Five Hidden Gems in Cincinnati

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Our city is full of hidden surprises. Mom reporter, Shelbie Todd, shares her family's favorite spots right here!

Cincinnati is a special hidden gem in its own isn’t it? A special town full of amazing places to see, do, eat, play and more! We absolutely love to be tourists in our own city and explore the “must sees” – but the real good stuff? That lies within all of the unique hidden gems the city has to offer. There’s something for everyone!

Here’s five hidden gems our family absolutely loves! 

For the Nostalgic

16 Bit Shorty Sunday; 1331 Walnut St., Cincinnati
513-381-1616; 16-bitbar.com/cincy

Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Pac-Man, Super Nintendo, Game Cube, Playstation … you’ll be a big kid, too! 16 Bit is the coolest retro bar + arcade located in OTR. Did you know? The kids get to come in and have a BLAST (Sunday only) from 12- 5 p.m.! All the games are free to play, except the pinball machines – so bring your quarters for those! This is such a fun Sunday hang. There’s endless games, drinks and laughs. The bartenders are so great and love making fun non-alcoholic drinks for the little ones. The kids always love ending the weekend at 16Bit!

For the Creator

The Candle Lab
OTR: 1325 Vine St., Cincinnati; 614-915-0777 x 4
Anderson: ; x 6
thecandlelab.com

The Candle Lab is a must visit in Cincinnati. They have two locations: OTR and Anderson. We went as a family to celebrate our oldest’s birthday this year, and the kids had a blast! From picking the scent, to picking a name – they thought it was so much fun to create their own candle. The Candle Lab might not be your first thought as a place to bring the kids – it is however such a great place for them to explore and spark their creativity! My boys are 6 and 8, I used my judgement to know that they would be okay in the store with fragile glass jars. They did great! This would be a great idea for a one-on-one parent/child date location!

For the Sightseer 

Carew Tower Observation Deck; 41 W 5th St., Cincinnati
513-579-9735
; cincinnatiusa.com/things-to-do/attractions/carew-tower-observation-deck

Did you know the Carew Tower is the second tallest building in Cincy? The observation deck offers a fantastic 360-degree view of the city from the heart of downtown Cincinnati. Ride the elevators all the way up to the 49th floor and come out to the stunning, spacious observation deck. We love to visit frequently and just soak in the view of the city we love so much! This is our favorite place to take people who visit from out of town, too. There is a $6 fee and small gift shop located once you get to the top. Also, don’t forget your quarters for the binoculars!

For the Foodie

Piper’s Cafe; 520 W 6th St., Covington
859-291-7287
; piperscafe.biz

This is our favorite hidden foodie gem located in Covington, Ky. They have an incredible food menu + delicious ice cream! With special menu items like: lactose free ice cream, The Covington Dog, The Savory Vegan Wrap, Piper’s Goetta Guiness Chilli – there’s something for everyone’s sweet tooth! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert … they’ve got you covered and everything down to their ketchup is homemade! There’s a quaint little spot to eat inside and outdoor walk up window. The streets of Mainstrasse tie into the adorable look of this cafe and will have you falling in love. 

For the Lover of Americana

American Sign Museum; 1330 Monmouth Ave., Cincinnati
513-541-6366; americansignmuseum.org

A must visit! The American Sign Museum is a true hidden gem tucked away off of Spring Grove Avenue. The kids will have a blast here checking out the collection of neon signs. You have the option to explore the museum on your own, or you can take a guided tour to learn the history behind the signs and find out how they are made. It is a small museum so when planning a visit, you don’t have to block out an entire day. It’s something fun to keep in your back pocket for a quick idea to do when your kids say they are bored on a rainy day!

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