Cincinnati Heritage Programs Tours
Tours have wrapped up for the 2017 season but check out this year's tour schedule below. If you see one that may interest you, contact our team about setting up a custom tour.
Treasures of the Queen City
Visit the Geier Collections & Research Center, a treasure trove of Cincinnati memorabilia with Museum Center’s Curator of History and Fine Art. This is a rare opportunity to view the collections and hear why and how Cincinnati Museum Center collects and safeguards the artifacts that tell Cincinnati’s story. A mid-morning snack will be served. Lunch is not included.
C! Cincinnati Bus Tour
Learn about Cincinnati's remarkable history from the time of settlement in the late 18th century through its early 19th century boom town era and observe the renaissance of downtown Cincinnati. Hear the history of Washington Park and the German immigrants who gave Over-the-Rhine its distinctive 19th-century charm. Travel the scenic hilltop neighborhoods of Mt. Auburn, Clifton, Walnut Hills and Mt. Adams and hear stories of the amazing people who lived there.
Fort Thomas, Kentucky
Hear how the highlands of Campbell County became the military outpost succeeding Ft. Washington and the Newport Barracks. For over 90 years, Ft. Thomas recruited, inducted and trained soldiers from the Spanish American War through WWII. Visit the Civil War Shaler Battery, the Military and Community Museum and the U.S. Army Reserve Center to learn about the resident 478th Engineering Battalion. Have lunch in the 1800s Mess Hall. Must be able to walk and climb stairs. Ft Thomas Army Reserve requires current government issued picture ID. Not all sites are handicap accessible.
Cincinnati City Hall
Hear the story of our City Hall, a Richardsonian Romanesque monument built in the late 1800s to celebrate Cincinnati in the 19th century. Walk the marble staircases to see the interior stained-glass windows. Climb to the top of City Hall’s tower for a special view. This tour meets at City Hall, has a trek to the tower and over 300 steps. Lunch is not included.
The Mill Creek
Hear the “civilized” history of the 28-mile “Maketewah” flowing through two counties and the center of our region. The once pristine watershed stream enticed settlers, farmers and industrialists to the area. It has been known as a dump and sewer for mills, slaughterhouses and breweries. Dr. Stan Hedeen will explain how it is being returned to its use as a natural resource. There will be walks on dirt paths over uneven ground. This tour is not handicap accessible. Lunch is not included.
Visit some of Cincinnati’s most important book collections revered by scientists and historians from around the world. If you’re a bibliophile, here is your opportunity to visit the University of Cincinnati Blegen Library filled with local government history, the pharmaceutical and botanical Lloyd Library and Museum, the 1835 Business Man’s Mercantile Library and the Hebrew Union College Klau Library containing a compilation of significant Judaica.
Fruit of the Vine in the Ohio Valley
In the mid-19th century, the tristate was internationally renowned for their award-winning wines. Visit Meier's Winery, Ohio's oldest, which produces a variety of beverages and enjoy wine samplings with cheese and crackers. At the award-winning Vinoklet Winery, meet the aerospace engineer who created the only working winery and vineyard now in Hamilton County where you will enjoy lunch, wine tastings and a tour of the wine making area.
Northern Kentucky German Heritage
Cross the river to Covington, KY and tour walkable MainStrasse Village and see the glockenspiel Carroll Chimes Bell in Goebel Park. Explore the famous art-filled Mutter Gottes Kirche (Mother of God Church) and cemetery filled with gifted immigrant artwork. See the Hellman Lumber Company building that employed German immigrants who created custom woodwork for many fine homes and churches. Raise a glass for this great brewing tradition beer at the restored, resplendent Wiedemann Hill Mansion with its view of the Cincinnati skyline. Lunch is included.
Craft Beer in Historic Places
Prost! Dust off your lederhosen and dirndls and raise a glass to Cincinnati's brewing legacy. Tour historic buildings and churches in Over-the-Rhine, which are now the breweries of Rhinegeist, Christian Moerlein and Taft Ale House, and hear brew masters explain the beer-making process. Head over to the neighborhood of Northside to sample the "wild culture" of Urban Artifact beers. Enjoy traditional German foods and sample some of the queen city's finest beers on this day-long adventure. Lunch is included.
2016 Subway Tours
Tours of the Cincinnati subway tunnel are no longer permitted by the City of Cincinnati due to a risk assessment performed in the spring of 2015. Please take advantage of one of our other fantastic tour experiences we have planned for 2016.
