Desperate for an urban staycation this summer? Cincinnati is a city full of surprises that should definitely be on your radar. It lies on the crossroads between the Midwest, Appalachia, and the Northeast, giving it a distinctive atmosphere and culture. Also known as the Queen City, Cincinnati had its heyday in the Victorian era, which can still be seen in the architecture in its most central districts.
We think it’s perfect for those looking for something a bit different, but it isn’t the first destination that comes to mind for a lot of people. This means there isn’t a lot of information online about the different neighborhoods on offer. Like any American city, you need to do a little bit of research to ensure not just a safe stay – but a trip you’ll never forget.
Which is where we come in! We’ve combined our own travel experience with hints and tips from local experts to bring you the four best places to stay in Cincinnati. Whether you want unique nightlife, bustling shopping districts, or a laid-back suburban vibe, we’ve got you covered.
So let’s jump right into the four best neighborhoods in Cincinnati!
Central Business District
Also known simply as Downtown, the CBD is the modern heart of Cincinnati! This is where you will find the typical tower blocks, wide streets, and modern art installations of contemporary America.
Clifton is a little bit out the way but is becoming a major tourism hub in Cincinnati. Ludlow Avenue is now home to some of the most recognizable names in the city’s restaurant scene, as well as a youthful bar culture.
Mt Adams is within walking distance of Downtown Cincinnati but has a completely different vibe. This is one of the more upscale neighborhoods in Cincy, meaning visitors get to enjoy leafy streets and upmarket eateries.
Known simply as OTR with locals, Over-the-Rhine is Cincinnati’s historical neighborhood! The clean houses of red and white and foot-ways of bright tile that Charles Dickens wrote about can still be found in OTR to this day.
Cincinnati is a surprisingly diverse city! Many first-time visitors are taken aback by the sheer variety on offer across the city. It’s definitely one of the underrated USA backpacking destinations.
Want to decipher the streets of the Queen City before you arrive? Keep reading to learn about the best neighborhoods – as well as where to stay and what awesome things you can do in Cincinnati.
- COOLEST thing to do in CBD: catch an American Football game at the Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals
- BEST place to visit in CBD: Smale Riverfront Park is an excellent spot for a lunchtime picnic with a view
Also known simply as Downtown, the CBD is the modern heart of Cincinnati! This is where you will find the typical tower blocks, wide streets, and modern art installations of contemporary America. For first-time visitors, the Central Business District is the best spot to get acquainted with the city thanks to the variety on offer.
The nightlife in Downtown Cincinnati is a bit more understated than elsewhere in the city, making it a favorite with those wanting a more laid back night out. The CBD is also home to the main shopping avenues, so make sure to leave some room in your case.
Trendy Apartment in CBD: Frontdesk Cincinnati
This modern little pied-á-terre is perfect for couples heading to Cincinnati! The spacious living area comes with views of the river and is fully kitted out with modern technology to ensure optimum comfort. Arriving late? Check-in is done with a handy lockbox, so you won’t have to worry about waiting on your host. There’s also a reserved parking space.
Luxury Apartment Community in CBD: Downtown Panoramic
Another great apartment for couples, this lavish accommodation is definitely worth splurging on! Located within a larger complex, guests have access to a pool, hot tub, and rooftop bar and restaurant. The apartment itself is stylishly furnished and has enough space for up to four guests. We wouldn’t recommend this for families, but you can bring the dog along and enjoy the bark park.
Modern Hotel in CBD: 21c Museum Hotel
Another great splurge option, this hotel has everything you could possibly need for a short city break in Cincinnati! Rooms come with cable televisions, coffee machines, and gorgeous city views. There’s a great spa available on-site, as well as a communal hot tub. Vegetarian options are included in the complimentary breakfast. All the food is sourced from local farms across Ohio.
Things to See and Do in Central Business District:
- An enduring icon of the city, no trip is complete without a walk along the Roebling Bridge bring your camera for those all-important skyline shots.
- The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is an important museum depicting the history of slavery in the United States with interactive exhibits.
