An idyllic setting by the side of the Ohio river and a vibrant past, the city of Cincinnati seems to possess a formidable combination. While the city has made the best use of its vast riverside outdoors by building conservatories, gardens and picturesque walking trails like many other alpha cities, it has also made a point to preserve and redevelop its unique architectural heritage that celebrates its history like no other. All you need to do is make the trip to the Cincinnati streets, most of which bring with them their own unique set of opportunities!
A streetcar network connects all major landmarks to each other as well as the city centre. The presence of a strong public transport system and extensive road network only widens city bounds. But we have come up with a comprehensive guide to help you choose your ideal locale. Listed here are some of the best neighbourhoods of Cincinnati and what they might have in store for you traveller!
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The bustling city centre sitting atop the Ohio River, Downtown is the go-to choice of many first time travellers heading into the city. It is home to some big Cincinnati institutions including Paul Brown Stadium and Heritage Bank Center, known for hosting NFL and hockey games respectively; the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, part of the "museums of conscience"; and Lytle Park Historic District, comprising the namesake park and the stunning Taft Museum.
There's plenty else to do around Downtown outside of sightseeing, starting with the gastronomy and arts scene. Start your neighborhood tours from the central Fountain Square, finding your way around the adjacent street while keeping an eye out for art galleries and smaller museums. All the major avenues are also lined with steakhouses and trendy bars, so you will have plenty of options to choose from.
The iconic John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge connects the neighborhood to the state Kentucky across the river and is a sight to behold, especially at nighttime. Whether you chose to walk across it during the time, or marvel at it from a distance from the nearby Smale Riverfront Park (home to a smaller groves and gardens and a beloved giant carousel) is completely up to you!
As the city's central business district, Downtown is one of the most accessible parts of Cincinnati. Cincinnati Bell Connector has routes running through most of the neighborhood, and you're always in touching distance from a major station. Hotels are in plenty and among some of the finest that the city has to offer!
And even with all the cultural attractions and bustling crowds, Downtown cannot really be classified as the beating heart of Cincinnati. That distinction lies with the historic district of Over-The-Rhine. Located just north of the traditional Downtown, the neighborhood was established by early German immigrants around the 19th century and has an eclectic cityscape - characterised by a mix of several European styles - that is definitely worth a second glance.
Over-The-Rhine exudes an old-world charm and character that remains unmatched anywhere else in the city, but that wasn't the case throughout history. The neighborhood had developed a reputation of being rather unsafe around the 2000s, but rapid gentrification and preservation efforts contributed to the revival of this picturesque enclave.
Today, the neighborhood offers some of the most walkable streets in all of Cincinnati. While you're on waking tours, make sure you drop by such landmarks as the Cincinnati Music Hall, home to a symphony orchestra; the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, a compact performance hall staging English plays; and the Findlay market, a historic street vendor market. In Over-The-Rhine, spend your evenings visiting brewpubs and bars that run out of the neighborhood's distinctive red brick buildings!
The Cincinnati streetcar network connects most of the major Over-The-Rhine landmarks to each other as well as Downtown. Stations of Washington Park and Brewery District bookend the largely linear route, while other stations fall at 14th & Elm, Liberty & Elm and Findlay Market. You should not have too much trouble finding your ideal accommodation in and around Over-The-Rhine.
Head a little westward and you'll find the quarters ditching the European architectural flair in favour of the Federal style, which came into being around the 1780s in America itself. That's when you know that you've arrived in West End, another old city neighborhood. The Dayton Street (a National Register of Historic Please landmark) was once home to some of the most affluent residents of Cincinnati; the extravagant mansions and housing that dot the street are major draws.
Cincinnati Museum Center, a group of museums running out of the Cincinnati Union Terminal is the other major draw in the West End. Permanent and rotating exhibits at the History Museum, Cincinnati Library and Archives as well as the Museum of Natural History and Science History are amongst some of the must-visits. The venue also has an old symphonic organ and a movie theatre, all within the magnificent art deco halls of the station.
West End is located a little northwest of Downtown and is fairly easy to access. Central Avenue runs through most of the neighborhood and most major landmarks are at stone's throw from the major road. Hotels might be slightly harder to come by, so might want to look for a nice rental apartment or a homestay in the central part of West End.
