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Take a Weekend to Explore Cincinnati’s Ongoing Urban Transformation

 Randy Simes Take a Weekend to Explore Cincinnati’s Ongoing Urban Transformation
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Over The Rhine neighborhood - photo by Randy Simes.

Cincinnati is perhaps most well known for its hills, German heritage, river, and diverse collection of architecture. Now, however, the city is becoming more and more known for one of the most dramatic urban transformations currently taking place in America.

Naturally, those visiting Cincinnati should start at its center. Visit Fountain Square which has become the hub of activity in the region’s urban core. Throughout the summer, visitors will be treated to live music and events every night on the city’s historic public square. Surrounding Fountain Square visitors are treated to shopping, dining and nightlife all within a comfortable walk.

While in the central business district be sure to visit Contemporary Arts Center, Nada and Via Vite for its happy hour and rooftop view of Fountain Square. Also be sure to visit the Carew Tower Observation Deck where a mere $2 will buy you an unobstructed, 360-degree, open-air view of the city and its neighborhoods.

The Banks riverfront development - photo by Randy Simes.

Once back at street-level, visitors should head south towards the riverfront. As you cross the now-buried Fort Washington Way you will be treated the city’s rebuilt central riverfront which is now home to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Reds, Bengals, Smale Riverfront Park, and a new neighborhood called The Banks.

While there, a stop at the Moerlein Lager House is an absolute must for any beer lover.

A one-mile walk back north will take visitors into the heart of Ohio’s most historic neighborhood. Originally settled by German immigrants in the 1800s, Over-the-Rhine is home to must-see landmarks such as Music Hall, Findlay Market, the newly rebuilt Washington Park, and a dizzying amount of urban revitalization projects.

While spending time in historic Over-the-Rhine, visitors would be remiss not to visit Taste of Belgium Café for their brunch, Abigail Street for their wine on-tap, Japp’s for their craft cocktails, and Senate for its gourmet street food. Those looking to catch a show can choose from either Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati or the Know Theatre for tremendous Off-Broadway performances.

The Know Theatre - photo by Randy Simes.

Continue the northern movement from Over-the-Rhine up one of Cincinnati’s many hills to its uptown neighborhoods. Defined by the University of Cincinnati, research institutions and a dense collection of hospitals, the uptown area has diverse shopping and eclectic architecture.

Treat yourself to Cincinnati-style chili at Skyline, dessert at Cincinnati’s famous Graeter’s Ice Cream, and an independent film at the Esquire Theatre. And when you have a block of time, do not forget to take an extended stroll through what is considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful and urban universities.

Should you have more time on your trip, Cincinnati offers up dozens of wonderful neighborhoods and business districts which have come to define the city. Rent bicycles at Smale Riverfront Park, take the bus, walk, or in the near future, take advantage of the city’s modern streetcar or bike share systems which are now under development.

The Taste of Belgium Bistro in Over The Rhine - photo by Randy Simes.

Your trip will offer you the delicious food and drink you might expect with any travel plans, but the trip to Cincinnati will also offer you a unique view into one of the most exciting urban transformations taking place in America – and it’s just a short Megabus ride away.

Randy A. Simes is the owner and managing editor of UrbanCincy.com, and works professionally as an urban planner. He was born and raised on Cincinnati’s west side, but currently lives in Chicago.

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