Founded in 1788 as a frontier outpost on the Ohio River, Cincinnati quickly emerged as a vital gateway between the South and the West. Industry thrived as major trade routes passed through the city and a profusion of meat-packing plants earned Cincinnati the nickname “Porkopolis,” – slightly less flattering than Longfellow’s more regal title, “Queen City of the West.” Cincinnati straddle its dualistic past: in many ways it is an archetypical Northern industrial city, but it has the feel of a Southern city. Nevertheless, its stellar ballet, baseball stadium, and world-famous chili make Cincinnati a highlight of the region.
The downtown business district is an easy grid centered around Fountain Square, at 5th and Vine Street. Numbered cross streets are designated E. or W. by their relation to Vine St. Downtown is bounded by Central Pkwy. on the north, Broadway on the east, 3rd on the south, and Central Ave. on the west. The University of Cincinnati spreads out from the Clifton area north of the city. To the south, the Great American Ballpark, the Serpentine Wall, and the Riverwak border the Ohio River. Be careful outside of the downtown area at night, especially north of Central Pkwy.
Downtown Cincinnati orbits around the Tyler Davidson Fountain, at 5th and Vine St., a florid 19th-century masterpiece. To the east, the expansive garden at Proctor and Gamble Plaza is just one mark that the giant company left on its hometown. Around Fountain Square, business complexes and shops are connected by a series of skywalls. The observation deck atop Carew Tower, Cincinnati’s tallest building, provides the best view of the city.
With so much to see, a good plan of action to try and get a variety of sights and activities into your schedule. Here is our list of favorites to help you decide. Click the links to explore and book tours or local guides.
Cincinnati’s greatest culinary innovation is its chili, which consists of noodles topped with meat, cheese, onions, and kidney beans – and a distinctive secret ingredient. The city has also given rise to a number of noteworthy fast-food chains. Fine restaurants and bars can be found in Mount Adams, while moderately priced chains cluster at Newport on the Levee and Covington Landing across the river.
Overlooking downtown from the east, the winding streets of Mount Adams have spawned some offbeat bars and music venues, creating a relaxed environment removed from the bustling city below. On the Kentucky side of the river, a more commercialized, but still vibrant, nightlife scene has emerged in Newport.
In the US, good table manners means quiet eating. Loud chewing, talking with food in your mouth, or slurping are seen as rude, and burping or flatulence is not seen as complementary to the chef. Servers at sitdown restaurants usually expect to be tipped 15-20%.
Dress in the US tends to be more modest than in Europe. Toplessness, particularly in women, should be avoided. Many establishments will require a customer to wear a shirt and shoes. The most acceptable forms of public affection are hugging and holding hands; kissing in public will usually draw some glances. Although most cities are tolerant of homosexuality, gay or lesbian couples should be aware that they may receive unwanted attention for public displays of affection, especially in rural areas. Also, note that many American will say “see you later” without really intending to make future plans.
One of the most offensive gestures in the US is extending your middle finger at someone. Known as “giving someone the finger,” this gesture is considered not only rude, but obscene. On the other hand, a “thumbs up” gesture is a sign of approval and a widely recognized signal for hitchhiking, which Let’s Go does not recommend.