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Wondering what to do in Cincinnati, Ohio? We’ve got it covered! In our list of the best things to do in Cincinnati, we highlight top attractions, feature fun activities and share sightseeing tips for visitors, locals and families.
Ranking as Ohio’s third largest city, Cincinnati boasts an eclectic art scene, exciting sporting events, incredible eats and an established beer tradition. Steeped in history and dotted with hills, Cincinnati is nestled along the banks of the Ohio River and long ago earned the nickname, The Queen City.
With our list of the best things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio you can easily plan an amazing time in the city!
What To Do in Cincinnati, OH: FAQs
Before we dive into the specifics of where to go in Cincinnati for fun entertainment, let’s cover the basics and answer a few of the most frequently asked questions.
Are There Cheap Things To Do in Cincinnati?
YES! In fact, there are many things to do in Cincinnati for FREE! We love cheap entertainment, so throughout our list we highlight the best free things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio – as well as ticketed attractions.
Are There Things To Do in Cincinnati, Ohio for Kids?
YES! The city is extremely family-friendly! Visitors will find plenty of entertainment in Cincinnati, Ohio geared toward kids. Many items featured on our list are things to do and see in Cincinnati, Ohio for families.
Do I Need a Car to Get to the Best Places to Visit in Cincinnati?
Probably not! Most of the activities to do in Cincinnati on our list can be reached on foot, with the free city tram or on a short Uber ride.
That said, you may need a car to reach some of the places to visit near Cincinnati (which we also include at the end of the list!). If you need to rent a vehicle, use our Top Tips for Renting a Car.
The 25 Best Things To Do In Cincinnati, Ohio
Our list of fun things to do around Cincinnati features the city’s top attractions and best activities. To help you plan your time in the city, we have included a useful Cincinnati Map at the end of the article.
Additionally, you will find our tips on how to get to Cincy, the best places to stay and a few packing tips at the end of the post, as well.
Save, Pin or Bookmark our Cincinnati blog post so that you can easily access it as you plan – and during! – your Cincy trip!
#1 Explore Over The Rhine
Topping our list of fun things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio is exploring the Over The Rhine District – or just OTR.
Situated just north of downtown Cincy, the recently revitalized district is a hub of entertainment and ranks as one of the top places to go in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The neighborhood dates to the mid-19th century when German immigrants settled the area. At that time, a canal separated the district from Downtown Cincinnati. The Germans nicknamed the canal “The Rhine” after the river in Germany. Residents working downtown would say that they lived “Over The Rhine” – and, even though the canal was eventually filled in, the name stuck.
Also sticking around is the historic architecture that graces the district – like Greek Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne. Furthermore, OTR is home to hundreds of historic buildings, numerous landmarks and a few National Historic Places. Exploring the neighborhood on foot is one of the top historical things to do in Cincinnati.
#2 Experience Findlay Market
A local farmers market operating out of an iron-framed structure since the mid-1800s, Findlay Market is one of the top attractions in Cincinnati.
Located in Over The Rhine, the market is an institution where locals still do their weekend grocery shopping amongst the out of town visitors.
The Findlay Marketplace features 50 local shops selling meat, produce, cheese and prepared foods. In the summertime, the area surrounding the building transforms into an outdoor market, complete with vendors, street performers and a beer garden.
Top picks for places to eat at (or around) the market are Taste of Belgium waffles, Eli’s Barbeque ribs and Maverick Chocolate’s hot chocolate.
Do you really want to get a good taste of OTR? Join the much raved about Over The Rhine Food Tour, which pairs the history of the district with fabulous eats! Reserve Your Spot!
#3 Visit the Cincinnati Art Museum and Eden Park
The Cincinnati Art Museum is a must-see in Cincinnati! Boasting a collection of more than 65,000 artworks and housed in a stunningly beautiful building on the grounds of Eden Park, visitors could spend an entire day perusing the exhibits at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
The art displays at the museum range from ancient artifacts to masterpiece paintings to modern sculptures.
