Cincinnati might not be known as a major tourist destination, but its location in southern Ohio, close to the border with Kentucky, makes it an interesting salad bowl of cultures. Cincinnati goes by a number of nicknames, including “The Queen City” and “Paris of America”, and it’s practically impossible to experience all that the city has to offer in just one or two days. If you happen to visit Cincinnati soon, here are some must-do activities you could participate in.
1. The city is more known for the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, but soccer is fast catching up in terms of popularity. If you’re a soccer fan, watching an FC Cincinnati game at Nippert Stadium has to be at the top of your list. The team only joined Major League Soccer in 2018, but it is the successor of a lower-division team with the same name that has been playing since 2016 and even made an surprise run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2017. The team is one of the top draws in the country, setting numerous records for attendance.
2. Love it or hate it, but you have to try some Cincinnati chili at least once during your stay. It resembles spaghetti sauce more than it does your usual chili, but it packs some serious heat. The place to go to for Cincinnati chili is Empress, located on Werk Road. Wherever you go, you’ll find chili served on coneys (hot dogs), and you could have it your way – in this case, a three-way is chili and cheese served on spaghetti, a four-way has beans, and a five-way has beans and onions. Still feeling that fire after a full meal? Freshen your breath with a peppermint patty.
3. Feeling thirsty after downing Cincinnati chili on coneys? Hop on a brewery tour bus to get that distinctive Queen City buzz! There are over 30 craft breweries in Cincinnati, each with its own unique character. MadTree, for example, is a hit with the locals (and their dogs), and has a central patio where guests’ furry friends can run around. Moerlein Lager House has a very long history going back to the pre-Prohibition era; their location along Joe Nuxhall Way offers fantastic views of Ohio River.
4. Now that we’re talking about beer, you can make your way to a speakeasy behind a video rental store. The Video Archive looks and feels like a blast from the past, with shelves upon shelves of VHS tapes (we haven’t checked if they still work, though). Ask the clerk which tape to pull to open a secret door. Once you get inside the hidden bar, the real fun begins with an actual bourbon-infused $5 milkshake inspired by Pulp Fiction. Visit the Video Archive on a Saturday evening so you can get to watch some classic movies too.
5. All that beer and bourbon must have left you with a lingering hangover by now. Drag yourself over to Findlay Market, where you can have your fill of fresh, intriguing food made by local artisans. Eckerlin Meats, a local butcher, serves a mean goetta, a meat-and-oat mush that is as much a Cincinnati culinary institution as Cincinnati chili. Grab a Honey Bear latte at Deeper Roots Coffee just a couple of blocks away, and before you know it, your hangover will be long over.
6. Your Cincinnati experience won’t be complete until you go on a riverboat trip. Cincinnati was a major transportation hub, a stopover for boats traversing the waterways between the Deep South and the Midwest, and while air travel has surpassed river boats as the preferred mode of cross-country transportation, riding a classic steamboat is an entirely different experience. Choose between a sightseeing cruise during the day or dining cruises at night with fantastic views of the downtown waterfront.
7. Cincinnati isn’t lacking fun rides. In fact, a 25-minute ride to the outskirts of the city will take you to King’s Island and its fun and thrilling attractions. Get into the Beast,the longest wooden rollercoaster on the planet, or see if you can survive the twists and turns of the Banshee. If you just want to cool down, visit Soak City and its wave pools and slides.