As a woman who grew up in the Northeast, just a short drive away from New York City, I must admit I never thought for a second of visiting Cincinnati. Heck, I didn’t even know how to spell it properly until last weekend (2 n’s, 1 t) when I visited the city for the Cincinnati Music Festival, Presented by P&G! After spending a weekend in Cincinnati, I must say that I was completely surprised by the city and would highly recommend it as a travel destination for a long weekend! Keep reading to find out how to spend a weekend in Cincinnati.
Why You Should Visit Cincinnati
At just under a two hour flight for around $200 from the NYC metro area, Cincinnati is a great weekend destination for East Coasters. Fun fact – Cincinnati’s CVG airport is actually in Kentucky, so you can technically cross two states off your list when you visit!
The best time to visit Cincinnati is definitely during the Cincinnati Music Festival, which is one of the country’s largest soul/R&B music events. The city also holds a Black Taste Soul Food Festival the same weekend, featuring black-owned restaurants and food trucks right outside the festival grounds.
Where to Stay in Cincinnati
If you prefer hotels, then the Hyatt Regency in Cincinnati is centrally located and within walking distance to restaurants and attractions, including the Paul Brown stadium where many concerts are held. The hotel’s restaurant has an AMAZING burger and seasoned waffle fries that was the perfect post-flight meal. The hotel is also adjacent to a Saks Fifth Avenue, which makes shopping super easy (and slightly cheaper thanks to Cincinnati’s lower sales tax than NYC).
If you prefer unique and photogenic AirBnB stays, then check out The Swing House, a gorgeous and airy three story home that was converted into a single massive room. It would be the perfect romantic stay, and is surprisingly affordable, especially compared to hotel prices.
What to Do in Cincinnati
Once you’ve made it into the city and have gotten settled, here are a few activities to consider exploring in Cincinnati:
Ride the SkyStar Wheel: I love a good ferris wheel, and the Skystar Wheel is a great way to see Cincinnati from up above. Even on busy weekends, there wasn’t a long line, which is hard to say for ferris wheels elsewhere in the country.
Walk the Roebling Suspension Bridge: If you haven’t been able to get the iconic Instagram shot on the Brooklyn Bridge, then try walking along the Roebling Suspension Bridge which connects Cincinnati with Kentucky; the bridge was designed by the same architect and served as the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge.
Tour the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: Did you know that Ohio was an important locale of the Underground Railroad since it was a free state on the border of a slave state (Kentucky)? The Freedom Center goes beyond a slavery museum with exhibits of artwork honoring the black struggle and resilience.
Eat Cincinnati’s famous chili: If you want to start a debate among Cincy people, ask them if they prefer Skyline or Goldstar chili. During my trip I learned that there is serious beef (ha!) between the two chili chains, so try them both for yourself to see which one your taste buds prefer.
Explore the American Sign Museum: If you’re into neon lights, then you’ll love the sign museum, which is the world’s largest collection of neon, porcelain, and hand-carved signs dating back to the 1800s.
Eat Your Way Through Findlay Market: You can explore this 150+ year old outdoor market on your own, or by signing up for a Cincinnati Food Tour. Be sure to try the arepas at The Arepa Place and the date nut shortbread bar at Dean’s Mediterranean Market. If you need breakfast options outside of Findlay Market, check out Boomtown Biscuits and Whiskey (the shrimp and grits was AMAZING) or Maplewood Kitchen & Bar (try the chicken hash with goetta, an interesting Cincinnati creation of German origin!)