1301 Western Ave.
Cincinnati Ohio 45203United States
Midwest Living Recommends
Just an hour or two here will reveal a lively tale of the Queen City's past.
Because of its focus on local history -- from the first settlers through the bustling 19th century to the impact of World War II on the Queen City -- the Cincinnati History Museum is the most unique of the three museums making up The Museum Center. We were immediately taken with the detailed model of the city (in the "Cincinnati In Motion" exhibit) circa 1940. The exhibit also includes a model of the 1930s West End (including Union Terminal and Crosley Field), as well as 19th-century Over the Rhine. Definitely spend some time perusing the adjacent exhibits about World War II; learn about how the war impacted Cincinnatians (including how local manufacturing giant Crosley shifted from making radios to making military equipment), and board an actual streetcar (streetcars had a revival in the 1940s because gasoline was rationed and production of cars was halted). Anyone who's grown up hearing the lore of 1940s wartime America, or just enjoys perusing all things vintage, will appreciate it. You'll be glad you followed the More Exhibits This Way sign. The exhibits on Cincinnati's earliest settlers and the journey through the industrial age are interesting, but our favorite part is the impressive re-creation of the 1850 riverfront. You'll feel like you stepped back in time when you enter the faux-cobblestone streetscape. Storefronts are painstakingly re-created, and the 90-plus foot "Queen of the West" steamboat is definitely something to take in. It's actually in water, and you can board it and get a look at how a steam engine works. Admission charged.