As a bonus, there is no entry fee – making visiting the museum one of the best free things to do in Cincinnati!
While in the vicinity, visitors should partake in a few of the top outdoor things to do in Cincinnati – like strolling through Eden Park to scenic Ohio River overlooks, wandering down the Presidential Memorial Groves and admiring the art sculptures around Twin Lakes. (All of these are things to do for free in Cincinnati, too!)
The Krohn Conservatory – an indoor botanical garden with an incredible butterfly exhibit – is also located in Eden Park. While a ticket is required to enter the conservatory, it ranks as one of the fun family things to do in Cincy.
#4 Cheer on the Hometown Team
Cincy has a long history as a sports-loving town, so naturally one of the best things to do in Cincinnati is to attend a sporting event.
The city has had a professional baseball team (originally the Cincinnati Red Stockings) since 1869. When you watch a Cincinnati Reds baseball game at Great American Ball Park, you are not just attending a game, but participating in a tradition.
In addition to the major league baseball team, Cincy has an NFL football team (Bengals) and a MLS soccer team (FC Cincinnati) – giving visitors ample opportunity to catch live sports action any time of year.
When there are no home games in the city, sports fans can still experience Cincinnati sports at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum – which is located at the ballpark and open year-round.
#5 Walk the Cincinnati Riverfront
Stretching your legs along the Ohio River is one of the top things to do in Downtown Cincinnati – and there are miles of trails for a leisurely stroll or solid workout.
The 45-acre Smale Riverfront Park spans the Cincinnati waterfront between Paul Brown Stadium (where the Bengals play) and Great American Ball Park (where the Reds play). The green space is dotted with playgrounds and gardens and is crisscrossed by walking trails.
The network of trails – collectively known as the Cincinnati Riverwalk or Ohio River Trail – lines the river, covering the riverbank in Cincy as well as the south bank in Northern Kentucky.
Smale Park also marks the beginning of the 326-mile Ohio to Erie Trail that connects Cincy to Cleveland via Columbus.
Other Cincinnati things to see at the riverfront park are fountains, a splash park and Carol Ann’s Carousel.
#6 Eat at Skyline Chili
Eating a heaping plate of Cincinnati-style chili is, without a doubt, one of the top Cincinnati, Ohio things to do…and Skyline Chili is the place to do it.
Cincinnati chili is a unique style of Mediterranean chili that was created by immigrants in the 1920s. The most popular way to serve up the dish is in a Three Way – which is the spiced meat concoction ladled over a pile of spaghetti noodles and topped with shredded cheese.
A Four Way includes diced onions or beans – and a Five Way includes both onions and beans. Oyster crackers are served as an additional accompaniment for diners to add on their own.
A second version of Cincy-style chili is to pour the toppings over hot dogs – rather than noodles.
Although there are hundreds of chili parlors in Cincinnati, Skyline Chili is the most famous.
Founded in 1949 in a hilltop location that overlooked the Cincinnati skyline, Skyline Chili uses a secret family recipe of spices that blends a perfect balance of savory and sweet seasonings into the meat. Plus, they are known for using a colossal amount of shredded cheese.
While the original location no longer stands, there are numerous Skyline Chili restaurants located in the city – and they are the best places to go in Cincinnati for a 3-Way!
#7 Go on the Cincinnati Underground Tour
Anyone looking for fun things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio should consider joining the city’s Underground Tour.
On a Cincinnati Underground Tour, entertaining tour guides lead participants through the Over The Rhine district, down to hidden city tunnels and into a crypt.
During the 2.5-hour tour, guests learn about the history of Cincinnati, why the tunnels exist and how they were used.
Highly rated as one of the cool things in Cincinnati to see, the tours fill up quickly – so reserve your spot in advance!
#8 Spend an Afternoon at Taft Museum of Art
Museums are top Cincinnati, Ohio attractions – and the Taft Museum of Art is one of the best!
