Top Attractions for First-Timers
Cincinnati has a diverse array of attractions to appeal to all interests. Here are some of the top spots first-time visitors should check out:
Over-the-Rhine is Cincinnati’s historic district, home to Italianate architecture, trendy shops, and some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. Don’t miss Findlay Market, Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market. Grab lunch from one of the food merchants, then explore the neighborhood’s art galleries and boutiques.
Escape the city and enjoy nature at Eden Park. Home to the Cincinnati Art Museum, Mirror Lake, and scenic overlooks of the Ohio River valley, this park offers a relaxing outdoor experience. Visit the Krohn Conservatory to see exotic plants from around the world.
Newport on the Levee
This dining and entertainment complex along the Ohio River offers shopping, restaurants, comedy club, aquarium, and more. Ride the Purple People Bridge across to Newport, Kentucky to explore the quaint East Row Historic District. Catch a show at the Newport Aquarium or take in the Cincinnati skyline views.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Consistently ranked as one of the best zoos in the U.S., the Cincinnati Zoo offers a full day of family fun. Get up close to gorillas, giraffes, rhinos and more in natural habitat exhibits. The zoo also features extensive botanical gardens, a 4D theater, train and carousel rides.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
This museum tells the story of the Underground Railroad and the ongoing struggle for human rights. Highly interactive exhibits allow you to step back in time. Don’t miss the Slave Pen, where you can walk inside an actual slave holding pen from a Kentucky plantation.
Great American Ball Park
Catch a Reds game at one of Major League Baseball’s best ballparks. Great American Ball Park features river views, statues of Reds legends, and a smoke-breathing dragon. Enjoy the game with locals while tasting ballpark favorites like Cincinnati chili and Graeter’s ice cream.
Where to Stay in Cincinnati
Cincinnati offers diverse lodging options to suit any budget or style. When choosing where to stay, consider proximity to attractions on your itinerary.
Downtown hotels put you steps from major attractions like the Aronoff Center, Contemporary Arts Center, and Over-the-Rhine dining and nightlife. Luxury options include The Cincinnatian Hotel and 21C Museum Hotel. Budget choices include Millennium Hotel or Holiday Inn Express.
Northern Kentucky hotels across the river provide easy access to attractions like Newport on the Levee, with more affordable rates. The Hotel Covington is a boutique option with chic decor. Holiday Inn Riverfront and Homewood Suites are reliable chain hotels.
Near the University of Cincinnati
Hotels around UC’s campus are another budget-friendly option. You’ll be a quick drive from downtown. Choices include Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, SpringHill Suites, and more.
Near the Airport
If you’re flying into CVG and want airport proximity, Sharonville hotels offer comfort and convenience. Hyatt Place, Hilton Garden Inn, and Hampton Inn are located right off the interstate.
Insider Tips for Exploring Cincinnati
Use these tips from locals to make the most of your time in Cincinnati:
Take the Streetcar
Cincinnati’s streetcar connects downtown and Over-the-Rhine. It’s $1 to ride and offers an affordable sightseeing option. The route features highlights like Fountain Square, Findlay Market, and Rhinegeist Brewery.
Try the Local Chili
Cincinnati is known for its unique chili – a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce served over spaghetti. Neighborhood chili parlors like Skyline, Gold Star, Camp Washington, Blue Ash, and Price Hill are classics.
Watch the Reds from The Banks
Even if you can’t get tickets to a game, you can soak up the atmosphere at Reds pre- and post-game parties outside Great American Ball Park along the riverfront. Live music, food, and drinks make The Banks a festive spot.
See the Roebling Suspension Bridge
This iconic bridge connecting Cincinnati and Covington offers great skyline views. Walk or drive across for a fun photo op. Picnic areas on both sides provide nice spots to relax and take it all in.
Sample Local Beers
Cincinnati’s craft beer scene is booming. Top local breweries include Rhinegeist, Taft’s Ale House, MadTree, Fifty West, Braxton, and more. Many offer tours and tasting rooms.
Find the Big Pig
The “Big Pig Gig” is a public art project with artist-decorated fiberglass pig statues scattered around downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Spotting them all is a fun scavenger hunt.
Watch the Sunset from Mt. Adams
For one of the best views of downtown Cincy, head up to Mt. Adams and watch the sunset behind the city skyline and bridges. Grab dinner at one of the neighborhood’s restaurants and take in the vista.
How to Get Around Cincinnati
Cincinnati offers several transportation options for getting around town. Here’s an overview:
The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority operates buses, streetcars, and inclines that serve downtown Cincinnati and connect to Northern Kentucky. Purchase passes at ticket kiosks before boarding. Buses and streetcars run daily, while inclines operate on more limited schedules.
Taxis and Rideshares
Cincinnati has traditional taxi services like Yellow Cab as well as rideshare options like Uber and Lyft. These point-to-point services are readily available downtown and can also provide transportation to/from the airport.
For group travel, charter buses are a convenient and comfortable transportation option. Charter bus companies like we provide private coach transportation for weddings, corporate outings, school field trips, and more. Charter buses allow groups to travel together in a single vehicle with plenty of room for luggage and amenities like WiFi and entertainment systems.
Ready to Get Started?
Cincinnati offers something for everyone – award-winning food and breweries, world-class museums and attractions, arts and culture, sports, and great parks. Use this first timer’s guide to help plan your perfect introduction to Cincinnati. Reach out to we at (513) 725-1651 to book group transportation that makes getting around easy and fun.