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Cincinnati, “the Natti” or “The Queen City” as locals call it, is an underrated city in Ohio! Cincinnati is incredibly charming with classic row houses, niche neighborhoods, historic buildings, and unique cuisine. During our 10 day East Coast road trip, we stopped in Cincinnati Ohio for one, and honestly, we could have stayed longer! So needless to say, we made our way back to Cincinnati from Pittsburgh for a fun-filled weekend getaway!
Cincinnati is full of interesting things to do for all interests from sightseeing to zoos to museums to a foodie’s heaven, you’re likely to find something in the city that sparks your interest!
Weekend Getaway to Cincinnati: Top Things to Do in Cincinnati
During our two visits to Cincinnati, we visited almost all of the top things to do in Cincinnati! In this weekend getaway guide to Cincinnati, we’ll be sharing with you the top things to do and where to eat during your trip to Cincinnati!
Getting Around Cincinnati
Like a lot of older cities on the Eastern Coast of the United States, public transit can be diffcult to come by. So during our visits to Cincinnati, we mostly drove or took Ubers to where we wanted to go. If you’re planning a trip to Cincinnati and you live within driving distance, we recommend driving into the city. If you’re flying into Cincinnati, depending on how long your visit is, you might be able to get away with using Uber. Unless you would prefer to rent a car!
Top Things to Do in Cincinnati
Carew Tower is the second tallest building in Cincinnati and was constructed in the 1930s. Carew Tower offers visitors a beautiful panoramic view of the city! Ride the elevator to the top floor, then take an even smaller one to the very top! On a beautiful day, you can see for miles!
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Friday, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 – 7:00 PM
The Cincinnati Zoo is the second oldest zoo in the United States and houses over 500 animals and 3,000 plant species. One of our favorite parts about the Cincinnati Zoo was its focus on education and conservation. The zoo is known for being the home of Martha, the last living passenger pigeon, and to Incas, the last living Carolina parakeet.
The Cincinnati Zoo has been active in breeding animals to help save threatened and endangered species. The Zoo began these conservation efforts as early as 1880 with the hatching of a trumpeter swan!
In 1986, the Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife was established. This organization uses science and technology to understand and preserve endangered plants and animals.
The Cincinnati Zoo was definitely one of the top zoos we have ever been to. The zoo was large, family friendly, enclosures were visible and safe (RIP Harambe), and affordable.
Are you a Fiona fan? Because she makes her home in Cincinnati at the Cincinnati Zoo! Unfortunately, during our visit, we didn’t get to see her because of the cold weather. However, we were treated to the beautiful Christmas Light show that dazzled the zoo. The Christmas Lights were literally everywhere in the zoo! In addition to the lights, there was a carousel, reindeer zoo, train ride, and 4D movie!
Admission: Variable by time of year
Hours: 10-5 Daily
Lunch: Try Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati is known for it’s Cincinnati Chili, a dish from Mediterranean descent. To put it simply, it’s chili over spaghetti! You have many options for how it’s served, either with beans, onions, or cheese. Or any combination of those! There are many, many places to try Cincinnati Chili. Skyline Chili is probably the most popular, as it’s one of the originals and a chain. There is a lot of debate regarding which restuarant is the orignial or best place to get Cincinnati Chili. We tried both Blue Ash and Camp Washington Chili and they both lived up to our expectations! Blue Ash is well known for it’s chili lasanga if you want to try a unique chili menu item!
Cincinnati Riverfront Park
The Cincinnati Smale Waterfront Park is a beautiful place to see skyline views of the city. Along the river, you can enjoy the view of Kentucky from the swings. If you want a higher up view, ride the Ferris Wheel!
From the Riverfront Park, you can see the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge crosses that Ohio River and connects Cincinnati with Covington Kentucky! The bridge was named a National Historic Landmark in 1975 and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1983.
Pictured here is the labyrinth located in the park, one of the many featured things to explore! It takes approximately 500 steps to get to the middle of the labyrinth! According to ancient history, labyrinths are a symbol of wholeness, combining the imagery of the circle and the spiral as a wandering but purposeful path.
Great American Ballpark and Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame
Let’s play ball! If you’re in Cincinnati during the spring or summer, see a Cincinnati Reds same! The Cincinnati Reds are recognized as the first official professional baseball team. The first game was played in 1869 and at the time they were known as the Red Stockings.
The Cincinnati Reds play at the Great American Ballpark. The ballpark is much newer than most, as the opening game was in 2003 against the Pittsburgh Pirates! You can visit the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame at the ballpark to learn more about the history and legacy of the Reds and its players. Right across the street from the ballpark is a block of restaurants to enjoy before or after a game!
Shop and Dine at Over the Rhine
The Over the Rhine District is a very trendy and up-and-coming area of Cincinnati. Here, you can try a variety of restaurants and shop locally. The architecture of Over-the-Rhine reflects the diverse styles of the late nineteenth century simple vernacular, muted Greek Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne.
Over-the-Rhine has been a working-class neighborhood and is one of the largest, urban historic districts in the United States. The name Over the Rhine comes from the neighborhoods long history of German immigrants in the mid-19th century. After World War II, when industry and business were down, many people left the neighborhood, leaving it very poor and in need of revitalization. In the early 2000s, Cincinnati has invested in making Over the Rhine an enjoyable place to live and visit. Although this effort has transformed Over-the-Rhine, there is some question of whether or not the efforts cross the lines of revitalization versus gentrification.
Purple People Bridge
One of the unique things about Cincinnati is that its located on the Ohio River, which creates the border of Ohio and Kentucky. If you want to experience being in two states at once, you can walk across the Purple People Pedestrian Bridge to Newport Kentucky! The bridge is also a popular spot for local events like charity walks and food events.
Some people might things ferris wheels are tourist traps. But the Skystar Wheel in Cincinnati has historic and engineering significance! And it’s not always there! This traveling Ferris Wheel is not only climate controlled and portable, but it’s also one of the largest wheels!
During our visit to the Skystar, we were able to get a Groupon to get some money off the ride!
American Sign Museum
We love visiting unique museums, so visiting the American Sign Museum was on the top of our list for our weekend getaway to Cincinnati! When you think of something as simple as signage, you wouldn’t think that there’s much history or anything interesting associated with it right? Well the American Sigm Museum will make you think otherwise. In this museum you’ll see some of the first neon light signs used in the United States. And no they weren’t used on bars; they were used on churches!
The American Sign Museum will walk you though how signage has changed throughout the decades thanks to advancements in technology and our-ever evolving society. It’s amazing how something as simple as signs can be such a fascinating subject!
William Howard Taft National Historic Site
If you’re history buffs like us, you can check off another National Park during your weekend getaway to Cincinnati! Cincinnati was the birthplace of President William Howard Taft! The Taft National Historic Site is Taft’s childhood home and an associated museum. During your visit to the Taft National Historic Site you’ll get to see and informative video and go on a guided tour of the time period rooms in Taft’s childhood home. This National Park is not very large so it was a nice short stop along our trip!
Where to Stay in Cincinnati
Of the many hotel options in Cincinnati, we decided on staying at an Airbnb! Our stay was lovely in a beautiful rowhouse by the historic district of Cincinnati. It was extremely close to everything and had everything that we needed! Our host was also very helpful and provided us a local guide prior to our stay!