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Guide To Cincinnati Downtown Neighborhoods

a view of a city by the water

Cincinnati, also known as “The Queen City” founded in 1788, was on the western frontier.  European German immigrants crossed the oceans in waves beginning in the 1830’s to live the American dream.  Being situated on the Ohio River led to early manufacturing and commercial success. After years of decline from the 1970’s to the 90’s, Cincinnati is Queen of the West once more!  Today Cincinnati is riding a wave of popularity and hosts over a half million visitors every week!

What’s in a name?

Cincinnati is all about its neighborhoods. The typical question is, “Where do you live?” If you’re out of town, you say, “Cincinnati.” But if a local asks, you offer the neighborhood.  Here’s a quick reference guide to what the heck we’re talking about.

The Banks – as in the banks of the Ohio River. This is one of the newest neighborhoods in Cincinnati. Actually it’s the oldest, but all the recent renovations makes it look brand new.  Gone are the muddy banks, chemical plants, and vacant lots. In it’s place are connecting parks with bike paths, great restaurants, the streetcar line and the sports stadiums.  Sounds like a great place to live?  You’re right.  Besides the towering skyscrapers, the Banks offers a variety of new apartments with a riverfront view!


Over the Rhine or OTR – located 12 blocks north of the Ohio River, is a 360 acre historic neighborhood.  The name Over the Rhine was coined by the German immigrants as they crossed over the Miami Erie Canal each day to work and back.  Built by the European immigrants beginning in the 1830’s, OTR is home to Music Hall, Washington Park and Findlay Market.  Once one of the country’s worst ghettos, it has been totally restored and is now the hot spot for the best trendy new restaurants in town.


Mount Adams – perched high above downtown Cincinnati to the east, you’ll see Mt. Adams, surrounded by one of Cincinnati’s finest parks—Eden Park. Located within the park is the Krohn Conservatory, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Playhouse in the Park, historic Rookwood Pottery and Immaculata Church. Driving through Mt. Adams will remind you of the streets of San Francisco, but the view is worth it!


The Backstage Entertainment District – located at the corner of 6th and Walnut  is home to the Aronoff Center for the Arts which brings Broadway plays and musicals to Cincinnati.  Surrounding the Aronoff is a wide variety of restaurants in all price ranges, the Contemporary Art Center and boutique hotels like 21c Museum Hotel.


Fountain Square –  the “heart” of downtown Cincinnati, is located in the central business district at the corner of 5th and Vine Street.  Surrounded by major hotels within walking distance, it is the gathering place for the city.  The anchor is the 43ft tall Genius of Water Fountain, brought to Cincinnati from Germany in 1871 as a gift to the city.  The Square provides free entertainment almost every day of the week during the summer months as well as a wide variety of restaurant options.  During the holidays, it provides ice skating!
 Pendleton – sometimes referred to as OTR’s little sister has outgrown it’s identity crisis.  Home to the Pendleton Art Center and Jack Casino, this little triangle-shaped area with boundaries of Liberty Street, Reading Road and Sycamore Street is becoming the next hot spot for new restaurants and breweries.  Enjoy Italian Cuisine at Nicola’s Ristorante at 1420 Sycamore or BBQ at Lucius Q at 1131 Broadway. 


Looking for a guided tour of the best spots in downtown Cincinnati?  Riverside Food Tours offers 3 hour guided food and culture tours 7 days a week in six different neighborhoods in downtown Cincinnati and just across the river in Covington KY.  Prices start at $39.00 for children and up. 

Tickets may be purchased online or call 1-800-656-0713

Rated the Best Food and Culture Tour by Trip Advisor in Cincinnati!


Laura Noyes
August 2018