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The Queen City, aka “the Nati,” is Ohio’s third largest behind Columbus and Cleveland, and sits at a crossroads of culture. Cincinnati’s character is hard to define: a mix of Midwestern, Southern, and Appalachian, with a little bit of the Northeast thrown in for good measure. Sitting on the state’s southern border, much of the metropolis extends across the Ohio River into the state of Kentucky, including the suburbs of Covington, Florence, and Independence.
Cincinnati is a great place to rent an RV, with the possibility for adventure and cultural experiences in just about any direction. Traffic in Cincinnati isn’t too bad compared to larger cities on the East Coast and Great Lakes, so it won’t be hard to get around.
If you do decide to park your RV rental in Cincinnati during the day, know that Cincinnati’s public transportation system isn’t as developed as other metropolises. The Cincinnati Bell Connector is the only light-rail system in the area, and consists of just 18 stations along a 3.6-mile loop between the Great American Ball Park and the downtown area. The buses of the Southwestern Ohio Regional Transport Authority (SORTA) and the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK), depending on which side of the state line you’re on, make up the majority of Cincinnati’s public transportation. They provide service every fifteen minutes or so and can be a convenient way to get around if you know the routes.
When renting an RV in Cincinnati, you absolutely must make time for a trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park - one of only a handful of national parks east of the Mississippi. The park is a 3.5-hour drive north of Cincinnati, but it boasts a world-class bike path along the towpath of the former Ohio and Erie Canal. At just 51 square miles, Cuyahoga Valley is one of the smaller national parks, so it wouldn’t be too hard to explore most of it in a few days.
For something a little closer, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park is just over an hour and a half east of Cincinnati. Sitting on the banks of the Scioto River, the park preserves several of the mysterious mounds built by the Hopewell people almost 2,000 years ago. There’s not a lot of information about this ancient culture, but it’s certainly fun to explore the mounds and imagine how they were used.
Renting an RV in Cincinnati can present some challenges, as there are relatively few dedicated RV parks in town. However, numerous state parks and public grounds in the surrounding area will be able to accommodate your rig. Winton Woods Campground lies about 17 miles north of the city and has miles of trails to exercise on or take your pet for a walk. It’s right on the 23X bus line, which will get you downtown in about an hour. Twelve miles to the east of the city is the FMCA campground. It’s a little out of the way, but is just steps from a fitness center and a few miles from the closest Walmart.
For an experience even farther away from the bustling city, consider staying at Steamboat Bend Campground, situated on the northern bank of the Ohio River about 16 miles southeast of the city. You’ll be sure to get some peace and quiet, and the Coney Island Amusement Park, halfway between the campground and the city, is the perfect place to take restless kids.
Most of the attractions in Queen City are located on just a few downtown streets running perpendicular to the Ohio River. It’s a fairly walkable neighborhood, so feel free to leave the RV back at the campground.
If you’re interested in American history and the Civil Rights movement, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is sure to be an enlightening experience. During the Antebellum Period, the Ohio River marked the border between northern free states and southern slave states, and thousands of African-Americans crossed it near Cincinnati, releasing themselves from bondage. A tour of the museum is a look at one of the darker chapters in America’s past, but it’s a necessary one if we ever want to purge those demons.
For a lighter experience, book an RV in Cincinnati during the right season and check out one of the city’s professional sports teams. The city has both an MLB and an NFL team, the Reds and the Bengals, respectively. The Reds were the very first professional baseball team formed, and their home at The Great American Ball Park has recently undergone $5 million in improvements, making it one of the country’s more enjoyable venues to catch a game. The Bengals are one of only twelve teams to have never won a Super Bowl, so every game they play is a chance to see history in the making.
If you’re a fan of craft beer, you’ll definitely need to park the rental camper in Cincinnati to make stops at MadTree Brewing, Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, and Listermann Brewing. The Midwest may be more famous for the bland, mass-market brews coming out of St. Louis and Milwaukee, but these taprooms are filled with flavor, and geeky hopheads will love the chance to chat with the brewmasters themselves. Additionally, you can jump on a tour bus and enjoy guided tastings at a number of breweries around the city.
If you’re bringing the kids along, the Cincinnati Zoo is ranked as one of the best in the country and is conveniently located in the Avondale neighborhood in the middle of the city. It’s home to over 500 species of animals, including Sumatran rhinos, western lowland gorillas, and Masai giraffes.
Whether you stay in the city or venture farther out, there is plenty to see in this one-of-a-kind city. Start your search for an RV in Cincinnati and pack for a little of everything.