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Cincinnati

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Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Ohio Cincinnati

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Introduction

Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio that serves as county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located on the north side of the confluence of the Licking with the Ohio River. The latter forms the border between the states of Ohio and Kentucky. Cincinnati is the third-largest city in Ohio and the 65th-largest city in the United States with a population of 298,165 people (2014), making it the 28th-largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in the United States and the largest centered in Ohio. The city is also part of the larger Cincinnati–Middletown–Wilmington Combined Statistical Area (CSA), which had a population of 2,172,191 in the 2010 census.

Cincinnati is home to two major sports teams, the Cincinnati Reds, the oldest franchise in Major League Baseball, and the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League. The University of Cincinnati, founded in 1819, is one of the 50 largest in the United States. Cincinnati is known for its historic architecture. In the late 1800s, Cincinnati was commonly referred to as "Paris of America", due mainly to such ambitious architectural projects as the Music Hall, Cincinnatian Hotel, and Shillito Department Store.

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History

In the early 19th century, Cincinnati was an American boomtown in the heart of the country; it rivaled the larger coastal cities in size and wealth. Throughout much of the 19th century, it was listed among the top 10 U.S. cities by population, surpassed only by New Orleans and the older, established settlements of the Eastern Seaboard; at one point holding the position of America's sixth-largest city for a period spanning consecutive census reports from 1840 until 1860. It was by far the largest city in the west. Because it is the first major American city founded after the American Revolution as well as the first major inland city in the country, Cincinnati is sometimes thought of as the first purely "American" city.[10]

Cincinnati developed with less European immigration or influence than eastern cities attracted in the same period; however, it received a significant number of German immigrants, who founded many of the city's cultural institutions. By the end of the 19th century, with the shift from steamboats to railroads drawing off freight shipping, trade patterns had altered and Cincinnati's growth slowed considerably. The city was surpassed in population by other inland cities, particularly Chicago, which developed based on commodity exploitation and the railroads, and St. Louis, for decades after the Civil War the gateway to westward migration.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Avondale is a primarily residential urban neighborhood near the center of the city, notable for the presence of the Cincinnati Zoo. Large parts of Avondale feature historic former mansions with beautiful architecture, but today the neighborhood has an unsavory reputation and is prone to gang related violence, drugs, and armed robbery.
  • Columbia Tusculum is the oldest neighborhood in Cincinnati, founded as the settlement 'Columbia' in 1788. This neighborhood is known for its large collection of Queen Anne Victorian "Painted Ladies" along hillsides that give the neighborhood somewhat of a San Francisco feel. Go up the hill on Tusculum Ave off Columbia Parkway for the best examples. Located in Columbia Tusculum is The Precinct which is one of the city's best dining establishments in an old Police Precinct building.
  • Hyde Park is an upscale, largely white and upper class residential neighborhood. At the heart of the neighborhood is Hyde Park Square, a tree-lined esplanade of boutique shops, such as Morrison & Me, Knickers XY, 45/46 XY Inspired, and Knickers of Hyde Park, and restaurants, including Indigo, Teller's, Cock & Bull Pub and Graeter's Ice Cream.
  • Mt. Adams is a trendy, upscale neighborhood located directly northeast of downtown Cincinnati. It is known for its lively night scene, beautiful views of the skyline, and the Holy Cross-Immaculata Catholic Church. Steep terrain on three sides, and Eden Park on the fourth side, give the neighborhood a unique sense of isolation. Mt. Adams has some of the highest property values in the city, and is a good destination for anyone overly worried about personal safety.
  • Clifton is also located near the city center, and is home to an especially wide range of people, boasting a population diverse in ethnicity, race, sexuality, gender, age, country of origin, and economic status. A number of students at the local University inhabit the stately apartment buildings, as well as many of the beautiful older homes that line the gas-lit streets, though a number of families and other residents are also proud to call Clifton home. Especially notable is the stretch of Ludlow between Clifton Ave and Whitfield, as it is home to a number of restaurants specializing both in American fare (perhaps the best Skyline Chili in all of Cincinnati, as well as local diner the Proud Rooster) and ethnic delights (Ambar and Amol India, Thai Cafe, Mediterranean Foods), as well as a number of independent shops and boutiques.
  • Northside is an economically and racially diverse neighborhood notable for a strong sense of community investment and pride. The neighborhood is home to many unique shops including Shake It Records (an independently owned record store), and two vintage clothing stores, NVision and Casablanca Vintage. Restaurants include culinary delights Take the Cake, Honey, and Melt. The nightlife in Northside is lively with a variety of clubs including Bronz, Mayday, Serpent, The Comet, and the Northside Tavern. The neighborhood is also home to a sizable LGBT population and hosts many of the city's gay pride events. This neighborhood is full of hipsters.
  • Oakley is an up-and-coming neighborhood that borders Hyde Park. Oakley has a lively downtown area with many unique restaurants and shops including Dewey's Pizza, Habits Cafe, Denim, and Bova Furniture. Also notable is Aglamesis Ice Cream, a long-time competitor of Graeter's in the gourmet ice cream category.
  • Over-the-Rhine (OTR) is the city's historic district. It is the location of Music Hall, home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Opera; Findlay Market, Ohio's oldest public market in continuous operation; the Main Street Entertainment District; and much of Cincinnati's creative arts. Also of note is the Gateway Quarter a rebranded part of the neighborhood which has some of the city's hottest/hippest bars/dining spots between Central Parkway and 14th Street on Vine. Care should be taken when visiting this neighborhood as crime is more frequent here than in other areas of the city though its going down every year, see stay safe for details. For the past thirty years the neighborhood has been a battleground between advocates for low income housing and historic preservationists/real estate developers. As a result the neighborhood is inconsistent in its make up, with high-end housing and shopping within viewing distance of abandoned and decayed buildings with boarded up windows.
  • Price Hill is one of Cincinnati’s oldest neighborhoods, first settled in 1789 and named Price Hill in the 1870s after General Rees Price. An incline opened by Price and his sons brought many wealthy residents to the top of the hill, and the grand mansions they built still stand today. The community’s history is preserved at the Price Hill Historical Society on Warsaw Avenue, and the neighborhood is home to the first Skyline Chili parlor, the upscale Primavista Restaurant, the 120-year-old Crow’s Nest Tavern, the Gothic-style St. Lawrence Church, and the popular Blue Note Café, which features live music every night of the week.
  • West End the little bit that survived of this once large densely populated neighborhood would not be notable for travelers except for the Dayton Street Historic District. At its peak in the mid to late 1800s this was a millionaires row that rivaled Prairie Avenue in Chicago, or 5th Avenue in New York City in terms of wealth. Today it’s more than a bit rundown, but less so than the neighborhood that surrounds it. It’s worth a look for the adventurous traveler.

