Top things to do in Cincinnati, hailed as the comeback kid of the American Midwest

Cincinnati is the comeback kid of the American Midwest.

A decade ago it was more known for gang violence than tourism; But these days the city has cleaned up so much that the low-cost airline WOW has chosen it as the destination for their new route from London Stansted.

No wonder, as it is a hidden gem. Here the north meets the south, Ohio meets Kentucky and old meets new.

We made our way to the emerging hotspot to find out what not to miss when visiting the bustling city, from the must-see sights to the best places to eat – and the must-see activities should try.

Check out our hotlist below …

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our USA vacation page here.

The suspension bridge then connects Cincinnati, OH, with northern Kentucky

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Climb a trailblazer

Cincinnati is something of a pioneer. When we stood on top of the 1931 Carew Tower (tickets start at $ 4), the city’s main vantage point at 574 feet, we were surrounded by premieres.

The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge was the longest in the world at 1,057 feet when it opened in 1866 and the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

Then you can turn to the Great American Ball Park – home of the Cincinnati Reds, the USA’s first baseball franchise.

Even the Carew Tower was the inspiration for the Empire State Building. Apparently “Cincy” was the first draft for the rest of the country.

Spiegel reporter Aaron Flanagan at the top of the Carew Tower

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Over the Rhine

“The main source of water for the residents was the canal, which was basically a stagnant river. They drank beer to be healthy … and most of us still do!”

Those were the words of our local guide who explained where the drinking culture in Cincinnati came from.

They definitely know how to party. At one point, it was believed that locals drink an average of 100 gallons of beer a year. But then they have enough bars to make it happen. Over-The-Rhine, the neighborhood named after the influx of Germans in the early 19th century, is your go-to place. With cool bars and local beers (try Rheingeist), it’s a hip place that benefits from investments in the city.

Taft’s Ale House, a microbrewery in Cincinnati’s oldest Protestant church, is another highlight.

But if you prefer bourbon to beer, head south to Kentucky, where New Riff offers tours.

Enjoy bourbon whiskey south of the Ohio River

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Try the food

If you’re a vegan, Cincinnati might not be the place for you – it’s nicknamed Porkopolis for a reason. And then they go and lump heaps of cheese on it.

The most popular Cincy favorite is the Skyline Chili Chain, where a mixture of minced meat, cinnamon, cocoa and chili is served on spaghetti.

Another treat is the Goetta (pronounced get-uh) – a German sausage that is served for breakfast and adds the textures and flavors of pork, beef, and wholegrain oats. Just like the chili, it’s very flavorful.

Historic Findlay Market is the perfect place to sample local flavors, and Cincinnati Food Tours can show you the best parts (tickets start at $ 25 per person). Make sure to check out Cincinnati’s famous Graeter’s Ice Cream for over a century.

Skyline chili is the local favorite

See the art

The streets are full of paintings and murals on almost every corner. Findlay Market has a large collection. Back in the city center, in front of the Contemporary Arts Center (tickets are free), there is an eye-catching giant robot that is well worth a visit if modern and abstract art is your thing.

The Cincinnati Arts Museum is a more traditional gallery with more than 65,000 works of art – and tickets are free.

The Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati

Check out the sport

The locals of Cincinnati live for sports. When the Reds baseball team plays, it’s an event, a spectacle, a party. The Great American Ball Park offers the full American experience (tickets start at $ 5).

American Football The Bengals (tickets from $ 41) have some of the game’s most passionate fans playing in a state-of-the-art riverside stadium.

FC Cincinnati is about to switch to Major League Soccer. They have a crowd of over 30,000 and they create a great atmosphere. (Tickets from $ 10).

The Great American Ball Park is home to the USA’s first baseball team

Learn something new

The Cincinnati experience that really impressed me was visiting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (tickets $ 15) on the river. In a series of exhibits and works of art, the difficult topic of slavery in the USA is thematized historically and today worldwide.

Even branded as a museum of conscience, it tells striking stories from the time when neighboring Kentucky was a slave state and Ohio was not.

A fire burns in front of the museum that will only be extinguished when slavery is over. With an estimated 21 million still enslaved, that is not to be expected.

BOOK IT: Rooms at the Covington Hotel across the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky start at $ 199 a night hotelcovington.com

GETTING THERE: WOW Air flies from Stansted to Cincinnati via Reykjavik five times a week with prices starting at £ 139.99 each way. wowair.co.uk, 0118 321 8384

TOP TIP: Go in September or May when the weather is perfect and the city’s calendar of events is full.

MORE INFO: See cincinnatius.com

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