Where to Stay in Cincinnati: 8 Best Areas

Where to stay in Cincionnati

Wondering where to stay in Cincinnati? The best places to stay in Cincinnati are Downtown and Over-the-Rhine, but other interesting neighborhoods are worth considering.

As the birthplace of professional baseball, Cincinnati has earned a reputation for being a diehard sports town. Despite the fact that the city’s devotion to the Reds and Bengals is hard to miss, the truth is that the Queen City is about so much more than jerseys and scoreboards. 

This is a vibrant city of culture and entertainment at the confluence of the Ohio River and Licking River. 

While you may feel like you’re in a college town one minute while in the vicinity of the University of Cincinnati, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the Midwest’s version of New Orleans the next while strolling through architecturally rich Over-the-Rhine. 

Cincinnati is also known as being one of the best spots in the country for authentic German food. Restaurants here serve up recipes passed down from the influx of German settlers who populated the area starting in the 1830s.

One aspect that makes this city so easy to explore is its modern streetcar system. The Connector is a free electric streetcar that voyages along a 3.6-mile loop connecting neighborhoods via Cincinnati’s Central Business District 365 days a year. 

The Connector runs from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. from Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays.

While most of its public transportation options are centered in the city’s main hub, Cincinnati also has a bus system that makes it possible to branch out to various neighborhoods. 

For those seeking to cross the river to find a place to stay in Cincinnati, Kentucky offers several riverfront cities that offer quick, cheap trolley service directly to downtown every 15 minutes.

Many people are surprised to discover just how “walkable” Cincinnati is when they stay within the main downtown loop. Those seeking historic, artsy, or village-like accommodations can stay further out from the core by relying on a mix of buses and private transportation. 

Here’s a look at some of the best places to stay in Cincinnati when visiting town for games, music, art galleries, and more!

Where to Stay in Cincinnati: Best Areas

1. Downtown, where to stay in Cincinnati for first-timers

Best places to stay in Downtown Cincinnati

Downtown Cincinnati pulsates with activity on the banks of the Ohio River. For sports fans, the call of Great American Ball Park, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame Museum, TQL Stadium, and Paul Brown Stadium all make Downtown Cincinnati irresistible. 

For visitors seeking culture over sports fandom, the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, Gallery at Gumbo, and the Taft Museum of Art will all be appreciated. 

Some other unexpected downtown treasures include the Krohn Conservatory, UC Health Ice Rink, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 

Downtown is also the culinary gateway of the city. Restaurants rivaling anything you’ll find on the East Coast or West Coast shed all misconceptions that a Midwest city needs to be sleepy.

The hub for dining and entertainment in Downtown Cincinnati is a sliver called Fountain Square. Famous for being featured in the opening credits of “WKRP in Cincinnati,” the square is home to restaurants, shops, hotels, and a number of corporate headquarters for major companies. 

Fountain Square also hosts live outdoor performances and concerts throughout the year. This is the place to stay in Cincinnati when desiring to be at the center of everything.

Many people choose to stay in the city’s downtown core because Cincinnati is more condensed than New York, Boston, or other sprawling metropolitan areas. 

One of the big draws of staying at one of the many luxury and boutique hotels in Downtown Cincinnati is the convenience factor for people who don’t want to have to deal with rental cars or taxis. 

Many major hotels in Cincinnati are within walking distance of what can be described as a walkable “urban core” of the city. These hotels are accustomed to catering to the needs of guests who are in town for games or events. 

Downtown Cincinnati does a great job of offering free and low-cost transportation options using its 18 streetcar stops throughout its core. In addition to free streetcar service to and from various locations, Downtown Cincinnati offers a bike-sharing program and electric scooter program.

While cheap or free transportation is abundant in Downtown Cincinnati, tourists pay a premium to stay in hotels near the main loop.

Pricing can vary widely based on what’s going on in the city. During game weekends, it’s possible to be priced out of rooms that are more affordable during off-peak times.


2. Over-the-Rhine, where to stay in Cincinnati for nightlife

Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati

Known by locals simply as OTR, Over-the-Rhine is a trendy neighborhood that’s associated with breweries, pubs, and trendy restaurants. While the vibe here is hip, locals do their best to keep the original appearance of the neighborhood intact. 

