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Stuart Messham
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Cincinnati, the fabled “Queen City of the West”, straddles the divide between the Deep South and the Midwest and harbours a deep-seated affiliation with baseball, BBQ culture and American industrialism. It’s a curious and engaging mix, so let’s get stuck in…
Cincinnati is known as "the home of baseball" for good reason.

Visit the Great American Ball Park for some raucous US sports action

As it's known as "the home of baseball", it only feels right to start our tour of Cincy at the city’s famous baseball stadium, the Great American Ball Park.

Located on the winding banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, it was completely rebuilt in 2003 to replace the Cinergy Field as the home of the mighty Cincinnati Reds.

It incorporates “The Gap” – a 35ft-wide break in the stand between the home plate and third base that affords a peak into the action from downtown and out to the city skyline from inside the arena. There are also two smokestacks in right centre field that conjure visions of the steamboats that were common in the 19th and 20th century and now emit flames and fireworks in response to the efforts of the home team.

It’s rowdy, raucous, replete with myriad mosaics honouring the heroics of the past and represents a wonderful day for sports fans and non-sports fans alike.

Eli does barbecue food the American way. And it's beyond delicious.

Sample classic American barbecue at Eli's (and remember to get some napkins from the counter!)

Eli’s BBQ in Cincinnati’s East End is everything great about barbecue and a must visit for fans of exquisitely grilled meat served the American way.

It’s been a labour of love for its owner since 2011 when he and long-time compadre Drew cashed in their life-savings to open the bricks and mortar store after a successful summer flogging hickory smoked pork sandwiches on Fountain Square.

The restaurant has enjoyed a cult following ever since and a brief glance at their offerings makes it abundantly clear why.

(Be warned: it’s inadvisable to peruse the menu while on a diet with nothing of meaty note in the house. 🤤)

Riverboat tours: the best way to see the sights of Cincy.

Enjoy a rollicking riverboat cruise and learn about the history of "Cincy"

Rivers run through most of the great cities of the world and there’s absolutely no shame in being a nailed-on tourist here and boarding the nearest riverboat cruise to feel the crisp Cincinnati air and get introduced to the sights and smells of the city.

In the high times of the 1800s and 1900s the river was a bustling hub of commerce and trade thanks to the riverboats that connected “The Queen of the West” to the great cities and ports of the Deep South. And listening to historical witterings while on a boat cruise somehow just feels more enlivening than doing it on land.

A visit to Cincinnati really isn’t complete without a slow stroll along the famous Riverwalk either, which follows the length of the Ohio River. There’s picnic spots aplenty and you can even traverse the industrial steel bridges on foot over to Kentucky should that be your fancy.

A light lunch might be a good idea if considering a day out at King's Island.

Turn up the fun with an adrenalin-fuelled escapade to King's Island

Of course you should go shopping and eating at Findlay Market with its pretty tenement blocks, cobbled pavements and abundance of local craft stores.

You must also seek out the masterpieces of Rubens and Bouguereau, Memling and Modigliani at the Cincinnati Art Museum and see the city from atop the Art Deco masterwork that is the Carew Tower.

Oh, and you should deffo unravel the city’s absorbing history at the aptly named Cincinnati History Museum.

But there’s always time for roller coasters too, right?

You can turn up the adrenalin to 11 at King’s Island, Cincinnati’s most popular entertainment resort. It’s a short 30-minute drive from the centre and has monstrous rollercoasters and a waterpark thats appeal heightens consdierably the hotter months.

Come Halloween the park reaches peak fright when it opens for a masterfully haunting weekend. Bring it on!