First things first: Check into your hotel and settle in for your stay in Cincinnati. We recommend the 21c Museum Hotel, a working contemporary art museum that also offers first-class dining and a boutique hotel experience. Stroll through one of the many galleries in the hotel, taking in work from contemporary artists from around the globe.
Next, enjoy breakfast at the hotel’s famed restaurant, Metropole. The chef here partners with local farmers for sustainable eats cooked in a wood-burning fireplace. Try homemade pastries, Metropole hot chocolate, brioche French toast, or the 21c breakfast with eggs, potatoes, toast, roasted tomatoes, and Goetta, a Cincinnati German-inspired sausage-like dish.
Spend your first afternoon in Cincinnati at Smale Riverfront Park, a scenic waterfront park with a gorgeous view of the Ohio River. Take your time strolling through the park’s many features, including porch-style swings, brightly lit fountains with water that plays and dances, and a blooming, lush rose garden.
Next, head over to Cincinnati’s Business District and enjoy a coffee or beer at Lola’s, which serves up $3 locally brewed drafts during happy hour and locally brewed coffees all day.
For your first night in Cincinnati, you can’t go wrong with a riverboat cruise. BB Riverboats hosts daily sightseeing, dining, and drinking cruises. Admiral’s Dinner Cruises, on Fridays and Saturdays, feature live music, dancing, and multi-course meals. StoneBrook Winery Sunset Cruises are on Fridays and offer a full meal as well as samplings of local wines.
If you’re more of the dive bar sort, Madonna’s Bar and Grill on East Seventh Street is your best bet for a low-key atmosphere. Play pool, watch the game or listen to songs on the jukebox. Food is served until 1 a.m., and the pours are generous.
Start off your second day in Cincinnati at the Taste of Belgium, one of the city’s favorite brunch spots, with locations in Clifton, Over-the-Rhine, Rookwood, The Banks, and near Findlay Market. The waffles here are the best. The brunch burger includes eggs, bacon, Ohio maple syrup, and Havarti cheese in a waffle bun, and your sandwiches, too, can be served on waffles if you prefer.
Next, take in the sights and shop at the picturesque Findlay Market, open Tuesday through Sunday all year in Over-the-Rhine. Over 40 vendors sell local cheeses, meats, fruits, flowers, jams, pastries, chocolates, and ethnic foods.
Spend the afternoon in one of Cincinnati’s favorite museums and one of America’s quirkiest, the American Sign Museum. This museum is an ode to retro Americana and is home to hundreds of neon signs, posters, statues, and advertisements from over 100 years of American history.
Top off your brief stay in Cincinnati with a visit to one of the city’s institutions: Graeter’s Ice Cream. This legendary homemade French pot ice cream has been served up for over 145 years. Today, there are 17 Graeter’s locations throughout Cincinnati. Black cherry chocolate chip, bourbon pecan chocolate chip, salted caramel chocolate chip, and buckeye chocolate chip are some of Graeter’s signature flavors, and you can buy a carton to take home.