Cincinnati, Ohio- Things to Do

Growing up in Northern Kentucky and basically living by Cincinnati my whole life, I consider myself a “native” by default. I can be downtown in a fifteen minute drive, so I’ve spent my entire life enjoying the city and what it has offer!

Whenever someone mentions they’re visiting Cincy, they always ask me “what should I do?” Here is my answer to that question! These tips will give a good overview of the Queen City- a “big city” with a small town vibe.

Fountain Square: This is the “epi-center” of the city, and is known for its iconic (you guessed it) fountain. In the heart of the business district, there is usually something going on. In the winter it’s home to an ice-skating rink, and the rest of the year there is typically some sort of craft show, music festival, or live entertainment. If you happen to visit with nothing going on, you can always stop at the Graeter’s ice-cream (a Cincinnati staple) parlor in the square and get a cone of black raspberry chip!fountain square, things to do cincinnati

Carew Tower Observation Deck: Nearby to fountain square, hop onto an elevator and go to the top of the second-highest building in the city. This has great views of the Ohio River and surrounding areas (Northern Kentucky mostly!), just be ready because it’s quite windy!
Carew Tower Observation Deck (Cincinnati, OH)
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Great American Ballpark: If you’re a baseball lover, catching a game in the home of the Cincinnati Reds will make the perfect activity. If you happen to visit and no game is going on, there are also guided tours of the ballpark.
great american ball park, reds, cincinnati
Photo via Wikipedia

The Banks: This walk-able area by the baseball stadium along the riverbank is home to the annual Zinzinnati Oktoberfest every fall. During the rest of the year, you can pass the time enjoying one of many great restaurants (I recommend Moerlein Lager House as it’s a great representation of Cincinnati’s German brewery heritage). There are a few more high end places, and also some fun and casual spots like Tin Roof or Condado Tacos. If you have kids with you, the park and fountains at Smale Park are always a good time too!
the banks, cincinnati, ohio
Image via St. Louis Post

Zoo & Botanical Gardens: One of the best zoos in the nation, this place honestly will not disappoint! Not only will you get to come face to face with the famous hippo Fiona, but you can enjoy a beautiful day of seeing well cared for animals and extensive gardens. While I admittedly am not sure how I feel about zoos, and much prefer to see animals in the wild, if there is going to be a zoo- this is how it should be done. If you come in the winter, the zoo is host to the “Festival of Lights”, which is especially ideal for young families.
cincinnati zoo fiona
Image via

Music Hall & Washington Park: My husband and I had our wedding at this iconic Cincinnati building, so I might be a little biased, but this place is beautiful! Built in 1878, Music Hall is not only an architectural wonder, but is host to loads of wonderful shows. If there is nothing going on when you visit, you can take guided tours. In the fall, you can even partake in a ghost tour (it’s one of the most haunted places in the mid-west and has been on several TV shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures)! The park facing the grand building, Washington Park, has some fun outdoor fountains, a dog park, and in the summer hosts craft shows, music festivals, and more.
cincinnati music hall, haunted
Image via

OTR Neighborhood: Back as a kid in the ‘90’s, nobody would have ever recommended you visit here, but thanks to several ongoing cleanup efforts and some serious investment, this once dangerous area of the city is now one of the best! Filled with restored buildings from the late 19th century, this is now easily the trendiest (and yes, most hipster) part of town. The initials OTR stand for “Over the Rhine”, a reference to the canal that used to run through the city. Fondly called “The Rhine”, this pays homage to the huge amount of German immigrants who built up the city in the mid 1800’s (yes, including almost all of my great-grandparents!).
otr,over the rhine, cincinnati
Image via
You can learn about this German heritage and underground brewery tunnel system on a fascinating tour with Queen City Underground (it’s honestly really cool!). If that’s not your jam, then walk around and eat food, play arcade games at 16-Bit, grab a drink at one of the many bars, and get dessert to finish! My favorites for dinner include Senate (hotdogs), Che (empanadas), Bakersfield (tacos) and The Eagle (fried chicken).

