An inside look into one of Cincinnati’s most historic and popular neighborhoods
Cincinnati is surrounded by many neighborhoods but Mount Adams is hands-down one of the most popular ones. It has a unique blend of cultural venues, art galleries, restaurants, bars, a world-famous church, and some of the most spectacular views of the Cincinnati skyline, the sprawling Ohio River, and beyond.
Mt. Adams is reminiscent of a quaint European hillside village its steep, narrow tree-lined streets, distinctive residential area, incomparable outdoor space and attractions, and fun nightlife. Think Italian hillside village meets the streets of San Francisco. There is so much to see and do that 24 hours may not be enough time to take it all in and enjoy all that this neighborhood has to offer.
Mount Adams Attractions
There is so much to see and do. Here is a sampling of the hot spots:
Krohn Conservatory (Photo: @unikornjes)
Eden Park, one of the most picturesque and popular parks in the Cincy area, is known for its sensational views of the Ohio River, Northern Kentucky, and, of course, the downtown Cincy skyline. The park has dozens of walking paths through the rolling hills, a gazebo used as a backdrop for weddings and other events, plenty of green space for picnics and play areas, a basketball court, and plenty of room to walk your dog. The park also features Mirror Lake with a gorgeous fountain in the middle.
The Cincinnati Art Museum is a very popular attraction, featuring nearly 70,000 works of art that span centuries and centuries. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, and it’s completely free for the regular exhibits. Special exhibits are often ticketed.
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is a nationally renowned theatre located in Eden Park committed to bringing diverse, engaging, and popular performances to the area. Providing audiences with professional theatre for more than 60 years.
Krohn Conservatory, located in the heart of Eden Park, was built more than 80 years ago and is home to thousands of exotic plants. The conservatory is home to a one-of-a-kind butterfly exhibit and other special events. It’s open year-round and admission is $10 for adults and $7 for kids.
The Seasongood Pavillion, located on the western edge of Eden Park, features an outdoor amphitheater that brings a variety of plays, concerts, musicals, and festivals to the area.
But Mt. Adams is probably best known for the historic Church of the Immaculata. It’s an active Roman Catholic parish that boasts the most breathtaking views of downtown Cincy and the Ohio River. Built in 1859, it perches atop one of the highest points overlooking the city. It attracts thousands of visitors for its 24-hour Good Friday vigil where faithful pilgrims gather at the base of the steep steps below the church and climb them “praying the stairs” as they ascend. It’s a tradition that has been going on for decades attracting visitors worldwide. Parking is typically not an issue as a large parking garage is conveniently located nearby at the corner of St. Gregory and Monastery streets.
Things to do in Mt. Adams–restaurants, bars, and shops
While much of the neighborhood is quiet and more laid-back, there are a few energetic hot spots that are quite hopping on the weekends, especially with the college crowd. This diverse business district features a variety of restaurants, bars, taverns, and shops. But be forewarned most businesses are closed on Mondays.
The iconic Blind Lemon is probably one of the most well-known in the region and is located in the heart of Mt. Adams. It’s been around for more than 60 years and is recognized as one of the best bars in Cincy. Be on the lookout for its neon sign letting people know that the garden is open for business and head on down the narrow passageway that leads into a hidden brick courtyard and garden. It's a charming place featuring craft cocktails, local beer, and a friendly barkeep is more than likely forever going to know your name and your drink order by the end of the night than not. The Blind Lemon features live music showcasing the local music scene every night except Mondays.
Adjacent is the famous–or infamous–Mt. Adams Bar and Grill, which has been open since Prohibition days. According to local legend, it was a speakeasy owned by an infamous bootlegger named George Remus, who found a way to keep the doors open and serve booze throughout Prohibition. The business was the first drinking establishment in Ohio to obtain a liquor license. With no signs of slowing down, the bar and grill offer a wide variety of options on its expansive menu. The prices are reasonable, too.
Other hotspots include the Bowtie Cafe, a popular brunch spot and coffeeshop, El Barrill, a Mexican sports bar and grill; Luca Bistro, a French bistro with a lovely outdoor area only open in the evenings. Don’t miss Crowley’s Irish Pub with dozens of beers on tap and an unpretentious vibe. Irish immigrant Bill Specs Crowley opened for business in 1937 and it’s still going strong offering up quite a party on St. Patrick’s Day.
The City View Tavern is a hillside dive bar known for its spectacular views and one of the best spicy bloody marys in all of Cincy. This former grocery store and taproom has been around in some form since the 1870s and is one of the oldest establishments in the region.
One of the newest eateries in Mt. Adams is Mom’s Pizzeria. It’s family-owned and specializes in authentic New York-style pizza. It’s casual, speedy, and good for kids. It’s open in the late afternoon and evenings Wednesday through Saturday.
Mt. Adams isn’t a shopping mecca, although there are a few boutiques and art galleries dotted here and there. Upper Eden is a unique boutique featuring jewelry, handbags, scarves, and works of art created by local artists. There is a lovely gift shop inside the Cincy Art Museum.
Best places to stay in Mt. Adams Cincinnati
Mt. Adams is primarily a residential area featuring homes, condominiums, and apartment houses nestled along the hillside and narrow streets. There are a lot of hotel options in downtown Cincinnati, just minutes from Mt. Adams. However, you can stay in Mt. Adams. One option is the Monastery Guest House, which is a completely renovated luxury home in the heart of it all in Mt. Adams.
A brief history of Mount Adams Cincinnati
Immaculata Church, Mt. Adams Walking Tour (photo: R. VanPelt)
Mt. Adams has a rich and fascinating history. It was named after President John Quincy Adams after he delivered the dedication for the Cincinnati Observatory in 1843. The conservatory was home to the then-most powerful telescope of its kind. The observatory is still operational today but located in Mount Lookout. The area was first known as Mt. Ida, named for a washerwoman who allegedly lived inside a sycamore tree high atop the hillside.
During the 1800s, Nicholas Longworth, then America’s second richest man, grew grapes in his Garden of Eden, now known as Eden Park. He produced a famous wine or two, helping Mt. Adams earn the distinction as the birthplace of the American Wine Industry. The winemaking industry in the area grew rapidly for several decades but was ultimately destroyed by a major mildew problem in the grapes and the lack of manpower created by the Civil War.
Art also came to Mt. Adams in the 1800s when the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Cincinnati School of Art opened in Eden Park. Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, a granddaughter of Nicholas Longworth, moved her Rookwood Pottery from a spot on the Ohio River to Mt. Adams and began winning awards for her unique style and pottery creations. The pottery eventually moved and a restaurant was in its location for many years before it eventually closed, too.
Travel was difficult up the steep hillside and the Mt. Adams Inclined Plane Rail Road was a major event in history. It made the trip up the hill much easier and led the way for more home construction. The incline was nearly 1000 feet long to carry streetcars and automobiles and was completed in 1872. It was the longest-running of Cincy’s five inclines but eventually closed in 1948.
Mt. Adams was also home to two Catholic churches, one for Irish and one for Germans, a third church for Protestants was known as the Pilgrim Chapel which is a Presbyterian church on the National Register of Historic Places. The German church became Immaculata Church and hosts the Annual Good Friday Pilgrimage (see Things to do in Mt. Adams section,) and the Irish Church, Holy Cross, became home to the Passionist Fathers and their Monastery until it closed in the 1970s.
There’s so much to see and experience in Mt. Adams. Start planning your trip to one of the most popular neighborhoods in Cincinnati today!
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