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Sights and Activities

  • Carew Tower & Observation Deck, 441 Vine St (Downtown), ☎ +1 513 579-9735. M-Sa 10AM-5:30PM, Su 11:00am-5:00pm. The Carew Tower served as the basis for the design of the later Empire State Building. During the mid- to late-1980s, a giant inflatable gorilla was attached to the upper floors! Notice the Art Deco interior of the common areas as you follow the signs to find the elevators. You have to change elevators and then take the stairs up the final level to make it to the 49th floor. The 49th floor of Cincinnati's 2nd tallest building provides a breathtaking, inexpensive, and gorilla-less view of the city. Take a high-speed elevator to the 45th floor, then choose from walking up four flights of stairs or taking another elevator to the 48th floor and walking up one flight. The admission is collected once you reach the top. Adults $2, Children $1.

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Weather

Cincinnati belongs to a climatic transition zone, at the northern limit of the humid subtropical climate and the southern limit of the humid continental climate zone (Köppen: Cfa/Dfa, respectively). Summers are warm to hot and humid, with significant rainfall in each month and highs reaching 32 °C or above on 21 days per year, often with high dew points and humidity. July is the warmest month, with a daily average temperature of 24.4 °C.

Winters tend to be cold and snowy, with January, the coldest month, averaging at -0.7 °C. Lows reach -18 °C on an average 2.6 nights annually. An average winter will see around 56 cm of snowfall, contributing to the annual 42.5 inches (1,080 mm) of precipitation, with rainfall peaking in spring. Extremes range from -32 °C on January 18, 1977 up to 42 °C on July 21 and 22, 1934.

Severe thunderstorms are common in the warmer months, and tornadoes, while infrequent, are not unknown, with such events striking the Greater Cincinnati area most recently in 1974, 1999, and 2012.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max2.6 °C4.9 °C11.7 °C17.9 °C23.3 °C27.8 °C29.7 °C28.9 °C25.5 °C18.9 °C11.8 °C5.3 °C
Avg Min-6.9 °C-5.2 °C0.6 °C5.7 °C11 °C15.6 °C18.2 °C17.2 °C13.7 °C6.8 °C1.8 °C-3.7 °C
Rainfall65.8 mm68.3 mm107.7 mm95.3 mm108.7 mm97.5 mm107.7 mm85.1 mm73.2 mm72.6 mm87.9 mm80 mm
Rain Days8.18.110.6109.78.28.67.66.96.88.89.3

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Getting There

By Plane

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is the main gateway to the city. It has flights to/from Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York, Cancun, Punta Cana, Atlanta, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Paris, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Fort Myers, Phoenix, San Diego, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Greensboro, Hartford/Springfield, Harrisburg, Memphis, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greenville/Spartanburg, Houston, Jacksonville, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Omaha, St. Louis, Grand Rapids and Montego Bay.

Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) has provides a route from the Airport to Downtown Cincinnati, and rental cars, parking places (short-term and long-term) and taxis are all widely available at the airport.

By Train

Amtrak serves the city of Cincinatti.

By Car

Cincinnati is served by Interstates 71 (from Columbus and Louisville), 74 (from Indianapolis), 75 (from Dayton and Lexington), 471 (a spur of I-71 to the south), and 275 (the circle beltway). US 50 also serves the area as an expressway to the eastern neighborhoods (Columbia Parkway) and western neighborhoods via the Sixth Street Expressway, which links River Road and the Waldvogel Memorial Viaduct to Downtown. If you feel like taking the scenic route, take Columbia Parkway east of the city and enjoy the beautiful Ohio River views along the parkway.

One of the most beautiful panoramic views in the country occurs when driving northbound on Interstate 71/75 (the interstate routes share the same highway in part of Northern Kentucky) traveling into downtown Cincinnati. The panoramic view comes up once you get to what's known as the "Cut-in-the-Hill", which is reached once you pass signs warning you of a steep grade. Traffic on the Brent Spence Bridge sometimes backs up, though, especially during rush hour. Try to plan your trips so you don't get too much of this truly spectacular view!

By Bus

Check Greyhound buses for options.

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Getting Around

By Car

For getting quickly and conveniently to most places in Cincinnati, you will need a car. Be aware that there is a street grid only in Downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods. Outside of those parts of the city navigation can be tough, with street names changing constantly and unintuitive routes being the norm. It can be particularly tough getting up to Mt. Adams. If you don't go down the right series of one-way streets, you could wind up getting flung out to one of the surrounding neighborhoods or Eden Park. There are a few signs directing drivers through the neighborhood, but they are easily missed. A good roadmap or GPS system is highly recommended if you plan on driving around.

Many roads are very narrow and very hilly reflecting the age of most of Cincinnati, which was built well before the automobile was the mainstay of transportation. Some streets will feel like country roads with the occasional urban house/apartment built where the terrain can support it. Other roads like the aptly named Straight Street quite literally go straight down a hill at a very steep grade. Be careful when driving in inclement weather and remember that when parking on a steep slope, point your tires towards the curb (if downhill) or away from the curb (if uphill) and use your emergency brake.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Cincinnati lacks light rail (though a light rail grade Streetcar is being constructed in Downtown and OTR) or a working subway system, so the main form of public transportation is by bus. The region is served by two different bus systems. The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (Sorta) operates Metro, the bus company that serves the Ohio side of the state line. The Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (Tank) serves Northern Kentucky and all routes between Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. Bus lines marked with a "X" are express routes and make less frequent stops. Be sure to check whether the bus makes a stop at your required destination before you get on. Sorta and Tank operate a different fare rate system, though both require passengers to submit the exact fare and no change is given.

By Foot

Some of the older neighborhoods in Cincinnati are quite walkable, with the Clifton Gaslight District (Ludlow), Over-The-Rhine, Mt. Adams, and Downtown being amongst the easiest to travel by foot. Due to massive depopulation of what were formerly neighborhoods with densities approaching that of New York City, (like Over-The-Rhine and the West End), Cincinnati is way more car oriented these days with most destinations being too spread out to walk to. However, many of these districts were built to pedestrian scale and are worth a stroll so long as one exercises caution (see the stay safe section). A visitor from a larger East Coast city may expect neighborhoods of similar scale and architectural composition to be filled with people, but instead oftentimes they are full of abandonment and the problems that come along with it. However, places like Mt. Adams, Downtown, or Clifton around the Gaslight District don't have these problems are well worth exploring by foot, park your car outside of the neighborhood and walk right in.

Cincinnati's Downtown has a Skywalk path. The Skywalk is an indoor, above-ground path through the streets of Cincinnati's Downtown. The Skywalk is free, and only used by pedestrians. Urban analysts hired by the city and downtown business leaders want to tear down chunks of the elevated passageways. Although most of the paths have been torn down, some of the Skywalk still exists, allowing travelers to continue to beat the weather.

