You might have mastered your ABCs in kindergarten, but we’re talking about a different alphabet today. Instead of saying A is for “apple” and Z is for “zebra,” we’re saying C is for “chili” and V is for “Vine Street.”
We compiled a complete guide to the landmarks, restaurants and characteristics that make our city so unique from A to Z. This is Cincinnati’s personalized alphabet — and in our opinion, we think it’s even better than the original!
The Aronoff Center for the Arts (commonly referred to as “The Aronoff”) is Cincinnati’s entertainment hub and performing arts center. Locals flock here to experience plays, ballet performances, concerts, musicals, stand-up comedy shows and so much more. The main theater seats more than 2,700 people, and the center hosts hundreds of events throughout the year.
It wouldn’t be a Cincinnati summer without the Cincinnati Reds! Baseball is America’s national pastime and we are proud to call the Great American Ball Park our home field. Grab a chili dog from Skyline Chili and come root for the home team — the Reds are the only way to go.
True Cincinnati chili heads know that there is nothing like it on earth! Far from the New Mexican chilis or Texan chilis of the South, our city’s signature dish is flavorful, Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce dolloped over the top of hot dogs or spaghetti, or simply enjoyed straight from the bowl. You can enjoy the dish one of five ways, which typically refers to different combinations of toppings. Learn more about the dish, as well as where to find it, in this complete guide to Cincinnati-style chili.
If you’re on the hunt for the best burger in Cincinnati, you can stop here — we found it! Dutch’s Bar, Bottle Shop and Larder in Hyde Park is famous for its burgers, which are only sold in very small batches on Thursday nights. The secret is the charcuterie shop and butcher shop save pieces of its most decadent steaks to mix in with the burgers and then tops it with high-end cheeses and fresh toppings. The result is a mouthwatering entrée that sells out fairly quickly — so make sure to get there early on Thursday to experience it!
Photo courtesy of the Echo
The Echo is one of the hottest brunch spots in Cincinnati and has served the Hyde Park neighborhood for decades. Due to the friendly staff and comforting fare, the eatery has established itself as a local institution that people return to week after week. We love classics like the Oktoberfest omelet (featuring Glier’s goetta), the corned beef hash, and the Belgian bird breakfast sandwich (with chicken tenders, a fried egg, cheddar and syrup).
Photo courtesy of the Findlay Market
This market, which has graced Cincinnati since the mid-1800s, is Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market and one of the city’s most cherished institutions! The market is filled to the brim with energetic merchants, artisanal cheeses, fresh produce, warm baked goods and more — it’s a treat to visit, even if you’re not buying anything.
With more than 145 years of experience under its belt, we believe Graeter’s Ice Cream is the ultimate authority on handcrafted French pot ice cream. The interesting flavors, the flawless technique and the friendly atmosphere make it one of the best (if not THE best) ice cream shop in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati is steeped in German culture and we relish the chance to indulge in German treats anytime we can. Goetta, anyone? The Hofbrauhaus is a German beer hall in Newport made to look just like its inspiration in Munich. It’s the perfect place to don your lederhosen, order a schnitzel and raise a stein to good times!
I: The Incline District
The Incline District, which has been recently revitalized with several new shops and restaurants, is one of Cincinnati’s hottest neighborhoods right now. Named for the famous Cincinnati “inclines” (a set of steep railways) that led up to this neighborhood in the late 1800s, the area is steeped in history. Meandering through the streets, you’ll still find traces of days gone by in the elegant Victorian and Colonial-style homes. To experience the views and get a great meal at the same time, stop by the Incline Public House, a gastropub offering incredible food alongside sweeping views of the city.
If you’ve seen a picture of the Cincinnati skyline, you have likely seen the John A. Roebling Bridge. This iconic landmark spans the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Covington, and was the longest in the world when it opened in 1867. It’s certainly postcard-worthy!
Kings Island is a quintessential part of every Cincinnati local’s childhood, but it’s also a vacation-worthy destination for people from all over the Midwest! The park is home to some of the best roller coasters in Ohio — and some have even broken world records.
Culinary icon Jean-Robert de Cavel dreams up the dishes at Restaurant L, an elegant, Parisian-style restaurant with a “little New York attitude and an abundance of Cincinnati charm.” Reviewers often gush that a meal here is a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience.