High Steel of Union Terminal
Explore the arched steel structure of one of our city's most recognized landmarks. After an audiovisual presentation on its construction, climb to the high steel trusses that support one of the largest half-dome rotundas in the world. The tour lasts about 2 hours, ascends 300 steps and has ladders in dimly lit areas. No cameras or personal carried items are permitted on this tour. No photos permitted. Sturdy shoes required. Children 12-18 must be accompanied by an adult. Not handicap accessible.
Union Terminal Photo Shoot
Attention photo enthusiasts! Here's your chance to obtain photos of areas in Union Terminal that are not regularly open to the public. Bring your camera equipment and capture photographs of the beautifully restored President's Office, Cincinnati and Losantiville Dining Rooms and original Men's Lounge, now the Amtrak Waiting Room. Experience a unique perspective of the Grand Rotunda from the balcony and visit Tower A. The 3-hour event begins with an optional 30 minute tour.
Behind-the-Scenes at CVG
Learn about the day-to-day operations of the tristate's largest and award-winning airport. Hear about the ever important issues of public safety, police and fire operations at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Get an inside look at one of the global superhubs for shipping giant DHL. This tour meets at the CVG airport. Directions and parking instructions will be sent upon registration. Must be 18 years and older and able to climb stairs. Not all sites are handicap accessible. Due to the sensitive nature of this tour, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency requires that each participant provides their full name, date of birth and social security number in advance of the tour and in-person at the airport. Lunch is included.
Churches of Price Hill
Visit the Gothic-style St. Lawrence Church, the "Mother Church" of the Catholic churches in Price Hill. Enjoy the Romanesque Renaissance styles of Holy Family Church and St. William Church and hear how they completed building them despite the Depression. Visit the Price Hill Historical Society Museum to enjoy lunch and their exhibits, displays and extensive archive of photographs. Stopover at Cincinnati Christian University to learn of its rich history and witness its breathtaking view of downtown Cincinnati.
Big Bone Lick State Historic Site
Known worldwide as the "Birthplace of American Paleontology," Big Bone Lick State Historic Site in Union, KY, continues to fascinate visitors and scientists. Dr. Brenda Hunda will explain how fossilized remains of mastodons, wooly mammoths and ground sloths interpret the Ice Age ecology of the area. This tour involves some hiking on trails and meets at the Big Bone Lick Visitor's Center. Guests will receive directions to the meeting site upon registration.
The Clooney Sisters Tribute Tour
Rosemary and Betty Clooney may have gotten their big break on Cincinnati's WLW radio, but they came from humble beginnings. Head to their hometown of Maysville, KY to visit the Gateway Museum and drive-by their favorite hometown haunts. Tour the Russell Theater, where the sisters debuted as children and returned as stars. Enjoy lunch with a river view and a live performance of Clooney hits by a Cincinnati singer. Top off your day with a visit to the restored Opera House and the Rosemary Clooney House Museum where special guests will share personal stores of Maysville's own celebrities.
Art Deco Architecture
Cincinnati-based architects and developers embraced the Art Deco style in the late 1920s. Visit the Art Deco buildings that celebrate the rise of commerce, technology and speed in the Queen City. Hear about the Art Moderne Union Terminal and visit the Dalton Avenue Post Office. Explore the bejeweled Cincinnati Bell Telephone Building, the stunning Carew Tower Arcade, the splendid Netherland Plaza, the highly detailed Times Star Building and the futuristic Coca Cola Building. Photos IDs required on tour.
Down the Drain
Tour the Metropolitan Sewer District’s Mill Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the largest water-reclamation facility in Hamilton County. Find out how 450 million gallons of storm water and sewage per day are cleaned and treated for re-entry into the environment. This is a 2-hour walking tour with steps and traversing grated walkways over tanks. Not recommended for people with a fear of heights. Not handicap accessible. Lunch is not included. This tour meets at the Treatment Plant. Directions will be sent upon registration.
The Fernald Preserve
Walk the site that was once a uranium processing facility and since 2006, the pride of several government and community agencies who collaborated to create a celebrated 1,050 acre wetland and prairie area. Since its environmental and ecological restoration, 240 species of birds have been observed on the 1,000 acres. Hear about its diverse history and the explanation of the $4.4 billion clean-up at the award-winning Visitors Center and Museum. Lunch is not included. This tour meets at the Fernald Preserve. Directions sent upon registration.
When the Queen City was King of Recording
Did you know that “The Twist” was first recorded in Cincinnati and that James Brown began his career with King Records? In the 1940s and 1950s, King Records was known for its recordings of country, bluegrass and soul music. Visit a state-of-the-art recording studio. View the outside of the building that was home to King Records. At Herzog Recording Studios, now the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation, see the recording studio that once was filled with the music of Hank Williams, Patti Page and Rosemary Clooney. Enjoy music from the era during the day and at lunch.
