8 Fun Things to Do in Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio is one of those great American cities defined by its history.
At one point one of the largest cities in the country and an industrial powerhouse, it fell into several decades of decline. However, over the past 10 years, Cincinnati has been making a serious effort to get itself back to its former glory. I’m happy to say that those efforts have paid off well! Cincinnati offers unparalleled architecture, history, and food experiences, making it a truly underrated destination!
Read on for 8 Fun Things to Do in Cincinnati, Ohio!
Over-the-Rhine is considered by many to be the largest intact historic district anywhere in the country. French Quarter in New Orleans or Charleston? Bigger than both. It’s like walking into an entire 19th-century city.
Over-the-Rhine’s name comes from a tongue-in-cheek joke by German immigrants in the mid-1800s. This was at a time in American history when (believe it or not) even Germans were not really considered “white.” Thus, they were sequestered in areas north of downtown, along a large, stinking canal. Many of these immigrant workers had to cross the canal every day, walking over the “Rhine,” harking back to a major river in their native Germany.
Though hit extremely hard by urban decline in the second half of the 20th century, Over-the-Rhine today is getting back to its former glory. Blocks that were once the epitome of inner city urban blight are now cleaned up, occupied, and thriving. Seriously. You can walk pretty much anywhere south of Liberty Street, all the way to the river–even at night–and not once feel intimidated.
2. Findlay Market
Findlay Market, Ohio’s oldest farmer’s market, features all kinds of produce, prepared meals, and artists’ stalls.
Masks are not required on the outdoor seating, but may be a good idea given the amount of visitors.
Pro Tip: Stop at City Wines for a cup of wine you can walk around with.
1801 Race St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
3. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
During slavery, Cincinnati was an important stop on the Underground Railroad. It was something of an Ellis Island for the free states, an entry point for people fleeing the brutal system of the South.
While Cincinnati itself was not necessarily a welcoming city for escaped slaves, it was still an improvement over what they had endured.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center features all kinds of exhibits on the Underground Railroad and life in Ohio in the 19th century. It’s a sobering but moving experience.
50 E Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
4. American Sign Museum
You may not feel like a museum all about signs is something interesting, but think again. The American Sign Museum is pretty cool. As you walk through the large warehouse you can see the evolution of signs from simple handcrafted signs to ornate goldleaf to early illuminated and neon signs. The piece du resistance is an entire section of street adorned with shops as they would have appeared decades ago, in all their signage glory.
As with any other indoor institution in the time of COVID-19, masks are required.
1330 Monmouth St, Cincinnati, OH 45225
5. Try the Food!
Cincinnati has been called a great food city, and we can definitely vouch for that. On the inexpensive side, you’ve got Skyline Chili, Gold Star Chili, and Fritsch’s Big Boy.
Going up a step, you have The Eagle, which is some of the best fried chicken, mac and cheese, AND cornbread I’ve ever had, all under one roof. If you drink, try a local Rheingeist ale, which tastes more like a smooth cider than a beer.
Right across the street from The Eagle is an OTR institution, Graeter’s Ice Cream. They have a wide selection of delicious deserts.
For some night life, walk from OTR to the edge of downtown to try Knockback Nat’s. This chill dive bar features some of the best wings we’ve eaten in our lives. Noticing a trend?
6. Jungle Jim's International Market
You have to drive about 25 minutes outside of Downtown for this one, but good lord is it worth it.
Jungle Jim’s is a gargantuan international market (think H Mart, but bigger). They have products from over 75 countries on earth. You will find things in there you probably never knew existed!
5440 Dixie Hwy, Cincinnati, OH 45014
4450 Eastgate S Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45245
7. Roebling Bridge
You may be familiar with the name John A. Roebling as the engineering genius behind the Brooklyn Bridge. While that bridge is larger, Cincinnati’s is older. Consecrated in 1866, the bridge spans the river between Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio and Downtown Covington, Kentucky.
At the base of Roebling Bridge is Roebling Point, a large green space to relax in.
The bridge is very impressive, and fun to walk, run, or bike across. Which brings me to…
8. Hop on over to Covington, Kentucky
While Cincinnati is the big dog, Covington has quite a bit to offer as well. Check out Mainstrasse, a section of Main Street based on old world German streets. You can find a working replica of a German tower with a little mechanized display at various hours. If you’re a booklover, be sure to check out Roebling Point Books & Coffee.
Have you ever been to Cincinnati? Thinking of going? Let us know in the comments below!
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