Exploring Cincinnati by Streetcar
By Terri Weeks

Cincinnati has a new streetcar system, and that’s exciting news for tourists and residents alike. The Cincinnati Bell Connector opened on Sept. 9 after several years of planning and construction.

While the Cincinnati Bell Connector is new, this isn’t Cincinnati’s first streetcar system. In fact, streetcars were the main form of public transportation from the end of the 19th century through first half of the 20th century.

This first phase of the Connector is a 3.6-mile loop that runs from The Banks through downtown to Over-the-Rhine and back. It has 18 stops that are within a few blocks of dozens of points of interest. Below is a map of the route.





A more convenient paper map has detailed information about attractions, hotels, parks, and services near each stop. I didn’t see paper maps near the stops nor on board, but they can be found at the Visitor Center on Fountain Square.

My husband and I recently rode the entire loop. We planned to start at the northern end so that we could finish our outing with some grocery shopping at Findlay Market.





To save time, I downloaded the Cincy EZRide app to my phone ahead of time. I purchased 1-Day passes at $2 each. (The other alternative was a 2-hour pass for $1.) I waited until just before we boarded to activate the tickets. Ticket machines are located at each stop, but after observing a few fellow passengers rushing to purchase tickets as the next streetcar approached, I was glad I had used the app.





Our passes allowed us to hop on and off as much as we liked. Our first destination was Washington Park. It was a beautiful fall day with summer flowers still blooming and leaves starting to change colors.





After a nice stroll through the park, we were ready to move on. Each stop has a small shelter with an electronic sign that displays the approximate wait time until the next streetcar.





I love the library and was tempted to stop, but we stayed on board until we arrived at Fountain Square. My husband was happy to be able to catch the last part of the Cincinnati Bengals game on the big screen.





Although it was a warm day, the ice skating rink was open for business.





The southernmost point of the route is at The Banks. This is where to stop in order to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the beautiful Smale Riverfront Park, Paul Brown Stadium, and Great American Ball Park.

Other Cincinnati Bell Connector stops are conveniently located to many arts venues, including the Aronoff Center, Contemporary Arts Center, Taft Theater, and Music Hall. The route also provides a view of many of the Cincinnati Artworks Murals.





Hotels, restaurants, shops, and breweries are also located along the route, making it easy for visitors to navigate downtown Cincinnati without a car.





After completing a full circuit on the Cincinnati Bell Connector, we ended our journey at Findlay Market, where we savored a late lunch and purchased some fresh produce before heading back home. We are excited about this convenient new transportation option in our city and look forward to using it ourselves and when we entertain out-of-town visitors.

 

 

About the Author

Terri WeeksTerri Weeks is a family travel writer in the Cincinnati area and one of the authors of the bestselling book Adventures Around Cincinnati: A Parent's Guide to Unique and Memorable Places to Explore with your Kids. She and co-author, Laura Hoevener, speak to groups all over Greater Cincinnati and are regular guests on the FOX19 Morning Xtra news program. You can find them at www.adventuresaroundcincinnati.com. Terri and her family are on a mission to visit all 50 states by the time her kids graduate from high school. She blogs about their travels at www.travel50stateswithkids.com and is the author of the ebook How to Visit All 50 States in 12 Trips. She’s a member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association.