24 hours in: Cincinnati

October 14, 2016
Sherry Hopkins
Because I’ve lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, most of my life, when the opportunity to start Cincinnati Urban Adventures presented itself in 2016, taking people on tours of my city, I was thrilled! I love to see people have fun and smile. I currently have four tours and my most popular tour is The Nati in a Nutshell. The tour begins in Over-the-Rhine at Findlay Market, which is Ohio’s oldest market, dating back to 1852, before Abraham Lincoln was President.

Headed to Cincinnati and wondering what to see and do with only 24 hours? We’re here to help you maximise your short visit and experience the highlights of The Queen City, with advice straight from our locals.

Early morning (7am – 9am)

Begin your 24 hours with breakfast in the heart of downtown on Race Street at the amazing Maplewood Kitchen and Bar. Tip: try their quinoa cakes, ricotta pancakes, or avocado benedict.

Morning (9am – 12pm)

Now that your tummy’s full, stroll one block over to Fountain Square, passing the delightful Tyler Davis Fountain, and walk three blocks south to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The museum is devoted to educating the public about both past and modern-day slavery, and accomplishes their mission with compelling exhibits.

After spending an hour or two there, rent a Red Bike (one of the many stations is located just behind the center) and explore two beautiful riverfront parks: Yeatman’s Cove/Sawyer Point and Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park, passing unique art sculptures with the mighty Ohio River and northern Kentucky as your backdrop. Round-trip, the trail along the river is a short three miles (about five kilometres).

washington park fountain in cincinnati

Spend some time in the waters at Washington Park!

Afternoon (12pm – 5:00pm)

Turn your bike in and have lunch at either the Moerlein Lager House or the Yard House (a short 2-3 minute walk). With sweeping views of the river, the boats and occasional barges are fun to observe — not to mention having nature’s beauty right in front of you.

Take the $1 streetcar ride nine stops up to Findlay Market, Ohio’s oldest outdoor market. After a tasty treat or two at the market, ride the streetcar over to the historic Washington Park to see some of the nation’s largest collection of Italianate architecture and playful water features.

All aboard the streetcar again for a ride to the heart of downtown for a taste or two of the locals’ favourite foods near Fountain Square, followed by a super-fast elevator ride up 45 stories to the observation deck of the Carew Tower for outstanding views. The building is a national historic landmark filled with art deco-themed details. Then head to the area called The Banks for a short walk through Smale Riverfront Park.

carew tower observation deck in cincinnati

Catch the views atop Carew

Happy hour (5pm – 7pm)

You’re probably ready for a rest and a cocktail by now, so take the streetcar up two stops to the 21c Museum Hotel’s Cocktail Terrace (open seasonally), located on the 11th floor and offering stunning views of downtown Cincinnati. You’ll also want to check out the museum’s free art exhibitions while you’re there.

queen city sign in cincinnati

Cincinnati: The Queen City

Evening (7pm until late!)

Now it’s time to hit some hot spots in Cincinnati’s beloved Over-the-Rhine community. Located just four streetcar stops north, this area is chock-full of trendy eateries and bars. We recommend walking one block over to the swank and sumptuous Bakersfield OTR for some authentic Mexican food and top-notch margaritas. If you prefer Italian, A Tavola is across the street and although they have delicious pasta, their signature pizzas are the best I’ve ever had!

If you’re looking for nightlife, you’re in the right spot. Just two blocks east on Main Street, you’ll find the MOTR Pub, which features live rock bands with a laid-back vibe. The Drinkery and Japp’s are also on the same street. There are just too many cool places to list!