Top Things to Do in Cincinnati, Ohio | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Cincinnati, Ohio

The Queen City is a glittering hub of culture and commerce along the Ohio River in the state’s southwest corner. Its crown jewels include pro sports, a stunning museum center and a unique flair for food. Yes, that’s chili on your spaghetti. And it’s delish. Check out our trip guide for what to do, where to eat and where to stay.


American Sign Museum Vintage signs from Howard Johnson’s Ice Cream, Phillips 66 and others create a neon trip down memory lane.

Cincinnati Art Museum Among its 67,000 pieces covering 6,000 years, 500 works (most by artists born or trained in Cincinnati) fill one wing dedicated to the Queen City’s heritage.

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal Though renovations have closed much of this Cincy mainstay through late 2018, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum is expected to reopen in spring. Kids will enjoy its two-story climbing structure and the giant set of teeth known as Inside The Grin.

Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum You don’t have to be a Reds fan to appreciate this tribute packed with trivia, exhibits and artifacts.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Paths leading to the 500-plus animals pass themed gardens devoted to pollinators, butterflies and more.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Contemporary Arts Center This downtown building explores the art world through temporary exhibits and an interactive kids’ UnMuseum.

Findlay Market At the indoor public market in Over-the-Rhine, vendors sell produce and fresh meats year-round.

Flavors of the Queen City The three-hour food tour starts and finishes at Fountain Square and stops at old establishments and promising new ventures.

Fountain Square A dramatically lit 1871 fountain anchors a four-block district of chain restaurants and local mainstays such as Graeter’s.

John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge This precursor to the Brooklyn Bridge was the world’s longest when it opened in 1867. Take in the spectacular skyline views on a walk or drive across.

John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge

Kings Island The wooden roller coaster Mystic Timbers opened last year, joining three others at the self-proclaimed Wooden Roller Coaster Capital of the World in Mason, 23 miles northeast of Cincinnati.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Situated along the Ohio River (a former dividing line between freedom and slavery for African-Americans), this multilevel museum captures the history of slavery and slaves’ struggles for freedom.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Taft Museum of Art Located in a home that belonged to President Taft’s half-brother, this impressive collection includes sacred pieces, Chinese porcelain and a Rembrandt.


The Anchor A seafood-centric menu lists whole fish as well as sandwiches like the trout BLT.

Blue Ash Chili Hearty Cincinnati chili tastes great on its own, but it’s meant to top spaghetti, a hot dog or an omelet. Blue Ash Chili serves the combos in a no-frills environment.

Boca Chef-owner David Falk creates seasonal menus with entrees like Amish chicken, seafood risotto or Icelandic cod. Sparkling chandeliers and wood paneling set the tone for an elegant meal.

The BonBonerie Enjoy soups and sandwiches followed by cookies or cakes, like an opera cream cupcake.

The BonBonerie

Graeter’s Ice Cream The fourth generation of the Graeter family churns out 30 flavors, including black raspberry chocolate chip and salted caramel.

Jean-Robert’s Table Celeb chef Jean-Robert de Cavel’s French bistro near Fountain Square wows guests with bold sauces on entrees like short ribs and salmon.

Mazunte Ocean-blue walls and worn-wood tables evoke a cantina atmosphere for some of the city’s best Mexican food. Our pick: braised chicken tacos in handmade tortillas with horchata to drink.

Montgomery Inn Three locations serve fall-off-the- bone ribs smothered in trademark barbecue sauce. Try the Ted’s Platter, with both original and smoked ribs, slow-smoked brisket, onion straws and cornbread.

Nada Dine on bright Mexican flavors in a colorful dining room. We love the pink grapefruit margaritas and braised meats.

The Quarter Bistro A seasonal menu (including pizzas) and an Art Nouveau interior beckon in Mariemont.

Rhinegeist Brewery In Over-the-Rhine, Rhinegeist pours slightly hoppy beers such as Cougar Blonde Ale. The former bottling plant ups the fun with ping-pong and cornhole games.


21c Museum Hotel Contemporary artwork (think moveable plastic penguins), spacious guest rooms and on-site dining draw travelers looking for something different downtown.

Best Western Premier Mariemont Inn A renovated Tudor-style building welcomes visitors to Mariemont.

The Cincinnatian Hotel The remodeled 1882 downtown hotel offers updated suites with fireplaces and four-posters.

Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Even if you don’t stay overnight, stop for swanky drinks at Orchids at Palm Court, the restaurant in this French Art Deco treasure.

Homewood Suites Downtown/Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown Choose from two hotels in the renovated 1926 Art Deco building that was once home to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Lounges in both lodgings feature local Rookwood pottery and vintage city photographs.

The Westin Cincinnati Many of the 456 renovated rooms overlook Fountain Square. Rooms come with standard amenities, but we love the signature Heavenly Beds.

More information: Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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