- Head to the Blue Wisp Jazz Club for live music every evening and great prices on cocktails, beers, and bar food.
- Top of the Park at the Phelps is another great watering hole, with unbeatable views across the city skyline.
- COOLEST thing to do in Clifton: head across the river to Northside and enjoy the burgeoning nightlife scene
- BEST place to visit in Clifton: love it or hate it, you have to give the controversial Skyline Chili a try before you can judge
Clifton is a little bit out the way but is becoming a major tourism hub in Cincinnati. Ludlow Avenue is now home to some of the most recognizable names in the city’s restaurant scene, as well as a youthful bar culture. Local boutiques are also opening up across the street, making it a great destination for alternative shoppers.
While the nightlife in Clifton is good enough, we highly recommend hopping over to neighboring Northside. There isn’t much accommodation there, but it’s easy to reach from Clifton and has the hippest nightlife spots in the city. There are two universities close to Clifton, meaning it is also perfect for those on a budget.
Charming Apartment in Clifton: Rustic Gaslight
Another excellent historic property in the Gaslight District, this one is a little bit smaller, but still ideal for small groups and families heading to the area. Accommodation is within a self-contained unit in the host’s house, so you’ll be seen quickly if you run into any problems. The zoo is only a short walk away, and you can reach the nightlife via a short bus journey.
Historic Home in Clifton: Gaslight District
Cincinnati’s Gaslight District is home to some of the best-preserved historic architecture in the city, including this house dating back to 1901! Despite the historic façade, the modern interiors ensure optimum comfort for guests. We love the outdoor space, which boasts a large undercover deck. Ludlow Avenue is only a short walk away, making it super convenient for checking out the nightlife.
Budget Friendly House in Clifton: Near UC
Want to keep an eye on your spending? You can’t go wrong with this small but perfectly formed house on the outskirts of Clifton! The university is nearby, meaning you’ll also have quick access to budget friendly restaurants and bars. More environmentally conscious visitors will be pleased to know there is an electric vehicle charging point in the property.
Things to See and Do in Clifton:
- Alchemize is a must-visit club on the boundary between Clifton and Northside, featuring regular dance nights and live music earlier in the evening.
- The Comet is also a great nightlife spot, though it is a bit more laid back, with a vast beer selection and locally famous burritos.
- The Esquire Theatre is a classic film house dating back to 1911 with a great selection of latest releases, classics, and indie flicks.
- Need to beat a hangover? The Highland Coffee House is a local institution serving up great coffee and heaps of character.
- COOLEST thing to do Mt Adams: explore the beautiful scenery, basic hiking trails and historic landmarks of Eden Park
- BEST place to visit Mt Adams: Cincinnati Art Museum is a must-visit for creatives, featuring work from all over the world
Mt Adams is within walking distance of Downtown Cincinnati but has a completely different vibe. This is one of the more upscale neighborhoods in Cincy, meaning visitors get to enjoy leafy streets and upmarket eateries. For families, Mt Adams is by far the safest neighborhood in the city center, so you won’t need to worry too much.
Mt Adams also has some nightlife options, but think more casual drinks out on the deck after work rather than pulsing nightclubs. The vast Eden Park separates Mt Adams from the suburbs and is a great pick for those that just need a little bit of nature to keep them going.
Bright Boutique in Mt Adams: Historic Apartment
Upgrade to this dazzling Airbnb Plus apartment for a truly luxurious yet relaxing stay in the heart of Cincinnati! It is located right next to the park, with bike hire facilities available right outside your front door. The apartment is housed within a Victorian-era building, and there is a shared roof terrace with city views. Young families, in particular, will love this space.
Spacious Apartment in Mt Adams: Rooftop Deck
This gorgeous historic building has a calm atmosphere that makes it ideal for families staying in Mt Adams! The large rooftop deck provides views across the city and even has a little hammock where you can relax and soak up the chill vibes. The interiors are an updated version of the local traditional style, with plenty of natural light.
