Cincinnati, Ohio, sits in a region of more than 2 million people, encompassing southwestern Ohio and northern Kentucky along the Licking and Ohio rivers. Cincinnati sits along 22 miles of the Ohio, which has given this city a large portion of its history and things to see and do.
The area around the “Queen City” has a deep history and sites where that past can be experienced. Here are some of the fun things to do in and around Cincinnati.
15 Best Things to Do in the Cincinnati Area
1. Caldwell Nature Preserve
This nature preserve features a wide variety of plants and wildlife nestled amid a mix of old- and new-growth forest. You’ll see amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles during your travels along 3.5 miles of nature trails.
2. Cincinnati Art Museum
The Cincinnati Art Museum boasts more than 67,000 artworks that the museum says span more than 6,000 years. It’s known for an extensive collection of European works, along with paintings from American artists.
The museum sits in a grand, castle-like building atop the urban Eden Park hill. It was founded in 1881, as the first structure built as an art museum west of the Alleghenies. That makes it one of the oldest in the country.
3. Cincinnati Museum Center
This complex is a cluster of museums that sits in Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, a National Historic Landmark train station in the Art Deco style.
The Cincinnati Museum Center features the Cincinnati History Museum, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, the Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Natural History & Science.
4. Cincinnati Music Hall
The Cincinnati Music Hall is home to the Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and other arts and music performances.
The building itself, with distinctive Venetian Gothic architecture, has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
5. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The Cincinnati Zoo is the second oldest zoo in the United States and houses more than 500 animals. It’s also known for endangered species and birthing programs. The zoo has delivered gorillas and white tigers during the program.
The Botanical Garden features 3,000 plant species, along with garden exhibits, an extensive number of native plants and conservation programs.
6. Eden Park
Eden Park in Cincinnati features the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Playhouse and Krohn Conservatory. Popular landmarks within the park include the Hinkle Magnolia Garden, Mirror Lake and Seasongood Pavilion, which hosts outdoor concerts.
The park, on 186 acres, overlooks the Ohio River valley. It was designed by landscape architect Adolph Strauch, who also designed the Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum also featured in this list.
7. Findlay Market
Findlay Market hosts merchants selling a variety of wares, from foods to crafts. The market also features street performers and special events throughout the year.
The market has indoor and outdoor spaces, with more than vendors selling fresh, locally sourced, artisanal and specialty foods at its Farmers Market.
8. Fountain Square
Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, shops and offices, and features the picturesque Tyler Davidson Fountain, which was shown in the opening credits of the television show “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
The square is host to a variety of events throughout the year, including movies, concerts, ice skating and the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany.
9. Gunpowder Creek Nature Park (KY)
Across the river from Cincinnati, in Burlington, Kentucky, sits the Gunpowder Creek Nature Park, It features 122 acres of wooded land.
The family-friendly park has 1.25 miles of unpaved hiking and walking trails, with a logging trail reminiscent of the 1800s that ends near a creek.
10. John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
This bridge, spanning the Ohio River to connect Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky, was the world’s longest suspension bridge when it opened in 1866. Roebling, the bridge’s designer, later was responsible for the Brooklyn Bridge.
The bridge is a favorite of pedestrians who attend events in downtown Cincinnati but start the day in Covington, sometimes in the bar and restaurant district called Roebling Point.
11. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Cincinnati, on the other side of the Ohio River from Confederate Kentucky, was an important site on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. This museum recounts this history.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center tells the stories of the men and women who escaped slavery and those who helped them. Other exhibits tell the stories of other Black Americans.
12. Smale Riverfront Park
This is a newer park in Cincinnati, connecting downtown Cincinnati to the Ohio River and other parks along the Ohio River Trail.
13. Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum
This history-filled cemetery is the third largest in the United States and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Famous people interred here include former Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase and the cemetery’s landscape architect, Adolph Strauch.
Visitors to the cemetery and arboretum will find a 750-acre garden focused on woody plants used for urban landscapes throughout the Midwest.
14. St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption (KY)
This Catholic cathedral just over the river in Covington, Kentucky, is one of the most beautiful sights in the region. Though it’s considered unfinished after construction ended in 1915, it is a well-regarded architectural monument.
St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption features 82 beautiful stained glass windows telling stories from the Bible. The cathedral also features murals, gardens and much more to see.
15. William Howard Taft National Historic Site
This downtown Cincinnati site is the birthplace of the 27th president and houses a museum with mementos of Taft’s personal life and political career.
The William Howard Taft National Historic Site features the two-story Greek Revival house where the president and Supreme Court chief justice was raised and lived.
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