Locals know the Queen City is home to many gems, but now, others across the country are getting a peek at what makes Cincinnati a powerhouse.
"10 Best," USA Today's travel information hub that frequently relies on reader input, has included six Cincinnati spots among its nominees for the best riverwalk, public square, recreational trail, pop culture museum, children’s museum and history museum. Readers can vote in each category once per day until various dates in February.
Best Riverwalk Nominee: Smale Riverfront Park
Smale Riverfront Park connects downtown from Paul Brown Stadium to Great American Ball Park with 45 acres of greenway. Operated by the Cincinnati Park Board, the park opened in 2012 and features public art, interactive fountains, playgrounds and a giant swing set that gives a hell of a view of the Ohio River. It’s competing against 19 other riverwalks, including Waterfront Park in Louisville, the San Antonio Riverwalk in San Antonio, River Street in Savannah and the Charles River Esplanade in Boston, to be one of the 10 best in the country.
"Cities across the United States have transformed their riverfront areas into multi-use spaces for recreational purposes, cultural activities, dining and nightlife," USA Today says on its voting site. "At Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati, visitors can watch the river traffic float by, cycle along the Ohio River Trail, buy fresh produce at the Castellini Esplanade farmers market, cool off in the Fath Fountain or stop to smell the flowers in the Gardner Family Grove and Rose Garden.”
Smale took home second place in 10 Best’s 2022 Best Riverwalk polls.
Vote for Cincinnati’s Smale Riverfront Park here. Readers can vote once per day until noon Feb. 6. USA Today will announce the top 10 on Feb. 17.
Best Public Square Nominee: Fountain Square
Home to the iconic Tyler Davidson Fountain, Fountain Square in Downtown Cincinnati is a premier restaurant and entertainment hub, drawing in locals and tourists alike to gather in the heart of the city. From Salsa on the Square to Bengals and Reds watch parties, there are endless activities and events happening here throughout the year.
“Public squares provide vital space for community members to gather – whether to picnic with friends, throw frisbee or host farmers markets, fitness classes or festivals,” says USA Today. “Grab lunch at one of the outdoor tables [at Fountain Square], attend a live concert during the warmer months, or go ice skating in winter.”
Fountain Square’s competition includes Washington Square Park in New York City, Jackson Square in New Orleans and Mallory Square in Key West.
Vote for Fountain Square here. Readers can vote once per day until noon Feb. 6. USA Today will announce the top 10 on Feb. 17.
Best Recreational Trail Nominee: Little Miami Scenic Trail
Perfect for walking, running and biking, the Little Miami Scenic Trail runs 78 miles through Hamilton, Clermont, Warren, Greene and Clark counties. The trail provides beautiful views as well as some stops at restaurants, breweries and more along the way.
“Explore five Ohio counties when traversing the 78-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail, the longest single trail in the Miami Valley trail system. You can hike or bike this paved and shaded trail, which offers access to two state parks: John Bryan and Caesar Creek,” USA Today says.
Vote for the Little Miami Scenic Trail here. Readers can vote once per day until noon Feb. 6. USA Today will announce the top 10 on Feb. 17.
Best Pop Culture Museum Nominees: The American Sign Museum & The Vent Haven Museum
“America has long been a hotbed of pop culture and these museums celebrate the very best of it from movies and sports to beloved condiments and urban legends,” USA Today says.
Among the nominees is Cincinnati’s very own American Sign Museum. It's the largest public, dedicated sign museum in the country and houses over 100 years of an often-overlooked part of our history.
“Signs. They’re all around us. They’re emblematic of American free enterprise, tourism and advertising. … Kids are wide-eyed in fascination with colors and shapes all around them, and adults will reminisce about signs from their own childhoods. Whether it’s a lawyer’s bronze door sign, advertising brochures, antique sign painter’s kits, or a 1944 Dodge crane truck for installing signs, they’ve got it,” USA Today says of the museum.
Another local pop culture museum in the poll in the Vent Haven Museum in Ft. Mitchell, which is home to over 1,000 ventriloquist dummies. “The massive collection also includes ventriloquism-related artifacts and memorabilia, such as photos, scripts, playbills and recordings,” according to USA Today.
Cincinnati's two museums are competing with 18 other pop culture museums for a spot in the top 10, including A Christmas Story House & Museum in Cleveland and the Comic-Con Museum in San Diego.
Best Children’s Museum Nominee: The Children’s Museum at Cincinnati Museum Center
“It can be a challenge to keep kids entertained while traveling, especially on days when the weather doesn't cooperate. Luckily these museums, chosen as the best for families in North America, offer interactive and engaging experiences for kids and adults alike,” says USA Today.
At Cincinnati Museum Center’s Children’s Museum, kids can dive into arts, culture and science. The museum has over 1,800 hours of programming each year and offers hands-on fun for kids of all ages with its eight themed play areas, including two designed for younger children.
“We encourage kids to climb, crawl, explore and learn about themselves and the world around them. Go on a wilderness adventure through The Woods, be a part of a complex machine in the Energy Zone and explore the neighborhood in Kids’ Town,” the museum says on its website.
Vote for the Children’s Museum here. Readers can vote once per day until noon Feb. 13. USA Today will announce the top 10 on Feb. 24.
Best History Museum: The Cincinnati History Museum at Cincinnati Museum Center
“Whether you’re interested in American history, or millennia of human history, you can learn a lot about the past with a visit to one of these incredible history museums. Some have broad, encyclopedic collections, while others are specific to a certain historical moment,” USA Today says of this category.
At Cincinnati Museum Center’s history museum, visitors can step back in time to become immersed in Cincinnati’s history, from the earliest settlers to traditions only found here, like our chili. The museum has everything from costumed interpreters to a recreation of the bustling Public Landing as it was in the 1850s and a replica of the Queen of the West, a side-wheel steamboat.
Vote for the Cincinnati History Museum here. Readers can vote once per day until noon Feb. 13. USA Today will announce the top 10 on Feb. 24.
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