OTR Is celebrated for its well-preserved architecture that dates back to the influx of German immigrants during the 1800s. In fact, the Liberty Street portion of OTR is often compared to parts of Savannah, Charleston, and New Orleans. 

Beautiful Washington Park is a sprawling outdoor space that’s adjacent to restaurants and bars. This is arguably the most beautiful place to stay in Cincinnati.

While not quite as bustling as Downtown Cincinnati, OTR is considered a companion to the city’s main core. 

OTR is also Cincinnati’s theatre hub. The long list of worthy attractions tied to the arts includes Cincinnati Music Hall, Emery Theatre, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Art Academy of Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Ballet. 

Another big draw of OTR is Findlay Market. Ohio’s oldest continuously operating public market, Findlay Market is where locals go for fresh goods.

Over-the-Rhine is a great alternative to staying in downtown when looking for a “cooler” and trendier neighborhood without giving up easy streetcar access. 

For visitors planning to attend live shows at the city’s theaters, being within walking distance to a hotel after the evening performance is especially convenient.

Additionally, the neighborhood caters to night owls hoping to enjoy bars and pubs close to their accommodations.


3. Eden Park, best place to stay in Cincinnati for families

Where to stay in Cincinnati: Eden Park

Eden Park refers to the area tucked within Cincinnati’s Walnut Hills neighborhood. Occupying 186 hilltop acres, Eden Park offers stunning views of the nearby Ohio River valley. In fact, you can see into Kentucky from spots within the Park. 

Simply head to a spot called Twin Lakes that features a quarry, walking paths, and footbridge. Along the way, you can expect to see locals playing chess, launching boats, or birdwatching.

One of the benefits of staying near the Eden Park neighborhood is that it offers easy access to the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Krohn Conservatory, and the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. 

However, the somewhat isolated terrain of the park makes staying in its direct vicinity impossible. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Cincinnati that will guide you right toward green spaces and walking trails, the best bet for exploring Eden Park is to book a hotel downtown.


4. Clifton, where to stay in Cincinnati for student vibes

Best places to stay in Cincinnati

For those seeking to stay in Cincinnati in a quiet spot just outside of the city, Clifton can be a great choice. A village-like community full of idyllic, tree-lined streets, Clifton offers a slowed-down pace just 10 minute from Downtown Cincinnati. 

However, its proximity to the University of Cincinnati keeps Clifton tightly connected to the art, culture, and amenities of urban life. 

While Clifton isn’t the most convenient option when the goal is to hop from place to place in the city quickly, bus service can get you downtown to enjoy streetcar service or walking for the rest of the day. 

The village offers a handful of budget hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns in place of larger “corporate” and luxury hotels found in the city.


5. Avondale and Corryville, where to stay in Cincinnati on a budget

Where to stay in Cincionnati: Avondale

Avondale and Corryville show off the “college town” side of Cincinnati. Both are primarily residential neighborhoods. While they don’t offer the robust access to attractions and transportation offered by downtown, bus routes do make stops.

Located just northeast of Downtown Cincinnati, the Avondale neighborhood flows into the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Overall, the many restaurants, bars, and coffee shops make this neighborhood feel lively and vibrant. 

Much of the neighborhood’s personality comes from art-lined Reading Road, Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Zoo and the Hauck Botanic Garden.

Neighboring Corryville is known for hosting a main strip called Short Vine Street that is home to several bars, restaurants, and shops that are often populated by students from the nearby University of Cincinnati. 

A music venue called Bogart’s is often the liveliest spot for miles on the weekends. While few venues remain beyond Bogart’s, Corryville was the city’s hub for punk and rock music during the 1980s and 1990s.


6. West End and Queensgate, where to stay in Cincinnati for easy access trains and public transportation

Best places to stay in Cincinnati: Queensgate

Cincinnati’s West End is located northwest of downtown. It also rubs up against Over-the-Rhine and Queensgate. A stroll through the West End is a walk through time that showcases the many iterations of Cincinnati that have existed over the decade. 

The historic mansions and commercial buildings on Dayton Street are worth taking time to see by foot. Additionally, the West End’s Cincinnati Fire Museum brings visitors through Cincinnati “as it was” by displaying antique hand pumps and other firehouse equipment. 

