Best Things to Do in Cincinnati: 12 Top Places to Visit

by Jen
Best Things to Do in Cincinnati
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Are you planning a trip to the Midwest? If so, you can’t miss the chance to explore Cincinnati. Here are some of the most fun, scenic, and unique things to do in Cincinnati. It’s a city that’s bursting with unique attractions, vibrant culture, and rich history that is sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Cincinnati, known as the “Queen City,” is a gem in the heart of Ohio. It’s a city that beautifully blends urban sophistication with a strong sense of tradition and history. Cincinnati always has something special for you. There’s a diverse range of best things to do in Cincinnati that cater to all types of travelers, from its world-class museums to its bustling food scene.

The city’s location on the banks of the Ohio River provides a stunning backdrop for a host of outdoor activities. Meanwhile, its historic neighborhoods, like Over-the-Rhine, are a testament to Cincinnati’s rich past and vibrant present.

In this guide, I’ve curated a list of the best things to do in Cincinnati, drawing on my personal experiences and favorite spots. From the iconic Cincinnati Zoo to the stunning Cincinnati Art Museum, these attractions are sure to make your visit unforgettable. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Cincinnati.

The top places to visit in Cincinnati right now
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Best Places to Visit in Cincinnati

Ready to discover all the coolest things to do in Cincinnati? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this often-overlooked vacation spot. So keep reading to find out all these unique Cincinnati places to visit.

Are you into exploring city attractions and hidden gems? Or maybe you love experiencing the city like the locals do? Or perhaps you prefer a tranquil getaway in nature? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Cincinnati can satisfy your wanderlust. Here’s all the best attractions in Cincinnati that you should know about.

1. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

If you’re wondering what to do in Cincinnati, a visit to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden should be at the top of your list. Located in Avondale, this zoo is the nation’s second-oldest and houses an impressive assortment of animals from around the globe. From red pandas to pythons and parakeets, you’ll find them all here. The zoo is a home to thousands of local and imported plants.

Interactive experiences are plentiful, with offerings like the Conservation Carousel, Safari Train, and 4-D Theater. You can also attend an educational talk and witness a live feeding. The zoo is heavily focused on conservation efforts, so you’ll have the opportunity to see many endangered animals. Some species have even been successfully bred here, like the California sea lion.

So, if you’re looking for unique places in Cincinnati to visit, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a must-see. Not only will you get to see a wide variety of animals and plants, but you’ll also learn about the importance of conservation and the role zoos play in protecting endangered species. This makes it one of the most fun things to do in Cincinnati.

Visit Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is one of the best things to do in Cincinnati.
Visit Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden: Nation’s second-oldest, diverse animals, local and imported plants.

2. Findlay Market

Looking to visit one of the best places in Cincinnati? Findlay Market should be on your list! This open-air market in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is a bustling hub of activity, offering a diverse array of ethnic food stalls and flea market vendors. As one of the oldest public markets in Ohio, Findlay Market holds a special place in the hearts of locals and is a weekly tradition for many.

From fresh produce, meats, seafood, cheeses, desserts, wines, and more, the food options are endless. You’ll also find a variety of crafts. This includes jewelry and paintings by local artists, as well as cookware by local stonemasons. On warm days, the market comes alive with street performers and a beer garden, making it one of the coolest activities in Cincinnati.

For its promise of a unique and vibrant experience, a stop at Findlay Market is one of the most unique things to do in Cincinnati that you won’t want to miss.

Explore Findlay Market: Over-the-Rhine's lively open-air market featuring ethnic food stalls, flea market vendors.
Explore Findlay Market: Over-the-Rhine’s lively open-air market featuring ethnic food stalls, flea market vendors.

3. Cincinnati History Museum

A visit to Cincinnati would be incomplete without a trip to the Cincinnati History Museum, which is one of the best places to go in Cincinnati if you’re interested in the city’s rich past. It’s a fascinating destination that takes you back to the days of trains, steam engines, and suspender-clad conductors shouting the day’s schedule.

