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What to Do in Cincinnati: 20 Tips from the Locals

As I walked out of the airport and into the gray, rainy parking lot in Cincinnati, I questioned how much I was going to like the city.  After all, I’m from the south where it’s known to be warm and sunny most of the year, and I always had the impression that northern cities like Cincinnati would be industrial and gray.

Thankfully, I was absolutely wrong.  Even though it rained for the better part of the four days I was there, I was really impressed by Cincinnati’s beautiful downtown area and what seemed like a never ending amount of things to do.  To top it off, I had three locals give me the perfect advice on where to go (a shout-out to Tabetha, Trevor, and Kevin!).  Now, I can pass their tips on to you…

Drink Beer in a Church

Taft’s Ale House is an old church that was converted into a bar.  My first impression was that this place is just cool.  I loved the design and the variety of beers exceeded my expectations.  I drank the Cherrywood Apple, which was a recommendation by the friendly bar staff.

Sample Food from Around the World

The Findlay Market is a cute market in the Over-the-Rhine district in Cincinnati.  I liked its international flair.  There was a Russian shop called Babushka, restaurants that sold gyros, and a plethora of other delicious food.  The most appealing to me though was the fudge.  Unfortunately, I was on a no-sugar diet and just stared helplessly at it for 5 minutes.

Make Your Perfect Candle

A perfect way to relax and take a break from sightseeing is to make your very own candle at The Candle Lab.  You can combine any three scents you want to formulate the smell you would like your candle to have.  I chose Pinewood, Balsam Fir, and Lavender Fields and made a Christmas candle for my mom.  It was a fun experience, despite the fact that your brain feels a bit fuzzy at the end from a whirlwind of smells swarming around your head.

Eat Some of Cincinnati's Best BBQ

Eli’s BBQ is one of the most popular restaurants in Cincinnati and my friend was raving about it, so I had to stop by.  I had a pulled pork sandwich with mac & cheese and mashed potatoes.  And I have to say, for BBQ outside of the south, it’s not so bad after all.

Enjoy the Views from Eden Park

Eden Park is a great place to relax, soak in some nice views of the city, and get involved in some local events that take place around the park.  I was there during the day, but I can imagine it would be even more beautiful as the sun is setting.

This Ice Cream is Different and Delicious

As soon as I arrived in Cincinnati, my friend started telling me about a local ice cream shop called Graeter’s.  Even though I was on a no-sugar diet, I gave in because she had been talking about how amazing this ice cream was for three days, and I have to say, I’m glad I caved.  The ice cream was delicious.

What makes Graeter’s ice cream stand out is that they use a French pot process, which makes it taste homemade.  I tried their signature raspberry chocolate chip ice cream and loved it.  My only complaint is that we don’t have a Graeter’s in my hometown!

Drink Some Local Beer and Play Cornhole

If Cincinnati were my home, Rhinegeist would be one of my favorite hangouts.  Apart from the local beer, they have cornhole, table tennis, and a relaxing rooftop bar where you can look out onto the city.  I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

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Don't Forget About Kentucky

If you are in need of some exercise and are looking for a great view of the city, walk across the Taylor-Southgate Bridge and head to Kentucky.   This bridge takes you directly into Newport where there are some good bars and restaurants and probably one of the best views of Cincinnati you are going to get.

My Favorite View of the City

Who would have thought that the Barnes & Noble would be the perfect place for a great view of Cincinnati?  Yet, it is.   After you cross the Taylor-Southgate Bridge, head up to the second floor of the Barnes & Noble and be amazed by the view.  The pictures simply do not do it justice.

Celebrate the German Culture

It’s apparent that the Germans have left their mark on Cincinnati, and the Hofbräuhaus in Newport, Kentucky will allow you to experience some of that authentic German culture.

The Hofbräuhaus made me feel like I was back in Germany again.  There was a German guy singing traditional Bavarian songs, big mugs of delicious beer, and some of my favorite German food (white sausage and Bretzel with Obatzda).  I was on the hunt for some Bavarian food in Cincinnati and I found what I was looking for.

Have a 3-Way

If you want to try a dish that the locals really love, head to Skyline Chili.  Their famous 3-Way dish is made of spaghetti, shredded cheddar cheese and a secret chili recipe.  You may not like it (a lot of non-natives don’t), but it’s still fun to try food that people from Cincinnati go crazy for.

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Relive Your Childhood

I can’t remember the last time I played an arcade game.  Maybe when I was 10?  So, I felt like a kid again at the 16-Bit Bar playing some old favorites like pac-man, Area 51, and Mortal Kombat.  All you have to do is buy a drink and you can play every game for free!

Get a Panoramic View of the City

Head up to the Public Incline House and have a drink while looking out over Cincinnati. Or, if you are not in the mood to sit around, just go up for the view and take some great pics.

Party at One of the Best Bars in the Country

Japp’s is one of the country’s best bars according to Esquire.  It’s been around since 1879 and specializes in Handcrafted cocktails.  Unfortunately, I swung by the bar on Sunday, and it was closed.  I did have a peek in the bar though, and it looks old and classic.

Where to Park for a Good Price

One of the hardest things to know when you are new to a city is where the cheaper parking is. Most people end up spending more money for parking garages than they have to.  Garfield Garage has affordable rates and is centrally located.

Eat Goetta for Breakfast

Goetta is another famous dish from Cincinnati that you can try.  It’s a meat sausage that is actually pronounced the same way as the last name of the musician David Guetta.  I tried it at Hathaway’s Diner, and it wasn’t too bad, even though your body feels like it needs a detox immediately after.

Play an Endless Amount of Board Games

Like the Rhinegeist, this would be one of my favorite hangouts if I lived in Cincinnati.  The Rook has a wall full of board games that you can play for free after you buy a drink.  It’s the perfect place to take a break from sightseeing and enjoy some fun competition.

Ride the Street Car

If you are looking for an easy way to get around to some of Cincinnati’s main tourist attractions, then the newly built street car will probably be your best bet.  And for only two dollars a day (at the time of me writing this), you can’t really beat the price.

Take a Break at a Book Cafe

The Iris Book Cafe is a cute coffee shop that feels like a mini library.  They have just about every genre of books that you could imagine and there is a cute courtyard in the back where you can relax.

Festivals, Festivals, and More Festivals

Cincinnati is a happening place.  The weekend I was there, the city was playing host to a Pig & Whiskey event, a photography festival, and a restaurant week.  Outside of the city there was also an Apple Butter festival and an Oktoberfest.  So, empty your stomach and take your pick!

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