A neighborhood guide to the exciting and new Downtown Cincinnati

Visitors returning to Downtown Cincinnati after a long absence may be surprised at the changes. Of course, not everything has changed. The Tyler Davidson Fountain is still there. The massive US Federal Courthouse that was once a post office still hovers over its block long space. The Carew Tower observation deck continues to offer a fabulous city view, and Skyline will probably always sell 3-way Cincinnati chili at the corner of 7th and Vine. But these days, there is much more to see in the heart of the Queen City.

The Horseshoe Casino

The newest and grandest addition to Downtown Cincinnati is the Horseshoe Casino. Since March 2013 the new casino has entertained Cincinnati residents and visitors with fun and games, and world class entertainment. The “Shoe” is located on Broadway Ave. at the northeast edge of Downtown.  

Downtown living

Downtown Cincinnati has a growing number of apartment and condominium buildings along the riverfront and throughout town. Older buildings and department stores like McAlpin’s and Shillito’s have been converted to luxury lofts and condominiums for a growing in-town population.

Mixing new and old

In 2011, Great American Tower at Queen City Square claimed its place as the tallest building in Cincinnati’s skyline. That distinction was held by Carew Tower for over 80 years. GA Tower was designed by architect, Gyo Obata. The Dailymail.co.uk cites the late Princess Diana as the inspiration for the building’s tiara-style, metalwork crown.

The Banks is Cincinnati’s newest and coolest entertainment complex. Its restaurants, bars, and apartments are an exciting addition to a riverfront entertainment district that already included Great American Ballpark, Reds Hall of Fame/Museum, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Bengal’s Paul Brown Stadium, and a chain of riverfront parks.

Downtown parks

Cincinnati has a citywide system of parks and green spaces. Lytle Park at 4th St and Pike, and Piatt Park, which spans the Garfield Pl. median between Race and Vine, are two simple examples.

Fountain Square is a hub for Downtown’s free schedule of events: Salsa dancing, Market Days, Halloween contests, lunchtime music and more. The Square is the home of the Tyler Davidson Fountain seen in the opening scene of “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

Yeatman’s Cove is a riverside park that offers a playful wading pool, and the distinctive Serpentine Wall. It’s ideal for a hot day of lounging and people watching at the Ohio River’s edge.

Sawyer Point’s grassy areas, amphitheater, and playground provide the perfect spot for local festivals and events. The Purple People Bridge is just right for walking across the river to Kentucky entertainment. The giant Cincinnatus statue and Big Pig Gig pigs provide uniquely Cincy photo ops.

Smale Park, nestled between The Banks and the river, has step and sheet style fountains, water features for kid play, and green spaces big enough for pick-up sports, lounging and concerts.

Downtown museums 

When runaway slaves made it to the northern banks of the Ohio River, they were free; so the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center built it’s museum just beyond those riverbanks as a symbol of freedom. The museum contains a reconstructed slave pen, presentation theater, and other exhibits. The river facing entrance is the site of the city’s Berlin Wall Monument. The “Redhead” section of the original wall was gifted to Cincinnati in 2010.

Museum Center is located in Union Terminal, a former train station at the western edge of town. It houses the Children’s Museum, Cincinnati History Museum, Museum of Natural History and Science, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Omnimax and other historic resources in a former train station.

Public transportation

The hub for many Cincinnati Metro bus routes is located on 7th street, east of Fountain Square. Route 1 will take you from the Museum Center to the Cincinnati Zoo and many points of interest in between. Kentucky’s TANK Southbank Shuttles will take you to Newport Aquarium and Newport on the Levee for shopping, dinner and movies. Duck Boats can bring visitors across the river and back to Cincinnati for a city tour.

Cincinnati taxis are always waiting on Downtown streets. A new streetcar that’s in the works will follow a route past most major Downtown attractions, so when visitors come to town, they won’t miss a thing.