Top Things to Do on a Budget in Cincinnati
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.
Anchoring the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Findlay Market—Ohio's oldest continuously running public market—brims with reasonably priced finds. Snag take-away crepes, tacos, waffles, sandwiches and more, then help yourself to a seat at an open table. The place gets busy in the mornings and early afternoons on weekends; shoot for a midweek visit if your schedule allows. Open Tuesday to Sunday year-round.
Crossing the river into Covington, Kentucky, is like stepping back in time to a quaint 1800s German village. Here, you'll find a charming collection of homes, restaurants, shops and a working glockenspiel. This is the perfect spot to sample some goetta, a distinctive Cincinnati-made sausage. And weekends usually entail some sort of festival.
Cincinnati Art Museum
Make sure to admire the beautiful, locally produced Rookwood pottery in the area highlighting Cincinnati's Golden Age from 1830 to 1900. All told, this encyclopedic art museum holds a treasure trove of more than 60,000 objects spanning 6,000 years. The extensive global collection covers everything from ancient Greece and Rome all the way through the 1980s. Admission is free. Closed Mondays.
Blue Ash Chili
Fans of cinnamon-laced, Cincinnati-style chili seem to fall into one of two franchise camps—Skyline or Gold Star. We prefer Blue Ash, a cozy local diner with two locations. Since 1969, the same family recipe has been bringing in the crowds to load up on Coneys and classic three-ways-chili-topped spaghetti buried under an avalanche of shredded cheese.
Related: Top Things to Do in Cincinnati
Wander leafy green trails and see more than 3,500 plant species at this lovely 1933 Art Deco landmark. The springtime butterfly show always draws a crowd, but the rainforest waterfall and orchid house are worth visiting any time of year. $10 adults and $7 for children 5 to 17.
Check out the panoramic views from Mount Adams hilltop park's scenic Ohio River Valley overlooks at Eden Park. Popular landmarks worth a photo op include the Hinkle Magnolia Garden, the Spring House Gazebo and the Bettman Fountain. The Cincinnati Art Museum, Krohn Conservatory and Playhouse in the Park all call these 186-acre grounds home. While you're exploring, swing by Twin Lakes, a quarry-turned-launch site for model boats.
This 19th-century observatory brings in stargazers and would-be astronomers to its peaceful Mount Lookout grounds for Astronomy Evenings on select days. For $12 ($6 for kids), you can catch a presentation and peek through the world's oldest telescope still in nightly public use. What you'll see depends on the weather and the season but might include a glimpse of the moon, planets, stars and even the occasional comet. Reservations are required. 4th Sunday History Tours and free Stonelick Star Gazes are more ways to appreciate the observatory and the skies.
Gallery-crawl through Pendleton Art Center in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood from 6 to 10 p.m. on the last Friday of each month. The gallery houses more than 200 artists who work in a variety of media.