What comes to mind when someone mentions Cincinnati? The Southwestern Ohio city is renowned for its rich German heritage, professional sports teams, delicious regional foods, unique museums, and small-town atmosphere with big-city amenities. Although these are excellent city offerings, living in Cincinnati yields a few other rewards many have overlooked.
A city’s popular attractions get the spotlight. That’s the American way.
Greater Cincinnati offers many activities: seeing a ballgame, exploring unique neighborhoods, sampling regional cuisine, or riding the roller coasters at Kings Island.
The city has a vibrant art culture, an active brewery scene, and Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market, Findlay Market. It’s also home to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, one of America’s oldest zoos and a local treasure.
People know about all these attractions, but what have they overlooked?
The Queen City is a Green City
Cincinnati is finally receiving recognition for something its residents have known all along: the Queen City is one of America’s greenest cities. At its core, Cincinnati is a river city. The Ohio River provides natural beauty and recreational opportunities for everyone to enjoy. Accordingly, the city has developed a comprehensive park system to facilitate that enjoyment.
Trust for Public Land ranks cities based on their park systems, considering access, investment, acreage, amenities, and equity factors. In their 2023 ParkScore analysis, Cincinnati finished sixth in the country. With 365 parks, 88% of Cincinnati residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park.
A 2022 Stacker article ranks Cincinnati first in Ohio and third in the country for greenest cities. The article credits the town for its parks system, many recreational opportunities, and more than 115,000 acres of protected green space. Stacker also recognizes Cincinnati as a national leader in sustainability, citing The Green Cincinnati Plan, a coordinated strategy to move the city toward 100% renewable energy.
According to a 2023 WalletHub study, Cincinnati ranks as America’s fourth-best recreation city. The study focuses on places to live that are good for your health and your wallet. Cincinnati has many indoor and outdoor recreation choices, giving residents opportunities to stay fit. The WalletHub study considered cost of living, quality of parks, weather, and accessibility of recreational facilities.
The Ohio River Way
Cincinnati’s future is about to get even brighter. The Queen City is part of an initiative called the Ohio River Way. Over 100 communities and organizations along a 274-mile stretch of the Ohio River have joined to create a recreational trail. The National Park Service has provided expertise to help the member communities develop the recreational waterway.
This corridor follows the Ohio River from Portsmouth, Ohio, along the southern Indiana border to West Point, Kentucky. Cincinnati and Louisville are the two most prominent cities along the recreational trail. The goal is to share the Ohio River way of life with everyone.
The Ohio River Way will connect communities along the corridor, offering much more than a recreational trail. It will offer a museum trail, an Underground Railroad trail, a Native American history and culture trail, and a brewery, winery, and distillery trail.
Those seeking recreation can enjoy paddling, boating, and fishing along the Ohio River. Cyclists and hikers can explore on land. Brewster Rhoads, chairperson of the Ohio River Way, says, “You have a life, right? Well, you can live it here doing what you love while you have a great job and a house you can afford.”
He’s unable to contain his enthusiasm for this program and the way of life in Cincinnati. He wants to share that passion with everyone. Rhoads says, “You can have an amazing, unique outdoor recreation experience right here in your own backyard. You don’t have to go to the Alps or Colorado to have an adventure.”
Many Ways to Explore
Not only is the Ohio River beautiful, it’s rich in history. In the early 1800s, the area was the epicenter of westward expansion. It comprised part of the Underground Railroad and is a central feature of Native American history.
Rhoads says, “We want people to get out of their houses and get into a boat, car, or bike and explore.” He boasts that Cincinnati, outside of whitewater rafting, is the recreational paddling capital of the United States. The region harbors five significant waterways that flow year-round along with the Ohio: Licking, Great Miami, Little Miami, Whitewater Rivers, and Mill Creek. Ohio River Paddlefest, America’s largest paddling celebration, draws 2,000 participants annually.
Statistics from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources illustrate paddling’s growing popularity. Statewide registration for all boat types increased by 55% from 2007 to 2022. During that same period, canoe and kayak registrations increased by 440%.
By car, people can discover covered bridges, learn about the region’s Native American history, or explore breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Those with a sweet tooth can savor pastries along the Butler County Donut Trail.
Due to its park systems, Cincinnati offers many hiking and biking trails for people to explore on foot or two wheels. Miami Valley has the nation’s largest paved trail network, with over 350 miles of multi-use recreational trails. Beloved by cyclists, the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail, the longest single course within the Miami Valley Trails, stretches 78 miles to Springfield, Ohio.
Enjoy the River Way of Life
The Ohio River Way offers adventure on land and water, highlighting the region’s natural beauty and history. With its extensive park system and sustainability efforts, Cincinnati provides a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. The Queen City welcomes all with open arms to explore, recreate, and enjoy the river way of life.
This article originally appeared on Media Decision.
Featured image credit: Matt Koffel
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About the author
We are Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey. After nearly 30 years, we took a leap of faith out of the corporate world to enjoy a life of travel and adventure. We hope to inspire you to find ways to travel more and enjoy life now.