This article covers Clifton and the surrounding neighborhoods on the plateau just north of Downtown and Over-the Rhine, as well as the adjacent neighborhoods of Northside and Camp Washington.
Clifton is near the city center, and is home to an especially wide range of people, boasting a population diverse in ethnicity, race, sexuality, gender, age, country of origin, and economic status. A number of students at the local university inhabit the stately apartment buildings, and many of the beautiful older homes that line the gas-lit streets, though a number of families and other residents are also proud to call Clifton home. Especially notable is the stretch of Ludlow between Clifton Ave and Whitfield, as it is home to restaurants specializing in American fare (perhaps the best Skyline Chili in all of Cincinnati, as well as local diner the Proud Rooster) and ethnic delights (Ambar and Amol India, Thai Cafe, Mediterranean Foods), as well as a number of independent shops and boutiques.
Northside is an economically and racially diverse neighborhood notable for a strong sense of community investment and pride. The neighborhood is home to many unique shops including Shake It Records (an independently owned record store), and two vintage clothing stores, NVision and Casablanca Vintage. Restaurants include culinary delights Take the Cake, Honey, and Melt. The nightlife in Northside is lively with a variety of clubs including Bronz, Mayday, Serpent, The Comet, and the Northside Tavern. The neighborhood is also home to a sizable LGBT population and hosts many of the city's gay pride events. This neighborhood is full of hipsters.
Avondale is a primarily residential urban neighborhood near the center of the city, notable for the presence of the Cincinnati Zoo. Large parts of Avondale feature historic former mansions with beautiful architecture, but today the neighborhood has an unsavory reputation and is prone to gang related violence, drugs, and armed robbery.
- 1 The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE), 3101 Clifton Ave (Hebrew Union College Campus, University Heights, about a block from the University of Cincinnati), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 9AM-5:30PM. CHHE has a heart-wrenching and inspiring exhibit called Mapping Our Tears, which follows the stories of Cincinnatians involved in the resistance to Nazis and Holocaust survivors now living in Cincinnati. One part of the exhibit tells the tale of a local man, who after interrogating suspects to be tried at the Nuremberg Trials became U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. Free.
- 2 Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, 3400 Vine St (Avondale), toll-free: , email@example.com. From the day after Labor Day until the Friday before Memorial Day, the zoo is typically open daily from 10AM until 5PM. From Memorial Day weekend (including the last Monday in May) through Labor Day (first Monday in September), the zoo is typically open from 10AM until 6PM. Zoo members and holders of "Zoo Adventure Tickets" for separately priced zoo attractions can enter an hour early from March–October. Hours may be extended on some days for special events like Festival of Lights or HallZOOween. The zoo is closed Christmas Day.. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of the most important zoos worldwide because of its success with the mating of animals in captivity. Right now, the zoo's biggest star is Fiona, a young hippo born prematurely in January 2017 who became a social media star when the zoo began posting updates on her condition. Her first birthday party in January 2018 drew about 7,000 fans. The zoo received worldwide media attention in 2016 when gorilla Harambe was killed by zookeepers, an incident resulting in outrage around the world. The zoo is well worth a visit. Adults (13+ years) $17 online, $19 at gate; children (2–12) & seniors (62+) $12 online, $13 at gate. All tickets are half-price from early January (after New Year's Day) to early March. See website for military/first responders and AAA discounts. Parking: $10.
- 3 William Howard Taft National Historic Site, 2038 Auburn Ave, ☏ , fax: , Interpretation@nps.gov. The park is generally open from 8AM to 4PM daily. The William Howard Taft National Historic Site, which is administered by the National Park Service, was the birthplace and home of William Howard Taft. William Howard Taft served as the 27th President and became the 10th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. The Taft family has become one of the most politically distinguished families in Ohio, let alone the US. Free.
- 4 American Sign Museum, 1330 Monmouth St (Camp Washington off the Hopple Street Exit on I-75), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. W–Sa 10AM–4PM; Su noon–4PM. Check out the only museum dedicated to the sign industry and features a very large collection of signs from all around the United States. Covering nearly 100 years of sign making and advertising, the museum boasts an impressive collection of painted, light bulb, plastic, and of course neon signs. Guided tours are available at 11AM and 2PM during museum hours. The museum also houses Neon Works, the last full-time neon workshop in Cincinnati and is able to demonstrate their craft during weekday tours. $10-15.