Housed in an abandoned railroad terminal, the museum chronicles the entire rise of Cincinnati while examining its relevance to both Ohio and the American Midwest. Costumed staffers are on hand to answer your questions as you browse the exhibits and galleries. A 1/64-scale replica of Cincinnati offers a fascinating look at its architecture and infrastructure, while informative films play at regular intervals.

The shining centerpiece of the Cincinnati History Museum is the “Queen of the West,” a life-sized model of an old-fashioned, side-wheel steamboat. Visitors can climb right in to feel like a captain of the seas. If you’re looking for cool things to experience in Cincinnati, it doesn’t get more unique than a vintage steamboat in an abandoned railroad terminal!

The Cincinnati History Museum is one of those tourist attractions that you’ll be glad you visited when your trip is over. It’s entertaining and educational, providing a little substance in between all of your lighter, more fun-loving vacation activities.It’s a must-see in Cincinnati for history buffs and curious travelers alike. It’s easy to see why this is one of the best things to do in Cincinnati!

Explore Cincinnati History Museum, from trains to city rise, exhibits, costumed staff, and a 1/64-scale city replica.
Explore Cincinnati History Museum, from trains to city rise, exhibits, costumed staff, and a 1/64-scale city replica.

4. BB Riverboats

As far as things to do in Cincinnati go, this activity is among the coolest! For a unique Cincinnati experience, consider hopping aboard one of the themed riverboat cruises offered by BB Riverboats. From the romantic Stonebrook Winery Sunset Cruise to the family-friendly Sunday Family Dinner Cruise, there’s an adventure for everyone. As you glide along the Ohio River, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Cincinnati’s skyline, making it one of the coolest activities in Cincinnati.

Each cruise offers its own unique experience. If you’re traveling with your girlfriends, the Pure Romance Cruise might be just the ticket. For a fun-filled adventure with the kids, consider the Super Hero Cruise. Regardless of the cruise you choose, you’ll be treated to stunning views of Cincinnati while enjoying delicious food and drinks.

BB Riverboats is more than just a boat ride; it’s a unique way to experience Cincinnati. So, if you’re wondering where to go in Cincinnati, why not try the Ohio River? It’s a unique perspective that you won’t get anywhere else. As such, this Cincinnati attraction is one of the most popular sights in Ohio.

Hop on BB Riverboats' themed cruises, from romantic sunsets to family dinners, offering panoramic skyline views along the Ohio River.
Hop on BB Riverboats’ themed cruises, from romantic sunsets to family dinners, offering panoramic skyline views along the Ohio River.

5. MadTree Brewing

When it comes to unique places in Cincinnati, MadTree Brewing tops the list. This microbrewery offers more than just craft beers; it’s a place where you can enjoy wood-fired pizzas, take part in brewery tours, and even purchase kegs. It’s one of the coolest Cincinnati things to do, whether you’re a beer enthusiast or not.

The atmosphere at MadTree Brewing is as unique as its brews. The converted warehouse combines industrial chic with rustic charm, creating a laid-back vibe that’s perfect for a casual afternoon. The daily brews are listed on a chalkboard menu, adding to the relaxed feel of the place.

So, if you’re looking for the best places to go in Cincinnati, consider MadTree Brewing. It’s a great place to unwind, enjoy a cold beer, and experience a slice of Cincinnati’s vibrant brewery scene. As one of the top Cincinnati attractions, you’ll definitely want to add this to your travel itinerary.

MadTree Brewing is a unique microbrewery, craft beer, wood-fired pizzas, brewery tours, and keg purchases.
MadTree Brewing is a unique microbrewery, craft beer, wood-fired pizzas, brewery tours, and keg purchases.

6. Downtown Cincinnati

Looking for the best things to do in Cincinnati? Don’t miss this one! Downtown Cincinnati is a bustling hub of activity, offering a mix of old-world charm and modern amenities. It’s one of the best places in Cincinnati to shop, dine, and explore. From bookstores and fashion boutiques to cafes and cocktail lounges, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re in Cincinnati for a while, consider renting an apartment in one of the many downtown building complexes. If you’re just visiting for the weekend, splurge on a luxurious hotel suite overlooking the Ohio River.

