Cincinnati is experiencing a renaissance of sorts through the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. This area has undergone an incredible transformation over the past five years — becoming a bustling and colorful mecca for artists, young professionals, foodies and small business owners. In that time, it has quickly climbed the charts to become one of Cincinnati’s hottest neighborhoods, even making appearances on national news sites.
Whether you’ve lived in the Queen City all of your life, or are just experiencing it for the first time, OTR is the perfect place to spend a day. Here, you’ll find quirky shops, gorgeous historic buildings, trendy restaurants, hip cocktail lounges and more — the only challenge is deciding what to see first! We rounded up our favorite activities in the area to make that decision a bit easier. Enjoy!
What to Do
Meander through Findlay Market
Photo courtesy of Darrin Hunter via Findlay Market
Findlay Market is Ohio’s oldest market, dating all the way back to 1852. The colorful window displays, 19th century architecture, open air dining options and local merchants draw more than a million visitors each year! Meander down the street to find fresh produce, meat, cheese, flowers, pastries and so much more. On weekends from April through November, Findlay Market also hosts a wildly popular farmers market featuring outdoor vendors, street performers and special events!
Lounge in Washington Park
Washington Park isn’t just a beautiful place for picnics and frisbee — it’s also a community gathering place that is constantly evolving to reflect the needs of local residents! Here, you’ll see children frolicking in the interactive water park, dogs running free in the dog park, yogis participating in a class on the lawn, or people dancing along to bluegrass concerts during the summer months! It is a must-see if you’re in the neighborhood.
Go to a Show at the Cincinnati Music Hall
Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Music Hall
This historic, Cincinnati landmark has housed thousands of classical music acts since its opening in 1878, and is currently home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, The Cincinnati Ballet, The Cincinnati Opera and the May Festival. If you are not blown away by the music itself (you will be), then take a look at the spectacular architecture that surrounds you. The building is one of our town’s most beloved works of art!
Where to Shop
Cincinnati’s most fashion-forward women will love shopping at Sloane. The charming boutique features comfortable, modern pieces that push the envelope, and has become a staple in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood since opening in 2011. The owner, Duru Armagan, grew up traveling around the world with her ambitious parents, and opened the boutique with a goal of invigorating the local fashion scene. We think she’s accomplished this goal and more.
Rookwood Pottery Company Store
Photo courtesy of Rookwood Pottery Company Store
If you’re looking for a true taste of Cincinnati history, the Rookwood Pottery Company Store is a must-see. The store has served the city for more than a century, and many of the gorgeous handmade pieces inside reflect part of Cincinnati’s story. Marvel at shelf after shelf of beer steins, triptychs of local landmarks, custom tiles, coasters and intricate works of art. If you happen to stop in on a Wednesday at 10:30, you’ll be able to embark on a free tour of the factory and studio.
Elm and Iron
For statement-making home furnishings, accessories and decor, you can’t do better than Elm and Iron. The gorgeous store features an eclectic collection of pieces — each offering a new perspective, and reflecting a passion for design. It truly is unlike any other furnishing store in town.
Photo courtesy of MiCa
This independent, design-driven gallery and gift boutique is a beloved gem in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood! The shop has been around since 2007, when husband and wife team, Mike and Carolyn Deininger chased their dream straight into the raw storefront space on Vine Street. Since then, business has blossomed, and the shop is known far and wide as one of the best places to pick up a unique gift for a loved one (or for yourself).
Don’t forget about your furry friend! Pet Wants, now with nearly 60 franchises across the country, got its start right here in Over-the-Rhine. The shop offers high quality pet food made fresh every month, in addition to healthy dog treats and specialty products. Bring your four-legged friend in to say hello, and treat them to something special!
Where to Get Coffee
The Coffee Emporium
Photo courtesy of The Coffee Emporium
Since its inception in 1973, the Coffee Emporium has expanded to four locations across Cincinnati, but one of our favorite locations is in Over-the-Rhine. Step into the cozy shop which boasts artisanal coffee roasted in house, freshly baked pastries and gifts. It’s a must-visit locale for locals and out-of-towners alike!
