Cincinnati, Ohio, affectionately referred to as the “Queen City” by locals, is a city located smack dab in the midwest of the U.S. along the border of southern Ohio and northern Kentucky.
Rich with history and cultural diversity, it’s a city that is home to major sports teams, several universities, a massive collection of breweries, an incredible food scene, a booming job market, and a yearly calendar filled with festivals that take place around the city.
While most midwestern cities get a bad rap for being bland or boring, Cincinnati bucks this trend in every way.
The New York Times even listed Cincinnati as #8 on its list of 52 places to visit in 2018 around the world, citing its upcoming theater scene and revival of its Over-the-Rhine district as two distinct reasons to visit the city.
In this post, we share 45 reasons that people love living in Cincinnati.
A Variety of Sports Teams
Cincinnati is home to both major and minor league sports teams, along with division I college sports teams.
1. The Reds baseball team
It’s no secret that Cincinnati has been a baseball town for a long time. The local major league team, the Cincinnati Reds, have been around since the 1880s and the city practically worships them.
Each year the Reds have an opening day parade that serves as the main reason behind why half the employees around the city happen to call in sick to work that day.
You can catch a Reds game from March through September at the Great American Ball Park that overlooks the Ohio River.
2. The Bengals football team
The Queen City is home to the Cincinnati Bengals, a professional football team that has been a member of the National Football League since 1970.
Although the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990 (which some believe is due to the curse of Bo Jackson), they’ve made appearances in the playoffs six times since 2009 and Sundays in downtown Cincinnati are always a blast.
You can see the Bengals play live at Paul Brown Stadium located in downtown Cincy.
3. FC Cincinnati soccer team
Cincy is also home to FC Cincinnati, a soccer team that just entered the major league ranks in early 2019.
You only have to attend one match to see just how much the locals love this team – nearly every game is sold out and the atmosphere offers an incredible experience. You can find FC Cincinnati flags blowing in the wind of nearly any Cincy neighborhood you drive through, which is evidence of just how much the city supports the team.
You can see the team play a match at Nippert stadium, located on the University of Cincinnati campus up until 2021 when the franchise will begin playing in their own West End Stadium.
4. The Cyclones hockey team
Along with professional football, baseball, and soccer teams, the Queen City is also home to a minor league hockey team: The Cyclones.
Don’t let the minor league status deter you from attending a game, though – Cyclones games are always a blast, with bobblehead nights, dollar beer nights, and fan appreciation nights drawing in locals.
Catch a Cyclones game during any of the winter months at U.S. Bank Arena located downtown.
5. Division I Sports Teams
Cincinnati is home to two universities that have division 1 sports teams: University of Cincinnati and Xavier University.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these two universities have a classic college basketball rivalry known as the Crosstown Shootout, an annual game in which the two schools that are only 3 miles apart face off. Both schools have a history of regularly attending the big dance during March Madness, which makes this rivalry even more competitive.
The University of Cincinnati also has a D1 football team that plays on campus at Nippert Stadium, the same stadium that FC Cincinnati currently uses for their soccer matches.
An Incredible Food Scene
Along with a variety of sports teams, Cincinnati is known for its diverse food scene.
6. Skyline Chili
Hands down, the food that Cincy is best known for is Skyline Chili. With dozens of locations around the city, odds are that you’re never more than a few miles away from a local Skyline.
Stop in for a cheese coney, a 3-way, some cheesy fries, or any other Skyline classic.
7. Ice Cream
Cincinnati has an impressive variety of ice cream shops around the city. Two of the most popular shops were both started in Cincy and have been around since the early 1900s: Graeter’s Ice Cream and Aglamesis Bro’s.
Along with these two, there are dozens of other great spots to grab a cone or a shake. Be sure to check out this list of the 10 best ice cream shops in Cincinnati that we compiled to find a shop near you.
Along with Skyline Chili and ice cream, Cincy has a plethora of high quality BBQ restaurants.
Some of the local favorites include Eli’s BBQ in Columbia-Tusculum, Pontiac Bourbon & BBQ in OTR, Station Family + BBQ in Wyoming, and Velvet Smoke (with locations in White Oak & Harrison).
9. Taste of Cincinnati
Along with a variety of great individual restaurants, Cincinnati also has a yearly food festival known as Taste of Cincinnati, which is a three-day celebration of Cincinnati’s incredible food scene along a five-block stretch in downtown Cincinnati.
With over 40 local restaurants participating, this festival is an excellent way to try out a variety of different Queen City favorites all in one place.
An Unparalleled Beer Scene
Cincinnati has a beer scene that rivals any major city, both in its quality and quantity of breweries around the city.
There are literally dozens of places to grab a beer around the Queen City, but we’ll name just a few of our favorites here.
10. Rhinegeist Brewery
The name Rhinegeist translates to “Ghost of the Rhine” and refers to the location of this brewery in the historic Over-the-Rhine Brewery District in Cincinnati. With a massive interior, a rooftop bar, a space exclusively reserved for cornhole games, and a wide variety of local beers, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular and well-known breweries in the city.
