A Perfect Weekend in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Skyline from Bellevue Hill Park

This question has come up in conversation and, when I’ve had the pleasure of hosting visitors to Cincinnati, as I have numerous times over the past eight years, I’ve faced this challenge myself: how best to introduce an outsider to the Queen City? Here is my ideal itinerary for a weekend visit.

Let’s assume arrival late afternoon on a Friday. After settling in, we would head out for a taste of old-school Cincinnati goodness either at Price Hill Chili or Pleasant Ridge Chili. On a nice evening, we would head to Bellevue Hill Park to watch the sun set over the city.

Bellevue Hill Park, Cincinnati

Just to mix things up a bit and show a different side of old-school Cincinnati, we would get a drink in the Art Deco splendor of the Netherland Hilton in Carew Tower downtown.

Netherland Hilton Hotel, Cincinnati

If we were feeling really ambitious, we would trek over to Rhinegeist in Over-the-Rhine. I’m not a beer person at all, but it’s part of Cincinnati’s German heritage, and this is a unique space with cornhole [yet another bit of local color!] and ping pong; definitely a must-see for a visitor.

Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati

Saturday morning, we would head to Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine, feasting on Belgian waffles from Taste of Belgium. I’m more of a weekday shopper, but it’s fun to check out the market in all its competitive shopping glory.

mural by Tina Westerkamp at Rookwood Pottery

Afterward, we would stop by the Rookwood Pottery showroom to see the work of this historic Cincinnati company, and then we’d head to Cincinnati Union Terminal for a free, docent-led tour, where we’d learn all about the gorgeous Art Deco architecture, glass mosaic murals and the unique all-Rookwood ice cream parlor.

Cincinnati Union Terminal

Then we’d go up to the top of Tower A to check out the train tracks.

Tower A at Cincinnati Union Terminal

Meandering back through OTR, I would point out some of the awesome ghost signs and ghost graffiti, and then we’d visit Mike and Carolyn [and VL work] at MiCA 12/v, our favorite neighborhood store. Grabbing some coffe at Coffe Emporium on Central and continuing downtown, I would show off some of my favorite ArtWorks murals, like Amanda Checco’s Ice Cream Daydream.

Ice Cream Daydream by Amanda Checco

We’d check out the Contemporary Arts Center, where my favorite exhibit is the UnMuseum on the top floor, which includes a really cool interactive piece by my friend Cedric.

Contemporary Arts Center in downtown Cincinnati

We’d peer into the John Weld Peck Federal Building for a glimpse at Charley Harper’s awesome mosaic mural and then stop by Fabulous Frames & Art to admire his prints.

I would point out the Rookwood Pottery tile on the façade of the old Gidding-Jenny department store and the Dixie Terminal Building, where an early scene in Rain Man was filmed.

Dixie Terminal Building in downtown Cincinnati

We would explore the detailed Art Deco interior of Carew Tower and take in a view of the area from its observation deck.

view from the Carew Tower observation deck in downtown Cincinnati

In nice weather, we would grab a cone of Graeter’s on Fountain Square and continue down to the riverfront, walking across the Roebling Bridge to explore Covington. There, we’d try some bourbon at the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar and get dinner at Bouquet or Otto’s, if we were feeling fancy, or at Zola, if we just wanted excellent burgers.

Roebling Bridge

We would then stroll back to downtown Cincinnati to hang out on the patio at Arnold’s, the oldest bar in Cincinnati, hopefully listening to a fun band like Lagniappe or the Dancing Pigs.

On a cool evening, we would stay in OTR instead, grabbing an early dinner at the excellent Salazar, and then we’d swank it up at Music Hall [tickets start at $12, so the symphony is a fancy evening without a fancy price tag].

Cincinnati Music Hall by Hannaford & Procter

Sunday brunch is the most important meal of the week and, while there are many tasty options in Cincinnati, we’d venture up to The Littlefield in Northside, because shrimp and grits.

Afterward, we’d walk off our meal with a leisurely walk around the neighborhood, checking out all the CoSign signs and doing a bit of shopping at Black Plastic Records, Fabricate, Shake It Records, and other cool Northside businesses.

CoSign Signage in Cincinnati's Northside

We would end the weekend excursion with a visit to the legitimately awesome American Sign Museum in Camp Washington:

American Sign Museum in Cincinnati

So, that’s my romp through Cincinnati at its Cincinnatiest. Fellow Queen City dwellers, what would you put on your must-do list? Where do you always take your guests?

Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati


10 thoughts on “A Perfect Weekend in Cincinnati

  1. Love this. Thanks for always repping my (our) beautiful city. Cincy will be losing a little piece of her heart when you leave!

  2. I always start by taking visitors to Manifest, the neighborhood gallery for the world, in East Walnut Hills. Then we take it from there. 🙂

    Good luck in Indiana!

  3. Thanks, Megan! We’ll come back to visit friends and old haunts, and we hope that our Cincy friends will visit us in our new home.

    Jason, that’s a great suggestion!

  4. We always take first time visitors to the observation deck on Carew Tower. Mainly because we’re always looking for an excuse to go up there too.

  5. Good suggestions. I’d second Manifest esp if it’s a “Walk on Woodburn” night. As ArtWorks murals go, I’d try the Jonathan Queen Kroger mural or the Jim Tarbell —before heading to Arnold’s.
    Some of the obvious ideas are still the best: The Cincy Zoo, The Krohn Conservatory + Mt. Adams, Skyline Chili, Dewey’s Pizza, Ohio Book Store, The Serpentine Wall, Friendship Park, Lunken with lunch at the Sky Galley, Devou Park…

  6. Pingback: Cincinnati City Hall by Samuel Hannaford | Visualingual

  7. Must sees are Smale park on the Ohio river’, the Banks area next to the Reds stadium, Washington Park near the Music Hall in over the Rhine area, lovely Ault park and their gardens, ride the streetcar downtown only, Lacheys Bar in OTR( Nick and Drew Lachey), brewery tours, rent one of the red bikes around town. Pedal wheel tours are fun. Oktoberfest downtown around the middle of September is fun.

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