Travel like a local.

Podcast, Reedy Press

Riverfest Fireworks, Civic Music Hall & Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio

Best things to do in Cincinnati Ohio - Rick Pender - Cincinnati Music Hall - photo by Cincinnati Arts Association

Cincinnati Music Hall. Photo by Cincinnati Arts Association.

I’m really excited to interview author Rick Pender about Cincinnati, Ohio. Rick’s tips for the best things to do in Cincinnati are awesome because he moved to Cincinnati in 1980 for a job covering the arts, and he fell in love with the city’s fascinating history and rich cultural scene.

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Best things to do in Cincinnati Ohio - Rick Pender - John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge - photo Adam Sofen provided by Story Project

John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge. Photo Adam Sofen and provided by Story Project.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati is located in the southern part of the state along the Ohio River. The city is just across the river from Kentucky, and its closest airport is actually in Covington, Kentucky. Its Over-the-Rhine District is known for its 19th-century architecture.

Because of its location in the Ohio River Valley, Cincinnati summers are often very humid. Rick says that the best times to visit are in the spring and fall. Riverfest is an annual fireworks show and festival that happens on the Sunday night of Labor Day weekend. The city’s German heritage is on display during Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati in late September, which is the largest of its kind in the world outside the original festival in Munich.

Families love to visit the Cincinnati Zoo (the 2nd oldest in the U.S.) to see the animals and Kings Island Amusement Park for the coasters. The Civic Music Hall is located in the 1933 Union Terminal Train Station and the Findlay Market is Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market. And the Taft Museum of Art is located in a historic home that is over 200 years old.

We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out Explore Cincinnati, the local visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests.

If you’d like to learn how to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points, check out my free 7-day email course.

Best things to do in Cincinnati Ohio - Rick Pender - 1972 ROLLER COASTER - Beast Drop at Kings Island - photo by Kings Island

Vintage photo of Beast Drop at Kings Island. Photo by Kings Island.

Getting around Cincinnati

The local airport is Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), which is about a twenty-minute drive to downtown.

Rick says that, if you’re staying downtown, there’s no need to rent a car. The Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar is fast, convenient, and (best of all) free to use within its 4-mile loop within the historic downtown neighborhood. Uber and Lyft are excellent ways to get around.

If you must rent a car during your stay, check out the best offers from Avis, Budget, or Hertz.

When you only need a car for a couple of hours, you can rent by the hour with Zipcar. Join now to get $25 loaded into your account.

Best things to do in Cincinnati Ohio - Rick Pender - Cincinnati Streetcar

Use the Cincinnati Streetcar to avoid renting a car.

Places we talked about on the podcast

Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Rick Pender about Cincinnati, Ohio. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.

  • Red dots = best places to eat in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Green dots = best things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Yellow dots = best places to stay in Cincinnati, Ohio

Who is Rick Pender?

A Cincinnati historian, journalist, author, interviewer, tour guide, and urban resident, Rick has studied and promoted aspects of Cincinnati for more than four decades. His 2016 book, “100 Things To Do In Cincinnati Before You Die,” was so well received that a second edition was published three years later. In 2020, he published “Oldest Cincinnati,” to chronicle the last 200 years of the city’s history. He is a respected theater critic and a past chair of the American Theatre Critics Association. Grick graduated from Oberlin College and earned his doctorate from Case Western Reserve University.

Best things to do in Cincinnati Ohio - Rick Pender head shot by Mikki Schaffner Photography

Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography

Here are a few articles that promote his books:

You can connect with Rick on his website and on Twitter and Facebook. You can learn more about Rick’s books on his Reedy Press author page.

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Thanks to our sponsor, Cirque du Soleil, you have the opportunity to win a pair of tickets to “O” at the Bellagio, Las Vegas. Between August 23, 2021, and October 31, 2021, you can enter in three different ways with a valid email address:

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Best things to do in Cincinnati Ohio - Rick Pender - Cincinnati Music Hall at Springer Auditorium photo by Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Cincinnati Music Hall at Springer Auditorium. Photo by Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Stay tuned for our next episode

Best things to do in Osaka Japan - La Carmina in goth dressListen to the next episode when travel blogger La Carmina shares the best things to do in Osaka, Japan. In this episode, Carmina and I talk about celebrating the Buddhist Obon holiday, the Hanami cherry blossom viewing, and touring the Osaka Castle. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.

What’s your favorite part of Cincinnati? Send us a Tweet, let us know in the comment section below, or continue the discussion in our Facebook group!

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Related episodes

To learn more about Ohio, and the surrounding area, listen to our other nearby episodes:


  1. Melissa

    We are working our way through the 50 states bucket list and are down to single digits. Ohio is one of the states we have yet to visit. This episode has helped tremendously with when one should visit, things to do and places to eat. Looking forward to visiting during the River Fest fireworks show, taking the kids to Kings Island and trying Cincinnati chili.

    Thanks for all the insightful info.

  2. Chris G

    The roller coasters on Kings Island sound like fun.

  3. MarkinCHS

    Who knew there was so much to do in, gulp, Ohio?!?

  4. JR

    Looks great. The suspension bridge almost looked like Brooklyn Bridge at first glance.

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