Gorgeous Victorian Home in Mt Adams: Renovated Condo
Sleeping up to TWENTY-TWO people across five bedrooms, this house is one for those large family reunions! For smaller families, this converted Victorian-era home is actually two separate condos that can be rented individually. Both are full of natural light, with modern facilities and city views. It’s in a peaceful part of the neighborhood, but Downtown Cincinnati is only a five-minute walk away.
Things to See and Do in Mt Adams:
- International Friendship Park runs along the banks of the river, with some great cycle paths connecting Mt Adams with Downtown and the suburbs.
- Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is a more intimate venue than other theaters in the city, with plenty of performances throughout the year from local talent.
- The Bow Tie Cafe is pretty gourmet, but it’s all for a good cause, so make sure to pop in and pick up a cup of joe at least once.
- City View Tavern, named after the skyline views from the roof deck, is the main nightlife hub – but they also offer good food and family-friendly vibes during the day.
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- COOLEST thing to do OTR: hit all the main sights with your own private photographer on this great value photoshoot experience!
- BEST place to visit OTR: rub elbows with locals and grab some fresh local produce at Findlay Market
Known simply as OTR with locals, Over-the-Rhine is Cincinnati’s historical neighborhood! The clean houses of red and white and foot-ways of bright tile that Charles Dickens wrote about can still be found in OTR to this day. Whether you choose to stay here or not, Over-the-Rhine is a must visit destination.
Despite the beautifully preserved Victorian architecture, OTR manages to maintain a hip and modern atmosphere. This is likely thanks to the youthful bars, upscale restaurants, and trendy clothing stores that can be found around the area. OTR is, in a way, a little slice of Cincinnati as a whole.
Stunning Loft in OTR: 1890s Condo
Exposed brick, rustic décor, and steampunk-esque furnishings? It’s no wonder this is part of the Airbnb Plus range! This renovated 1890s apartment oozes charm from every crevice. The high ceilings, spacious rooms, and large windows let in plenty of natural light. This is perfect if you want a hip space to chill out after a long day of exploring the city.
Luxury Penthouse in OTR: Contemporary OTR
Is this the coolest accommodation in the city? We certainly think so! The sleek design is surrounded by unbeatable views of Cincinnati, where you get to truly enjoy the Victorian charm of the Queen City. Inside, you’ll find all the modern fixtures and fittings you could ever need, and three spacious bedrooms – two with en-suites. This is also a popular choice with business travelers.
Lavish Hotel in OTR: Symphony Hotel & Restaurant
Last but not least, this four-star hotel is the ideal choice if you want to kick back, relax, and soak up the history of Cincinnati! Unlike our other hotel pick, Symphony is known for its lavish and traditional interiors, taking you back to the Victorian heyday of the city. Evening entertainment is available free of charge, as well as an indulgent breakfast in the morning.
Things to See and Do in Over-The-Rhine:
- OTR is packed with great cultural events throughout the year – head to Washington Park and check out the listings.
- Cincinnati Music Hall is home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and showcases a variety of performance arts year-round.
- Hit up the 16-Bit Bar and Arcade, where you can enjoy reasonably priced drinks, classic arcade games, and delicious bar snacks.
- Want something a bit more upmarket? Zula Restaurant & Wine Bar is the perfect destination for date night thanks to their delectable tapas and extensive wine menu.
Cincinnati is a super fun destination for an urban staycation this year! From hip nightlife districts to historic alleys, there’s a little something for everyone in the Queen City. It is a major gateway to the Midwest, meaning it’s also worth including in a larger roadtrip across the United States.
If we had to pick a favourite neighborhood, it would have to be OTR! This super hip neighborhood doesn’t just have cool bars and sleek restaurants, it also has all the historic charm you would expect from this Victorian metropolis. Over the Rhine offers a little bit of everything that Cincinnati has to offer.
All that said, wherever is best for you really depends on what you want to get out of your stay. We hope we’ve helped you narrow down your options for your upcoming visit to the finest city in all of Ohio.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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