Bustling Cincinnati was built on the banks of the Ohio River and is one of the most charming and charismatic cities in the Midwest.
This jewel in southwest Ohio is rich in living German heritage, with historic architecture and a legendary beer scene celebrated with the second largest Oktoberfest in the world. The neighborhoods of Cincinnati are scattered across the city’s rolling hills – and those hills make cars and ridesharing the best way to hop from district to district.
Downtown is packed with Cincinnati’s best hotels, making it the best places to stay in town. However, once you’ve settled in, get out there and enjoy the different culture of each neighborhood. Here are the best neighborhoods to visit on your next getaway to Cincinnati.
Findlay Market in the historic Over-the-Rhine district © aceshot1 / Shutterstock
Over the Rhine
Best neighborhood for canapés and brews
Queen City is a symbol of resilience, and fewer places exemplify this than Over-the-Rhine (referred to as “OTR” by locals), one of the best neighborhoods around Cincinnati. In the early 2000s, OTR topped the list of America’s Most Dangerous Cities. Now it packs crowds into its colorful bars, breweries, and restaurants. OTR is within easy walking distance, although the city’s newest addition, the Cincinnati Street Car, runs from the north end of the neighborhood to the downtown riverside and features attractions like the Findlay Market food and craft center, the new Cincinnati FC football stadium, and the historic ones Classical music venue connects. Cincinnati Music Hall.
Craft beer has been a boon to revitalizing OTR, and with nearly a dozen breweries in this Cincinnati travel hotspot, it’s easy to see why. Rhinegeist, one of the city’s first craft breweries, delights beer lovers with a rooftop terrace overlooking the city and a spacious warehouse-style taproom. British cult brewery Brewdog Brewery has one of their only US taprooms on the border between OTR and Pendleton. And Taft’s Ale House brews creative beer in an upcycling church, with the main seating area instead of benches and a uniquely elevated dining area in the former rafters.
Beer isn’t the only OTR attraction. The ever-growing list of OTR’s top Ohio restaurants will surprise first-time travelers to Cincinnati. The Salazar restaurant, brainchild of James Beard nominee José Salazar, is one of the district’s most coveted reservations, though upscale hotdogs are just as hard to beat in the Senate. And after a long day of beer tasting, few things satisfy as well as crunchy burritos – known as turtle shell – from the walk-in taco stand Gomez Salsa.
Cincinnati’s lush and very active Smale Riverfront Park on the Ohio River (Covington, Kentucky is on the other side) © Christian Hinkle / Shutterstock
Best neighborhood for outdoor activities
The recently renovated riverside neighborhood is one of the best places to visit when traveling in Cincinnati. Gardens, bike paths, fountains, and shady benches line this bank of the Ohio River, which sits at the base of larger downtown Cincinnati. It’s a sports lover’s destination, with professional baseball, soccer, and hockey stadiums just steps from the water. And a bustling array of bars and restaurants around the stadiums, including the famous Moerlein Lager House in Cincinnati and brunch favorite Taste of Belgium, are part of the new The Banks project.
Downtown Cincinnati is full of culture © photo.ua / Shutterstock
Best neighborhood for sightseeing
Downtown Cincinnati offers Queen City’s best attractions, starting with the culturally rich Cincinnati Museum Center, a National Historic Landmark with multiple museums under one breathtaking roof: the Art Deco Union Station. Find more than 1.8 million artifacts, works of art, and archives in the center’s interconnected attractions, including the Cincinnati History Museum, the Cincinnati History Library and Archive, the Museum of Natural History & Science, and the Children’s Museum. This crash course in Cincinnati’s culture and history continues in the eastern portion of downtown, with the city’s Broadway hub, the Aronoff Center for the Arts, and the hidden Taft Museum of Art, which houses works by artists like Rembrandt.
The city’s main square, Fountain Square, is a meeting point for events including Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in September and a German-style Christmas market with an ice rink every winter. Live music, dancing, and food truck festivals keep Fountain Square alive year round, making it one of the best places to visit in Cincinnati.
While it’s barely as full of restaurants as the neighboring OTR, downtown Cincinnati is hardly lacking in delicious food. Not to be missed is the classic Arnold’s Bar & Grill, the oldest non-stop tavern in town, serving home-style cooking and craft brews in its eclectic bar and outdoor terrace. The Scottish-American gastropub Nicholson’s Pub transports guests right across the pond, while The Righteous Room down the street is one of many hip and up-and-coming bars for a nightcap.
Picture-perfect views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River from Eden Park © M4Productions / Shutterstock
Best neighborhood for art lovers
Located foot above the Ohio River, the Mount Adams neighborhood in Cincinnati attracts visitors with unbeatable views of the skyline and then delights them with a range of art experiences – starting with a larger than life monk’s fountain on St. Gregory Street, the colorful main drag. Townhouses in all the colors of the crayon box in downtown Mount Adams lead to the neighborhood’s most popular attraction, the Playhouse in the Park. This theater hosts local shows year-round and has got Hollywood stars like Cincinnati-born Sarah Jessica Parker started. Just behind the theater is the forest-lined Cincinnati Art Museum, a sprawling, centuries-old arts center with 67,000 works of art and some of the hilltop’s best vantage points.
Another venue, the Seasongood Pavilion, hosts summer movie nights and outdoor concerts at the Mount Adams entrance to Eden Park, one of Cincinnati’s most famous green spaces. This meandering park is home to lakes, shelters, architectural relics, and hiking trails between Mount Adams and the neighboring town of Walnut Hills. The main attraction of the park is the Krohn Conservatory, an indoor botanical garden and a butterfly house.
While art and nature are the most fascinating features, Mount Adams also has some historical and hidden eateries. The former Mount Adams Bar & Grill whisper pub serves delicious bar food with local beers, while the City View Tavern offers one of Cincinnati’s finest views of downtown.
The hill views from Ault Park are well worth a stop while in Hyde Park © Bentley Davis / Shutterstock
Best neighborhood for families
Hyde Park is a peaceful alternative to the hustle and bustle of downtown Cincinnati. One of the best neighborhoods for families in Cincinnati, this charming neighborhood is 15 minutes east of OTR and downtown. Its signature attraction, Hyde Park Square, shows the area’s family-friendly culture. Sweet stops like the renowned Cincinnati ice cream parlor Graeters, which is praised for rock-sized chocolate chips, and Peace, Love & Little Donuts bring Cincinnatians of all ages to the square – as do the comfort dining area Arthur’s and the upscale new farm-to-table Liebes Restaurant , both family friendly and.
This eastern borough is also home to Queen City’s best stargazing spot, the Cincinnati Observatory. The 19th century observatory offers stargazing and astronomy training events with weekly observations and late-night-date-nights for adult-only astronomy fun.
And Ault Park, located between Hyde Park and neighboring Mount Lookout, is by far the most photogenic green space in the city. These lush and secluded 223 acres feature 39 manicured gardens, nine densely wooded paths, and an Italian Renaissance-style pavilion that looms over the sprawling grounds.
How to drink craft beer in America