9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Cincinnati
The city of Cincinnati lies in a wide basin on the north bank of the Ohio River, surrounded by hills. In the past its beautiful situation earned it the names "Pearl of the West" and the "Queen City". Today, this largely industrial city has a wide range of cultural and recreational facilities.History
The first white settlers established themselves here in 1788, and were followed a few years later by the United States Army. The town was given its name by a group of revolutionary admirers of the Roman general Cincinnatus. Its excellent situation on the navigable Ohio River promoted its further development, and for many years it was the dominant center of the Middle West. The coming of the railway reduced the importance of the river and of the town, but it soon recovered from this setback. By 1869 it could boast the first professional baseball team in the world, the Cincinnati Reds. Until the First World War the city's life showed the influence of its many German immigrants, and it still holds a large Oktoberfest based on the Munich model. In the Second World War Cincinnati was one of the United States' largest manufacturer of arms. William Howard Taft (1858-1930), the 27th President of the United States, was born here.
See also: Where to Stay in Cincinnati
1 Cincinnati Museum Center
The Cincinnati Union Terminal, an art-deco railroad station built in 1933, has been occupied since 1990 by the Cincinnati Museum Center. The Center features three museums at its one location at Union Station. These include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children's Museum, and the Museum of Natural History and Science. Also on site is an OMNIMAX Theater and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives. The Museum Center has a very active schedule of traveling national and international exhibits.
Address: 1301 Western Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45203-1129, United States
2 Music Hall
The splendidly renovated 1878 Music Hall is one of the finest buildings in Cincinnati. The facade contains arched entrance ways below one huge round window, and is flanked by two square towers. Inside, the Springer Auditorium hosts the Cincinnati Orchestra, Ballet, and Opera, as well as other performing arts groups, with seating for over 3500 people. It features two tiers of balconies and an ornate ceiling with decorative panels that give it a particular charm.The Music Hall Ballroom can accommodate some 1300 people and is used for exhibitions and other events. A more intimate setting can be found in the Corbett Tower, with a well appointed room designed to hold just 300 people.
Address: 1241 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202, United States
3 Cincinnati Zoo
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens are famed for their white Bengal tigers and gorillas. It also contains one of the largest insectariums in the world. The zoo offers a selection of rides and a 4-D theater. At various times throughout the day, depending on the season, there are "animal encounters" and shows. Visitors can see animals being fed and hear talks to learn more about individual habitats and other facts. The Cincinnati Zoo is particularly well known as a favorite with children and offers a range of educational programs for the both youth and adults.
Address: 3400 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45220-1399, United States
4 Cincinnati Art Museum
Located in Eden Park, the Cincinnati Art Museum features prominent works of art, including sculpture, ceramics, and pictures from great civilizations of five millennia. On display is the permanent collection, along with temporary national and international exhibitions. Highlights of the collection include American and European painting and sculpture, Far East and African art, Decorative Arts, textiles, and photographs.
Address: 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202, United States
5 Irwin M. Krohn Conservatory
The Irwin M. Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati is the city's horticultural gem with over 3,500 plant species from all corners of the globe. The Conservatory features unique themed houses that include a desert and a tropical rainforest, complete with a waterfalls. Throughout the year there are various events and changing exhibits. The Conservatory was built in 1933 and is managed by the City of Cincinnati Parks Department.
Address: Eden Park, United States
6 Taft Museum of Art
The world-renowned Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati is housed in a majestic looking 1820 Palladian style building called the Baum-Longworth-Taft House. It is listed as a National Historic Landmark and gives a sense of the grandeur of an earlier age. The Museum displays a small but impressive collection of paintings from Old Masters, European Decorative Arts, sculptures, and furniture among many other pieces. In front of the museum is a statue of Abraham Lincoln created by George Grey Barnard in 1917. It is regarded as Barnard's best work but was controversial at the time for its representation. Barnard had hoped to portray a less conventional image and show Lincoln more as a man of the people and consequently the statue revealed Lincoln in a slouched stance wearing common, if not shabby, clothes.
Address: 316 Pike Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202, United States
7 Fountain Square
The focal point of the Cincinnati city center, with its modern tower blocks, is Fountain Square. At the heart of the square is the impressive Tylor Davidson Fountain, which was cast in Munich and erected in 1871. Small events are sometimes held here, with free concerts and other local entertainment. The area is most active in summer when visitors can enjoy a meal or coffee at an outdoor table. In winter, stop by to see the outdoor ice rink.
Address: Fifth Street and Vine Street
8 Carew Tower and Observation Deck
Carew Tower is one of Cincinnati's tallest building. This French Art Deco building, built in the 1930s at the height of the Art Deco era in the United States, is a National Historic Landmark. It is a multifunctional building containing offices, stores, and hotel rooms. On the 49th floor is the Carew Tower Observatory where visitors are treated to fine views over Cincinnati.
Address: West Fifth Street and Fountain Square
9 American Sign Museum
This unique and colorful museum displays all kinds of signs in over 19,000 feet of square space, and offers a look at how they're made. The "neon shop" shows sign makers busy at their craft during weekdays, and a museum tour gives a close up look at the process. The brightly lit signs are truly a feast for the eyes and visual experience unmatched by other museums.
Address: 1330 Monmouth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45225, United States
Where to Stay in Cincinnati for Sightseeing
The best place to stay in Cincinnati is right downtown among the wonderfully restored historical buildings, famous museums, and pleasant public spaces. The city is laid out in an easy-to-navigate grid pattern with the Ohio River marking the southern border. Art and nature lovers will want to stay on the eastern side to be close to the Cincinnati Art Museum and Johnston Park. Those in town to see a concert at the Cincinnati Music Hall should try to stay on the northern edge of downtown. Below is a list of highly-rated hotels in convenient locations:
- Luxury Hotels: In a great location in the heart of the action, the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati is an innovative, new concept property with luxurious rooms; pop up penguins; an art gallery; and rooftop terrace in the summer, with expansive views out over the city. One of the city's landmark hotels, the Hilton is housed in a 1931 Art Deco building, near Fountain Square. Modern and conveniently located, The Westin Cincinnati is also on Fountain Square and steps to some of the best restaurants in the city.
- Mid-Range Hotels: The downtown Residence Inn offers studios and two-room suites, complete with kitchens and a welcoming outdoor space with BBQs. It is conveniently located a short walk from the Taft Museum. Offering similar amenities, the Homewood Suites by Hilton is housed in a historical building by Fountain Park and close to the Contemporary Arts Center. With a modern take on Art Deco design, the Renaissance Cincinnati has comfortable rooms and luxurious bathrooms. Rooms above the 10th floor have great city views.
- Budget Hotels: The BEST WESTERN PLUS Hannaford Inn & Suites is an easy 12-mile drive on Interstate 71 out of downtown and offers a generous breakfast buffet. The recently renovated Comfort Inn is another five miles out and offers large rooms at an attractive price. For those willing to trade luxury for location, The Garfield Suites Hotel, with basic, no-frills rooms and suites for a low cost, is one of the few downtown budget hotels.