Downtown Cincinnati offers a truly unique experience. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant culture and lifestyle. So, if you’re wondering what to do in Cincinnati, make sure to include a visit to downtown on your adventure list.

Exploring Downtown Cincinnati is one of the best things to do in Cincinnati.
Downtown Cincinnati boasts a vibrant mix of charm and modernity.

7. Coney Island Park

This is one of the coolest things to do in Cincinnati, hands down. Experience the epitome of summer fun at Coney Island Park, a family-friendly amusement park that’s a must-see in Cincinnati. Located just east of downtown, it’s one of the city’s top attractions.

Best known for the Sunlite Water Adventure theme park, Coney Island Park is home to the world’s largest recirculating pool and thrilling water rides. Get soaked at Typhoon Tower, or simply relax in a cabana with a refreshing drink.

But the fun doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. You can also play a round of miniature golf, attend a midnight swim party, or take a thrilling ride on the roller coaster. If you happen to visit on a Sunday Funday, you can enjoy live music as well.

So, if you’re wondering where to go in Cincinnati for a day of family fun, Coney Island Park should be at the top of your list.

Coney Island Park is the ultimate summer fun, family-friendly amusement park, a top attraction in the city.
Coney Island Park is the ultimate summer fun, family-friendly amusement park, a top attraction in the city.

8. Cincinnati Dinner Train

Experience Ohio in style at this unique place to visit in Cincinnati. Step back in time and experience the elegance of rail dining on the Cincinnati Dinner Train. This unique dining experience takes you on a three-hour journey through the heart of Cincinnati, offering stunning views of the cityscape. The train itself is a vintage marvel, composed of three dining cars that hark back to the opulence of the 1940s.

As you traverse the city, you’ll be treated to a sumptuous four-course dinner served with fine silverware. The menu offers a variety of delectable options, from succulent chicken with white wine sauce to prime ribs, all complemented by a selection of cocktails. The dining cars can accommodate up to 132 people, ensuring an intimate and cozy atmosphere.

The interior of the train is a testament to classic elegance, with windowsill booths offering panoramic views of Cincinnati’s most beautiful scenery. As you dine, you’ll be enveloped in an ambiance of luxury and nostalgia. This makes it the Cincinnati Dinner Train more than just a meal, but a journey into a bygone era.

So, if you’re a fan of vintage charm and fine dining, the Cincinnati Dinner Train should be on your list of the coolest Cincinnati things to do. It’s a unique Cincinnati attraction that combines history, gastronomy, and stunning views into one unforgettable experience.

Experience Cincinnati Dinner Train, which boasts vintage charm, fine dining, history, gastronomy, and stunning views combine.
Experience Cincinnati Dinner Train, which boasts vintage charm, fine dining, history, gastronomy, and stunning views combine.

9. Sawyer Point Park and Yeatman’s Cove

For an experience like no other, you’ll want to check out these top places to visit in Cincinnati. When it comes to unique places in Cincinnati, Sawyer Point Park and Yeatman’s Cove are a must-visit. Nestled along the Ohio River, these two parks offer a combined mile-long stretch of scenic riverfront space. As you stroll along the serpentine wall, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the river and the Cincinnati skyline.

Sawyer Point Park is a hub of outdoor activities, with tennis courts, volleyball courts, a performance pavilion, and a playground for the kids. The park is also home to several significant memorials and artworks. This includes the “flying pig” sculptures, a nod to Cincinnati’s history as a major pork processing center.

Adjacent to Sawyer Point is Yeatman’s Cove, named after the founder of Cincinnati, Griffin Yeatman. The park is known for its historic Serpentine Wall, a contoured wall along the river that doubles as a flood control measure. It’s a popular spot for picnics, with plenty of benches and grassy areas to relax and enjoy the river views.

