasible for some travelers.
- #14View all Photos#14 in Cincinnati2.9 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2.9 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE
The American Sign Museum has an interesting way of tracing America's history — via signage. Here, you'll find everything from a Phillips 66 sign to neon bar signs to old movie posters and more. As the museum's website relates, signs "reflect the history, technology, commerce, and culture of our communities. Signs and the sign industry have their own stories to tell."
One TripAdvisor user, who found the museum fascinating, offers a recommendation: "Take the tour with the owner of the museum ... he really makes it all come alive!"
- #15View all Photos#15 in Cincinnati1.3 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND1.3 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
This sprawling aquarium, near the banks of the Ohio River in Kentucky, contains everything from sharks and jellyfish to frogs and fish. One of the best things about this aquarium is its special events calendar. For instance, there is a daily penguin parade, in which African Penguins process through the aquarium on a float. There are also dive shows most days, where scuba divers swim in a glass-enclosed aquarium and instruct visitors about the animals.
According to one TripAdvisor user, "[T]he many tunnels, petting areas […] and the great view of the Ohio River and Cincinnati just after a few steps outside it was well worth going."
- #16View all Photos#16 in Cincinnati1.4 miles to city centerParks and GardensTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND1.4 miles to city centerParks and GardensTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
If you are looking for a specific spot to visit in the 186-acre Eden Park, head to the Krohn Conservatory to see more than 3,500 plant species from around the world. Each year, the conservatory hosts five unique floral shows, ranging from an Italian-themed summer exhibit with fragrant herbs and cypress trees to a special holiday season display. One of the conservatory's most popular recurring programs – the spring Butterfly Show – incorporates thousands of live butterflies for visitors to admire and interact with throughout the showroom and garden. The nationally recognized venue is also known for its collection of rare orchids and its rainforest waterfall, plus it features art deco architecture (dating back to the conservatory's founding in 1933).
Past visitors were especially fond of the Krohn Conservatory on rainy or cold days; they said the facility transported them to a warm, tropical paradise. Year-round, guests say they enjoyed the array of plant life and commended the friendly staff. One common criticism was that the conservatory was not as large as some travelers had envisioned, so you shouldn't expect a visit to take up too much of your day. It is also worth noting that the building can become quite crowded when popular exhibits are there.
- #17View all Photos#17 in Cincinnati0.7 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.7 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Art lovers will adore the Taft Museum of Art's collection of Chinese porcelains and European and American master paintings, as well as its breathtaking gothic ivory sculpture, which is regarded as one of the greatest of its kind in the United States. The intimate museum is located in the Baum-Longworth-Sinton-Taft House, a National Historic Landmark dating back to 1820. Originally a residence, the villa became the Taft Museum in 1932 and was extensively remodeled into the Taft Museum of Art in 2004. Visitors can walk the halls of this museum admiring major works by artists like Rembrandt, Goya, Reynolds and more.
The vast majority of recent museumgoers were impressed by the Taft's exhibits and were pleased with the small size of the property, noting that they could leisurely enjoy the full collection in about 90 minutes or so. Even visitors who weren't necessarily looking forward to touring the museum said they were pleasantly surprised by the hidden gem. However, some travelers warned that the atmosphere of the museum can be a bit stuffy and is therefore not best suited to children.
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