Sitting on the banks of the Ohio River across from the state of Kentucky, Cincinnati is a sizable metropolis that has charmed and surprised people for years. Most notable among these was Charles Dickens, who found the Queen City of the West to be “cheerful, thriving, and animated”.
While most baby boomers and fans of the golden era of television know this American city to be home of one of the most famous fictitious radio stations of all time, in reality, Cincinnati holds down a solid place in the history of the United States.
Sitting along the dividing line between the free and slave states prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, seeing this city represented freedom for scores of escaped slaves that had dodged capture and certain death through the help of abolitionist friends.
Combine this solid aspect of history with the fact that Cincinnati has some of the most green space per capita of any major city in the USA, and we think that your visit here will be an enjoyable one.
As identified in the introduction, one of the most important roles that Cincinnati has held in its past was serving as a finish line for oppressed African American slaves fleeing forced labor in the Southern slave states prior to its abolishment in the 19th century.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is dedicated to telling these stories, from the conditions from which they were attempting to escape (the museum contains a reconstructed slave pen, a place where misbehaving conscripts were sent), as well as the people that formed a network of friends that systematically hid, fed, clothed, and transported these souls to parts of the States (or to foreign countries) where they would be safe from the slave hunters that were always hot on their trail.
While the suspension of passenger rail service to the Queen City was a low point of the 1970’s, this metropolis decided to preserve the elegant building that was disused as a result of the cost-cutting measure.
This created the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, a place where six museums covering topics ranging from history (Cincinnati History Museum) to kids (Duke Energy Children’s Museum) and railroads (The Cincinnati Railroad Club).
Also, those seeking to travel to the city via rail can now do so again, as renovations in the 90’s has allowed Amtrak to serve this classic structure once more; with all the attractions it has now, it is an outstanding place to be introduced to this top Midwestern city.
Fans of the kooky and unusual will eat up the American Sign Museum, which is a collection of unique business signs that have defined the retail landscape of the USA over the past century. From gaudy and effervescent neon signs to statues like the original likeness of Big Boy and a twenty foot tall genie that once graced the exterior of a carpet cleaning business in Los Angeles, this shrine to the most basic marketing technique that brick and mortar businesses employ will wow even the most jaded traveler.
When you have finished making your way through the cultural highlights of Cincinnati, begin your tour of its more modern and natural aspects by starting at Fountain Square. Located within the downtown core, this central square is home to many stylish restaurants, shops and hotels.
The Tyler Davidson Fountain, located at the center of the plaza, makes for an excellent photographic subject for avid visual artists, and if this place looks familiar, you’re not imagining things, as this photogenic sight was a central part of the opening sequence on the classic TV show, WKRP in Cincinnati.
Fans of animals and those with families will thoroughly enjoy the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. The second oldest zoo in the nation has an enviable collection of both fauna and flora, which includes one of the largest collections of primates in the world.
With plenty of room to roam in their free-range habitat, the health and happiness of these animals are markedly better than in zoos where they are confined in much smaller caged enclosures. Taken together with their focus on conservation, the Cincinnati Zoo is a relatively guilt-free place to visit.
Joggers and lovers of nature will love every moment they are in the Queen City, as Cincinnati has one of the largest concentrations of parkland per capita in the USA. The crown jewel of this 5,000+ acre park system is Eden Park, which contains incredible views of the Ohio River below, a commendable selection of paintings and sculpture at the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the 365 day a year flora-friendly habitat at the Krohn Observatory.