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Whether you’re looking to visit a city that isn’t the basic pick or you’re passing through the Midwest and looking for a cool place to stop, Cincinnati is a great option. With a growing art and food scene and all kinds of bars and coffee shops to hit up, Cincinnati rivals any major city along the coast. Which is why it’s high time this completely under-the-radar place got some attention. Since it is an up and coming city, we wanted to ensure an easy, enjoyable experience. So we found some of the coolest places you have to visit should you ever find yourself in this Midwest gem.

Stay: 21c Museum and Hotel

This boutiquey hotel doubles as a contemporary art museum. Not only is there a carefully curated exhibition on the third floor, but the rooms also embody the modern-art feel. There are shower tiles shaped like body parts and oversized penguin statues that migrate around the elevators and the hallways. These details make the hotel feel especially unique. You can also enjoy a delicious dinner at the hotel restaurant Metropole or seasonal cocktails on the rooftop terrace.

Hang: 16Bit

Are you someone who likes a bar with fun activities besides sitting and drinking? Then this retro spot is for you. The space is complete with old-school arcade games such as Donkey Kong, Froger, and Mario Bros. All of this #TBT paired with a cocktail list over 20 items long, makes for a seriously good time waiting to happen.

Sip: Mecca

This uber-cool bar quietly opened last November. Owner Joe Creighton worked with local Cincinnati artists to completely cover the space in colorful murals, extravagant sculptures, and different art insulations. For instance, each bathroom was designed by a different artist, and each table is covered in varying Sharpie drawings. With the mismatched décor, they decided to keep the drink list short and sweet. If you’re there during the warm spring or summer months, you can even sit in the generous outside space. It’s a great place to sip a beer and see all the different kinds of art this city has to offer.

Play: Washington Park

This eight-acre park is in the middle of the historic but newly revitalized Over-The-Rhine neighborhood. The park features a music hall, a deck, and a fountain that’s really more like an interactive water park. During the summer you can find events like Bluegrass concerts or arts and crafts fairs. During the holidays, there’s even a Santa’s workshop on Saturdays.

Eat: The Eagle

This beer hall and fried chicken joint sits in an old post office. With over 100 beers available and southern sides like cornbread and coleslaw, this wide, open spot is a must visit. The juicy fried chicken is from Amish farm-sourced chickens, and the meat is brined overnight and then pressure-fried to maintain moisture. Because the beer selection is so large, bartenders and servers can help you choose for your meal and your taste.

Brunch: Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

If you’re staying downtown, this is a great spot to grab brunch. The fare and interior are both West Coast-inspired, which means you can enjoy your healthy (but still hearty) meal in a spacious, light-filled space. The restaurant is less than a year old, which signals it’s definitely one of the trendy, up-and-coming spots in the city.

Caffeinate: Collective Espresso

A great way to feel out a city is to visit their local coffee shops. This one will give you nothing but warm vibes. The personal experience will make you feel at home, and the clean, crisp décor is a close second to the smooth coffee. If you consider yourself a coffee snob, you have to check this place out.

Shop: FERN

Looking for a cool spot to get inspired? FERN is it. The space, which is housed in an old gas station, is a home goods store that sells a curated selection of plants and objects. They also do plant design for local shops, restaurants, offices, and homes, so in other words, they know their stuff. If you look them up on Instagram, your trendiest, plant-loving friends are probably already followers and fans.

See: American Sign Museum

Every city has its own city museums, and there are plenty of natural history museums to go around. Here, you get the combination of art, history, and a bit of edge. It’s a museum of signs. That’s right, just signs. You can see old signs, new signs, the making of signs. It may sound strange and quirky, but it’s definitely something you’ll remember.

Stroll: Findlay Market

This friendly, open air market is a favorite of visitors and locals alike. Next to the produce and meat farmers market stands, you can find a body and mind studio, a wine shop, and many other options depending on what’s rotating in that week. During the warmer months, they even have a beer garden that brings in a different brewery each week to spice things up. It’s not overly big, but you can spend a whole day here without even realizing.

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Published on May 5, 2017