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Getting to Know Cincinnati

The Cincinnati skyline is pictured, with blue skies and the Ohio River visible.

Cincinnati is a city with a lot to offer, but it can be hard to find your way around town for the first few months. This guide is meant to make getting to know the city a little easier. There's something here for everyone, including returning students.

Grocery Stores & Markets

North of campus on Ludlow Avenue, Clifton Natural Foods offers healthy and organic selections with a regional focus. Although the store is a bit on the pricey side, it's very convenient.

Ohio's oldest continuously operated public market and one of Cincinnati's most cherished institutions, Findlay Market hosts over two dozen indoor merchants open year round, a thriving farmers market on Saturdays and Sundays from April to November, and dozens of outdoor vendors, street performers and special events.

The nearest Kroger supermarket is located at Corry and Vine, directly across the street from the West Campus and within easy walking distance of the Medical Campus. In addition to offering the typical grocery selection, this store houses a natural foods section, a walk-in The Little Clinic, and a robust selection of hot, ready-to-eat entrees.

A less expensive alternative to Whole Foods, Trader Joe's is also slightly farther away, approximately 15 minutes by car in Kenwood (down the street from the shopping mall, Kenwood Town Centre.

The national organic and health food retailer has a location in Rookwood Commons, a shopping center approximately 10 minutes from campus by car. 

Cincinnati Favorites

Make sure to stop by one of their locations throughout Cincinnati for one of their delicious smiley face cookies and pick up some donuts as well! 

Eli’s BBQ is another great barbeque option in the area you will want to try. With locations in both Riverside and Findlay Market, you will want to make sure to add eating here to your to do list. 

Cincinnati loves their chili and Gold Star is another way to indulge in the local cuisine. Not a huge chili fan? No problem! Gold Star has an array of menu choices, including burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and even vegetarian options. 

Internationally known ice cream parlor serving up over 25+ flavors. Make sure to try one of their signature chip flavors, which feature their notoriously huge chunks of chocolate chips. 

This Cincinnati favorite is known for serving up classic Italian recipes including pasta, pizza, calzones and more. With most locations offering dine-in, carry-out and delivery options, you will want to make sure to take part in this Cincinnati staple!

Just as much as Cincinnati loves chili, we love our barbeque too! Montgomery Inn touts having “The Best Ribs on the Planet” which you can indulge in at one of their two locations - their Riverside location offers a beautiful view of the Ohio River or in try their location in Montgomery where it all began. 

This is another Cincinnati bakery you will wants to make a stop at! Servatii’s offers a wide assortment of items ranging from muffins, croissants, donuts and cakes to their authentic Bavarian soft pretzels that are sure to become a favorite.  

Serving the Cincinnati area since 1949, this is a local favorite you will not want to miss out on. First time visitor? Make sure to try a three-way or chili cheese coney (or both) showcasing the restaurant’s famous Greek-style chili. Vegetarian? No problem – ask for their black bean and rice option instead. 

Restaurants in Clifton

Adriatico’s offers delicious New York Style pizza along with other campus favorites like their parmesan breadsticks, zonis and wings. Got a large group? Try their infamous Bearcat Pizza, but be forewarned, this pizza is HUGE!

Located on West McMillan, Chicago Gyros and Dogs offers a wide selection of specialty gyros, hot dogs, burgers and more for a great price. 

This nearby Indian takeout joint offers affordable lunch specials and is open late to fuel intense study sessions.

Located on West McMillan, this family-operated Thai restaurant is a real treat. Be warned: it's not joking around about the spiciness levels.

Restaurants in Ludlow/Gaslight District

Located in Clifton's historic Gaslight District, Ambar is one of three Indian restaurants within a one-block radius. Try them all.

Locally owned and operated in Clifton since 1999, Habanero offers build your own burritos, tacos, quesadillas and the most delicious housemade tortilla chips. You will want to make your way down to Ludlow to experience this affordable and delicious restaurant. 

Whether you’re in the mood for brunch, delicious fried chicken or both this no frills diner has got you covered! Make sure to make a stop at the ATM before dining here, as they only accept cash. 

Looking for a filling and healthy option for carnivores and herbivores? Try The Whole Bowl! With a simple menu filled with wholesome ingredients, you’re sure to leave feeling you’ve made a deliciously healthy choice. 

Restaurants in Northside

The Comet is known throughout the Cincinnati area for their burritos and live music. They also offer a Sunday brunch with a weekly rotating menu. 

Melt offers an eclectic and fresh menu, including certified humane clean meat options and plenty of vegetarian/vegan options to make your whole group happy. 

