Cincinnati, Ohio, is an underrated city rich in culture and history. Home to America’s first baseball team, and also a famous method for making chili, this city is the type of place that can feel like home no matter where you are from.
If you are planning a trip to this Ohio city soon, we’ve gathered all the must-visit stops for you. Here are 27 things to do in Cincinnati that you’re not going to want to miss.
Coolest Places To Stay In Cincinnati
- Best Downtown Option. The Westin Cincinnati is right in the heart of downtown. Check out the floor to ceiling windows with a great view of the Queen City. This is a great place for a couples getaway.
- Best for Families. TownePlace Suites by Marriott Cincinnati Downtown is also a great central location but a bit better for a family stay. A buffet breakfast is available each morning, and TownePlace has a great pool to wind down the kids after a day of exploring.
- Best Budget Option. Quality Inn & Suites is a bit father away from downtown at 6.7 miles, and 7.5 miles away from the Cincinnati Zoo. It has a swimming pool and complimentary breakfast, making it another great location for families, albeit a bit farther away.
While green plants and blooming flowers may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Ohio, it can be at Krohn Conservatory.
With more than 3,500 plant species, visitors can wander through a variety of climates from the tropical rainforest palm house to the desert house and more, all located within Eden Park.
While you’re in Eden Park, make plans to visit the Hinkle Magnolia Garden, and the beautiful gazebo that’s often used for weddings and events.
One thing this city is well known for is its art and culture, and the Cincinnati Ballet is a huge part of that fame. With a new home in 2021 at the Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance, this professional ballet company is setting itself up for many more years of exceptional performances for the community and visitors alike.
In addition to state of the art performances, there are a variety of classes available for children and adults who want to learn the art themselves. You will not regret making time to catch a Cincinnati Ballet performance during your visit.
Located along the Ohio River in Downtown Cincinnati, the riverfront region has become a bustling hub of fun for the city. Smale Riverfront Park sits in the shadows of the iconic John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, with 45 acres of greenspace dedicated to entertainment and recreation.
Take a walk, jog, or bike ride along the Ohio River Trail followed by a rest on the park’s large porch swings, or pack a picnic to enjoy the riverfront views. Be sure to even cross the bridge for views of the Cincinnati skyline from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River as well.
Ohio’s oldest public market is home to dozens of full time merchants who open their doors to residents and tourists to browse. Treat yourself to a fresh baked good, artisan cheese, fresh flowers, latte, and more at the Findlay Market.
The market is open throughout the week, except Mondays, and a farmers market is held on Saturdays and Sundays as well. Plan plenty of time to walk through the shops and explore what the vendors have to offer, and make sure to schedule your visit around lunch time to enjoy a delicious meal from the wide variety of ethnic restaurants.
Carew Tower of Cincinnati
Climb 49 stories above downtown Cincinnati to the observation tower located in Carew Tower. This historic building towers above the city as one of the tallest skyscrapers in the skyline, and the views are not to be missed.
In addition to the observation tower, the building also houses multiple shops and restaurants.
Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum
The famously large Spring Grove Cemetery is a National Historic Landmark and a flat out beautiful place. With more than 700 peaceful, tranquil acres, this arboretum is a perfect way to spend a day in nature without traveling far from the city itself.
The Spring Grove Arboretum prioritizes plants and trees native to the region, with an ultimate goal of connecting plants and people. Take a walking tour through history on the grounds, visiting the historic gate, chapel, and more.
Cincinnati Music Hall
The Cincinnati Music Hall is an absolutely stunning venue that is a true work of art in and of itself, in addition to hosting some of the greatest artists of all time throughout the years on its stages. The incredible Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra are lucky enough to call the Music Hall home.
Additionally, countless acts perform here as they tour through the area. For those just as interested in the history of the Music Hall itself, tours are offered by the Friends of Music Hall and can be purchased in advance online.
Great American Ball Park
You would be remiss to visit Cincinnati during baseball season and not catch a Reds game to honor America’s first professional baseball team. The Great American Ball Park is located alongside the Ohio River, between the Roebling Suspension Bridge and the Taylor Southgate Bridge.
Come hungry for both traditional stadium favorites and local delicacies alike. If you are traveling with kids, you will likely be thrilled to discover the TriHealth Family Zone, which offers space for your little ones to wiggle out their energy on the playground or hit a home run themselves in the child size batting cages.
American Sign Museum
Here is your sign that a trip to Cincinnati is worth your while: a museum dedicated entirely to signs and sign making! At the American Sign Museum, you can walk through a century of history, by way of signs, while learning more about the art and sign making as a profession. Visitors of all ages are likely to feel nostalgic as you realize just how many memories might be connected to a sign.
