The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Cincinnati

If you’re visiting Cincinnati for a weekend, you might be wondering where to find the best restaurants, bars, breweries, parks, museums, coffee shops, entertainment districts, tourist attractions, and more.

If that’s you, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we share a list of the best places to check out and the coolest things to do around the Queen City if you happen to be visiting for a few days.

Map of Places to Check Out

The following map shows the location of every place mentioned in this post.

The Best Parks

We have good news for nature lovers: Cincinnati is packed with tons of amazing parks, forests, gardens, and nature centers. Whether you’re looking for a place to go for a leisurely stroll, a quiet garden to enjoy a book in, or a densely wooded area to go for a hike, Cincy has it all. Here are our favorite green spaces to check out:

Alms Park: A beautiful park located on the east side of the city that offers incredible views of the Ohio River, the Little Miami River, the hills of northern Kentucky, and the Lunken Airport. With over 94 total acres, the park is home to several hiking trails, a playground, picnic areas, a pavilion, and several incredible overlook points. Check out our complete guide to Alms Park here.

Ault Park: One of the most well-known and scenic parks in the city that covers over 224 total acres and includes paved walking paths, a beautiful garden, picnic areas, nature trails, a pavilion, and an excellent lookout point. Read our complete guide to Ault Park here.

For a complete list of green spaces worth visiting around the city, check out this post

Eden Park: Another one of Cincinnati’s most well-known parks that offers some beautiful views of the Ohio River and Northern Kentucky. Located on the outskirts of the Mt. Adams neighborhood, the park covers 186 total acres and features several hiking trails, a basketball court, a gazebo, plenty of green space for picnics, a pond with a fountain, the Krohn Conservatory, and the Seasongood Pavilion.

Smale Riverfront Park: Located directly on the Ohio River, this is a beautifully landscaped, well-maintained park that has a long winding walking trail with several swinging benches to sit on and enjoy the views of the River and the bridges that cross over into Northern Kentucky.

The Best Breweries

Cincinnati is one of the brewery capitals not just of the United States, but of the entire world. Whether you’re interested in mom-and-pop breweries with cozy vibes or large-scale breweries that host citywide events, Cincinnati has it all. For a complete list of breweries around the city, check out this post. For those interested in visiting some of the more well-known ones around the city, here are our top picks:

Rhinegeist Brewery: Arguably the largest and most popular brewery in the entire city. 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. With a massive interior, a rooftop bar, a space exclusively reserved for cornhole games, and a wide variety of local beers, this is a must-visit spot for beer lovers.

Madtree Brewery: Another popular brewery 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. This is also one of the most dog-friendly breweries in the whole city.

Fifty West Brewery: One of the most unique breweries in Cincinnati located on the east side of the city along the Little Miami River. With six outdoor volleyball courts, indoor and outdoor seating, and some of the best beers on tap in the city, this is another must-stop brewery.

Urban Artifact: Located in the hip neighborhood of Northside, this brewery is housed beneath St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and 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.”

The Best Restaurants

Cincinnati is filled with all kinds of high-quality restaurants, from burger joints to steakhouses to barbecue spots to sushi bars and everything in between. Here are some of our favorite places to grab a bite to eat around the city:

Izzy’s: Known for their incredible sandwiches (especially their Reuben) and potato pancakes, Izzy’s is loved by locals around the city for their delicious entrees and friendly service. All three of their locations around the city are highly regarded.

The Eagle: Located in Over-The-Rhine, The Eagle is known for their southern comfort food, featuring their fried chicken served with a variety of delicious sauces. This also happens to be one of the most popular restaurants in the neighborhood, so be sure to get reservations ahead of time if possible.

Wunderbar: Located across the Ohio River in Covington, Wunderbar is a hidden gem that serves German-based dishes including housemade sausages, burgers, and craft beer. 

Hofbrauhaus: Located across the river in Newport, Hofbrauhaus is known for their plentiful amount of seating, delicious German-inspired food, beer, and live music, and is a great place to visit during any day of the week, but we recommend checking it out on the weekend when they’re known to stay open until 2AM.

Sotto: Located in Downtown Cincinnati, Sotto is a basement dining spot with an austere brick-&-wood interior that serves some of the best Italian dishes that you can find anywhere in the city.

Lucius Q: Located in Over-The-Rhine, Lucius Q is one of the best barbecue restaurants in the city. Serving classic dishes like pulled pork sandwiches with mac ‘n cheese in a spacious setting with both indoor and outdoor seating, this spot offers great food and a great atmosphere all rolled into one enjoyable experience.

Gaslight Cafe: Located in Pleasant Ridge, Gaslight Cafe offers some of the most highly rated burgers in all of Cincinnati in a low-key sports bar setting. This spot is truly a hidden gem for anyone looking to enjoy a quality burger and a beer.

