City Guides

Porkopolis. Queen City.  America’s Bavaria. Home to the guy that your wife has a weird crush on (Joe Burrow).  Home of either the best chili you’ve ever had, or the dish that made you question God’s Plan.  Welcome to Cincinnati.

Cincinnati is a city at the crossroads of America: technically Midwest; across the river from the South, but in the Eastern Conference. Cincinnati is within a half-day’s drive of 60% of the American population.  A city that prides itself on its German immigrant heritage, there’s plenty of evidence of it still today: century-old breweries, lush beer gardens, and looooots of sausage.  Beer and sausage… a tough combo to beat.

(A quick author’s note:  I’m a lifelong Sounder’s fan; I grew up watching them since their stint in the A-League.  Now life has brought me to Cincinnati, and even though the city has it’s own club, I’m still reppin’ the Rave Green wherever I go.  My hope in writing this article is to highlight all of the unique, fun aspects of Cincinnati that you just don’t see in many other places.  I’m a Cincinnati defender; this city has a rich history and all of the aspects of an incredible MLS away day.  Hopefully you get to see it the same way I do!

(A quicker side note: I apologize ahead of time, I am less familiar with kid-friendly options around town.  In general, Cincinnati is very family-friendly, so you will have plenty of options!)


Traveling In and Around

Flights:  SeaTac has several airlines flying direct to Cincinnati, including Delta and, recently, Alaska Airlines.  

You might be surprised to see that CVG is located in Kentucky.  It’s enough to scare away the weak-hearted.  But the airport itself is extremely easy to navigate.  CVG used to be a Delta hub, but since they’ve left, the airport itself feels big and empty, making for a less hectic traveling experience to and from CVG.

Easiest way out of the airport and into town is rideshare (about $30-50 one way) or car rental. Cincinnati is a very car-centic city.  If you aren’t staying near Downtown/Over-the-Rhine, you will have to rely on cars/taxis for the most part.  Public transportation options are the bus (via the Transit app) and a limited streetcar that circulates around the gameday area.  Biking is available, but it isn’t the most bike friendly city.


Where To Stay

If you’re looking for a hotel, many are located around downtown, which will be on the nicer/pricier side.  Downtown accommodation gives your the easiest/most direct route for public transportation on gameday, and is certainly the most central place to be for a fun trip.  However, the downtown area itself isn’t quite as interesting as the surrounding areas (i.e. Over-the-Rhine, Covington, Newport, Pendleton, etc.)  And of course, AirBNB is a thing.

Rather than giving specific spots to stay, here are a few neighborhoods I’d recommend and why:

  • Over-the-Rhine: Colloquially known as “OTR”, it’s right in the heart of the fun; beautifully restored 1800’s architecture (mixed with plenty still in disrepair); lots of options for dining, drinking, nightlife, parks.  A short walk north is Findlay Market, a large indoor/outdoor market for groceries and entertainment.  Extremely walkable, but the old adage with city-living applies: don’t be dumb.  There are some seedy parts of the neighborhood, but if you don’t bother those around you, they won’t bother you.  Just be respectful of the residents.  FUN FACT: OTR is a popular location for filmmakers to shoot scenes that take place in Brooklyn due the similar architecture.
  • Covington: across the river from Cincinnati, Covington is on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. The Mainstrasse Village area of Covington has a ton of unique bars and restaurants for a great time out, and it’s connected to the riverfront of Cincinnati via the Roebling Suspension Bridge, the predecessor to the more-famous Brooklyn Bridge. If you’re here, I recommend you also take a trip over to nearby Newport to check out the award-winning New Riff Distillery for bourbon and rye, or swing by Party Source, a nationally-renowned liquor/party supply store, where you’ll find maybe the best selection of local liquors in the area.  
  • Walnut Hills: While not within walking distance of the game, Walnut Hills is home to some of my favorite bars and restaurants in Cincinnati: Tiki Tiki Bang Bang for excellent tiki drinks, Comfort Station is a stylish greenspace with great cocktails, and Esoteric Brewing is maybe the best new brewery in town.  Gomez, a local fast-casual Mexican-inspired restaurant, has a local favorite dish called the “Turtle,” which is essentially a plussed-up Crunchwrap supreme.  Chef’s kiss.  
  • Mount Adams: once one of the most desirable areas for nightlife in Cincinnati, Mount Adams has since cooled down.  It’s a hilly area of condos with some nicer restaurants and bars with views of the Ohio River.  It feels a little more isolated, and can be a great area to just wander, especially in nearby Eden Park.
  • Northside: when I first moved here, it was referred to me as “the gay neighborhood.”  I think they meant to say that this is where the progressive side of Cincinnati dwells.  Homes here are historical row homes, and the area has somehow escaped being completely gentrified.  The best dive bars are here (The Comet), the best pizza (Chameleon), our best record shop (Shake It Records), and a church-turned-brewery (Urban Artifiact) make it a fun, low-key spot, while also fairly close to TQL stadium.  The people who live here are really proud of their neighborhood, and it’s maybe my favorite in the city.  No hotels, so AirBNB might be your only option here.
  • Clifton: home to the University of Cincinnati; I maybe wouldn’t recommend making a point of staying here, but it is fairly close to TQL and has some spots worth checking out, including the oldest standing Skyline Chili parlor.  I would not recommend planning on walking from Clifton to/from the game, since it goes through a seedy part of town.  But if you want to navigate the bus system, staying near the intersection of Clifton Ave and Ludlow Ave gives you the laid-back college feel you might be looking for. 