- 1 Bogart's Concert Hall, 2621 Vine St (Corryville), ☏ . Small venue that attracts some well-known acts. Crowds can get rough with mosh pits growing annoyingly large.
- 2 Esquire Theatre, 320 Ludlow Ave (Clifton), ☏ , email@example.com. The Esquire Theatre is a movie theater that generally runs indie/foreign films along with some other mainstream films. It also hosts twice-monthly showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show. It is on Ludlow Ave, which is close to great coffee shops, restaurants, and specialty stores. $5.50-8.50.
- PNC Festival of Lights, Dury Ave (Cincinnati Zoo). The Cincinnati Zoo hosts the annual Festival of Lights to celebrate the holiday season with 2.5 million Christmas lights and over 100 light displays. Other activities include live music, ice sculpture shows, taking a train around the zoo, and meeting Santa. You'll want to arrive a few hours before the light display starts because there will be little or no parking left by 4PM (of course you could take an alternative mode of transportation as well). See the listing under the See section for more details about the zoo.
- Cincinnati Bearcats, 2700 Varsity Way. The University of Cincinnati has a strong tradition in basketball and an emerging tradition in football. The two-time national champion men's basketball team, as well as the women's basketball team, play their home games at Fifth Third Arena in a structure known as the Shoemaker Center. The football team plays almost all of its home games at Nippert Stadium, nicknamed the "Wrigley Field" of college football, and is the fifth oldest stadium in college football. Occasional "big games" in football are played at Paul Brown Stadium. Football tickets are $25-35.
- 1 University of Cincinnati, 2600 Clifton Ave, ☏ . UC is a public university in the Uptown neighborhoods of Avondale, Corryville, Clifton Heights, and University Heights. Ranked as one of America’s Top 25 public research universities and in the Top 50 of all American universities, UC has an annual enrollment of approximately 40,000 students, making it one of the largest universities in the U.S. Though many incorrectly refer to the main campus of the university as its "Clifton Campus", the university is not in the Clifton neighborhood. In 2010, Forbes Magazine listed the University of Cincinnati as one of the world's most beautiful college campuses alongside prestigious company like Oxford University and Yale University.
- 2 Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 3101 Clifton Ave. HUC-JIR is the oldest "new world" Jewish seminary, founded in 1875 by Cincinnati Rabbi Isaac M. Wise. Since Rabbi Wise was one of the key rabbis in the development of Reform Judaism, the school follows in his footsteps preparing its students for services in the Reform community.
- 3 Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, 3520 Central Parkway, ☏ . Cincinnati State is the technical and community college of choice in the region and nationally recognized for academic excellence and workforce development.
- 1 Shake It Records, 4156 Hamilton Ave #1 (Northside), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. Independent record label and record store. They have just about every CD you can imagine. They also carry used CDs and vinyl, DVDs, books, graphic novels, magazines, and Japanese toys. Basically its a one stop shop for anything alternative/DIY/indie culture that's hard to come by elsewhere in Cincinnati.
- 1 Krishna Indian Carryout, 313 Calhoun St (Clifton), ☏ . At the top of Clifton across from the University of Cincinnati campus, Krishna is tiny by nearly all standards with only four tables along the wall. Opposite, the staff cooks excellent North Indian cuisine (common in Cincinnati) atop a four-burner stove. Heaping portions with delicious naan.
- 2 Skyline Chili, 290 Ludlow Ave (Ludlow and Clifton, Parking in rear off Hosea), ☏ . M-Th 10AM - 3AM; F Sa 10AM - 4AM; Su 11AM - midnight. The most famous chili chain, with numerous locations throughout the Cincinnati area and franchise locations in Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, and other smaller Midwest and Florida cities. Their chili is sold in supermarkets throughout the Midwestern United States in frozen packages or cans so that Cincinnati natives can enjoy it wherever they may be. For more locations, see Skyline's store locator. The location recommended is one of the most interesting, a good people watching spot at all hours of the day and night in the diverse neighborhood of the Clifton Gaslight district. Don't forget to swap out your parking puck!
- 3 Gold Star Chili, 2713 Vine St, ☏ . One of Cincinnati's major chili chains. While most Cincinnatians are loyal to Skyline, there are many who claim Gold Star is Cincinnati's best. For more locations, see Gold Star's store locator.