In addition to learning about the history of signs throughout the years, you may be lucky enough to catch Neonworks of Cincinnati in their shop, hard at work impressively creating or repairing neon signs for use in signs today.
The Cincinnati Observatory is the oldest professional observatory in the United States! The observatory was established in 1842.
Located on the top of Mount Lookout, the observatory consists of two buildings housing telescopes. The observatory here is considered to be the birthplace of American Astronomy.
Evening events are hosted here throughout the year, so you can take a look at the night sky from this historical spot. If you’re visiting during the daytime, they offer tours that show you the history of the observatory, or free walking tours that show off the architectural elements found in this historic district.
Ohio Riverboat Cruise
It is hard to spend any time in Cincinnati without finding yourself at the Ohio River, and you should not leave town without taking it one step farther and getting out on the water itself. BB Riverboats is Cincinnati’s official company for riverboat cruises, with plenty to offer the entire family.
Enjoy a meal – brunch, lunch, or dinner – on a dining cruise, take a sightseeing cruise, put on your cape for a superhero cruise or tiara for a princess cruise, hope you are not made to walk the plank on a Pirates of the Ohio cruise, or set sail just in time to enjoy the sun setting over the Cincinnati skyline.
Regardless of which riverboat cruise you book, your family is sure to make plenty of memories for years to come. Pro tip? If you are visiting during summer, you should definitely book the Ice Cream Social cruise.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens
As if we needed to work any harder to convince you that a trip to Cincinnati is a great idea, here is one more reason: the Cincinnati Zoo is home to the famous, beloved hippo, Fiona. If you followed this little trooper’s early life, you will want to be certain to make plenty of time to visit the Hippo Cove and see her thriving now. Fiona’s biggest fans can even book a Hippo Barn Tour experience to learn even more about her story, and living environment, from the experts who help care for her.
In addition to gushing over Fiona, there are plenty of other amazing animals to see at the zoo. Download the zoo’s interactive mobile app to be sure you catch all of your favorites during your day, and check the website for updates on what animals may or may not have access to their public viewing spaces at the time.
In addition to being home to many animals, the botanical gardens are home to many varieties of plants, making the grounds even more beautiful and magical to explore.
Cincinnati Art Museum
Located in Eden Park, the Cincinnati Art Museum is a key part of the city’s art and culture scene. General admission is free, and museum visitors are treated to state of the art galleries and exhibitions, with more than 67,000 pieces in the museum’s impressive collection.
Start your visit with a trek up the Art Climb. After exploring the galleries, grab a coffee or tea in the museum cafe as you sit and ponder what you have seen, or bring your sketchbook to get creative yourself after gathering some inspiration.
While technically located in Kentucky, the Newport Aquarium is located just across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati and can be easily accessed by car, public transportation, or even by foot with a walk across the Taylor Southgate Bridge.
You will want to plan plenty of time to enjoy all this aquarium’s one million gallons of water holds to be explored. Feel like you are stepping into the ocean with some of nature’s fiercest predators swimming above, under, and next to you, or work up the courage to traipse across the Shark Bridge suspended above open water.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The Ohio River historically separated the slave states from the free states, making it extremely meaningful for a museum dedicated to honoring the Underground Railroad to be now located along its banks.
Visitors to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will be inspired to build on the principles to be learned from the Underground Railroad to continue to pursue true freedom and justice for all.
Permanent exhibits tell the story of slavery over the decades, including present-day slavery and human trafficking, introduce visitors to the courageous freedom seekers who travelled the Underground Railroad, and reminds us the freedom-seeking work is not done.
Cincinnati Museum Center
Museum buffs, rejoice: Cincinnati Museum Center is a one of a kind museum complex located in the stunning Union Terminal.
Visitors can explore the Cincinnati History Museum, the Children’s Museum (formerly the Duke Energy Children’s Museum), and the Museum of Natural History & Science all in one place (and with one ticket).
Contemporary Arts Center
Get inspired at the Contemporary Arts Center, which is proud to display a wide array of contemporary art designed to spark creativity in those who visit.
While there is no admission charged to the museum itself, the museum also hosts a variety of performances which may require tickets.
Kings Island amusement park is for the thrill seekers looking for fun in the Cincinnati area. The park has a water park and kids’ area, in addition to plenty of roller coasters and thrill rides.
It would be easy to spend multiple days here without running out of fun to be had for the entire family.