By Bike

Cincinnati has a long way to go before it reaches the level of Portland or Chicago in terms of bicycle culture and accessibility. However, the city has lately been installing bicycle lanes and even on street bicycle parking in some key neighborhoods like Over-the-Rhine and Northside. Biking in Cincinnati is challenging, and is recommended for experienced urban riders, as the terrain is quite hilly producing often curvy roads that can go up or down very steep grades.

Despite the challenge, the narrow roads and urban setting are well suited for using a bicycle. Residential neighborhoods along the river near downtown (Roebling Point, The Banks, Over-the-Rhine, Newport Historic East Row) are relatively flat and quiet. The city posts a color coded map/guide to recommended bicycle routes and facilities as well as information regarding its bicycle policies and projects here. All buses have bike mounts on the front if you get tired or don't want to pedal up a hill.

You can rent bikes from the Cincinnnati Bike Center at Smale Riverfront Park or from Wheel of Fun Rentals by Sawyer Point on the Riverfront downtown (charges hourly, including tandem bikes).

Bike share is also available with Cincy Red Bike. It is $8 for a daypass which will give you unlimited free hour long trips over the course of a day (different then 30-minute trips common for most cities). The bikes come with locks and baskets. If you have a yearly pass with another Bcycle bike share system your card will work with Cincy's (see website for details). Most stations are concentrated in Downtown, Over the Rhine, and by the University with a map available on the website and on individual stations, though the system is expanding with new stations in Northern Kentucky's river towns, Northside and Eden Park being the newest locations. Be careful to return the bikes within an hour as the longer you leave the bikes off of a station the more you will get charged!

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Eat

Chili

Cincinnati is famous for its own unique kind of chili, based on a Greek recipe. It contains finely-ground meat, no beans or onions, and usually contains spices such as cinnamon or cocoa powder, and not as much tomato as traditional recipes. It is served over spaghetti with finely-shredded Cheddar cheese on top, known as a "three-way"; add diced white onions or kidney beans to make it a "four-way"; and add both kidney beans and onions for a "five-way". It's also served over hot dogs with shredded Cheddar cheese on top, known as a "cheese coney." Cincinnati has more chili restaurants per capita than any city in the United States. The debate over where to find the best Cincinnati chili is almost a religious war. Two major chili-parlor chains (Skyline & Gold Star) are dominant, but individual parlors and other smaller chains have their fans as well.

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Drink

The Main Street Entertainment District (located on Main Street north of 12th Street in Over-the-Rhine) was a popular area featuring many clubs and bars. However the riots did their number on the district forcing just about every bar to close down during the 2000s. This isn't all doom and gloom as, there have been attempts to bring bars back up there with several notable night spots opening up in the last few years such as Neon's and Japp's. After a few years of Kentucky getting the attention, the center of nightlife in Cincinnati has shifted to the area near Fountain Square and the Arnoff Center, or Restaurant Row generally bounded by 8th St to the North, 5th St to the South, Vine St to the West and Main St to the East. The area is always busy on weekends, especially with many young professionals. Over the last few years it has been slowly growing with many new bars/clubs and other night spots opening up.

Across the Ohio River in Kentucky, many restaurants and nightspots are located along the riverbank in Covington's Mainstrasse District and the area of Newport around Newport on the Levee.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Motel 6 Cincinnati North3850 Hauck Rd CincinnatiHOTEL-

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Work

Cincinnati is home to numerous international corporations that are important employers within the Greater Cincinnati area.

In the summer, restaurants and amusement parks employ large numbers of foreign students with J-1 Visas. Kings Island in particular is a major employer, hiring several thousand foreign college students.

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Learn

University of Cincinnati, 2600 Clifton Ave, ☎ +1 513 556-6000 - UC is a public university located in the Uptown neighborhoods of Avondale, Corryville, Clifton Heights, and University Heights. Ranked as one of America’s Top 25 public research universities and in the Top 50 of all American universities, UC has an annual enrollment of approximately 40,000 students, making it one of the largest universities in the U.S. Though many incorrectly refer to the main Campus of the University as its "Clifton Campus", the University is not located within the Clifton neighborhood. In 2010, Forbes Magazine listed the University of Cincinnati as one of the world's most beautiful college campuses alongside prestigious company like Oxford University and Yale University.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 39.148010
  • Longitude: -84.477020

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This is version 17. Last edited at 14:07 on Sep 13, 16 by Utrecht. 34 articles link to this page.

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