Featuring a permanent collection and special exhibits, visiting the Taft Art Museum is one of the top things to do in Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.
The artwork is housed in a historic mansion that once belonged to the Taft family, who were highly influential in the development of Cincinnati. The rooms of the historic house are decorated with artifacts and masterpieces collected by the Tafts.
While the Taft Museum of Art is not one of the free museums in Cincinnati, they do offer free days and special events without charge.
#9 Indulge in Famous Fish and Chips at Alabama Fish Bar
Serving phenomenal fried fish for more than 30 years, Alabama Fish Bar is a city institution! Whether you are fond of fish or just love local spots, Alabama Fish Bar needs to be on your Cincinnati to-do list.
The family-owned fish-and-chips corner restaurant keeps it simple with just three kinds of fried fish meals – whiting, cod and perch. The crispy fish nuggets are served with fries, an onion and pepper medley, two slices of white bread and tartar sauce…and it’s absolutely delicious!
The take-away, cash-only restaurant often has a long line of patrons waiting to place orders – but don’t get discouraged, it moves quickly!
#10 Lounge around Washington Park
Washington Park in OTR is one of the great open spaces in Cincinnati to relax. Locals and visitors both flock to the park for a little bit of shade and city-sponsored events.
The rectangular, 8-acre green space dates to the 1800s – it even hosted the 1888 Centennial Exposition of the Ohio Valley. The park is surrounded by some of the best architecture in Cincinnati – namely, the Cincy Music Hall (which we talk more about next!).
Ranked as one of the best things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio with kids for free, the park features a fun summertime splash pad, an extensive playground and large dog park.
Other fabulous park features are The Porch concessions (where you can order local craft beer), a gazebo (where bands play) and interesting historical markers. Additionally, the park hosts an array of fun Cincinnati outdoor activities and events throughout the year.
#11 Stand in Awe of the Cincinnati Music Hall
When it comes to what to see in Cincinnati, no trip would be complete without setting your eyes on the gorgeous Cincinnati Music Hall.
A National Historic Landmark, the Cincinnati Music Hall was built in 1878 as a convention center for both exhibitions and musical performances. The massive brick building was erected on the site of an old cemetery – and it is claimed to be one of the many haunted places in the city.
Go ghost hunting in Cincinnati on a Haunted City Tour!
The Victorian-Gothic structure now serves as home to the Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the May Festival and the Cincinnati Ballet. The Music Hall is one of the best places to go in Cincinnati, Ohio for musical and theatrical events.
#12 Hoist a Beer in the Cincinnati Brewery District
The Cincinnati Brewery District was first developed in the mid-1800s by German immigrants. The Germans brought their brew-making skills with them from Europe to Ohio and, by the early 1900s, there were 17 breweries in the thriving district.
Although the district struggled through Prohibition and a period of economic decline, today, the Brewery District is blossoming once again.
New breweries occupy pre-Prohibition brewery buildings. Colorful art murals are decorate buildings. Beer Pedal Pubs and tour groups navigate the historic streets along the Brewing Heritage Trail.
Drinking a beer in the evolving Brewery District is one of the coolest things to do in Cincinnati.
Our favored spot to hoist a beer in the district is at Rhinegeist Brewery. The massive warehouse brewery occupies several floors and features both a spacious indoor taproom with games and an outdoor rooftop bar. Plus, you can join an informative Rhineqeist Brewery tour to learn more!
#13 Step inside Old St. Mary’s Church
Ranking as the oldest church in the city, Old St. Mary’s Church is one of the most beautiful and historic Cincinnati places to visit.
The Greek Revival church was built in 1840 by German immigrants – and the building has been continuously used as a church since that time. As a traditional Roman Catholic church, daily masses are offered in Latin and English – with an additional German mass on Sundays.
The richly adorned interior features paintings, sculptures and stained-glass windows.
#14 Imbibe at the Hip Bars in OTR
In addition to the opulent architecture, the Over The Rhine District is also densely packed with a slew of fun and fashionable bars and restaurants. Having a drink (or two!) at the hip watering holes is one of the top things to do in Cincinnati, OH.
