“Baby if you ever wondered…” 10 Things you can do in Cincinnati for free (or almost free)

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I loved “WKRP in Cincinnati.”  As a young kid, I had this fantasy of visiting Cincinnati and meeting Venus Flytrap, Mr. Carlsen, Johnny Fever, or even better Bailey and Jennifer.  Even when I finally got to visit the “Queen City”  as a middle-aged adult, part of me was still disappointed not to see them.  That is the power of fantasy.

The reality though is you can still have a wonderful time in Cincinnati and visiting the “Queen City” shouldn’t cost you a King’s ransom. There is so much to do and a lot of things you can do for almost free.  Here are my top choices.

The Cincinnati Skyline as seen from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River.

Start off on the Belle Connector

Cincinnati’s belle Connector light rail connects you with many of the downtown sights for just 2.00 for an all-day pass.  Several of the locations listed here are all accessible by the connector including the music hall, fountain square, Smale Park, Finlay market, the Carew Tower and the riverfront bridges. Only a few sights on the list are out of range. The connector will save you a lot of extra parking fees and time in traffic and is clean and very reliable.

1) Get your bearing at Fountain Square

The Fountain is one of the city’s most famous landmarks

In many ways the heart of Cincinnati, fountain square is a popular meeting area for visitors and locals alike. The fountain featured in the opening credits to “WKRP” is called the Tyler Davidson memorial fountain and was a gift from wealthy local businessman Henry Probasco to the people of Cincinnati in memory of his brother in law and business partner.

2) Check out the view from the Carew Tower

One great vantage point

The second tallest building in the city and located next to fountain square, the Carew Tower has an observation deck located on its 49th floor. The admission is 4$, and the view enables you to see most of the city as well as the Ohio River and suburban Kentucky.

          3) Check out some classic turn of the century architecturecn6

Downtown Cincinnati has some marvelous architecture such as the city hall (above) and the music hall (seen below). There are also restaurants that feature food from all over the world and Lytle Park a lovely patch of flowers and greenery which affords a respite from the fast-paced atmosphere of the city center.



4) Spend the afternoon at Smale Parkcn9

Located so close to downtown Smale Park even serves as a lunchtime getaway for many nine to fivers the park has a labyrinth and a walk on keyboard similar to the one in “Big.”

5) Cross the mighty Ohio in two classic pedestrian river bridges

Two of Cincinnati’s most iconic bridges are located almost next to each other. The Purple people bridge is a pedestrian bridge that actually marks the state line between Ohio and Kentucky. The Roebling bridge was designed by the same person who created the Brooklyn Bridge and was at the time of its completion, the world’s longest.  The bridge has a pedestrian and automotive lane.
Cincinnati’s “Brooklyn Bridge

6) Have a beer and people watch at Findlay Market

While open all year long, the Findlay Market comes alive in the summer.

Heading back north from the river we are at Findlay Market. Findlay Market is a great place to shop for fresh meats and produce and also to relax with a drink. The Market is partially covered, so you are able to buy all year although the farmer’s market is seasonal.  In May through October, the market has a large Biergarten.

7) Admire the butterflies at the Krohn Conservatory

The  lush tropical plants of the Conservatory provides relief from the cold winters

Krohn Conservatory contains over 3,500 species of plants from throughout the world. Built-in 1933 in art deco style the glass conservatory holds plants and an assortment of butterflies. On permanent display are an interior rainforest and a nice collection of bonsai trees. Admission is 4$ for adults and 2$ for children.

8) Get some culture at the Cincinnati Art Museum

One of the midwest finest art collections awaits

Pinocchio welcomes visitors to the Cincinnati art museum. The CAM has a great selection of art from all significant periods and features one of the most extensive holdings of antique musical instruments. Last spring and summer the museum hosed a collection of the terracotta warriors from Xian China. The museum is free and well worth the visit.

9) Shop for literally anything at Jungle Jim’s the world’s most bizarre and wondrous emporium,cn16

If a Theme park and supermarket had a baby, it would be Jungle Jim’s. This place is just too much fun not to get its own post. So stay tuned for an upcoming post where we will explore this eclectic and funky superstore.

10) Go back in time at the Loveland castle

Looking like something from medieval Europe and not southwestern Ohio, the Loveland castle was built by hand over decades. Like Jungle Jim’s, this place deserves its own post so we will feature more about this place in an upcoming edition of GG.  

While not in the free or nearly category I should mention Cincinnati has the Underground Railroad Museum which honors the brave men and women who escaped the south during the days of slavery and also those who risked their lives to help them.  You can also find the famous Sign Museum which houses period neon signs and is a lot of fun. Both are about 15$ for adults but worth visiting.

Well, that’s the list. What do you think? your feedback is always encouraged and welcome.







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