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 art museum 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.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
June 02, 2015
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Due to possible coronavirus-related travel restrictions, please check destinations' websites for the current status of attractions, events, restaurants and lodgings.

Do

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

Cincinnati Art Museum Among its 67,000-plus 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. cincinnatiartmuseum.org

Cincinnati Bell Connector The streetcar line runs through the heart of Over-the-Rhine, making it a cinch to navigate stops at shops, restaurants, breweries and historic Findlay Market. cincinnatibellconnector.com

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal After a $224 million renovation, the repurposed rail depot shines again with refreshed and new exhibits at the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science, and the Cincinnati History Museum. cincymuseum.org

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal. Photo: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux.

Cincinnati Music Hall The 1878 hall—home to Cincinnati’s symphony, opera and ballet—hosts special events, concerts and tours. cincinnatiarts.org

Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum America’s first pro baseball team celebrated its 150th anniversary last year with a $5.5 million renovation of its Hall of Fame, packed with baseball trivia and artifacts cincinnati.reds.mlb.com

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Paths to the 500-plus animals pass gardens with themes that include native plants and best plants for pollinators. cincinnatizoo.org

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

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

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

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. flavorsofthequeencity.com

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

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. roeblingbridge.org

John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge

Kings Island Due to open in 2020: the $30 million Orion, the tallest, longest and fastest steel roller coaster at the theme park in Mason, 23 miles northeast of Cincinnati. Orion will be the park’s 16th coaster. visitkingsisland.com

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

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. taftmuseum.org

Over-the-Rhine Stylish shops and a booming dining scene have transformed this neighborhood known for Italianate architecture and German heritage. overtherhine.com

Queen City Underground Tour Learn about the city’s immigrant roots as you see the crypts beneath St. Francis Seraph Church and tunnels dug by beer barons before modern refrigeration. americanlegacytours.com

Smale Riverfront Park The $105 million park—with a labyrinth, carousel, splash pad, playground, trail, event lawn and microbrewery—reflects the energy driving downtown revitalization. cincinnatiparks.com

Eat

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

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. bocacincinnati.com

The BonBonerie Enjoy soups and sandwiches, followed by cookies or cakes, such as an opera cream cupcake. bonbonerie.com

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. graeters.com

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

Lucius Q Burnt ends feel straight out of Kansas City at this barbecue joint in the rising Pendleton neighborhood. Mustard and vinegary sauces harken to the Carolinas, and the brisket tastes like a slice of Texas. luciusq.com

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. mazuntetacos.com

Montgomery Inn Two 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. montgomeryinn.com

NadaDine on bright Mexican flavors in a colorful dining room. We love the pink grapefruit margaritas and braised meats. eatdrinknada.com

The Quarter Bistro A seasonal menu (including pizzas) and an art nouveau interior beckon in Mariemont. qbcincy.com

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. rhinegeist.com

Senate Mussels and poutine share the menu with upscale hot dogs at the popular Over-the-Rhine gastropub. senatepub.com

Stay

21c Museum Hotel Travelers love the contemporary artwork, 156 spacious guest rooms, a spa and on-site fine dining at Metropole, plus a rooftop bar—all in a renovated historic building downtown. 21cmuseumhotels.com

21c Museum Hotel. Photo courtesy of hotel.

AC Hotel Cincinnati at the Banks A prime location puts guests next to the Great American Ball Park; balconies and the Upper Deck bar offer views over downtown and the river. marriott.com

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

The Cincinnatian Hotel The remodeled 1882 downtown hotel provides comfort in updated suites with fireplaces and four-posters. cincinnatianhotel.com

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. cincinnatinetherlandplaza.hilton.com

Homewood Suites Downtown/Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown Choose from two hotels in the renovated 1926 building that was once home to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Lounges feature local Rookwood pottery and vintage photos. hamptoninn3.hilton.com

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

For more information cincyusa.com