Both parks host numerous events throughout the year. This includes the Cincinnati Flower Show and the Paddlefest canoe and kayak race. So, if you’re wondering where to go in Cincinnati for a mix of relaxation, recreation, and culture, Sawyer Point Park and Yeatman’s Cove are the perfect answer. Is this one of the coolest things to do in Cincinnati? You bet!

Sawyer Point Park is an outdoor hub with tennis, volleyball, pavilion, playground, and artworks.
Sawyer Point Park is an outdoor hub with tennis, volleyball, pavilion, playground, and artworks.

10. Eden Park: A Green Oasis in the Heart of Cincinnati

Nature lovers will love this top thing to do in Cincinnati. In the midst of Cincinnati’s urban jungle, Eden Park emerges as a verdant sanctuary, a place where city dwellers can reconnect with nature. This park, nestled on the banks of the Ohio River is a must-see in Cincinnati.

As you step into Eden Park, you’ll be greeted by a network of trails inviting you to explore the park’s diverse landscapes. These trails offer a refreshing escape from the city’s concrete confines.

Picnic pavilions dot the park, providing the perfect setting for a family outing or a romantic date. Imagine enjoying a meal amidst the park’s lush greenery, with the gentle rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds as your background music. It’s a simple pleasure that’s hard to find in the city’s bustling downtown.

Eden Park also boasts of gazebos where you can sit back, relax, and soak in the park’s tranquil ambiance. These are the perfect spots to catch up on a good book, meditate, or simply watch the world go by.

One of the park’s highlights is Mirror Lake, a favorite spot for launching model boats. The lake, with its calm waters reflecting the surrounding trees and sky, adds a touch of magic to the park’s scenery.

Eden Park is definitely one of the best places to go in Cincinnati. It’s a place where you can take a break from the city’s fast-paced lifestyle and simply breathe. There’s so much to see at Eden Park, that it’s no wonder this is among the best things to do in Cincinnati.

Eden Park: Urban oasis along the Ohio River, showcasing the city's commitment to preserving natural beauty amid development.
Eden Park: Urban oasis along the Ohio River, showcasing the city’s commitment to preserving natural beauty amid development.

11. Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum

Yearning for getaway like no other? This thing to do in Cincinnati has got you covered. The Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is a unique and unforgettable destination in Cincinnati. It’s a cemetery and  an arboretum, and it’s recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Covering more than 700 acres, it’s the largest cemetery in Ohio and the second-largest in the entire United States. This place is about graves and also about the beauty of nature, with hills, lakes, gardens, ponds, and tree groves.

The cemetery is home to several famous graves, including those of Civil War generals, noteworthy artists, athletes, scientists, and politicians. It’s also a beautiful place for a stroll, with its greenery in the summer and snow in the winter. The statues and gravestones are just as impressive as the natural scenery. The cemetery is particularly famous for its gothic architecture that inspired some of its memorials.

Visiting the Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is about experiencing a piece of history and appreciating the beauty of nature. It’s a place where you can reflect on the past, enjoy the present, and think about the future. It’s a place that reminds us of the cycle of life and the importance of remembering and honoring those who came before us. So, if you’re looking for a unique place to visit in Cincinnati, the Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is a must-see.

Remember, Cincinnati is also about the tranquility and beauty of nature. A stop at the Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is one of the most unique things to do in Cincinnati that offers an experience you won’t soon forget.

Spring Grove, the resting place of famous figures, adorned with statues, gravestones, and gothic architecture amidst seasonal beauty.
Spring Grove, the resting place of famous figures, adorned with statues, gravestones, and gothic architecture amidst seasonal beauty.

12. Cincinnati Observatory

It would be a crime to write an article on the top things to do in Cincinnati without mentioning the Cincinnati Observatory. The Cincinnati Observatory, a gateway to the cosmos, is a must-visit in Cincinnati for anyone with a fascination for the universe. This observatory is a center for education and public engagement in science. It’s a place where you can learn about the wonders of the universe and our place within it.

The Cincinnati Observatory is a place where you can book an appointment to explore the mysteries of outer space. It’s a place where you can learn about the cosmos, from the planets in our solar system to distant galaxies. The observatory offers a unique opportunity to look through telescopes and learn about the science of astronomy from experts.

