Life has been crazy busy for us and if there is an opportunity to take a little break we usually take advantage of it! I was super excited for this little overnighter in Cincinnati with my husband. After a lot of recommendations, an opportunity came up that allowed us to take the weekend after Valentines off to drive to the state over, Ohio. I planned this two months in advance, and you’ll see why as I talk about going to one of Cincinnati’s most romantic restaurants and the need for reservations!
Explore the fascinating reasons why we visited Cincinnati below as I give you a browse through our two days there! This includes renting an Airbnb, eating in an underground restaurant, visiting a few must-see spots, drinkings lots of coffee and even getting to roast our own coffee at a local roastery!
Our weekend went as follows:
We started off our weekend on a late Friday morning visiting the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in downtown Cincinnati. This is a location just a few businesses from where we had lunch reservations, so it made perfect sense to make this a stop on our itinerary. The Unmuseum is located on the top floor of CAC and is an interactive exhibit that is great for families – you can see, touch, and hear everything hear (unlike most museum settings!). Both the UnMuseum and CAC have free admission! We took a glance around a few of the CAC floors, being a Friday morning it felt like we had a lot of the place to ourselves! For more info and pictures, check out more of my Yelp review here.
I had numerous recommendations for this place! Not to mention all the bragging on Yelp about it being one of the most romantic restaurants in Cincinnati. It’s an underground Italian restaurant and they make their own pasta in house, you can even watch it being made in their viewing area! I was warned I should make reservations in advance, and at almost two months ahead of time I was unable to obtain dinner reservations at or any time around the day after Valentines, but I did easily get a late lunch reservation. Even better because they do have a lunch menu and if you are on a budget, this is a bonus! Upon entering you’ll descend down a few candle-lit stairs to get to the restaurant (an elevator is also available). It reminds me of a speakeasy with its brick walls, exposed ceilings, and dimly lit rooms. And candles everywhere, ahhh – so romantic! The servers wear jeans and plaid and it’s just enough of a touch to take this place down from classy to business casual, something I appreciate. For more on Sotto, check out the rest of my Yelp review & photos here.
Tips: Park downtown for the day, it’ cost you around $10 and you can get to this and the UnMuseum (next door to each other). Make reservations in advance. Do not wear jeans or t-shirts. Go for a late lunch, just as great a setting with fewer crowds.
We found that the Airbnbs in this city were much more numerous, available, and affordable than the hotels! So we booked a small, private place to ourselves that overlooked Eden Park. We really just needed a place to sleep for the night since our days were packed with activities, and this was the affordable way to go! Each place will vary in cost by the date you are traveling but our place was around $70 for the night. When booking an Airbnb, use this link and receive up to $40 off your first booking!
Coffee, coffee, and more coffee!
So we visited three different coffee shops in the area: Coffee Emporium, 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab, and La Terza Coffee Roastery. Obviously coffee is an important part of our lives so we did even more than just grab some lattes, we even spent some time roasting beans and going on a tour at La Terza! Coffee Emporium is a loud, busy spot but has a huge variety of drinks available and is a great place to grab an afternoon cup of java. 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab was our after-dinner spot for a late night latte. It’s a fantastic date night spot, and just take a look at that gorgeous latte pictured below!
We ended our weekend with a roastery tour and 101 – this was the best part of our trip! Volunteer & tour guide, Aaron, lead the class and is super knowledgeable about his craft. I went away from this tour learning more about the process of using and roasting beans than I’ve ever known. It was fun! We had the opportunity to be the first class to use their shiny, new, roasting machine and Aaron made us feel as involved in the process of roasting beans as he was. We each got an opportunity to have a hands-on experience n the roasting process and to try coffee from the beans we roasted. Before roasting, Aaron sat down with us and gave us a lesson of where beans come from and we tried several types, including coffees made from “washed” and “natural” beans. It’s easy to find a cupping class, but hard to find a roasting class which is what makes La Terza unique! For more info and pictures, check out the rest of my Yelp review here.
We made a stop at Jungle Jim’s International Market because if you are in the area you’d just gotta stop in! It’s a huge international supermarket. At one point I thought we made it all the way through after an hour only to discover we didn’t even get through 1/2 of it! It’s like the IKEA of grocery stores!
We also visited Eden Park since it was right beside our Airbnb. We did more of a drive-through but there is a great overlook of the Ohio River with lots of great running and walking trails. The Krohn Conservatory is also located here and if we would have had more time it would have been on our itinerary. Next time!
The Mushroom House is a cute little drive-by if you are in the Hyde Park area. It’s the most unique and colorful home, it looks like a mushroom and someone actually resides here! This means you can’t go in but you can drive by or stop for a look of the outside. This fairy-tale looking home is a Cincinnati landmark.
The World Peace Bell also made its mark on our second day itinerary. Just over to the Kentucky side in Newport, the world’s oldest swinging bell can be found. Attached to the museum is the swinging bell, it is a free attraction. The museum was closed when we visited but our main sight was set on the bell, it was a great photo opportunity! The bell rings every day at noon and you can take a guided tour for $1 during the weekdays.