A Word on Chili

I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about it.  Bluntly, if you don’t think you’ll like it, then you won’t.  Cincinnati chili is the antithesis of the foodie experience: spaghetti, a mountain of raw, shredded cheddar cheese, and the common side dish is coney dogs with essentially Oscar Meyer wieners.  Even the appetizer (a bowl of oyster crackers) and the dessert (Skyline’s obligatory York peppermint pattie) just feel like the laziest bachelor chow you’ve ever heard of.

But it’s absolutely worth trying if you want to be amongst Cincinnatians. If it’s thought of as what it really is (a Greek meat sauce), you might even consider it exotic cuisine!  And the taste is truly unique from anything I’ve ever had.  Personally, I love Cincinnati chili (though I pass on the coneys.)  And with over 250 chili parlors in Cincinnati, it seems to be doing something right.

For my recommendations for Cincinnati chili, check out the big name (Skyline Chili, preferably their Ludlow Ave location), Camp Washington Chili (a local landmark with great ownership), or Price Hill Chili (for the low-key, West Cincinnati experience.) 



Now, onto the good stuff.  Honestly, I’m sure you all can figure out what to eat while you’re here.  With that being said, I’ll highlight a few places that are worth going out of your way for: 

  • The Eagle: while technically a chain, this place does indulgent southern food, with their specialty being the fried chicken.  Almost directly in the heart of OTR, this will require a reservation.
  • Che: Argentinian empanadas and other meaty-cheesy good stuff in a cozy setting
  • Pho Lang Thang:  definitely one of the best Vietnamese spots in the city.  If the weather is cool (or even if it isn’t), I think this is some of the best pho I’ve ever had
  • Lucius Q:  The Midwest just loves their BBQ, and Lucius Q is near the top for Cincinnati options.  I ate too much BBQ when I moved here, so I’m very nearly sick of it, but I will always say yes to Lucius Q. (side note: Montgomery Inn is the “old guard” of BBQ in Cincinnati, and is not worth the price.)
  • Coffee Emporium: There’s plenty of great coffee spots in Cincinnati these days, but Coffee Emporium is the O.G.  Great coffee and pastries, and the location on Central Parkway has a great cozy seating area if you just need some time to chill.

For vegetarians and vegans: compared to Seattle, I think you’ll find that Cincinnati tends to lean into its meat options.  While I unfortunately don’t have a lot of insight on the best vegetarian/vegan options, there is one I know I’d recommend: Bridges Nepali Cuisine has some great vegan/vegetarian dishes, and there are several locations (OTR and Northside).  Sorry I’m not more help on this one!



Cincinnati’s gameday experience is great for those who want to have some drinks before the walk to the stadium.  The OTR neighborhood in general has plenty of options for everyone, but here are a few highlights:

  • Near TQL Stadium
    • The Pitch:  Pros: it’s a soccer-themed mega sportsbar with a billion TV’s and it’s right across from TQL Stadium.  Hard to screw that up, right?  If you’re looking to watch a soccer game, they should have it on.  Home to the local branch of Arsenal supporters. And on non-match days, they host a soccer league on their mini-pitch outside.  Cons: Very crowded on gameday, slightly higher prices. 
    • Rhinehaus:  If you’re looking for one of the birthplaces of soccer support in Cincinnati, Rhinehaus is it. Rhinehaus opens early for Premier League weekend games, and is my personal favorite spot as an impartial Premier League viewer (and if you’re a Liverpool fan, here’s where they meet up.)  A divey spot with great bartenders for a low-key drink.
    • Homemaker’s Bar: a “slightly retro-mostly modern cocktail bar,” this is one of my favorite hangouts where unique cocktails meet cheap tall boys.  If you’re here, check out their resin countertop made with broken pieces of china (my friend made it!)
    • Longfellow: with the rich history that Cincinnati has, Longfellow’s feels like it pays homage to it in a stylish way.  A large beer selection, some great appetizers, and some excellent cocktails in a beautiful brick building with hardwood floors.  If you’re there, throw my name up on the “Pay It Forward” board.
  • Near Findlay Market
    • La Ofrenda - La Ofrenda is one of several bars in Cincinnati owned by Gorilla Cinema, a group that creates cinema-themed bars in Cincinnati.  This spot is themed in the style of a Mexican cantina and specializes in agave/tequila and dives deep into its “day of the dead” aesthetic. Great for tequila, mezcal, ranch waters, and its fair share of Tajin.  
    • Uncle Leo’s - Modern meets midwest.  This is my favorite “pony up to the bar” spot if you’re looking to strike up a conversation over a High Life.  Excellent, personable bartenders, a short walk from Findlay Market.
    • Rhinegeist Brewery - Rhinegeist is maybe the biggest microbrewery out of Cincinnati, and the brewery itself is worth a visit.  A large warehouse with room for cornhole games and a killer rooftop bar, it’s a pilgrimage stop for midwest microbrew drinkers.
    • Somerset:  For Somerset, I’ll just say… check out their Instagram.  This might be exactly your jam (a curated greenhouse bar with artifacts from international travel, providing some of the most instagramable moments in the city) or, it might drive you nuts (influencers snapping selfies with their fancy cocktails). The gorgeous space makes it a hot ticket on most days.  Personally, I think it’s worth checking out once and moving on.