Set in the cellar of a 1924 farmhouse, Mt. Carmel Brewing Company pioneered the craft beer scene in Cincinnati, which has since expanded to include more than 50 breweries! Stop by for a pint or growler fill with loved ones and be sure to ask about the history.
If you’re craving tacos and tequila, look no further than Nada! This eclectic and colorful restaurant is known for its innovative, Mexican-inspired bites, which include tacos, Mexican poutine, ancho-glazed pork shank, carnitas tamales and so much more. Nada also landed on our lists of the best brunch spots in Cincinnati and the best places to get a margarita.
O: The Ohio River
The Ohio River, which streams west from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the largest tributary of the mighty Mississippi, and also happens to form the southern border of our state. Cincinnati is perched on its banks, which means that we get to enjoy all of the views and recreational opportunities it provides.
This stunning piece of architecture is named for its unique hue. Every Wednesday night during the summer, enjoy a weekly “Party on the Purple” with the residents of the Queen City, which features live music and refreshments.
Q: The Queen City
It’s our nickname and we’re proud of it! During the first 40 years after its founding, Cincinnati experienced spectacular growth. By 1820, locals began referring to it as the Queen of the West. The name stuck and to this day, no one has dared take our crown from us!
The Rookwood Pottery Company Store is a must-visit destination in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The store has served the city for more than a century and many of the gorgeous handmade pieces inside reflect parts 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 a.m., you’ll be able to embark on a free tour of the factory and studio. Sign up in advance here!
Photo courtesy of Sotto
Ask any Cincinnati resident where to find good Italian and they will tell you to go to Sotto. This iconic restaurant is situated in a rustic, softly-lit basement with ornate chandeliers and exposed brick walls. The atmosphere is reason enough to snag a reservation here — but just wait until you try the food! The menu is filled with mouthwatering house-made pastas, interesting Italian entrées and fine wines.
The Taft Museum of Art is a high-end art museum held within a gorgeous example of historic architecture. It’s home to an extensive fine arts collection of American and European paintings as well as decorative art. It also offers a variety of activities like guided walking tours, gallery talks, live music and more!
Union Terminal was built during the golden age of train transportation and was one of the last grand train stations built. It is a stunning example of architecture from that age and a beloved local landmark. Now, it’s home to the largest half dome structure in the western hemisphere, an OMNIMAX Theater, and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives.
Vine Street is the central vein of Cincinnati’s famous Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. This popular and hip neighborhood has gained national attention for its thriving culinary scene, fascinating culture and gorgeous, historical architecture. Wander along Vine Street to experience the cultural explosion for yourself. Here is a complete guide to OTR to help you explore.
Photo courtesy of the Woodward Theater
The Woodward Theater is a rare and unique space in the world of live music. The venue was originally built in 1914 as a theater, but has been renovated and brought back to life as cultural hotspot. The space regularly hosts acts from near and far, with genres ranging from foot-stompin’ bluegrass to head-bangin’ rock and roll. In fact, it’s one of the top 10 coolest music venues in town.
X: X-Country Skiing
It’s no secret that winters in the Midwest can be pretty cold — but the snow doesn’t scare us! When the weather doesn’t cooperate, we grab our snowshoes, sleds and skis and head to a nearby park for some winter fun. If you’re a fan of cross-country skiing, make sure to join the Miami Valley Cross Country Ski Club, which will equip you with resources to find nearby trails and meet adventurous people like yourself. You can also head to Perfect North Slopes, just over the state border, if you want to experience a more established ski area.
The charming town of Yellow Springs, Ohio is just over an hour away, and is the perfect day trip destination! You’ll find a large selection of unique shops, galleries, restaurants and bars, gorgeous colorful houses, fun events on almost any given weekend, and lots of opportunities for exploring the outdoors.
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is the second-oldest zoo in the country. It opened its doors nearly 150 years ago in 1875, just 14 months after the first zoo opened in Philadelphia. The original animal collection was very small, including just eight monkeys, two grizzly bears, three deer, six raccoons, a hyena, an alligator and a handful of others, but has since expanded to include more than 500 animal and 3,000 plant species — one of the largest collections in America! More than 1.5 million people visit the zoo annually and we highly recommend that you try to be one of them.
Now you know your ABCs!