From chic cocktail bars to easy going pubs to historic drinking establishments, there is something for anyone looking to imbibe in OTR.
Want craft beer with lawn games? Head to Queen City Radio or Rosedale. Looking for a throw-back bar with an intimate atmosphere? Check out The Lackman. Interested in craft beer from the source? Grab a pint at Taft’s Ale House, a brewpub housed in an old 19th century church. In search of beer with entertainment in Cincinnati? Hit up Pins Mechanical CO!
#15 Visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The interactive National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is one of the top tourist attractions in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Detailing the history of the Underground Railroad – a secret network of safe houses that allowed slaves to escape to free states in the 1800s – the museum aims to educate and inspire.
Located just behind the “Sing The Queen City Sign”, the center is purposefully positioned along the bank of the Ohio River, which separated free northern states from southern slave states.
The artifacts, stories and powerful displays make the National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum a Cincinnati must-see.
#16 Attend a Free Event at Fountain Square
Marking the center of Cincinnati since 1871, Fountain Square features an open plaza and The Genius of Water Tyler Davidson Fountain.
The bronze fountain – which stands 43 feet high – was first erected in the city in 1871. It still stands today as the symbol of Cincinnati.
In addition to the fountain, the square is the site of numerous gatherings and top Cincinnati events – hosting everything from rallies to concerts to movie nights to Oktoberfest to ice skating.
Most of the activities on Fountain Square are free – and attending an event is one of the top downtown Cincinnati things to do.
#17 Place a Bet at Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati
Looking for indoor activities in Cincinnati? Try your luck at the city center Hard Rock Casino.
With 2,000 slot machines and 85 table games, visitors could easily spend the day (and their paycheck) at the recently rebranded gaming establishment.
In addition to gambling, guests can drink and dine at a handful of restaurants – including the Hard Rock Café, of course.
#18 Bar Hop at The Banks
Bar hopping around the Banks entertainment district is one of the fun things to do in Cincinnati at night (or during the day if there’s a game!).
The mixed-use development encompasses the riverfront land between the two stadiums – Paul Brown and Great American Ball Park.
The best bars – like sports bars, Holy Grail and Jefferson Social – are found on East Freedom Way as it leads into the ballpark.
The Banks is also an official DORA district – Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area – where you can order drinks to go and explore the area on foot.
#19 Look Up at the Carew Tower
Built in 1930, the Art Deco Carew Tower was the tallest building in the city – rising to the height of 574 feet – until 2010. Still holding the title as the second tallest building in Cincy, it’s fun to stand at the base of the tower and look up.
Listed on the register of National Historic Landmarks, the Carew Tower interior is as impressive as the exterior. Housing a Hilton hotel and a shopping arcade, visitors can easily get a glimpse inside.
Soaring to the 49th floor observation deck long ranked as one of the Top Things To Do Downtown Cincinnati, but the viewing platform is currently closed (hopefully, just temporarily!).
#20 Interact with Modern Art at the Contemporary Arts Center
Founded in 1939, the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center was one of the first of its kind in the United States – and visiting today is still one of the cool things to do in Cincinnati.
The museum, housed in a modern structure in the city center – features rotating exhibits of modern art. The art works encourage experience and interaction.
One of the top features of the museum is UnMuseum, which is geared toward children and is perfect for a day of Cincinnati family fun.
Best of all, the CAC does not charge an admission fee – making it one of the best downtown Cincinnati free things to do.
#21 Indulge in Savory BBQ at Montgomery Inn Boathouse
The Montgomery Inn first opened in a Cincinnati suburb in 1951 and quickly became known for their fall-off-the-bone loin back ribs and homemade BBQ sauce.
Frequented by actors, athletes and US Presidents, the Montgomery Inn became one of the top places to visit in Cincinnati, Ohio. The restaurant gained so much popularity that in 1989, they opened a second location, The Boathouse, right on the riverfront near the heart of the city.