Cincinnati Reds Museum & Hall of Fame
In addition to catching a Cincinnati Reds game live, true fans will also not want to miss the Museum and Hall of Fame at the ballpark.
Tour the stadium, learn about this iconic baseball team’s history, and learn more about the team’s finest throughout the years.
Taft Museum of Art
The Taft Museum of Art is a fine art museum that boasts a rich permanent collection, and hosts regularly changing special exhibitions as well. This means that regardless of how many times you visit, there is always something new to see.
This architectural wonder is the perfect addition to your Instagram feed from your trip to Cincinnati. Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, this landmark home is designed to look like a mushroom as a result of experimental architecture.
The Mushroom House is cared for by a friend of the architect, and while it is not open to the public, it is worth checking out from the outside if you are in the area.
Cincinnati Fire Museum
Adding to the long list of impressive museums in the city, is the Cincinnati Fire Museum — dedicated to honoring Cincinnati’s contributions to the history of firefighting. Exhibits take visitors back in time to the beginning of fire-fighting history, then travel through time to the present day.
Even the youngest firefighter fans can learn something, thanks to a hands-on fire safety exhibit designed to continue saving lives into the future.
Over-The-Rhine is a popular neighborhood located just north of downtown, and is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and other businesses. With plenty to see and do within the neighborhood, this area should be a must-do if you only have a limited amount of time in the city.
With so much to see, do, and eat, taking one of the food tours offered in the neighborhood can be a great way to try many delicious bites from some of the city’s finest establishments.
Cincinnati Brewery District
The Brewery District is located within the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which was affectionately named by German immigrants, and tells the story of Cincinnati’s beer history and traditions with the Brewing Heritage Trail.
Favorite spots in the district for a sure to be delicious cold one include Rhinegeist Brewery, which is located within a large former pre-Prohibition era beermaker’s bottling plant.
Cincinnati Underground Tour
Learn more about the Queen City’s history with this tour, including a trip underground to explore both a crypt and the tunnels that played an important role in the city’s beer making history.
Tours can be booked through American Legacy Tours.
Prohibition Bourbon Bar
Just over the Ohio River from Cincinnati into Kentucky, you’ll find Prohibition Bourbon Bar, a speakeasy-style bar that will take you back in time to the days of prohibition, when simply having a drink out on the town was not as easy as it is now.
With a downright impressive bourbon and whiskey collection, you are sure to enjoy your drink as much as the vibes.
It’s open on Friday and Saturday nights, and reservations are strongly recommended.
Regardless of the season, you absolutely do not want to leave Cincinnati without having at least one bowl of world-famous chili. Whether you seek out a bowl of Skyline or Gold Star, have it straight from the bowl or on a coney or chili burger, this is one meal that must be had.
For a truly iconic experience, head to Camp Washington Chili Parlor. Their secret chili recipe is worth the visit, and they have even won a James Beard Award as an “American Regional Classic,” in addition to being featured on many television shows and in a variety of publications as one of America’s most iconic food destinations.
Is there a lot to do in Cincinnati?
Yes, there are lots of things to do in Cincinnati! Visit one of the many museums, hike the trails at the local parks, explore the restaurants and breweries, or take the kids to the zoo and botanical garden. There are plenty of great things to do in Cincinnati for all types of travelers.
What is the iconic food of Cincinnati?
Cincinnati Chili is the most well-known food in the city. If you want to try it for yourself, check out Camp Washington Chili. It’s open 24-hours-a-day, so you can get a bowl of their famous chili anytime.
When is the best time to visit Cincinnati?
May and September are a couple of the best months to visit Cincinnati, due to its awesome weather and the many special events that take place in the city during those times.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO OHIO
- YOUR OHIO VACATION
- SANDUSKY: 24 Things To Do In Sandusky, Ohio You Can’t Miss
- COLUMBUS: 20 Fantastic Things To Do In Columbus Ohio
Where To Stay In Cincinnati
We make no guarantees of any price listed on our site. We are not responsible for content on external web sites linked from ours, including linked resources, an external blog post, any partner site, hotel property sites, or affiliate sites. We only write about places we love in an attempt to help you in your adventures, but we can’t guarantee you will love them, too.
Posts may contain affiliate links at no cost to you. Several of our trips are also compensated by the respective tourism boards for the city or state we are visiting. This never impacts how we share the destination with you – opinions are always our own and we pride ourselves on that. We do not sell links or accept unsolicited guest posts under any circumstances. Don’t even ask.
United States Copyright, 365 Atlanta Family, LLC