Findlay Market– In the heart of OTR, this farmer’s market is one of the largest outdoor markets in the mid west. Especially fun in the summer, you can easily spend a few hours exploring the various stalls, vendors, and food options. I always grab some waffles from Taste of Belgium and top it off with gelato from Dojo. For food options, I am particularly addicted to The Arepa Place!
findlay market, cincinnati, ohio, otr
Image via 21cMusuemHotels

Getting Around: You can go things on foot, in your own car, grab an Uber, or make use of the new Cincy Street Car to easily get from place to place downtown. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could always try out a Segway tour of the city. Or, if you’re in the mood for some drinks, I can recommend an afternoon riding the Cincy Brew Bus, or even a night out on the Pedal Wagon!
cincinnati street car, cincinnati bell connector
Image via


Day-Trips within a 1 or 2 hour drive: For the scoop on where all you can go in less than a one-hour drive from the city, check out my detailed post! Also read up on this post for even more places you can go within a two hour drive from Cincy.
Staycation Ideas: Read my post about ideas on unique things to do and fun places to stay in the area!
Best Mexican/Latin-American Food: To hear my own opinion on where to find some of the best tacos, arepas, or empanadas in the area, check out this post.
Local Lakes with Beaches: If you want to head out to a lake with a sandy beach and get in some free swimming, check out my lineup of local area options!
Food Tours: If you are a foodie and want to indulge in all that the city has to offer, check out this lineup of fun tours. If you want to just hit up a few locally famous places on your own, I’d recommend the trifecta of chili (Skyline and Goldstar are my faves), goetta (Glier’s goetta is in most grocery stores, or Eckerlin Meats at Findlay Market), and icecream (try Greaters or Aglamesis Bros!).
cincinnati chili
Image via Skyline Chili
Flying Pig Statues: As you explore the city, you will undoubtedly see several of these flying pig statues. Since Cincinnati was known as “porkopolis” back in the day, or “a place where pigs fly”, this urban art initiative pays homage to that great time.
Cincinnati Art Museum: If you have time, this museum is free to the public and has some truly great exhibits year round. The parks and area around it are also perfect for strolling and exploring, and you can check out the nearby Cincinnati Astronomical Observatory and Krohn Conservatory.
Union Terminal & The Museum Center: If you have kids, the museum center is always hosting new exhibits and is a great place to spend the day. You can also just hop in to admire its architecture, check out the massive tile mosaics, or catch a show at the Omnimax.
Image via
Spring Grove Cemetery: A little bit outside of the city, this grand cemetery has truly beautiful grounds (especially in the fall) and can be a photographer’s dream!
Newport Aquarium: While it’s technically across the river in Kentucky, this aquarium is honestly one of the best in the country and is a fun place to spend a few hours, even as an adult! The area it is in, called Newport on the Levee, is also a fun place to spend the afternoon.

Where to Stay

Splurge: 21c Museum Hotel, The Hyatt Regency, Cincinnati Hilton Netherland Plaza
Budget: SpringHill Suites Marriott, AC Hotel at the Banks, Residence Inn
Unique: The Swing HouseLuxury Mansion
Image via

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What to do, where to eat, where to stay, things to do in Cincinnati Ohio

As always, all reviews and opinions are my own. However, should you choose to book some of the tours linked above, I may receive a small commission via affiliate links which help with the costs of running this site.


  • Reply Rosana Ohio July 24, 2022 at 6:27 pm

    Cincinnati seems quite interesting and the market seems so pretty, is a good spot for taking an ice cream cone. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply NIBU ABRAHAM January 14, 2024 at 2:32 am

    Hi Michelle.
    I had contacted you on Insta to get more information about Cinncinati. You had given me this travel vlog to get more details on what to visit in Cinncinati and neighbouring places.
    As per my current travel itinerary, we plan to arrive in Cinncinati on 05th Apr, by evening around 6:00pm. We would be staying there till 10th or 11th and then move to Columbus, we would fly out from Columbus on 17Apr by evening.
    I would need your help on which part of Cinncinati I could stay with my family- young kids, with easy access to all places of interest in the city. Also when we move to Columbus, could you please suggest what could I see there. I do plan to visit the Arc Encounter too – which would be easier to visit this place – is it from Cinncinati or Columbus.
    Sorry, I do have loads of questions since its my first visit to US after COVID especially with family and wanted to make sure we spend our days visiting the right places and not waste any time.
    Any vital information, would be really helpful to me.
    Thank you
    Doha, Qatar

    • Reply Michelle W. January 19, 2024 at 12:45 am

      Hi Nibu! I think I replied to you on Instagram, would you be able to send me your questions in an email so I can better respond? I think with young kids it’s best to stay close to “The Banks” area as there are nice parks and it’s walkable to everywhere. It will be easier to visit Ark Encounter from Cincinnati too!

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