Onto the city's famed Cincinnati riverfront then! The neighborhood of Mount Adams sits atop the Ohio River, a little east of the city centre. The quaint locale has plenty of green spaces and lush outdoors, making it a top choice for quieter and more outdoorsy vacations. The International Friendship Park runs parallel to the river and has serene-looking trails. You can hop in for a casual stroll or get a rental bike and enjoy sweeping river views as well as the overall change of scenery.
Mount Adams is also known for its arts venues. The Cincinnati Art Museum is home to extensive art collections and doubles up as a site for events showcasing temporary exhibits of artists from the world over. Also extremely popular are the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, performance venue known for staging a variety of plays in its compact mordane halls and the Art Climbs Steps, giant steps playing host to live music.
Mount Adams lies just east of Downtown and the access is straightforward. A cab ride should not take you much longer than 15 minutes to reach your hotel. Speaking of which, hotels can be a bit expensive and are largely concentrated around the southern part of the neighborhood.
The expansive northeastern neighborhood of Walnut Hills borrows a lot of the outdoorsy charm from its predecessor on the list (Mount Adams), to which it also lies adjacent. The central Eden park offers an avenue of opportunities; trails - both inland and riverside - make for perfect settings for long walks, while the Krohn Conservatory has butterfly shows, a collection of plants and floral specimens and even a waterfall!
Cemented paths run along the Ohio river at the Eden Park Overlook and Spencer Overlook. Stone bridges are built across small creeks, while outdoor benches also dot the path and are meant to serve as spots from where you can watch the sun sink into the sparkling river water.
City streets in and around Walnut Hills have a few great big lunch restaurants, steakhouses and Mexican food joints. The eclectica residential districts have borne witness to the lives of several such influential personalities as the abolitionist Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe, whose house has been converted into a museum with memorabilia and collections outlining the histories of the Lane Seminary and the Underground Railroad.
Walnut Hills lie in close proximity to Mount Adams, with Eden Park serving as the common space for both neighborhoods. The central thoroughfares are dotted with good midrange hotels and you will have plenty of good options to choose from.
Next up on the list is the hip Corryville. A compact space lying close to the University of Cincinnati, the neighborhood draws in crowds of university going 20-somethings to its many modern entertainment venues. Bars, pubs and such venues with live music, stand-up comics and other performance artists stay open late into the night and contribute to the neighborhood's lively nightlife. The Mad Frog, Bogart's and Top Cats are among some better known clubs, but the newer names are just as alluring.
Corryville is also one of the best neighborhoods to enjoy Cincinnati's burgeoning gastronomy. Causal pizzerias, trattorias and takeout joints are popular for their quick-fix meals and make for great venues for socialising. Go out for evening drinks with your friends around the Vine and Calhoun Streets; these places can get crowded during peak hours so make sure that you arrive early to grab your spot!
Corryville is sandwiched between some of the bigger neighborhoods and has direct connectivity to almost all major centres. It is also one of the more affordable parts of the city, offering several hostels and similar inexpensive accommodation options.
And for the last neighborhood on the list, we bring to you the outer suburb of Clifton. Situated directly north of the city centre, this neighborhood might feel slightly farther out than the others but works as a great microcosm for all things Cincinnati! The cityscape here comprises the quintessential mix of old-world theatres and brick houses, akin to Over-The-Rhine and Downtown; film screenings at marque Esquire Theatre and restaurant/bar hopping will remain your go-to options.
On the outskirts, you will once again be treated to the comforts of the city's cast outdoors. Burnet Woods features hiking trails, a nature center and small lake, while the smaller Mt. Storm Park also has trails leading up to immaculate domed gazebos; hillocks in the parks also offer city views! Families with children also enjoy trips to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, known for its expansive ground, picnic lawns and diverse wildlife exhibits.
Clifton is a little farther out than other inner city neighborhoods as mentioned up top. Do not let the extra bit of distance stop you from making the trip, as this is the one place in Cincinnati where you can get a little bit of everything that the city has to offer. The efficient transport system and extensive road networks make for a seamless commute anyway!
That then is our complete list of neighborhoods from Cincinnati, traveller. Take your pick and get packing for your next vacation; an Ohioan gem awaits!