11. MadTree Brewing
Another popular brewery in the Queen City is MadTree, located in the trendy neighborhood of Oakley. MadTree offers an impressive selection of craft beers, an indoor wood-fired pizza bar, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.
12. Listermann Brewing Company
Listermann is a family-owned brewing company found by husband and wife Dan and Sue Listermann that offers an impressive selection of craft beers, wines, and ciders. With unique flavors like Barrel Aged Chickow! and Nutcase Peanut Butter Porter that have won several awards at beer shows, it’s no wonder why this brewery is a favorite among Cincinnatians.
13. Fifty West Brewery
One of the most unique breweries in the Queen City is Fifty West Brewery. Located on the east end of Cincy along the Little Miami River, Fifty West is one of the only breweries in the region that boasts six outdoor volleyball courts, which hosts weekly leagues and tournaments.
In addition, they host what is known as “Penny Flip” nights on Tuesdays where you can literally flip a penny and, if you guess correctly, only have to pay one penny for your drink!
The fun community activities and events, combined with the two story brewery with indoor and outdoor seating makes Fifty West a must-stop place to grab a beer.
14. Urban Artifact
Another unique place to grab a beer is Urban Artifact, located in Northside. Housed beneath St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Urban Artifact offers a variety of craft beers along with live music and performances during most nights of the week.
Check out this spot for the unique architecture and stay for the variety of original brews like berry-flavored “Gadget” and the fruit tart “Loveletter.”
A Variety of Festivals & Events
Cincinnati has an impressive variety of festivals and events that take place throughout the year. From food festivals to professional bike races to marathons, there’s almost always some public event going on around the city during any given month.
15. Flying Pig Marathon
One of Cincinnati’s most well known public events is the annual Flying Pig Marathon, a 26.2 mile jaunt through various neighborhoods around the city. Each year, thousands of participants come out to run in the marathon and even more supporters show up to cheer on the runners.
16. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati
Another favorite festival among Cincinnatians is the Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, a German-themed festival that occurs in late September each year that shuts down much of the downtown area. The festival features live bands, an insane amount of food, and a wide variety of craft beers.
17. Ohio River Paddlefest
The Ohio River Paddlefest is the nation’s largest paddling celebration that attracts thousands of kayak and canoe lovers to the Ohio River each year. Participants travel nine miles through downtown Cincy and Northern Kentucky in their watercraft of choice, which is quite a spectacle to see whether you actually participate or not.
18. Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights
Each year the Cincinnati Zoo hosts what is known as the Festival of Lights, in which they light up the zoo and botanical garden with thousands of strands of Christmas bulbs during November and December. This annual event is a local favorite and one that thousands around the city look forward to each year.
19. Bunbury Music Festival
The Bunbury Music Festival is a three-day music festival that takes place in early June at Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove in downtown Cincy. Each year the event features over 100 acts performing on three to six different stages along the banks of the Ohio River, making this the largest music festival in the city.
20. Hyde Park Blast Bike Race
The Hyde Park Blast is an annual bike race that began in 2001 that attracts both professional and amateur riders alike. For one weekend the Hyde Park Square, located directly in the center of the neighborhood, is shut down and turned into a racing course. Along with the race itself, several food tents and live bands set up shop near the square, which makes this race a true community event.
A Massive Collection of Things to Do
Cincinnati is filled with places around the city where you can go to see live music, spend a day at an amusement park, catch a live theater performance, and much more.
21. Riverbend Music Center
The Riverbend Music Center is an outdoor amphitheater located on the east end of Cincinnati along the Ohio River. With a capacity of 20,000+, this venue is the most popular place to see big-name musicians and artists that come from around the country to perform.
22. Bogart’s Music Venue
Located near the University of Cincinnati, Bogart’s is a music venue that, along with Riverbend, is known for hosting big-name musicians. Bogart’s isn’t the largest venue, but it does offer six different bars and three levels for concert viewing, making it a unique and popular place to catch a live show.
23. Kings Island
King’s Island is the largest amusement park and water park in the Midwest. The park itself covers over 364 acres and offers a huge variety of roller coasters and other rides that thrill-seekers love.
24. Queen City Underground Tours
Queen City Underground Tours offers a unique tour through Cincinnati that takes place mostly below the city streets. The tour includes a stop at a hidden crypt where some of Cincinnati’s first residents were buried as well as a stroll through a series of underground tunnels that played a major role in the city’s brewery uprising. According to National Geographic, this tour is one of the top five underground tours in the entire U.S.
25. Hard Rock Casino
Hard Rock Casino is the largest casino in Cincinnati. Located downtown, the casino offers slot machines, poker tables, live entertainment, and a variety of restaurants.
26. BB Riverboats
BB Riverboats is the official riverboat cruise line of Cincinnati and has been since 1979. It offers sightseeing, dining, and private event cruises along the Ohio River.
27. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, located in Mt. Adams, is one of the best places in the city to see a live theater performance. The playhouse is known for its top-notch musicals and plays that draws thousands of visitors in each year.
28. Taft Museum of Art
The Taft Museum of Art is one of the finest small art museums in the country. Originally opened in 1932, the museum is home to an impressive collection of art that includes European and American paintings, Chinese porcelains, and ivory sculptures. The museum also has an outdoor garden, free on-site parking, and a museum shop and cafe.
29. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park
Pyramid Hill is one of the few sculpture parks in the U.S. The park originally opened in 1996 and today hosts more than 60 massive contemporary sculptures. The park itself covers over 335 acres and is home to concerts, special events, and kids programs held throughout the year.
30. Cincinnati Music Hall
The Cincinnati Music Hall, which overlooks Washington Park, is a classical music performance hall that has been around since 1878. It serves as home for the Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. It also hosts a variety of public and private events that take place throughout the year.
31. Contemporary Arts Center
The Contemporary Arts Center is a contemporary art museum in located downtown. Rather than collect and hold art, the CAC focuses instead on showcasing paintings, sculptures, photography, and other art forms that have been produced primarily by local artists.
32. Aronoff Center for the Arts
The Aronoff Center for the Arts is a massive performing arts center located downtown. The center is known for hosting events like ballets, plays, concerts, musicals, and even stand-up comedy shows.
33. Cincinnati Museum Center
The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is home to the Cincinnati History Museum, the Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Holocaust & Humanity Center, and the OMNIMAX Theater. If you’re interested in museums of any type or you’d like to learn more about the culture and history of Cincinnati, this is the place to go.
34. American Sign Museum
The American Sign Museum is one of the most unique museums that you can attend in Cincy. It’s a museum that preserves, archives, and displays a huge collection of signs including early electric signs, modern neon signs, plastic-face signs, and everything in between. With over 20,000 square feet of American signage, this museum takes at least an hour to explore, but is a one-of-a-kind experience.
A Long List of Unique Places to Visit
Cincinnati is packed with a variety of unique places to visit including a zoo & botanical garden, an aquarium, an observation deck that overlooks the city, and much more.
35. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is the second-oldest zoo in the United States and has been around since 1875. Located in Avondale near the UC campus, the zoo is home to over 500 animals, over 3,000 plant species, and attracts more than one million visitors each year.
36. Newport Aquarium
The most popular aquarium to visit in Cincinnati is the Newport Aquarium. Located just across the Ohio River in the northern Kentucky city of Newport, this aquarium has over 70 unique exhibits and five acrylic tunnels that connect 14 different galleries.
37. Krohn Conservatory
The Krohn Conservatory, located in Eden Park, is a wonderful place to view over 3,500 different plant species in one single building. The conservatory itself has been around since the 1930s and to this day it remains one of the most popular places for plant lovers to visit in the Queen City.
38. Findlay Market
Findlay Market is the largest farmer’s market in Cincinnati. With over one hundred unique vendors selling meat, produce, desserts, and other local foods, this is an excellent place to check out if you’re a foodie or if you’re just looking for a fun and unique place to visit.
39. Fountain Square
Fountain Square is arguably the most well-known downtown city square in Cincinnati. It serves as home to food trucks, local vendors, free public concerts, and it hosts a wide variety of events and festivals throughout the year.
40. Cincinnati Art Museum
The Cincinnati Art Museum located in the Eden Park neighborhood is one of the oldest art museums in the U.S. and is a hugely popular place to visit because it offers free daily admission. This is the premier place in the city to view both historic and modern art of all kinds including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and more.
41. Cincinnati Observatory
The Cincinnati Observatory is home to the world’s oldest telescope still in use nightly by the general public. The observatory offers daytime tours and also regularly hosts public events, which include festivals, guided stargazing, and much more. Whether you’re looking for a unique place to go with friends and family or simply interested in learning more about the science of astronomy, the Cincinnati Observatory is a great spot to visit.
42. Carew Tower Observation Deck
The Carew Tower Observation Deck is an observation deck located on the 49th-floor of Carew Tower downtown that offers incredible sweeping views of the city for miles in each direction. The price to go on the deck is $6 for ages 12 and up.
A Booming Job Market
In addition to plenty of things to do and places to visit, Cincinnati is also home to a booming job market with several massive nationwide companies located within the city limits.
43. Hospital Systems
Two major hospital systems that offer employment in the Cincinnati area include UC Health and TriHealth. With dozens of individual locations, these two networks employ thousands of people around the Queen City in the healthcare industry.
44. Financial Institutions
Cincinnati is home to several financial institutions that employ thousands of people around the city. Two of the larger institutions include Western & Southern Financial Group and Fifth Third Bank.
45. Major Retail Players
Cincinnati is also home to several major retail companies including Macy’s, The Kroger Company, and Proctor & Gamble.