WHEN YOU HEAR ABOUT SOME OF THE GREAT US cities, you always hear about New York, San Francisco, Chicago, or maybe some of the smaller, quirkier places like Austin and Athens, Georgia. You never hear about Cincinnati. Which makes absolutely no sense: Cincinnati is one of the coolest cities in America. Especially lately. Here’s why.

Downtown Cincy has turned from kinda meh to amazing in a just a few years.

When I was a kid, Over-the Rhine was not a place you drove through. Granted, we were white kids who didn’t know anything about cities, but that doesn’t mean we were wrong: at one point, OTR was the most dangerous neighborhood in America. But it’s seriously turned around. OTR is awesome now. It’s got one of my favorite bars on the planet (MOTR), gourmet hot dog joints (Senate), and the always-awesome Findlay Market. And now there’s the Banks. The Banks wasn’t even a thing when I left the city back in 2011. We spent our weekends in Newport. Now, when I go home to visit family, I don’t have to cross a major body of water to have a drink. I mean, I still do, but I don’t have to.

Cincinnati is actually pretty beautiful.

When most people think of Midwestern cities, they think of cities sitting on plains. Cincinnati, though, sits nestled between hills and a gorgeous river. We love to quote Winston Churchill, who said it was “the most beautiful of the inland cities of the union.” And it’s not just the natural surroundings: downtown Cincinnati has some really incredible architecture.

Beer.

It was inevitable that a town with as much German heritage as Cincinnati would have incredible beer. Hell, there are even beer cellars running underneath the streets of OTR. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Watch Walk the Moon’s “Anna Sun” music video.

Small cities almost never have as many professional sports teams as we do.

I mean, hey, it’d be cool if we won a championship or two, but the city of El Paso is like, three times bigger than us, and how many pro teams do they have? Nada.

Cincinnati Chili.

*Drops mic.*

Graeter’s.

If Oprah says it’s the best, it’s the best. Aglamesis ain’t bad either.

The streetcar.

Okay, it’s a slow start, but the more public transportation the better. Maybe the streetcar will someday lead to a resuscitation of the weird abandoned subway tunnels all over the city.

Weird abandoned subway tunnels.

I know the subway is Cincinnati’s greatest failure, but how cool is it that we have a half-built labyrinth underneath our feet? It’s like an urban exploration utopia.

Cincinnati Public Schools are one of the great education reform success stories.

Cincinnati has really turned it around in the past decade. When I was in school (Go Aves, by the way) Cincinnati Public Schools were kind of a joke. Now they’ve seriously turned things around.

The Freedom Center. And the Cincinnati Museum. And the Cincinnati Zoo.

I lived in DC for a few years, and our museums in Cincinnati are forces to be reckoned with: the Freedom Center is just as high quality as a lot of the Smithsonian Museums (the Zoo is great too, but some of the Natural History stuff at Union Terminal hasn’t changed since I was 5. I’m looking at you, topless cavewoman). Also, the Festival of Lights and Tunes and Blooms are the best, and nothing really compares to the first time you see the weird laser tunnel intro at the Omnimax.

Holy crap, it is cheap.

You can live comfortably in Cincinnati. In a house. While not making an absurd amount of money. It’s (literally) one of the most affordable cities in America.

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