Restaurants in Downtown/Over-the-Rhine

This restaurant is carryout only, doesn't take credit cards and exclusively serves fish and chips—but their fried fish is quite possibly the best in the Tristate.

Opened in 1861, Arnold’s is a Cincinnati landmark and the oldest bar in the city.

Located in Downtown Cincinnati, Burrito Joe’s provides a “Handmade, Fast and Fresh” alternative to fast food. After over 20 years in business, they have acquired a loyal following known as “Burrito Addicts” – try it today and see if you’ll be a part of the fan base!

This location in Over-the-Rhine offers New York Style pizza by the slice if you’re in a rush or take a seat and get one of their specialty pies. 

This Venezuelan-style eatery located on Race Street offers delicious Latin American cuisine in trendy OTR that people can’t help but rave about. 

Cafés

This local chain has several locations in Cincinnnati, but its Over-the-Rhine store has the best ambience of them all, as well as incredible coffee.

This nearby hangout is only open in the evening (5 PM to 2 AM), which makes it perfect for studying among the largest plants and biggest fish of any café in Cincinnati.

Iris is located on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine. You can buy and enjoy a used book here along with your cappuccino in the café's fantastically cozy atmosphere.

In our opinion, Rohs sells the best coffee within walking distance of campus. 

Sidewinder is a great place to get coffee in Northside. The owners (and their pet rabbits Patrick and Eppie) often mingle with guests in the shop's quaint courtyard when the weather’s warm enough.

Situated in the Gaslight District, this cafe offers an extensive coffee menu and vegetarian/vegan dishes along with entertainment including live music and poetry readings. 

Parks

Enjoy a quick break from school life in this forested park, located right across the street from campus. 

As well as offering stunning views of the city, Eden Park is home to the Cincinnati Art Museum and many other attractions. 

This Art Deco conservatory, nestled in Eden Park, presents gorgeous flora from around the world, as well as one of Cincinnati's best Christmas displays.

Nearly 1,500 acres of woods offer countless opportunities for hiking and other outdoor recreation at just a 15-minute drive from campus. 

Washington Park is located in the center of OTR and offers many events and activities, including free workout classes and movie nights. 

Museums

Learn about the history of Greater Cincinnati as you walk around the city with experienced guides. 

You simply won't find another museum like this one, which is dedicated to the sign industry and its indelible impact on the American landscape.

Admission is always free at Cincinnati's premier exhibitor of art, located in Eden Park.

The center at Union Terminal houses three separate museums—the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children's Museum and Museum of Natural History & Science—and typically hosts a traveling exhibit as well, but the Art Deco rotunda itself is work the trip. 

This museum offers free admission at this downtown showcase of modern art. 

This small but fascinating museum honors firefighting and the significant historical contributions Cincinnati has made to firefighting technology.

Movie Theaters

This multiplex on the Kentucky side of the river is the area's premier destination for big-budget popcorn flicks.

Located 6.5 miles north of UC’s campus via 71, this location provides another great option to catch the latest movie release. Kroger, Target and plenty of restaurant options surround the cinema as well. 

One of the area's few remaining independent theaters, the Esquire in Clifton's Gaslight district is the place to go for movies that aren’t Hollywood blockbusters.

This on-campus movie theater offers $2 movie showings to anyone with a UC ID. Members of the general public pay only $4. 

The Arts

Enjoy special discounts and perks for more than 100 participating art experiences in the area, including buy one get one free ticket offers and exclusive deals. 

One mile north of campus on Clifton Avenue, the CCAC offers classes from African Drumming to Zumba, thought-provoking exhibits and inspiring special events.

UC’s own CCM consistently offers some of the best music, theater, dance, and opera in Cincinnati. Tickets for students are often discounted or free.

Other Entertainment

The second-oldest zoo in the United States is located only a stone's throw from campus. With one of the largest collections in the country, including over 500 animal and 3,000 plant species, the Cincinnati Zoo continues to set standards for conservation, education and preservation.

This Major League Soccer (MLS) club plays their home games at UC's Nippert Stadium from February to September. 

Used Bookstores

Duttenhofer’s may be small in size, but you can easily lose a couple hours exploring its impressive selection. And it’s very convenient, located just south of campus on West McMillan.

The discount bookseller chain runs a couple of locations in and around Cincinnati, and the selection at each is slightly different. The location on Montgomery Road tends to be the store of choice for UC students with used books from English classes.

This store on Main Street downtown is enormous, and you never know what you'll find on each of its five full floors. You'll need at least an afternoon to even skim the store's eclectic offerings.

Did we miss something? Contact megan.tischner@uc.edu if you'd like to make a suggestion for our guide.