Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours in Cincinnati. Ohio is a smallish state with a surprising number of large cities.
When I stopped in Ohio for my 50 States in 5 Years project, I could have selected Columbus, which is both the largest city in Ohio and the state’s capital. Or I could have made like Tina Fey on 30 Rock and gone to Cleveland. But instead I decided to spend more than 24 hours in Cincinnati.
Want to cut right to the chase, Internet Stranger? The best activity in Cincinnati is this delicious food tour with tons of five-star reviews!
Or if you want to explore all the best activities in Cincinnati, check this search engine right here to find the best deals!
Cincinnati is also the 3rd largest city in Ohio, the birthplace of our largest president, and it’s just a short walking distance from Kentucky. If you’ve ever wanted to have a 3-way (not what it sounds like), 24 hours in Cincinnati should be right up your alley.
24 Hours in Cincinnati
Where to Stay?
The Symphony Hotel is one of my favorite hotels in the United States, not just in Cincinnati. It’s the perfect choice for your 24 hours in Cincinnati. The rooms are adorable, and the amenities are amazing. You get everything from breakfast made to order to complimentary chocolate in the room. Plus the restaurant with dinner and live music is fantastic.
If you want a great deal on this hotel, click here.
And if you’d rather explore great deals on other hotels in Cincinnati, click here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your 24 hours in Cincinnati. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.
24 Hours in Cincinnati
Morning: Cincinnati Food Tour
So now we come to the most popular part of Cinci, the downtown area. This tour introduces you to Cincinnati’s three most popular foods and two of its most popular landmarks. We’ll find Oprah’s favorite ice cream and Princess Diana’s hidden tiara, so you know it’s going to be a classy day!
On top of that, there’s a fantastic food tour that will take you on a wonderful Cincinnati journey.
Check rates and availability by clicking here.
Of course, if you’re not into food, you can check out a food-free tour of Cincinnati’s famous tunnels.
You can book a tour of the underground by going here.
Either way, get ready for…
approximately top 5: 24 hours in Cincinnati
1) Findlay Market
Our first stop is Findlay Market, which is the oldest public market in Ohio. You can see little pig signs all over the market. My guide said it was because Cincinnati’s nickname used to be Porkopolis. That’s the cutest city nickname I have ever heard!
Also remember that name and be on the look out for pigs all over the city. That’s your mission: find Rookwood tiles and pigs.
Our tasting at the Findlay market was a traditional German oatmeal sausage called goetta. (The oatmeal is just the binding; there’s definitely actual meat in the sausage.) This truly is a local taste because I have never, never, never seen goetta outside of Cincinnati.
If you like sausage, I see no reason why you wouldn’t like goetta. Also, I appreciate that I got to chat with one of the owners of the shop and get his thoughts on whether or not goetta is similar to haggis.
Check rates and availability by going here to find out more about this NOT HAGGIS
So many people come to Cincinnati just to have a 3-Way. I wonder why they can’t get satisfied with what they’ve got at home? A 3-Way, for the shocked and confused, is a concoction from the local chain Skyline Chili. It means pasta topped with chili and a whole mound of grated cheese. You can get a 4-Way or a 5-Way if you add onions and beans, but that just seems decadent to me.
Apparently, you’re supposed to cut it with a knife and fork instead of swirling it around your fork like you normally do with pasta. I did as I was told, then I put a plastic bib on over your clothes before I jumped into the 3-Way. (Still sounds wrong.)
Check rates and availability by going here to get your 3 Way on!
3) Graeter’s Ice Cream
Some of my Internet Strangers out there might be thinking, “Goetta and 3-Ways? What kind of crazy city is this Cincinnati?” But what we all can agree on is that Graeter’s Ice Cream is some of the best stuff you will ever put it in your mouth. My guide says that it’s Oprah’s favorite ice cream, and who are we to argue with Oprah?
Apparently what makes this ice cream special is that each batch is prepared one at a time in French pot freezers. The ice cream comes out so thick that each pint has to be hand packed. If your mouth isn’t drooling by now, I’m a little worried about you!
Unfortunately you can’t taste Graeter’s ice cream in this blog post, no matter how many times you lick the computer screen. But I am happy to report that my black raspberry chocolate chip, which is their signature flavor, was so creamy that I could hear “Sunshine of Your Love” playing in the background as I ate it.
Check rates and availability by going here to feast on Oprah’s ice cream!
4) Carew Tower
After all that snacking, it’s time for some walking! We’re heading for the main landmark of the Cincinnati skyline, the Carew Tower. Behold its majestic Art Deco exterior!
Bask in the glory of its glamorous lobby!
