Hidden Local Gems Around Cincinnati

Cincinnati Hidden Gems

If you were to visit any town in the world, there would be a 100% chance of you finding something special and Cincinnati is no exception to this.

This Ohio city is well-known for its spectacular architecture, its budding food scene, and its two major sports teams: the Cincinnati Reds, the oldest baseball franchise in the major leagues, and the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League. And these aren’t the only things the Queen of the West is known for.


In 2012, Lonely Planet reported Cincinnati as their number three top US travel destination; the title was credited to Cincinnati’s gorgeous riverside views, lovely European-style buildings, the world famous ventriloquism museum, and its proud residents. In 2014, Cincinnati was named as one of the most liveable cities in the US by Livability.com. According to the site, the city’s strong business presence, which can be attributed to its flourishing transportation industry in addition to the fact that Cincinnati houses the headquarters of about 10 Fortune 500 companies, paired with its place as one of Forbes’ safest US cities makes it one of the best places to live in the nation.

Other accolades Cincinnati has received include Mashable’s title as 2012’s “Most Social City” in the world, Ohio’s Best Walking City, even one of the six cities featured US Today’s list of small cities with big food scenes. From a first glance, you would assume that Cincinnati is just another one of your average midwestern towns where coming down a bad case of cabin fever is totally normal; however, Cincinnati is so much more than that.

There’s plenty to do and see, and, if you actually try to get to know this beautiful city, you could even find yourself falling in love with it. If you’re planning on visiting Cincinnati, but don’t know where to start, then continue reading.

We all know that a city can be very easily recognized by the famous landmarks within it, but do we know about the smaller, lesser-known spots that give the city its actual character? You know what we’re talking about. The places that are hidden from plain sight and are frequented by locals. While taking a trip to well-known spots within a city are certainly regarded as highlights, it’s also important to get to know the town by interacting with your family-run diners, your mom and pop shops, or your local farmer markets. These places, while hidden, make Cincinnati the amazing city that it is.

If you haven’t the slightest idea where to start, then keep on reading. Here’s a list of Cincinnati’s hidden gems.

Cincinnati Subway
In the early 20th century, the city decided to experiment with the possibilities of public transport. From 1916 until its discontinuation in 1928, 6 miles of infrastructure and 2.2 miles of underground tunnels were completed. Due to the financial burden construction imposed on the city, the operation was eventually stopped. Despite its failure as a public transit system, the now-abandoned Cincinnati Subway is a great place for visitors to come to learn about Cincinnati’s history.

Happen’s Toy Lab
Move over, Build-A-Bear! Happen’s Toy Lab is part of a Happen, Inc., a larger non-profit organization whose mission is to unite communities through creativity. At Happen’s Toy Lab, visitors get to design and create their own original toys by using parts of old and broken toys that were donated by the community. If you’re interested in upcycling, or you’re interested in learning about it, Happen’s Toy Lab is a unique, new way to learn about the merits of it.

Mount Washington Creamy Whip and Bakery
There’s nothing more refreshing than some cold soft serve on a hot summer day. Open during the summer months, Mount Washington Creamy Whip and Bakery is a lovely little spot that boosts a nostalgic 1950’s aesthetic. The soft serve dished out here is some of the best in the city despite only being open during the summer.

Coffee Emporium
This local coffee shop serves up delicious teas, pastries, and, of course, coffee. With an atmosphere that is everything a coffee shop is supposed to be, you’ll feel right at home grabbing a cup, one of their delightful pastries, and taking a seat out on their gorgeous patio for some well-earned peace and quiet.

Proud Rooster
This tiny mom and pop restaurant only takes cash, have a wonderful vintage aesthetic, and serve up the best chicken you will ever taste in Cincinnati. The Proud Rooster is well-known for its fantastic and filling breakfast dishes that have tons of hungry customers coming back for more.

The Echo
Dining at this spot for breakfast is supposedly a city tradition, so it is absolutely important that you make a stop at this restaurant before you do anything else during the day. With affordable, fantastic food, generous portions, and friendly staff, the Echo is a must-visit breakfast spot for anybody visiting Cincinnati.

American Sign Museum
If you’re still looking for something fun to check out and need a sign, consider this one. The American Sign Museum has an impressive collection of signs. With signs that start in the 1970s and move back into the 1800s, the American Sign Museum is an interesting way for people familiarize themselves with the history of signage and advertising.