The Betts House from 1804 is a West End highlight. As Ohio’s oldest brick house, the property is a model for historic preservation of urban architecture. 

The West End is a great spot for finding a hotel because it offers easy access to the public transportation offered throughout downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

Queensgate is an industrial and commercial hub located in the valley of Downtown Cincinnati that was once famed for being the city’s hog-slaughtering “pork” district. 

While it may not be the most beautiful portion of the city, there is one big draw for people who are coming to the city without a car. Queensgate is home to the Cincinnati Union Terminal that serves as the city’s main intercity train station. 

This is where passengers can hop on and off the Amtrak’s Cardinal line service to Cincinnati. 

The terminal building is also home to the massive Cincinnati Museum Center complex that houses the Omnimax theater, the Museum of Natural History and Science, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives.

Accommodation is very limited. There are only a few cheap hotels and vacation rentals.


7. Covington, very close to Downtown Cincinnati

Where to stay in Cincionnati: Covington

Covington, Kentucky is another out-of-state option for visitors trying to find hotels in Cincinnati. Located just 1.6 miles from Cincinnati, Covington is a riverfront city known for its waterfront hotels, restaurants, and taverns. 

The Southbank Shuttle brings passengers between Covington and Cincinnati every 15 minutes until 11 p.m. 

With a population of 40,000, Covington offers all the perks of visiting Cincinnati with the added benefit of feeling like you’ve discovered a rare American gem worthy of a tell-all travel blog.

What makes this small-town city exceptional is that it offers views of the Cincinnati skyline from many spots. You’re also likely to spot views of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge stretching across the river into Ohio. 

A four-block portion of the city called Mainstrasse Village offers an enchanted setting that feels like an old German village full of quirky attractions and European-like squares. This restaurant hot spot is known for its festivals and live music.


8. Newport, affordable area

Best places to stay in Cincinnati: Newport

While closely associated with Cincinnati, Newport is actually located at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking across state lines in Northern Kentucky. Newport’s main attraction is a shopping and entertainment district called Newport on the Levee. 

More than 2 million people visit Newport on the Levee annually to enjoy nearly 400,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space

In addition to a large collection of restaurants and shops, the attraction is home to the Newport Aquarium, Funny Bone Comedy Club, and a year-round itinerary of festivals and live events. 

Staying at a hotel in Newport, Kentucky is entirely feasible because the drive between cities takes minutes. It’s even possible to travel by foot between cities. 

Known as the Purple People Bridge, the Newport Southbank Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that spans just over 2,600 feet to connect Downtown Cincinnati with Newport via the Ohio River. 

The Southbank Shuttle also provides access between Newport and Downtown Cincinnati until 11 p.m. nightly. Known simply as the Trolley to locals, this system costs just $1 to ride.


FAQs about where to stay in Cincinnati

What is the best place to stay in Cincinnati for the first time?

Downtown is the best place to stay in Cincinnati for first-timers. Downtown is the place to stay in Cincinnati at the center of everything.

Where to stay in Cincinnati for a Reds game?

Downtown is the best place to stay in Cincinnati for a Reds Game. Great American Ball Park is located in Downtown Cincinnati.

Where to stay in Cincinnati for families?

Eden Park is an excellent choice for families. It is a safe area, more peaceful than Downtown and within walking distance of everything.

Best neighborhoods in Cincinnati for young professionals?

Over-the-Rhine is ideal for young professionals.

What are the safest areas in Cincinnati?

Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, and Eden Park are safe and central areas.

Where to stay in Cincinnati for nightlife?

Over-the-Rhine and Clifton are the best places to stay in Cincinnati for nightlife. These neighborhoods are full of restaurants, bars and clubs.

What is the coolest place to stay in Cincinnati?

Over-the-Rhine is the coolest place to stay in Cincinnati. It has a modern vibe, unique architecture, shopping, and plenty of places to dine and go out.

Where not to stay in Cincinnati?

I would avoid North Fairmount and South Fairmont as those areas have higher crime rates.

What are the best hotels in Cincinnati?

The Park Hotel, Kinley Cincinnati Downtown and 21c Museum Hotel are the best hotels in Cincinnati downtown.

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