Cincinnati is the third largest city in Ohio, and is known for baseball, it’s historical architecture, and it’s German heritage (evident in much of the food and beer selection). It’s home to two major sports teams: the oldest franchise in Major League Baseball, the Reds; and their football team, the Cincinnati Bengals. The city is situated in the southwestern part of the state, bordering Kentucky state lines and on the north bank of the Ohio River. The airport servicing Cincinnati is actually in Hebron, Kentucky. Summers are hot and humid, and winters tend to be cold with substantial snowfall. U.S. News reports that May is the best time to travel to the city. Cincinnati has experienced an urban transformation in recent years, often attributed to the success of revitalized Over-the-Rhine (OTR). In the 21st century, OTR is considered the fastest-growing, trendiest neighborhood in the city. Read more about the city’s best neighborhoods, restaurants, and attractions in our interview with locals Kyle & Elizabeth!
THE LOCALS: Kyle and Elizabeth
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST THEM: Kyle and Elizabeth have been Cincinnati residents for eight years. They both work (and play!) downtown, and they are particularly passionate about scoping out the newest restaurants—especially if local beers are involved. They love going to street fairs and festivals, attending Cincinnati Reds baseball games, and walking to their local Graeter’s for dessert. Elizabeth is a freelance writer for several local magazines, so it’s literally her job to stay in the loop with all the exciting things happening in Cincinnati. Kyle is widely regarded as the city’s unofficial burger guru. They love Cincinnati and know that you will, too!
1. Favorite Street to Wander/Stroll in Cincinnati?
Vine Street will take you from the edge of the Central Business District all the way through Over-the-Rhine, or ‘OTR’ as the locals say. The best stretches are from 4th Street to 6th Street, where you’ll see Fountain Square and several good eateries, including Via Vite and Graeter’s Ice Cream, and from Central Parkway to 14th Street, where you’ll find many fabulous boutiques and restaurants.
2. Best Area to Shop Local?
Hyde Park Square or Vine and Main Streets in OTR.
3. Favorite Sunny Day Agenda?
Start with coffee at Coffee Emporium—you can’t go wrong with either the OTR or the Hyde Park location. Browse through Findlay Market in OTR for snacks and local
goods. Follow with lunch at Eli’s BBQ (BYOB!). Then, explore a park: Smale Park (life-sized foot piano), Washington Park (splash fountain for the kiddos), Devou Park (best view of the city skyline), and Eden Park (great river views) are all good options. Dinner in OTR—our favorites are The Senate, The Eagle, Bakersfield, Zula, and Taste of Belgium, but any restaurant in this neighborhood will be fantastic. End with Graeter’s Ice Cream in OTR, Fountain Square, Hyde Park, or Mariemont.
4. Best Burger in Town? Terry’s Turf Club serves amazing burgers in a fun, quirky atmosphere.
5. Essential Cincinnati Tip? OTR is a must-see and must-eat spot in the city. Also, check out the local brewery scene: Rhinegeist, MadTree Brewing, Christian Moerlein, Rivertown, Fifty West, Blank Slate, and Taft’s Ale House are just a few of our favorites.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE CINCINNATI ATTRACTIONS
1. Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum – Thumbs Down.
2. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden – Thumbs Down, unless you have kids or just really love animals. Some good times to go are the Festival of Lights in December, Zoo Blooms in April, and Zoo Babies in May.
3. Cincinnati Art Museum – Thumbs Down. But it’s a decent option on a rainy day because it’s free. If you want to check out a museum but prefer a mix of art and nostalgia, go to the American Sign Museum, which houses a massive collection of vintage neon signage from across the country. It’s super unique.
4. Great American Ball Park – Thumbs Up! It’s right downtown and next to The Banks, which is a great area for dinner and nightlife. Reds tickets are reasonably priced, and guests are allowed to bring in any food items from home or a restaurant. The stadium has great views of the river and city skyline. Tours are offered year-round, and there’s a great museum about Reds baseball history.
5. Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal – Thumbs Up. It’s a beautiful old train station converted into a museum with lots of exhibits, plus an IMAX theater. It’s always fun for kids, and there’s usually a nationally touring exhibit worth seeing.
YELP’S TOP FIVE CINCINNATI RESTAURANTS
1. Eli’s BBQ – Thumbs Up. Arguably the best BBQ in the country for the price: $5 sandwiches, BYOB, and classic side dishes like mac n’ cheese, baked beans, and jalapeño grits. Mostly outdoor seating, often with live music. Cash only.
2. BLOC Coffee Company – Thumbs Down.
Cincinnati’s top five restaurants should include The Senate, which is regularly ranked in the top handful of hot dog spots in the country! Also, great burgers and mussels. Located in the heart of OTR and responsible for kick-starting the OTR revival of new shops, restaurants, and parks.
3. Bouchard’s Anything’s Pastable – Thumbs Down.
4. Sotto – Thumbs Up. Best fine dining in the city, with entrées for $20 or less (!!) If you plan to go on a weekend, I’d recommend making reservations at least one month in advance. Also worth checking out is Sotto’s sister restaurant upstairs, Boca. Boca has higher-end dining and higher prices, and is often considered the best and fanciest restaurant in the city.
Are you a Cincinnati local? Did we miss one of your favorite places in the city? If so, tell us about it in the comments below!