Cincinnati, once known mainly for its art deco buildings and as one of the largest examples of Italianate architecture in the United States, has quickly become a go-to destination for anyone looking for a fun weekend getaway. In fact, it ranked #8 on the New York Times’ “52 places to go in 2018,” and Travel+Leisure included the city on its list of “50 Best Places to Travel in 2017.”
So, what all is there to do in this once overlooked city? As someone who grew up in Cincinnati, I always have a set of recommendations for anyone visiting the Queen City.
One thing that makes Cincinnati such a good place to visit is that pretty much all of the best spots are downtown—or just a short streetcar ride away if you don’t want to walk.
To get your day going, begin in Over-the-Rhine (OTR). This is where you’ll find most of your good restaurants and bars.
Brown Bear Bakery: 116 E 13th St.
Any great day of exploration starts with two things: coffee and breakfast. And, the perfect place to grab a quick and delicious breakfast is Brown Bear Bakery. Cinnamon rolls, muffins, scones—they’re all fresh and full of flavor here. That cinnamon roll is made with brioche, cream cheese, and orange zest. Yes, it’s as tasty as it sounds. They also rotate through a variety of matcha baked goods, including a matcha snickerdoodle I still think about over a year later.
Urbana Cafe: 1206 Broadway St.
Once you finish up there, head over to Urbana Cafe in Pendleton, where you can relax with a cappuccino before you start your journey around the city. I’d recommend grabbing a seat upstairs—it’s a great view of the cute shop!
Findlay Market: 1801 Race St.
Next, head about a mile northwest to one of the coolest spots in Cincinnati: Findlay Market. Every weekend when the sun is out, this market is bustling with people from throughout the city. You’ll find almost everything here, including artisanal pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables, bean-to-bar chocolate, and locally baked sweets and treats. It doesn’t hurt that the 19th-century architecture there is absolutely gorgeous, too!
A Tavola Bar + Trattoria: 1220 Vine St.
When you’re in OTR, it can feel a bit overwhelming trying to decide where to eat. One of my personal favorites? A Tavola Bar + Trattoria. Whether you’re a pizza or pasta person, you can’t go wrong with this menu. My go-to pizza is the Fig + Prosciutto, topped with everything from fig jam and fontina to prosciutto and balsamic arugula.
The Contemporary Arts Center: 44 E 6th St.
After you finish up lunch, hop on the streetcar and head to the Central Business District (CBD) for the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center. Don’t worry, it’s a quick ride. As the name suggests, it’s the city’s contemporary art museum. Their exhibitions change fairly frequently, but they always have something neat to peruse. When you finish up there, consider checking out Fountain Square for a bit—it’s only a block away!
Salazar Restaurant & Bar: 1401 Republic St.
When you work up an appetite again, check out Salazar Restaurant and Bar for dinner back in OTR. While the menu changes seasonally, you can count on a locally inspired New American menu that’s innovative and approachable.
1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab: 1215 Vine St.
A great way to end your trip to Cincinnati: 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab. If the weather’s nice, you can relax on their patio. Otherwise, you can chill in their cozy indoor atmosphere. Either way, you’ll be able to enjoy a refreshing glass (or flight) of wine. It’s the perfect way to unwind after the day’s explorations around Cincy.