Ando Sushi: Located in the suburban neighborhood of Blue Ash, Ando is a small, family-run sushi bar known for their authentic Japanese dishes and delicious desserts. One of the most unique aspects of Ando is the fact that they don’t serve alcohol, but they encourage you to bring your own!

Knockback Nat’s: Located in Downtown Cincinnati, Knockback Nat’s is a hole-in-the-wall dive bar that offers some of the best smoked chicken wings that you can find anywhere in the city. 

Gomez Salsa: Located in the Walnut Hills neighborhood, Gomez Salsa is one of the best places in the city to get tacos and other Mexican-inspired cuisine along with a cocktail or margarita.

The Best Coffee Shops

If you’re looking to enjoy a great cup of Joe in a unique coffee shop, then you’re in luck: Cincinnati has nearly 50 different independent coffee shops around the city. Here are our personal favorites:

Iris Book Cafe: Located in Over-The-Rhine, this cafe is filled with shelves of books, plenty of unique artwork along the walls, and an outdoor courtyard that’s perfect to enjoy during warmer months. 

Sitwell’s Coffeehouse: Located in the heart of The Gaslight District, this coffeehouse offers a huge interior filled with plenty of seating, artwork all over the walls, and impeccable service. Their menu is filled with a variety of food and drinks, and the laid back vibe of the shop practically begs you to come in, sit down, and stay for a while.

Sidewinder’s: Located in Northside, this shop has an excellent selection of food and drinks, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and a resident bunny named Violet that you can pet. Best of all, due to its convenient location, it’s a perfect place to grab a cup of coffee and then explore the unique shops and cafes around Northside.

Mom ‘n ‘Em Coffee: Located in Camp Washington, this shop serves both coffee and wine, and has an interior that practically begs you to come in and make yourself at home. Their menu includes a nice selection of coffees, teas, wine and beer, pastries, and (believe it or not) tinned fishes. Visit this spot to see the cool murals on either side of the building and hang around for the quality coffee and perfectly decorated interior.

Roebling Point Books & Coffee: Located across the Ohio River in Covington, this spot is a hybrid between a bookstore and a coffee shop with an impressive selection of both books and coffee. The staff is incredibly friendly and there are plenty of comfy couches and chairs inside, which makes it extra enticing to sit down for a bit and check out one of the many books on their shelves.

Highland Coffee House: Located on the outskirts of the University of Cincinnati campus, this shop is referred to by many as a “hole-in-the-wall” coffee shop that serves both alcohol and caffeine. They’re open from 5PM to 2:30AM every day of the week, which means this isn’t a place that you’ll be able to get your morning brew at, but it’s certainly a place where you can spend your evening. With plenty of unique artwork, indoor plants, and an all-around laid-back vibe, this is one of the more unique and cozy coffee shops in the city.

The Best Museums

Cincinnati has an impressive amount of museums, given the size of the city. In this post, we compiled the 16 best museums worth checking out around the city, but here’s a short list of our favorites:

The American Sign Museum: The largest public museum dedicated to signs in the United States. With over 20,000 square feet of indoor space, this museum is packed with all types of signs that are fun to explore and learn about. Expect to spend at least an hour walking through the entire museum. Check out our full review of the museum here.

Cincinnati Art Museum: Located on the outskirts of Eden Park just five minutes from Downtown, this is one of the most popular museums to visit in all of Cincinnati. With over 67,000 pieces of individual art, both modern and historical, the museum is completely free to visit and is open Tuesday through Sunday (closed on Mondays). Because of the sheer size of the museum, it’s possible to spend an entire day walking around through the various exhibits.

Cincinnati Museum Center: Located at Union Terminal, the Cincinnati Museum Center 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.

The Best Rooftop Bars

One aspect of Cincinnati that often catches visitors off guard is the sheer number of rooftop bars there are around the city. In this post we share 16 of the best rooftop bars worth visiting, but here’s a short list of some of our favorites:

21c Cocktail Terrace: Located in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati across the street from the Aronoff Center for the Arts, 21c Museum Hotel is a boutique hotel, a contemporary art museum, a cultural civic center, and a restaurant all wrapped into one. Located inside of the building is a secret elevator that takes you to the 21c Cocktail Terrace offering a total of 75 seats where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the city while you sip a pop-tail, cocktail, or boozy slushie.

Top of the Park at Residence Inn: Located atop the historic Phelps Building in the heart of downtown Cincinnati’s business district, Top of the Park is a spacious rooftop bar that offers some incredible views of the city that can be enjoyed with a variety of craft beers, cocktails, and delicious handmade tapas.

Rhinegeist Rooftop Bar: Located on the northern end of the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood, Rhinegeist has a huge rooftop bar that offers a variety of locally brewed craft beers on tap, plenty of seating, and some excellent views of the city. This is one of the most popular rooftop bars in the city to visit during the warmer months.

Pavilion: Located in the upscale neighborhood of Mt. Adams, Pavilion is a multi-storied bar particularly popular among college students and recent grads that offers some incredible views of Downtown Cincinnati. Pavilion is known for their live music and their wide selection of beers, liquors, wines, and cocktails, which can all be enjoyed with breathtaking views of the city in the background.

