Cincinnati provides a sampler of sorts for three different cultural genres. All it takes to be in the Southern U.S. is a jaunt across the Ohio River, and the city is only a half-hour drive away from rural Indiana or the meadow-patched regions of Ohio, for those who want an escape to the countryside.
The city was named after the Society of Cincinnati, a group dedicated to preserving the ideals and fellowship of the Continental Army of the Revolutionary War. Since that era, though, the city has transformed into a modern and vibrant metropolis, with two state-of-the-art sports stadiums, a casino, and ongoing revitalization projects along the river banks. Cincinnati’s Main Street, between Liberty Street and Central Parkway, features bustling art galleries and specialty stores selling flowers, antiques, and music by day. At night, nightclubs attract a diverse and energetic audience. And be sure to take a stroll in Over-the-Rhine, a neighborhood that attracted many German immigrants starting in the 1850’s that is now one of the largest districts on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Must see: The Cincinnati Art Museum, which opened in 1881, houses the collection of Frank Duveneck, one of the city’s most famous artists, and includes his masterpiece, “The Whistling Boy.” There’s even a Cincinnati wing, which encompasses an artistic history of the city through mediums like metalsmithing, ceramics, and sculpture.
Lodging: Stay at the Downtown Cincinnati Hotel (The Cincinnatian) for a more traditional upscale experience, or try out Cincinnati’s 21c Museum Hotel. The Cincinnati Museum Hotel combines comfortable accommodations with modern art exhibits in an attempt to engage the public with contemporary art and cultural programs.
Cuisine: While Cincinnati is known for its chili, the steakhouse reigns supreme here; many restaurants of the genre are owned locally, and you’ll find they take great pride in their surf and turf platters. Jeff Ruby’s Precinct is consistently reviewed well in this category.
Ground Transportation: While there’s been a substantial investment in the Cincinnati rail systems, rental cars are still your best bet.
Packing Tips: Thanks to its location in a valley along the Ohio River, Cincinnati can be very warm and humid in the summer. Bring water with you when you go sightseeing to stay hydrated.
Recommended Books: Cincinnati native Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer-winning novel The Hours was released in 1998. When you’re finished reading it, don’t forget to watch the Oscar-winning film adaptation of the novel, starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore.
Currency: The dollar is the local currency.
Calling Code United States: 1
Best Travel Dates: Plan your trip for the transitional seasons - spring begins in April, and fall arrives with beautiful foliage in late September.