Cincinnati: The Queen City

Cincinnati's Roman and Brooklyn influence

I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Cincinnati, the Queen City, where I kicked off my hitchhiking road trip through the south. Before making my way to Kentucky, and on to Memphis and Nashville, I spent four days biking, hiking, and meandering through Cincinnati, which got its name from the Roman emperor, Cincinnatus. Apparently, Cincinnati has 7 hills similiar to Rome's 7 hills. Am I the only one late to the game? Who knew that Cincinnati was so much fun?

What struck me the most about this lovely city was what a tremendous job the city had done building up its waterfront, bike infrastructure, and citywide art initiatives. The city was blanketed with gigantic murals that took up the entire side of 15 story buildings, including bright murals of James Brown, Cincinnatus, and 80-s themed pop culture. The waterfront was lined with chair swings for relaxing, exercise equipment, and many fountains where dozens of children played instead of going to the pool. Each night, I enjoyed sitting on the swings and watching gigantic tugboats and steam boats pass under the Roebling Suspension Bridge, which connects Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky. I noticed the bridge greatly resembles the Brooklyn Bridge, and later learned it was built by the same engineer, John Roebling, 30 years later. (Oh, so that's why we have Roebling Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn!)

 The Roebling Suspension Bridge, connecting Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky

The Roebling Suspension Bridge, connecting Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky

 James Brown blesses onee of Cincinnati's many impressive murals.

James Brown blesses onee of Cincinnati's many impressive murals.

 One of many beautiful murals and street art installations in Cincinnati

One of many beautiful murals and street art installations in Cincinnati

Much of my days were spent biking around the city using the public bike share system, Red Bike, priced at a very reasonable $7 for 24 hours. I rode about 40 miles through Cincinnati, over the Roebling Bridge into Covington, Kentucky, and over the "Purple People Bridge" (pedestrians and cyclists, only!) to Newport, Kentucky. Both were small, lovely cities that also have bike share stations, making it easy to spend a lazy day exploring. I stopped in an old-timey bar for some water and an old gentleman with a handlebar mustache and glass of Kentucky bourbon directed me to the admiral's row, the area where the old steam boat admiral's lived in still-well-maintained homes on tree-lined streets.

Attractions Galore

Locals informed me that Cincinnati is famous for its roller coasters so I spent a day at Kings Island amusement park and an afternoon hiking gorgeous hills and trails in the Cincinnati Nature Center. I also visited the controversial but very well-designed and highly-attended Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The museum recently added a scale-model of the ark (appropriately called "The Ark"), about an hour further south but I didn't visit it. My personal highlight of Cincinnati was visiting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which housed an impressive collection of exhibits on slavery, the underground railroad, civil rights, and various current social justice struggles. Do yourself a favor and allow several hours to explore. I only had about 90 minutes and had to rush out without seeing most of it.

 Cincinnati: The Queen City!

Cincinnati: The Queen City!

 The car-free "Purple People Bridge" connecting Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky

The car-free "Purple People Bridge" connecting Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky

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 Twilight view of the Roman emperor, Cincinnatus, whom the city is named after

Twilight view of the Roman emperor, Cincinnatus, whom the city is named after

 Cincinnatus by day

Cincinnatus by day