1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab
Wine and coffee have finally come together in this brilliant concept — and that would honestly be enough for us — but the shop also offers hearty breakfast, charcuterie boards, small plates, baked goods and wine tasting classes. No wonder this spot is so popular.
Both of these shops made it onto our list of the 9 best coffee shops in Cincinnati. See the full list here.
Where to Eat
For Breakfast: Taste of Belgium
Photo courtesy of Taste of Belgium
If you’re a fan of waffles, you’ll be delighted to hear that the best waffle in town is served at Taste of Belgium, conveniently located on Vine Street. In fact, the Great American Ballpark has chosen Taste of Belgium as the official waffle of the Cincinnati Reds! You can eat yours with fried chicken and hot sauce, topped with fresh fruit, or accompanied by a breakfast cocktail — and it will always be delicious.
For Donuts: Holtman’s Donuts
Charles Holtman opened the first location of Holtman’s Donuts in Over-the-Rhine in 1960, and after nearly 60 years, the shop is still going strong! We attribute its success to the famously delicious donuts, which are made fresh daily from scratch using the best ingredients available.
For Tacos, Tequila and Whiskey: Bakersfield OTR
Photo courtesy of the Thunderdome Restaurant Group via Bakersfield OTR
If you happen to be in the neighborhood for Taco Tuesday, there’s no other place to be than Bakersfield OTR. This hot spot serves up innovative tacos and big-as-your-face margaritas in chic, upbeat digs. It even made our list of the best margaritas in Cincinnati!
For Trendy Street Food: Senate
Senate serves up an eclectic menu of signature hot dogs, fresh oysters, poutine, craft cocktails and more. Opt for the Korean, topped with kimchi, short ribs and pickled cucumbers, or the Croque Madame, with bechamel, Sky Haven ham, and a poached egg on a brioche bun.
For a Snack: Brezel
If you’ve ever been to a street fair or carnival, you’ve probably had a soft pretzel. But you’ve never had one like this! Brezel serves up warm and flavorful Bavarian-style pretzels baked fresh every day — including jalepeño cheddar, cinnamon sugar and more.
For Japanese Fusion: Kaze
Photo courtesy of Kaze
This Japanese Gastro Pub and sushi bar combines a hip lounge, beer garden and contemporary dining room into one spectacular venue. Locals flock here for the innovative small bites, flavorful ramen, fresh sushi and killer happy hour deals. In fact, Kaze boasts one of the best happy hours in Cincinnati!
For Wine and Mediterranean Fare: Abigail Street
With moderate prices, delightful Mediterranean fare and a celebrated wine list, Abigail Street is a neighborhood favorite. Stop in to try the grilled octopus, the paella or the bouillabaisse. The warm and friendly atmosphere will invite you in to stay awhile.
For Dessert: Graeter’s Ice Cream
After more than 145 years (and thousands of scoops) in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Graeter’s Ice Cream offers dessert with a side of Cincinnati history. The ice cream is some of the best in the state (if not the country), and comes in a number of interesting, seasonal flavors.
Where to Grab a Drink
Photo courtesy of Rhinegeist
Nestled in the heart of Over-the-Rhine, Rhinegeist boasts unique and flavorful craft brews on tap, all served in a chic, industrial space. The brewery was actually built within the skeleton of the old Moerlein bottling plant, so its name (which translates to “ghost of the Rhine”) couldn’t be more appropriate.
This luxe lounge is housed in a historic turn-of-the-century building, and offers boozy craft cocktails alongside a wide selection of wines and local beers. The Lackman has carefully preserved its historic charm, opting to maintain the original tile floors and exposed brick — but contemporary accents like plush bar seating and custom chandeliers make it a desirable place to spend the entire evening.
Sundry and Vice
Photo courtesy of Sundry and Vice
This striking cocktail spot is conveniently located near Washington Park. The bar opened in 2015, and though it is one of Over-the-Rhine’s newer establishments, has already established itself as a neighborhood favorite. The cocktails are inventive, unique, and delicious, and the vintage atmosphere will bring you back time after time.
Where to Live
If you’re as charmed by Over-the-Rhine as we are, consider making it your permanent home! Browse properties in the area.