The White Water Shakers
Explore the White Water Shaker Village, one of 24 communal villages built between 1787 and 1824 by the Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. The collective contains a dozen original Shaker-built structures, still in their original setting, which supported communal life and a successful economy. Hear how this community lived, worked and worshiped. Discover what happened when the last few members departed in 1916.
Native American Sites in the Little Miami Valley
Dr. Stan Hedeen will narrate the account of ancient Native Americans in one of our country’s most prehistoric regions. Visit the active Hahn Site, Cincinnati Museum Center’s archaeological research location, which has been uncovering prehistoric items since 1885. Explore the Newtown American Indian Education Center displaying flint, stone, bone, pottery and shell items. Hear the explanation of the Mariemont Embankment, a Fort Ancient Culture Effigy Mound running along the Miami Bluff. Discover Pioneer Cemetery with the graves of Columbia’s founders.
Starry, Starry Night
Enjoy an evening with wine and cheese while learning about the Cincinnati Observatory. Learn why its original cornerstone was laid on Mt. Ida in 1843 and why the observatory was moved to its present site thirty years later. Weather permitting, gaze at the summer stars through the world’s oldest operational telescope. While touring this National Historic Landmark, discover how 19th-century astronomers determined time for Cincinnati and learn how the first U.S. weather prediction was achieved. Parts of this tour are not handicap accessible.
Greater Cincinnati Water Works
Since 1906, the City of Cincinnati Water Works has been regarded as one the finest municipal water suppliers in the world. Meet us at the Richard Miller Treatment Plant to see rapid sand and carbon filtration systems. Learn about the UV light disinfection process used on millions of gallons of water each day. Explore the Old River Station with its world-famous triple expansion steam pumps. Government Photo ID required. Parts of this tour are not handicap accessible. There is standing and walking during the entire tour. Lunch not included. Snack will be served. This tour meets at the site.
Verdin Bells and Clocks
Since the installation of Old St. Mary’s clock and bell in 1842, six generations of the Verdin family have installed more than 50,000 bells throughout the world. Visit the factory for a first-hand look at the manufacturing process. See the World Peace Bell, the world’s largest swinging bell and the Verdin museum housed in Old St. Paul’s Church. Tour Old St. Mary’s Church which celebrates its 175th anniversary along with the Verdin Company.
Historic Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Walk through the 1818 Federal Style home of the founder of Lawrenceburg, Samuel Vance. Hear how the town has survived 5 major floods. Explore the War Memorial to the Common Man with its steamboat motif and carillon created by the Verdin Bell Company. Visit 175 year old St. Lawrence Church and a 1928 Mediterranean Revival home. Explore the Oxbow of the Great Miami, renowned for its sightings of more than 284 species of birds that replenish themselves at the wetlands on their seasonal migratory routes. There will be some walking on uneven ground.
Inclines and Overlooks
During the late 1800s, Cincinnati had five inclines that carried people and freight away from the smoke, noise and crowds of the city basin. Discover the story of Cincinnati’s seven hills and experience the wonders of 19th-century transportation engineering by visiting the sites of the inclined planes. Hear about the beer gardens and entertainment venues where families gathered after work and on weekends. Lunch is not included. A snack will be served.
Tiffany and the Making of Stained Glass
Visit the remarkable BeauVerre Riordan Studios in Middletown, the oldest continuously operating stained glass studio in the United States, founded in 1832. Explore its showroom filled with vibrantly colored stained glass windows with innovative and museum quality products. See the blue Tiffany windows at the Calvary Episcopal Church on Clifton Ave. Hear a talk at the Cincinnati Art Museum by Amy Dehan, the Curator of Decorative Arts, who will interpret the resplendent Mitchell Tiffany windows.
Historic Hauntings of Greater Cincinnati
Celebrate Halloween with a tour of some of Cincinnati’s most historically haunted houses. Cross the river to Covington and visit the Scudder House, the Baker Hunt House and hear tales of other sightings and who might inhabit them. Visit the newly renovated Memorial Hall and the William Howard Taft Birthplace and Boyhood Home and make up your own mind about the accounts of apparitions. Not all sites are handicap accessible.
Fossils and Formations
Spend a morning with Cincinnati Museum Center’s Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology, Dr. Brenda Hunda, at the Geier Collections & Research Center. Explore our extensive geologic collection and learn about the formations and stratigraphy that make up our hillsides. Find out about the lifestyles and taphonomy of the invertebrate and vertebrate fossils that called the tristate their home.