We are very lucky to have several major cities within driving distance from Columbus. Just a little over a 1.5 hour drive will get you to the beautiful city just southwest of Columbus – Cincinnati. Cincinnati is a historic, yet trendy city built (literally) on its history. Not to be missed is a section of the city undergoing a revival called Over-the-Rhine, or OTR. It continues to add new eateries and bars to the city, helping to attract all different types of people. From the sports lover to the thrill-seeker, Cincinnati has something for everyone.
21c museum hotel
Art lovers will enjoy this historic boutique hotel situated in the middle of Cincinnati. You will be completely immersed in the art throughout your stay. Contemporary art can be seen everywhere from the sidewalk to the pool to right inside your hotel room. With rotating exhibitions, this is an actual museum that is free and open to the public 24/7. You can book a room only or you can choose to book one of their themed room packages, such as a brewery or spa package. In addition, this hotel is in close proximity to the Contemporary Arts Center and the Arnoff Center for the Arts.
If you’ve stayed in downtown Cincinnati before and want to try something different, then just hop across the river to the Hotel Covington in Kentucky. The hotel is housed in the state’s first modern skyscraper and location of their first high-end department store. This hotel’s modern, vintage style will make you feel as if you are living a life of luxury. They offer a well-rounded hotel stay, complete with a restaurant and bar, coffee shop, outdoor patio, and walk up outdoor window for your grab-and-go needs.
Sometimes you want to feel more at home when you travel. So as huge supporters of hotels and locals alike, it would be remiss if this post did not suggest an Airbnb rental. During our research we encountered an article featuring 8 unique places in Cincinnati.
Attend a Cincy Sporting Event
For the avid sports lover, Cincinnati has three professional teams for you to root for. Everyone has heard of the historic Cincinnati Reds, but have you seen their beautiful riverfront ballpark? The Great American Ballpark itself is worth your attendance at a game. The Cincinnati Bengals are a football lovers’ local favorite and also feature a riverfront stadium. However, the most exciting team right now is the FC Cincinnati soccer team. Supporter efforts have paid off, as the team is set to become an official MLS team in 2019.
Bring Out Your Inner Thrill Seeker at Kings Island
Featuring roller coasters, stage shows, and an indoor AND outdoor water park, Kings Island has something for everyone. While it is not open daily year-round, they do have special events on select weekends throughout the fall and winter months. Be sure to check the dates before you plan your trip!
Learn Something New at the American Sign Museum
Celebrating the history of America’s signage this museum has Instagram written all over it. Not only will you get to discover the varying types of American signs, but you will also learn the history behind the materials and processes used to make the signs.
Visit the Cincinnati Zoo
Walk on the wild side at the second oldest zoo in the United States. Its architecture earned it the National Historic Landmark title with the oldest existing zoo building to date for the Reptile House built in 1875. Along with viewing the animals, they also feature a zoo garden, behind-the-scenes tours, train rides, and a 4D movie experience. Plan a visit between Nov. 17th – Jan. 1st for the PNC Festival of Lights, voted #1 zoo lights in the country by USA Today.
Walk Along the River at Smale Riverfront Park
This massive riverfront renovation is a fairly new addition to the city. Loved by the locals, there isn’t a day that goes by when the park isn’t being utilized in some way. At night, especially in the summer, you can see couples walking hand-in-hand, lounging on the grass, or perched on a bench overlooking the scenic Ohio River. Extend your walk over the iconic Roebling Suspension Bridge for a look at the Roebling murals and a view of Cincinnati from Kentucky.
Eat and Drink
Cincinnati’s history is filled with beer. So, we would be remiss not to mention two brewery tours to help you explore the city’s history. The first is The Queen City Underground Tour where you will learn about the buildings and underground tunnels that were so important to Cincinnati’s brewery history. The Cincy Brew Bus Tour takes you to modern breweries located around the city. They offer three different tours with 3-4 brewery stops on each tour.
Maplewood Kitchen and Bar
Self-described as West Coast-style cuisine, they focus on bringing you healthier food with fresh, organic seasonal ingredients. Open for breakfast through early dinner times, expect to have to wait a bit. Lines are known to form, especially on the weekend. You order at the counter, they seat you at a table, and then they bring the food out to you when it’s ready. The beautifully decorated space does not make you feel as if it is a counter service restaurant.
The casual, intimate atmosphere will make you feel like you are dining at an authentic Italian restaurant right in the heart of Rome. Housed in a basement, you walk down stairs into what looks like a cave, where you emerge into a rock walled room glowing with candles. Intimate tables are scattered throughout providing opportunities to watch them make their pasta or overlook their underground wine cellar. Surprisingly affordable, this restaurant will have you planning a trip to return for a second time.
Make a stop at one of these places “on the way” to or from Cincinnati. Both are definitely worth a visit!
Mad Tree Brewing
Probably one of the best brewery layouts out there (you’ll see what we mean when you walk up). It’s huge with large open spaces inside and out. Perfect for watching some football in the fall. They have Catch-A-Fire Pizza selling wood-fired pizza, appetizers, salads, and desserts. Guided tours are offered for $6, which must be scheduled 24 hours in advance.
Butler County Donut Trail
Taking the long way (heading by Dayton) will take you right past a couple of the donut shops. Three shops are located right off 75 in West Chester: The Donut House, Holtman’s Donuts (also a shop in Cincy), and Stan the Donut Man. You can pick up a donut trail passport at any location. Be sure to check their operating hours before stopping! Shops might even close once they sell out, so either call ahead or plan to arrive earlier in the day.
All images by Hannah Green unless otherwise noted.
Feature image credit: @overtherhine