Spot the Rookwood tile on its walls and come that much closer to winning Cincinnati Bingo!
On top of all that, you get to ride to the top of the Observation Tower and get amazing views of the city. (The ride to the tower is included with the price of the tour.) My favorite thing about the view was getting to see the top of the Great American Building at Queen City Square. (Queen City is another one of Cincinnati’s nicknames, and it is almost as good at Porkopolis.)
You can easily spot the building when I tell you that the top was designed to look like Princess Diana’s wedding tiara. How clever to have a crown for Queen City! Back home in New York we don’t even have one skyscraper that is shaped like an apple.
Check rates and availability by going here to find out more about this queen!
The tour ended on the waterfront of the Ohio River. But there’s more going on down here than just staring at a slow moving piece of water. You can pose for pictures with the Sing the Queen City sign. (My apologies to the rando stranger in my picture but you wouldn’t move and I needed to leave.)
How would you like to see a piece of the Berlin Wall?
My favorite attraction on the waterfront was this carousel with animals that have a local significance.
Look! It’s a pig wearing a beret! For Porkopolis! I’m definitely going to win Cincinnati Bingo now!
24 Hour Tip
There was even more fun stuff on this tour, but I’m just going to keep it under my beret, like a good pig. If you want to get in on the fun, reserve your spot on the tour yourself
Check rates and availability right here!
24 Hours in Cincinnati
Afternoon: Explore Covington, Kentucky
Covington, Kentucky was once in the news for rather more controversial reasons than being featured on this blog. (Though the boys involved in the incident were not actually from Covington proper, but rather its suburbs.) This has nothing to do with my reasons for taking you to Covington.
In fact, Covington has long been a pleasant afternoon trip to take from Cincinnati. How often can you take a quick walk from one state and end up in another state? While Covington is not as big as Cincinnati, it certainly has enough landmarks and history to teach you…
three fun facts: covington, kentucky
1) Daniel Carter Beard
Daniel Carter Beard, probably Covington’s most famous son, was a founder of the Boy Scouts of America. He was born in Cincinnati, but he moved to Covington as a kid, and he grew up in this adorable white house.
It’s now a National Historic Landmark, but unlike the Juliette Gordon Low House in Savannah, Georgia, you can’t go inside or take tours. It’s a private residence.
Just pay your respects to the mummified and bronzed corpses of Daniel Carter Beard and this distressed little boy and be on your way!
2) Mother of God Church
The Mother of God Church is one of the most historically interesting churches in the area. It was founded in the 19th century as the “mother church” for the German Catholics who had immigrated to Ohio.
The community poured all its money into making the church as lavish as it could be, from a 100-foot dome supported by columns covered in gold leaf, to stained glass windows imported from Munich. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but Munich seems like the kind of city that would be good at making stained glass windows.
If you’d like to check out those special Munich stained glass windows yourself, just poke around the outside of the church and probably somebody will let you in.
The caretaker seemed very excited to have a tourist visiting Covington on a Wednesday and let me take as much time and photos as I wanted. Probably he will be just as nice to you, even if you’re not as adorable as I am, Internet Stranger!
3) The practice bridge
The number one reason for any New Yorker like me to spend 24 hours in Cincinnati is the chance to see the Roebling Suspension Bridge. This is the bridge that makes it so easy to walk from Cincinnati to Covington in the first place. But do you notice any similarities to a bigger, more famous bridge?
Yup, this bridge was the suspension bridge that John Roebling built before he began work on the more famous Brooklyn Bridge back in my hometown. In fact, the success of this bridge was how he knew the (larger) Brooklyn Bridge could be successful.
One thing the Roebling Suspension Bridge has that the Brooklyn Bridge doesn’t is a collection of big ol’ murals documenting the history of Covington. Here we have a group of sad young white men marching across the river over what look like cardboard boxes with sticks poking out of them.
Here is Jacob Price, a 19th century minister, businessman, and leader of the African-American community in Covington. (You can probably tell from the mural that Price’s business was in lumber.) My favorite story about Price is that when he was 74 years old, his house caught on fire and he had to jump out the 2nd floor window to survive.
That’s a scene right out of Hollywood! Why hasn’t Morgan Freeman played this guy in a movie yet? Get on it, people!
After my visit to the Mother of God Church, I was also interested to see this mural dedicated to the churches of Northern Kentucky. I like how it’s designed to look like stained glass that may or may not be from Munich.
24 Hours in Cincinnati
Evening: Fancy Dinner
Orchids at the Palm Court is one of the most famous fine dining destinations in all of Cincinnati. It has the words “orchid” and “court” in the title, so you know it’s classy. I selected Orchids at the Palm Court because it offers a tasting menu, and it’s my general policy to seek out tasting menus all over the globe like a cheetah stalking its prey in the night, or whenever it is that cheetahs stalk things.