The Cincinnati Observatory is a place of discovery and wonder. It’s a place where you can explore the universe and learn about the science that helps us understand it. The Cincinnati Observatory offers a unique and fascinating experience both for a seasoned stargazer or a novice. For an experience that’s out of this world, the Cincinnati Observatory is one of the top places in Cincinnati that is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

Exploring Cincinnati Observatory is one of the best things to do in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Observatory is a must-visit for universe enthusiasts, a hub of education and cosmic engagement.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Cincinnati

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Cincinnati? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Cincinnati:

What is the best time to visit Cincinnati?

Cincinnati has a moderate climate, making it a year-round destination. However, the best time to visit is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) when the weather is pleasant and the city hosts numerous outdoor festivals.

What are some unique things to do in Cincinnati?

Cincinnati offers a variety of unique experiences, from exploring the historic Over-the-Rhine district to catching a game at the Great American Ball Park. Don’t miss out on the Cincinnati Art Museum, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and the Cincinnati Observatory.

Is Cincinnati family-friendly?

Absolutely! With attractions like the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the Newport Aquarium nearby, there’s plenty to keep kids of all ages entertained.

Exterior view of Cincinnati Museum Center, an iconic historic building showcasing rich heritage and educational experiences.
Exterior view of Cincinnati Museum Center, an iconic historic building showcasing rich heritage and educational experiences.

How do you explore Cincinnati?

Exploring Cincinnati, Ohio, can be a delightful experience, as the city offers a rich blend of history, culture, arts, sports, and culinary delights. Here’s a guide to exploring Cincinnati:

1. Downtown and Over-the-Rhine District:

  • Fountain Square: A vibrant public space and a great starting point to explore downtown.
  • Over-the-Rhine: Known for its historic 19th-century architecture and a lively arts scene. Explore Findlay Market for local produce and artisanal products.

2. Museums and Cultural Attractions:

  • Cincinnati Art Museum: Home to an impressive collection of more than 67,000 artworks.
  • Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal: A passenger railroad station in the 1930s, now a passenger rail station and museum center.
  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: Learn about the history of the Underground Railroad in the U.S.

3. Outdoor Activities:

  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden: One of the oldest zoos in the United States.
  • Smale Riverfront Park: Enjoy walking, biking, or relaxing by the river.
  • Krohn Conservatory: A nationally recognized showcase of more than 3,500 plant species from around the world.

4. Sports:

  • Catch a Game: Whether it’s the Cincinnati Reds (MLB) at the Great American Ball Park or the Cincinnati Bengals (NFL) at Paul Brown Stadium, sports are big in Cincinnati.

5. Culinary Exploration:

  • Taste Cincinnati Chili: A local favorite, this unique chili is often served over spaghetti or hot dogs.
  • Explore Local Breweries: The city has a rich brewing history, and many local breweries offer tours and tastings.

What food is Cincinnati known for?

Cincinnati is famous for its unique chili — a delicious concoction of meat, chili, and spices served over spaghetti. The city is also known for Graeter’s Ice Cream, goetta (a German-American breakfast sausage), and mouthwatering barbecue.

Is Cincinnati an expensive city?

Cincinnati is relatively affordable compared to many other major U.S. cities, offering a lower cost of living and reasonably priced attractions. However, like any city, expenses can add up depending on your lifestyle and choices, so it’s always wise to plan and budget your trip accordingly.

Is Cincinnati worth visiting?

Absolutely, Cincinnati is a gem worth exploring! With its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and a plethora of unique attractions, it offers a rewarding experience for travelers of all interests and ages.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Cincinnati

Cincinnati is a city that truly caters to all. You’ll always find something to love in this vibrant Ohio city. From its rich history and stunning architecture to its bustling food scene and unique attractions, Cincinnati offers a diverse range of experiences that promise a memorable visit. So, why wait? Start planning your Cincinnati adventure today and discover the coolest things to do in this hidden gem of a city.

The top things to do in Cincinnati for all types of travelers
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