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The 20 Best Things to Do in Cincinnati for First Timers

Westin CIncinnati

Cincinnati is a wonderful city to visit as it has something for everyone. Located along the Ohio River, this city is known for its architecture, sports teas, history, and its involvement in the brewing industry. If you are visiting this destination for the first time, it is important to plan your trip carefully to get the most out of your stay. Although there is a vast choice of activities and attractions that you could include in your itinerary, the following are the 20 best things to do in Cincinnati for first-time visitors.

20. Catch a Show at Arnold’s Bar and Grill

Looking for something to do at night? Then head for Arnold’s Bar and Grill, which is a bar that hosts live music events. This bar was a speakeasy during the Prohibition, and it has retained much of its original speakeasy style. In addition to watching a lively and entertaining show, you can enjoy a delicious meal at this well-reviewed bar and restaurant.

19. Canoe Down Little Miami River

Outdoors lovers and those who want a physical activity to enjoy should have a go at canoeing down Little Miami River. There are several companies that have canoes along the river for hire, and most offer an instructor to come along on the ride. Not only is this a fun activity to enjoy, but it is a great way to see some of the landmarks surrounding the river from a different perspective.

18. Contemporary Arts Center

If you are more interested in contemporary art than traditional or historical art, then the Contemporary Arts Center is somewhere should consider visiting while in Cincinnati. It is housed in a distinctive building in downtown Cincinnati, and it has rotating exhibitions. These include works by famous artists, such as Andy Warhol and Shephard Finlay. There are also exhibitions of the work of local or up-and-coming artists. At the top of the center is a children’s music, so there is even something for the younger travelers in your party at this attraction.

17. Take a Brewery Tour

Cincinnati has a long history in the brewing industry, so it makes sense to include a brewery tour during your visit. There are many breweries in the city and the surrounding areas that offer tours. This is a chance to learn about the brewing process and the mass production of beers. Visitors can also sample the products and there is the option to buy beers to take home. Thrillist recommends Mad Tree or Rhinegeist. It is worth noting that most breweries will only allow those who are over 21 to participate in the tours.

16. Krohn Conservatory

Krohn Conservatory is located in Eden Park but is an attraction in its own right, says US News. The conservatory houses more than 3,500 plant species from across the globe, and it is also home to many species of butterfly. Five floral shows are hosted at this venue throughout the year, and you could possibly attend these if you are lucky enough to be in the area at the right time. The attraction is particularly well known for its collection of rare orchids and its rainforest waterfall.

15. Taft Museum of Art

If you are interested in art, then a great place to include in your itinerary is Taft Art Museum. This is also a good option if you are looking for something to do on a rainy day. Exhibitions on display at this art museum include works by American and European masers alongside Chinese porcelains. This venue is noted for its gothic ivory sculpture, which many people regard as the greatest of its kind in America. The museum is housed within Baum-Longworth-Sinton-Taft House, which dates back to 1820 and is a National Historic Landmark. It became an art museum in 1932 and was remodeled in 2004. In addition to the permanent exhibitions, there are sometimes visiting exhibits for visitors to enjoy.

14. American Sign Museum

Although there are many museums in Cincinnati, one of the most unusual offerings is the American Sign Museum as the focus of the museum is unique.It is eye-catching as soon as you enter as space is lit up with neon and flashing lights. The exhibits show the history of sign making in America, and there are vintage signs of some of the biggest brands in the world, such as McDonald’s. You can even admire historic signs in the parking lot before entering the museum. This attraction is suitable for people of all ages.

13. Carew Tower

If you want to enjoy panoramic views across the city during your visit, then the best place to do this is the Carew Tower. If you head to the tower’s 49th floor, you can enjoy amazing views of Cincinnati and the surrounding area, and it is an ideal moment to take photographs to commemorate your trip. This tower is the second-tallest in the city, and it is home to multiple shops and restaurants. This means you can enjoy some retail therapy and grab a bite to eat after enjoying the views.

12. Newport Aquarium

An activity that is suitable for people of all ages and is a great option if you are visiting Cincinnati as a family is Newport Aquarium. Just a few of the species that you can expect to see at this fascinating attraction are sharks, jellyfish, frogs, tropical fish, and eels. The daily penguin parade is a highlight for many visitors, and any children in your party will enjoy the touch pools. Although this activity is fun and entertaining, there are plenty of opportunities for education, too.

11. Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal

Sometimes referred to as the Cincy Museum, the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is a collection of museums that are all housed within the Union Terminal building. This is an interesting attraction before you even step inside as the structure has an attractive art-deco design. The museums include the Cincinnati History Museum, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Natural History & Science. Therefore, there is something to interest everyone at this attraction. It is somewhere that you can visit over several days so that you have enough time to visit all the museums at this location.

10. Smale Riverfront Park

A pleasant place to spend a leisurely day away from the urban buzz in the city is Smale Riverfront Park. This is a relatively new addition to the city as the park was not opened until 2015. It covers 45 acres over split levels, and there are lots of things to do in the park. Activities include rock climbing, jungle gyms, a water splash area, a carousel, waterfront paths, play areas, and picnic benches. The park is also used as a venue to host many events throughout the year, such as markets, festivals, yoga classes, and music performances. Entry to the park is free, so it is something that you can enjoy even if you have a limited budget.

9. Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum

History buffs and sports fans alike will enjoy spending time at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. It is located close to the Great American Ball Park. The museum is devoted to the history of the Cincinnati Reds, with displays featuring baseball memorabilia and photographs of former players. A highlight of visiting this museum is the movie theater where you can watch films about the history of the team. There is also a children’s play area at this attraction to keep the children entertained while you look at the more serious exhibits.

8. Cincinnati Music Hall

A great activity for music lovers is a trip to Cincinnati Music Hall. First opened in 1878, this attraction is home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, the Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati Opera, and many other performing arts groups. There is a jam-packed schedule of performances and events throughout the year hosted at this venue. If you would like to watch a show, you should check out what is on before embarking on your trip to Cincinnati.

7. Findlay Market

Findlay Market has historical significance in Cincinnati, and it is housed in a building that will interest those who admire architecturally interesting structures. It is Cincinnati’s oldest covered market, and it is a great place to hang out on a weekend morning. There are various shops and stalls where you can sample local fresh produce or buy souvenirs to take home. There is sometimes live music to enjoy while you peruse the stalls. It is also a great place to sit with a coffee while people-watching.

6. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Opened in 2004, this museum sits on the banks of Ohio River, says US News. The focus on the museum is the story of slavery in America, so its location is fitting as the river was crossed by many slaves in the past. There are some fascinating exhibits in this museum that cover three centuries of history. It is also a place where you can learn more about the Civil War era, as there are exhibits devoted to this era of American history.

5. Great American Ball Park

Sports fans should make time to visit the Great American Ball Park. Even those who are not sports fans can have a great time at a visit to this attraction as there is a great vibe during games. The Great American Ball Park is home to the oldest professional baseball team in the United States, so there is also some historical significance to this attraction. Snacks and drinks are available to buy to enjoy during a game. If you plan to watch a game during your visit, it is best to book tickets in advance.

4. Cincinnati Art Museum

The top attraction in this city for art enthusiasts to visit is the Cincinnati Art Museum. This museum is home to more than 60,000 works of art that span a history of 6,000 years. The building itself is an iconic landmark of the city, and it was originally constructed in the 19th-century, although there are some later additions to the building. It is located in downtown Cincinnati, and visitors can enjoy city views from the upper floors.

3. Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum

Visiting a cemetery may seem an unusual activity to enjoy during a vacation, but this is one of the prettiest spots in the city. It is a quiet place to relax and reflect, and there are some famous people buried in the cemetery. It is also the final resting place of Civil War generals. Take a picnic to enjoy before walking around the arboretum. It is worth noting that this is a free attraction, so it is ideal for those who have a limited budget for activities during their stay in Cincinnati.

2. Eden Park

Cincinnati has many wonderful open spaces that are great places to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. One of the best of these is Eden Park. The park is located in the Mount Adams neighborhood and it covers 186 acres. This includes lawn areas, tree groves, lakes, a magnolia garden, and attractive walking paths. Another reason to visit this park is the scenic views.

1. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens

The best attraction in Cincinnati is the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, according to The Crazy Tourist. This zoo is home to many endangered species, and it is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to learn about the animals, their natural habitat, and conservation. Therefore, it is both a fun and educational activity that all the family can enjoy. In addition to viewing the animals, visitors can enjoy the various exhibitions, displays, and demonstrations. The zoo is also home to the botanical gardens, which are beautifully landscaped and a visual delight.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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