- 4 Mecklenburg Gardens, 302 E University Ave (Corryville near the University), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-9PM; F 11AM-10PM; Sa 5PM-10PM. Established in 1865, this is the only original of the once plentiful German biergartens that were all over the city prior to Prohibition. Lovingly restored, this beergarden features a Large selection of German beers, and food. The garden is quite nice during the summer for a pleasant evening meal. $8-23.
- 5 Ambar Indian, 350 Ludlow Ave (Clifton), ☏ . For being a city not known for ethnic diversity, there are a surprising number of North Indian places in Cincinnati, Clifton has 3 of them in a row (and an Indian grocery) and this one is generally the one in Clifton that locals like the most.
- 6 Camp Washington Chili, 3005 Colerain Ave (Camp Washington off Hopple Street), ☏ . M-Sa 24 hours. Considered a contender for best chili in the city by many. It's also a (mostly) 24-hour diner, offering breakfast at all hours of the night. This is a good place to also try out Goetta, the lesser-known German-Cincinnatian food similar to scrapple (a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and wheat flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices) which you can't find anywhere outside of the region!
- 7 Melt, 4100 Hamilton Ave (Northside), ☏ . M-Sa 8AM - 9PM; Su 10AM - 9PM. Melt is a sandwich shop in Northside and a favorite among locals. True to the non-conformist culture of Northside, vegetarian/vegan options are available. $8-12.
- 1 Highland Coffee House, 2839 Highland Ave (Corryville near the University of Cincinnati), ☏ . 5PM-3AM-ish. Bohemian, hipstery, and friendly coffee house/bar near the university in an old building with high ceilings, a two level outdoor patio, and tons of character. Service is purposely laid back as there is usually only one bartista/bartender to serve the many people who frequent here.
- 2 Sitwells Coffee House, 324 Ludlow Ave, ☏ . Coffee house that's an anchor to the electric university-centric neighborhood of Clifton making it a good place for people watching. Like many cafe's in Cincinnati this one also offers alcoholic beverages too.
- 3 Collective Espresso Northside, 4037 Hamilton Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45229 (Northside, in Alleyway off Hamilton Ave), ☏ . M-F 7AM-6PM; Sa-Su 8AM-5PM. Cozy cafe tucked away in a back alley courtyard behind the main business district of the eclectic Northside neighborhood, this is one of the few places in Cincinnati that offers French Press style coffee which is a preferred style of making coffee among the most hardcore coffee snobs. The French Press is only available here and not at the other Collective Espresso locations. $$.
- 4 Tillie's Lounge, 4042 Hamilton Ave (Northside, near Blue Rock Street intersection), ☏ . Th 4PM–midnight; F Sa 4PM–2AM, Su 1PM–10PM. Named for Tillie the elephant, a feature of the local John Robertson Circus many years ago, this bar features plush 1920s decor. Set in the Northside entertainment district. Full bar, craft beers, wine. No food served.
- 5 The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave (Northside), ☏ . Bar daily 4PM-2:30AM, kitchen daily 4PM-1AM. Featuring a huge selection of beverages including over 200 beers, The Comet's famous San Francisco - style burritos, the hippest jukebox, 2 pool tables, work from local artists, and live music weekly and there is never a cover!
- 6 Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave (Northside), ☏ . Northside Tavern is a large bar/concert venue that is an anchor of one of Cincinnati's most eclectic neighborhoods. Great for people watching or catching a band no one has ever heard of.
- 7 Urban Artifact, 1660 Blue Rock Street (Northside). M–Th 4PM–midnight; F 4PM–1:30AM; Sa noon–1:30AM; Su noon–midnight. In the basement of a former Catholic church, this brewery and concert venue produces some excellent examples of sour style beer. Concerts can also be found frequently in the same space, eventual plans call for this to have concerts/events in the sanctuary and brewing in the basement. This space further reinforces that beer is Cincinnati's second religion.
- 1 Hampton Inn Cincinnati Uptown, 3024 Vine St (Corryville, Vine and Martin Luther King), ☏ . Hampton Inn which is next to the university and a number of hospitals. Good option if you don't want to go downtown. $130-200.
- 4 University Hospital, 234 Goodman St (Avondale), ☏ .
- 5 Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Ave (Avondale), ☏ .
- 6 Clifton Mosque, 3668 Clifton Ave (Clifton- just north of downtown), ☏ . Muslim services.