Located 15 minutes east of Downtown Cincinnati sits the Queen City’s oldest neighborhood: Columbia-Tusculum. The area was founded in 1788, which predates the official founding of Losantiville (later, Cincinnati) by one month.
Columbia-Tusculum is home to a variety of Victorian era homes decorated in the painted ladies multi-color style, a variety of popular restaurants, the beautiful Alms Park, and a plethora of historic structures.
Sometimes referred to as “the San Francisco” of Cincinnati, this neighborhood gives off a Bay Area vibe with its eclectic houses and its proximity to the Ohio River.
In this post, we’ll share a guide to Columbia-Tusculum including a brief history of the neighborhood along with a list of the best restaurants, bars, breweries, public parks, and other attractions to check out in the area.
Map of Places to Check Out
The following map shows the locations of every restaurant, bar, brewery, park, and other attractions mentioned in this post.
A Brief History of Columbia-Tusculum
The area that is now Columbia-Tusculum was first founded as the settlement of “Columbia” by Benjamin Stites and a group of 26 settlers from New Jersey in 1788. After just two years, the settlement was home to 50 cabins, a mill, and a school. And due to its convenient location along the Ohio River, the settlement became a popular trading post.
Unfortunately, repeated flooding in the area prevented it from transforming into a major center for commerce. So, in 1815 the settlement was moved to its present location at the foot of Tusculum Hill. Two homes from this period still survive – the Kellogg house (3811 Eastern Avenue), and the Stites house (315 Stites Avenue), both built in the 1830s.
As the transportation industry advanced through the 1800s, so did the growth of Columbia. The village grew and was officially incorporated in 1868. As the growth continued, many residents wanted to take advantage of the amenities of the city. In 1873, Columbia was annexed by the city of Cincinnati.
Throughout the 1900s, the neighborhood experienced booms and busts in growth.
Today, Columbia-Tusculum has a strong sense of community pride that resembles the close-knit sentiment of the early days. With continued restoration of old Victorian buildings and ongoing community council projects, this neighborhood is rich with culture and is as community-oriented as ever.
Restaurants, Bars, and Breweries
Columbia-Tusculum is home to a variety of restaurants, bars, and breweries. Here are a few of our favorites:
Allyn’s Cafe: One of the most popular cafes in the area, known for serving cajun-style cuisine. One of the more popular vegetarian dishes on the menu are the Huevos Rancheros, which consist of egg, peppers, onion, and cheese wrapped in a tortilla and topped with salsa.
The Precinct: Located in the former Cincinnati Police Patrol House Number 6, The Precinct is one of the most highly rated restaurants in all of Cincinnati, known for its steaks, chops & seafood that can be enjoyed in a lively, upscale setting. Check out a gallery of photos that showcase their menu options here.
Tostado’s Grill: A popular restaurant known for their Mexican cuisine, karaoke nights, and all-around excellent service.
Swampwater Grill: A BBQ & Cajun restaurant known for their variety of seafood options and smoked meats that can be enjoyed in a laid back atmosphere with a fishing-shack vibe.
Eli’s BBQ: One of the most popular BBQ restaurants in all of Cincinnati known for their pulled pork, ribs, and mac ‘n cheese. With both indoor and outdoor seating, this is the perfect place to visit during the warmer months to enjoy some delicious comfort food with family and friends.
Local Post: An old post office turned into a local bar and eatery, known for their burgers and dry rub wings.
TAGLIO: A laid-back, counter-serve pizza spot that also serves sandwiches & Italian bites alongside beer & wine.
Pearl’s Bar: A neighborhood pub with indoor and outdoor seating, housed in a former 1860s-era home that serves beers, wines, and traditional bar food.
Stanley’s Pub: A neighborhood dive bar with an outdoor patio, live music on weekends, an excellent selection of drinks, and friendly service.
Streetside Brewery: The local neighborhood brewery known for their milkshake IPAs, Sours and Fruit beers. With plenty of seating both inside and outside on their patio, this is a popular place to come with friends and family and enjoy a variety of brews.
Here are a few other neat places to check out around the neighborhood.
Yust Gallery: A contemporary art gallery that features a variety of artwork available to be purchased from local national and internationally renowned artists.
The Irish Heritage Center: A local performing arts theater with a small pub on the inside that offers music nights, live concerts, Irish dancing, and other events.Check out their online calendar to see what events they have coming up soon.
Columbia Performance Center: An old church that has been converted to a performance venue for artists and bands.
Columbia-Tusculum has several public parks worth checking out.
Alms Park: The premier public park in the neighborhood, as well as one of the most scenic parks in all of Cincinnati. Located atop Mt. Tusculum, the park offers incredible views of the Ohio River, the Little Miami River, the hills of northern Kentucky, and the Lunken Airport. Check out our complete guide to Alms Park here.
Larz Anderson Park: One of the most hidden parks in all of Cincinnati that serves as a fantastic spot to enjoy some scenic views of the city.
Turkey Ridge Park: A public park located along the Ohio River that offers two basketball courts, a baseball diamond, and plenty of green space to kick around a soccer ball or pass a frisbee.
Schmidt Boat Ramp and Ballfields: A public park that features a boat ramp for launching boats, kayaks, and other vessels into the Ohio River, along with several baseball fields and a paved walking path.
Whether it’s the excellent public parks, the variety of restaurants and bars, or its proximity to popular entertainment districts like The Banks, Downtown Cincinnati, and Over-The-Rhine, Columbia-Tusculum has a lot to love. Whether you’re interested in moving to the area or you simply want to visit, Columbia-Tusculum is a unique and vibrant neighborhood worth checking out.
For a detailed history of Columbia-Tusculum, check out this page.
For a complete list of local businesses and shops in Columbia-Tusculum, check out the community website.