The Best Spots for Scenic Views

Because of Cincinnati’s naturally hilly landscape, there are several points around the city where you can enjoy some incredible scenic views. This post shares a list of spots where you can get a free scenic view of the Queen City, but here are a few of our favorites:

Alms Park: Located atop Mt. Tusculum on the east side of Cincinnati, Alms Park offers some incredible views of the Ohio River, the Queen City, and the hills of northern Kentucky.

Bellevue Park: Located just a couple minutes from the University of Cincinnati sits Bellevue Park, a spot that offers some of the most scenic views of Cincinnati that you can find anywhere in the city.

Mt. Adams Steps: There are a series of steps that start at the riverfront and lead up to the neighborhood of Mt. Adams via a winding set of public stairs. Once you reach the top, you’re rewarded with some incredible views of the city that you can enjoy from several public benches that are surrounded by some nice landscaping.

Devou Park: Located across the Ohio River in Covington, Devou Park has a lookout point that offers some of the most breathtaking views of Cincinnati that you can find anywhere.

The Best Art Galleries

If you’re interested in artwork of any kind, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of unique art galleries sprinkled throughout Cincinnati. In this post we share the 10 best galleries around the city, but here’s a short list of some of our favorites:

Miller Gallery: Located in the heart of Hyde Park Square and founded in 1960, Miller Gallery is the oldest operating fine art gallery in Cincinnati. The gallery highlights both contemporary and traditional artwork by artists from around the world. With 2,000 square feet of exhibition space, the gallery gives visitors a unique look at both abstract and traditional art.

21c Museum Hotel: A boutique hotel, a contemporary art museum, a cultural civic centre, and a restaurant all wrapped into one. Located in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati across the street from the Aronoff Center for the Arts, 21c features a rotating list of both solo and group exhibitions that highlight 21st century art.

Caza Sikes: Housed in a reinvented storefront in the neighborhood of Oakley, Caza Sikes is a gallery that features exceptional fine art and fine craft from acclaimed national artists.The gallery is always filled with a variety of beautiful artwork that is often from local artists and is often available to be purchased for reasonable prices.

The Best Nightlife Spots

While there are a variety of bars located throughout the city, the following areas are the most well-known nightlife spots in Cincinnati:

Over-The-Rhine: By far the number one spot for bar-hopping in the city. In fact, many locals would say that if you only have time to visit for one night, OTR is the one neighborhood that you should spend some time checking out simply because it offers so much to do and see. Check out our complete guide to Over-The-Rhine here.

The Banks: Another popular entertainment district located right along the Ohio River. Nestled between Paul Brown Stadium (home of the Cincinnati Bengals) and Great American Ball Park (home of the Cincinnati Reds), The Banks is comprised of a variety of bars and restaurants, and is one of the more lively places to visit on the weekends. Check out our complete guide to The Banks here.

Downtown Cincinnati: The Downtown area also offers several bars and restaurants to check out, although they’re a bit more spread out compared to OTR and The Banks. Check out our complete guide to Downtown Cincinnati here.

Mount Adams: Lastly, Mount Adams is an upscale neighborhood located five minutes from Downtown that offers several bars worth checking out. Check out our complete guide to Mount Adams here.

Professional & Semi-Professional Sports

Cincinnati has the following professional and semi-professional sports teams that play during various parts of the year:

The Reds: Cincinnati’s professional baseball team that plays from March through September at the Great American Ball Park that overlooks the Ohio River.

The Bengals: Cincinnati’s professional football team that plays from September through December at Paul Brown Stadium located along the Ohio River.

FC Cincinnati: Cincinnati’s professional 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 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.

The Cyclones: Cincinnati’s minor league hockey team that plays during the winter months at Heritage Bank Center located along the Ohio River.

Division I Sports Teams: Cincinnati is home to two universities that have division 1 sports teams: University of Cincinnati and Xavier University.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. 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.

The Best Tourist Attractions

Cincinnati also has a variety of interesting tourist spots to check out. Here are a few of our favorites:

Fountain Square: 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.

Carew Tower Observation Deck: 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.

Findlay Market: 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.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden: The second-oldest zoo in the United States that 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.

The Krohn Conservatory: Located in Eden Park, the Krohn Conservatory 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.

The Mercantile Library: Cincinnati’s most hidden library situated on the 11th floor of the Mercantile Building in Downtown Cincinnati. With an impressive book collection of over 80,000 volumes, a nearly 200-year history, and a beautifully decorated interior filled with large windows and ivory busts, this library is truly a hidden gem worth visiting. Check out complete guide to the library here.

Cincinnati Observatory: 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.

Cincinnati Music Hall: 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.

Hard Rock Casino: The largest casino in Cincinnati. Located downtown, the casino offers slot machines, poker tables, live entertainment, and a variety of restaurants.

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