Pre-Match Fun!

If you’re looking for some sightseeing around the stadium before or after the game, here are a few options I’d recommend:

  • Findlay Market - a sort of meeting spot for Cincinnatians on a day out, the market serves plenty of meat, produce, and gifts for people out on grocery runs.  While the market itself is a little lacking on pre-made options, the bars/restaurants in the immediate area (as well as the beer porch) make the market a great area to hang out.
  • Washington Park: a beautiful park a block from the stadium, it’s highlighted by an incredible view of Music Hall, as well as plenty of FC Cincinnati-sponsored pre-game activities.  Chances are that you’ll walk by the park on the way to the stadium, so take some time to snap a few photos.
  • Pins Mechanical:  there are two things around here that don’t seem to have made it westward yet: “fowling” (football bowling) and duckpin bowling.  Pins is a combo duckpin bowling/arcade, with multiple levels and a great rooftop hangout.  Get a quick round of bowling in (warning, it’s harder than it looks)
  • Mural Viewing - Cincinnati is lucky to have a group called Artswave, America’s largest community arts campaign.  Artswave commissions murals on buildings, and they’re absolutely gorgeous.  Chances are you’ll see a few around, but there are maps available if you want to do a mural tour.



Gameday is centered around TQL Stadium (duh).  TQL opened in 2021, and is a soccer-specific stadium built directly in the heart of the up-and-coming (aka rapidly gentrifying) area of Cincinnati. Some of the best things to highlight about TQL:

  • Snap a video of the outer facade, which features LED-animations at night
  • TQL’s location is incredible with regards to gameday shenanigans.  It’s located directly adjacent to the OTR neighborhood, which is home to beautiful Italianate architecture, a variety of dining options, and every type of boozy watering hole you could want.

Local supporters groups will organize north of OTR, and march to the game as they pass by each supporters bar, heading south.  The groups, collectively known as the Incline Collective, each assemble at different bars/breweries, and while you can certainly go there, you might have more fun avoiding them if you don’t feel like being heckled.  You can see their bars/march route at their website:

Inside the stadium:

  • The stadium itself provides a great viewing experience, but the amenities are a little lacking.  Bathroom breaks can have longer lines than most stadiums I’ve been to, and the dining options within the stadium aren’t setting the world on fire.  I personally recommend getting meals before the game to avoid being disappointed by a cold pretzel or overpriced hot dogs.
  • For beer options, I believe the best option for microbrews is, unfortunately for you, underneath the FCC supporters’ stand.  It has a large selection of local microbrews in tall-boy cans for a decent price.


Non-Soccer Stuff!

If you’re extending your stay, here are a few other things in Cincinnati that are worth seeing/doing but might take some extra effort:

  • American Sign Museum: this museum has collected a sampling of historical signs, including an incredible collection of neon signs (think a small-scale version of Vegas’ Neon Boneyard).  Takes about an hour to check out in its entirety.
  • Brewing Heritage Tours: not your normal brewery tour.  This group offers tours to showcase Cincinnati’s brewing roots, way back from the 1800’s when German immigrants made it the brewing capital of America.  Now, many of those breweries have been demolished/condemned after Prohibition, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get to see the remains of lagering tunnels and other architecture that still remains.
  • Union Terminal/Cincinnati Museum Center: Cincinnati at one point was building a subway system, but lost funding after World War 1 and the Great Depression, resulting in the country’s largest abandoned subway tunnel system.  The tunnels aren’t open to the public, but the main terminal at Union Terminal still stands today, housing the Cincinnati Museum Center.  The building itself is an impressive art-deco landmark, and the museum is great for kids and adults.
  • Cincinnati Zoo - Cincinnati punches above its weight zoo-wise.  Home to Fiona (the miracle hippo baby) and formerly Harambe (RIP).  If you have kids, this is a no-brainer.


See You Soon!

It’s tough to fit all of the great things about Cincinnati into a short guide, but I think you’ll find that Cincinnati is an extremely charming city with lots of entertainment and less of the hassle.  Enjoy the trip, and go Sounders!