Cincinnati Area Travel Guide

Aubrey from My High Noon recently emailed me asking for suggestions on where to eat & play in Cincinnati.  I've gotten similar emails before, and now that Cincinnati was on Lonely Planet's Top US travel destinations I figured I should just blog about it!  Cincinnati is really a huge area with many diverse neighborhoods, so there's something for everyone.  Keep in mind that I'm including Northern KY attractions too, because it's just a bridge away.

      There are a few big attractions in Cincinnati that are thoroughly worth visiting including:
  • The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens
  • The Museum Center at Union Terminal- This is a collection of museums in the city's Art Deco masterpiece train depot (in photo above).  Museums include the Natural History & Science, the Children's Museum, Cincinnati History Museum (my favorite because they have a really cool WWII part), traveling exhibits, and the Omnimax (a domed movie theater).
  • The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center-  Did you know Cincinnati is where Uncle Tom's Cabin was written?  This museum is beautiful and incredibly interesting.
  • Cincinnati Art Museum-  The building itself is amazing & general admission is free!  Afterwards go to Eden Park for a picnic, enjoying an amazing view of the Kentucky riverfront.
  • Krohn Conservatory-  a giant greenhouse worth going to during the butterfly show.  Remember the movie Airborne?  They skate in this place during the movie!
  • Cincinnati Reds game- hot dogs, cotton candy, & baseball.  Need I say more?
  • Cincinnati Bengals- football is not at all my cup of tea, but maybe you enjoy it!

      Places to shop & eat:
  • Bellevue- there are a few art galleries, consignment shops, bridal shops, Pasquale's pizza, Mrs. Teapots, Avenue Brew, and a few other eateries.  The Bellevue Bistro for breakfast is delicious if you're not in a hurry.  If you like local bars check out the B-List.  My brother-in-law owns it!  The one MUST do is Schneider's Sweet Shop, it's the best ice cream & chocolate in town.  A little farther down the street is Virgil's Cafe, one of my favorite restaurants.  On some Mondays they do special beer & wine tasting dinners.  Call to learn the dates and menus of beer/wine nights, then book a reservation!
  • Covington Main Strasse- lots of bars, a candy store, Designs by Dana tattoo parlor, a stained glass studio, a coffee shop, and other cute shops.  There are lots of yummy restaurants here.  I suggest Otto's, Cock & Bull, and Lime.
  • Newport on the Levee- This is an outdoor/indoor mall with lots of restaurants like Tom + Chee (a grilled cheese restaurant!), an AMC theater, the Newport Aquarium, a boutique bowling alley, Funny Bone Comedy Club, and you can Ride the Ducks.
  • Northside- Here you'll find vintage shops: Chicken Lays an Egg and Casablanca.  There are also a few cute coffee shops, and there are some yummy restaurants like Melt and Honey.  Most importantly there is Shake It Records where I could literally spend all day.  Above is Lauren and T.J. there on Record Store Day.  At night a lot of my friends hang out at Northside Tavern.
  • Downtown/Gateway Quarter- This is the place to be right now!  For food check out A Tavola, Abigail Street, Street Pops, Lavomatic, Coffee Emporium, Via Vite, and Senate.  There are some really great shops including Atomic Number 10, Park +Vine, Original Thought Required, Mica 12/v, and Mannequin.  Nightlife is best at Motr, Japps, Neons, and Grammer's.  The absolute best foodie restaurant in town is Local 127, a bit closer to the city center!
  • Lebanon, OH- a bit north of downtown, but there are some amazing antique shops in this area.

      Random things:
  • Antique Malls- Ohio Valley, Florence Antique, Grand Antique Mall, and the ones in Lebanon.  Also, check to see if it's a week of the Burlington Antique Show!!!!!  The suitcases above & these posts are about Burlington.
  • My favorite thrift stores are the Valley Thrifts, and there's a really big Saint Vincent dePaul near I-75 just north of downtown.
  • If you're into theme parks Kings Island is 30 minutes north of downtown and has good roller coasters.
  • The best mall is Kenwood.  They have a Nordstrom, H&M, J.Crew, Madewell, Anthropologie, and Sephora! About 10 minutes away is outdoor mall, Rookwood Commons, with a Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, and DSW.
  • There is a Charley Harper mural in the City Building.  No photographs allowed, but it's awesome.
  • Terry's Turf Club-  This is the best burger I've ever had.  They're always packed at dinner, so expect to wait a bit.
  • Tea and lunch at the Bon Bonerie is always a good idea, but make reservations.  Buy some pastries for later, too!
  • You can get the best photos of the downtown riverfront from the Newport on the Levee.  Then you can walk across the purple people bridge to get to the Cincinnati riverfront, where there is stadium seating and Sawyer Point Park with bike rentals & a splash park. 
  • The best views of KY & the river is from Eden Park
 I think Brian and I should make a goal to do all of these things this summer!  It's hard to remember just how awesome your own hometown is sometimes!
xoxo, Mallory