Orchids is closed at the moment, but you can still enjoy yummy food and beautiful scenery at the Bar at the Palm Court. So either way, you are covered. And if you’d rather try another tasting menu in Cincinnati, I suggest Nicola’s.
Now that I successfully vanquished Cincinnati’s last word in tasting menus, I give you…
approximately top 10: orchids at the palm court
Every tasting menu needs to begin with an amuse bouche. That’s just science. This AB is clearly modeled on the famous Arpege egg by French legend Alain Passard. But you know this one is American because it has bacon in it. Bacon makes everything better. USA, USA, USA!
This next bite was a perfect ball of smoked salmon with a sesame cracker on top for crispness. I liked the shape of this dish, almost as if they were trying to reform the salmon into a little fishy.
One thing I liked about this tasting menu is that they really showcased the main ingredient in each dish and didn’t drown it in a lot of froufrou nonsense. Sometimes you want to let the quality of the food speak for itself.
This was a perfect glarb of burrata (glarb is a highly technical culinary term) and it didn’t need much more than that sprinkling of pistachio for a bit of texture.
Batting cleanup, we have a surprising choice for a tasting menu. This is a tomato soup with fresh cheese tortellini. I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten something homey like tomato soup with tortellini on a tasting menu before.
But why shouldn’t a classic from Nonna be a fine dining experience? After all, everyone knows that their Nonna is the best chef in the world.
This dish was one of my favorites, next to the burrata. IT is scallop served with peas, lardon, which is Fancy for bacon fat, and dukkah. Dukkah is a delicious Egyptian seasoning that can be made by glarbing all kinds of spices together.
Frequently one of those ingredients in the dukkah is mint, so it makes sense that it would go well with peas. Dukkah and peas, classic spring combination!
Now the dishes begin to get a little more substantial. I loved this spicy pork topped with grapefruit and shishito peppers.
I had never eaten pork and grapefruit together before, but the sweet acidity of the grapefruit combined with the mildly spicy peppers made the pork, which isn’t always a terribly exciting piece of protein, a pleasure to eat.
For the final main course, we come to the specialty of the house. Veal cheeks are pretty much always on the menu at Orchids at the Palm Court. They are so tender and full of meaty flavor. While I was eating these, I really had to resist the urge to roar in the middle of the restaurant like the Tasting Menu Cheetah that I truly am.
Instead of potatoes, the veal cheeks were served with a creamy rice noodle cake. I admired this choice because the veal cheeks are so rich, it makes sense to serve them with a lighter kind of starch.
At this point, my waitress came along and asked me if I wanted the extra cheese course, and I said, “Bitch, please!” I mean, I said it with my eyes and not actually aloud because that would be horribly tacky. Out loud I just said, “Yes, thank you.”
The cheese course consisted of just one type of cheese: the rich sheep’s milk cheese from France known as Petit Basque. It was served with champagne gelee, preserved grapes, and spiced pistachios. I am here to tell you, my friends, champagne gelee is the kind of addition to a cheese plate our troubled world sorely needs right now.
Ready for dessert? How about a cream cheese custard with white chocolate crumble and a golden raspberry sauce? I had never encountered a golden raspberry before. In fact, I thought they were just an award given out to bad movies.
They are sweeter than Not Golden Raspberries, which would probably have been a little too tart with the smooth cream cheese and sweet white chocolate. Plus that golden color adds that extra notch of class I expect from an Orchid Court.
Any proper tasting menu needs two desserts. That’s just science. This is a miniature decadent chocolate cake all dressed up in its Sunday best with a tuile wrapping and flowers on top.
Exotic fruits are always a pleasure, but sometimes a girl just wants a great piece of chocolate cake, even if she is a Tasting Menu Cheetah. Thanks for obliging, Orchids at the Palm Court!
24 Hours in Cincinnati
Tools for Travel
- A cell charger so you can take photos all during your 24 hours in Cincinnati
- The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds
- These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you how travel can take you on a journey of self-discovery.
24 Hours in Cincinnati
How To Get There
Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a whole plate of Skyline chili. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to your 24 hours in Cincinnati.
However, if you need to take a plane or car to get to Cincinnati, I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight or car rental, depending on how you want to get around.
Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight or car rental, so you can head out to your 24 hours in Cincinnati!
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Cincinnati!
What would you do with 24 hours in Cincinnati? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Cincinnati? Please email me at email@example.com and let me know!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Cincinnati. If you have time for an extra 24 hours in Cincinnati itinerary, try this one.
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