The Montgomery Inn Boathouse offers spectacular river views – and award-winning BBQ ribs. For dessert, don’t miss locally made Grater’s Ice Cream! Just be sure to make a reservation – as it’s one of the most popular restaurants in Cincinnati.
#22 Discover the Cincinnati Museum Center
Located on the west side of the city in the historic Art Deco Cincinnati Union Terminal train station, the Museum Center is a hub of entertainment in Cincinnati.
The center houses the Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science and the Children’s Museum. Additionally, there is an Omnimax Theater and a library.
The Cincinnati Museum Center mission is to inspire through science, history, education and experience.
Fun for visitors of all ages, going to the Cincinnati Museum Center is one of the fun things to do in Cincinnati with kids or on a date!
#23 Join the Best Cincinnati Tour
Rather than trying to figure out the cool places to go in Cincinnati on your own, join a local guide for a fabulous tour of the city!
On the Cincinnati Morning Tour, participants are led to 10 sights in the city – plus get a taste of 5 top city eats along the way.
The 3.5-hour tour is highly recommended by fellow travelers. Read reviews and reserve your spot here!
#24 Cross the Roebling Bridge to Covington, Kentucky
Several bridges cross the Ohio River, connecting southern Ohio with northern Kentucky. However, none are as impressive as the Roebling Bridge.
The iconic cable suspension Roebling Bridge is a regional landmark. A prototype for the famous Brooklyn Bridge in NYC, Roebling Bridge was completed in 1867 – and ranked as the longest bridge in the world at that time.
Roebling Bridge connects downtown Cincy with downtown Covington, KY.
Crossing the bridge is one of the historical things to do in Cincinnati that connects the past to the present.
However, the historic bridge isn’t the only reason to take a walk! Covington, KY has become a foodie haven – and is a super city to explore as well. Just be sure to read our tips for the Best Things To Do in Covington!
#25 Take the Purple People Bridge to Newport, Kentucky
East of the Roebling Bridge is yet another cool bridge to take a walk on: The Newport Southbank Bridge – which is better known by its moniker, The Purple People Bridge.
The pedestrian-only bridge dates to 1872 when it opened for train traffic and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The bridge is easily accessible from the Cincinnati riverfront and leads walkers right to the heart of Newport, Kentucky.
Another fun city with an intriguing past, Newport is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening. Find all of our tips for what to do and see in our Things To Do in Newport, KY blog post.
More Things To Do: Cincinnati, Ohio Vicinity
We have highlighted some of the absolute best things to see in the city – but there are a handful of things to do near Cincinnati that are fun for visitors, too!
If you are looking for more things to do with kids in Cincinnati, consider driving north of the city to the famed Kings Island amusement park.
With 14 roller coasters, a gigantic water park and more than a hundred other attractions, Kings Island is a fun way to spend a day near Cincy.
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
Okay, so the Cincinnati Zoo is only a few miles north of downtown, but you will need a car to get there, which is why we list it in our Things To Do Near Cincinnati, Ohio section.
The Cincinnati Zoo is one of the oldest in the United States – it first opened in 1873 – and ranks as one of the best in the country today.
The zoo is home to more than 500 animals and 3,000 plants species – plus there are several activities and a theater. Top animal attractions are Fiona the Hippo, Gorilla World, Roo Valley and the Elephant Reserve.
Mt. Airy Forest
Boasting 1,500 acres and miles of hiking trails, Mt. Airy Forest is a top destination for people searching for things to do outside in Cincinnati.
The park was founded in 1911. In addition to hiking, visitors can play disc golf on the park’s 18-hole course, hit the trails on two wheels or visit the Mt. Airy Arboretum.
American Sign Museum
A fascinating peek into the past, the American Sign Museum displays an incredible number of historic and legendry signs.
The museum is housed in an expansive old factory and displays the largest collection of signs in the country. Visiting is one of the more unique things to do in Cincinnati.
Visitors stroll down “Main Street USA” under the glow of neon lights while learning about the history of sign technology and design on self-guided or guided tours.
The city is home to two universities – University of Cincinnati and Xavier University – both of which are cool places to visit in Cincinnati.
The University of Cincinnati campus features modern and historic architecture and an array of artworks. Find out what to see and do on campus.
Xavier University, a Catholic Jesuit school, is best known for their Men’s Basketball program – so if you are visiting in winter, see if you can score tickets!
Map of Cincinnati, Ohio Attractions
Use this link to Google Maps for an interactive version of our Cincinnati Map.
How To Get To Cincinnati, Ohio
The Cincinnati Airport is the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) – which is actually located in Hebron, KY.
How To Get Around Cincinnati, OH
Once in the city, it is easy to get around on foot, with Uber/Lyft or with public transport.
The Cincinnati Bell Connector Streetcar is an excellent way to explore north of downtown into the OTR district – and it’s free!
Where to Stay in Cincinnati, OH
We think the best place to stay in Cincinnati, Ohio is right in the heart of the city, where it is easy to walk to the city’s best attractions. There are Airbnb rentals available in the city, but we think for a short 1 or 2 days in Cincinnati, it is best to stay in a convenient, centrally located hotel.
The best hotels in Cincinnati are situated in the downtown core – and we are highlighting a few of the best. The city has a range of hotels that will fit a variety of styles and budgets. For our best advice, read all our best Tips for Booking the Best Hotels.
Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza
The Hilton is located in the historic Carew Tower just steps from Fountain Square and a short walk to the riverside and stadiums. The rooms are well-appointed, beds are comfortable and there is an indoor pool and gym.
What we love best about the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza is the stylishly decorated interior. The Art Deco vintage décor makes it feel like you are stepping back in time in this luxury hotel. Check rates and availability!
21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati
The hip and chic 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati offers a contemporary and stylish place to stay in the heart of the city. The unique hotel concept combines art with accommodations – making your stay an experience to remember!
In addition to the clean and comfortable rooms, the hotel features an art gallery, an on-site restaurant and a rooftop bar. Check rates and availability!
What You Will Need for Sightseeing Cincinnati, Ohio
Now that you know all of the fun things to do in downtown Cincinnati, how to get there and where to stay, let’s chat about what you will need to pack for your trip! You can find all of our packing hacks and tips on our Packing Page.
Our list of the top things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio includes attractions all over the city. Make sure to pack a good pair of walking shoes so that you can comfortably trek around the city.
With beautiful architecture and outdoor spaces, Cincinnati is incredibly photogenic! Rather than relying on your cell phone to take photos of the sights, we highly recommend using a real camera to capture the scene.
Whether you decide to travel with a suitcase or a backpack, you will definitely want to bring along a day bag for your sightseeing adventures in Cincinnati.
We like the Osprey day pack backpack for its multiple compartments and lightweight material. That said, there are many different styles of day bags, which we feature in our Best Day Bags for Travel blog post.
We Want To Know: What would you add to our list of Things To Do in Cincinnati, Ohio? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below.
More Top USA Destinations
In addition to our tips and advice for visiting Covington, Newport KY and Columbus and Cleveland, OH, we have travel guides for destinations across the United States like Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Denver, Austin and San Diego!
Visit the East Coast
We love visiting the East Coast – and have tons of tips for fellow travelers! Use our guides for spending a Week in New York City, tips for how to spend a Weekend in Washington DC or Boston and what to see in Philadelphia in a Day.
Road trips are an exceptional way to travel – especially in the west! We have guides to planning an Epic California Coastal Drive, how to see the best of the Oregon Coast or the Columbia River Gorge and a 10-Day Montana Road Trip.
Best USA Destinations
The United States is home to so many incredible destinations! We wrap up our top picks in our blog post, The Best USA Destinations for Weekend Trips.
Interested in lesser-visited places? Find out our top picks for the Most Underrated USA Cities to Visit.
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