Cincinnati Heritage Programs Tours

Free Union Terminal Rotunda Tours

Saturdays and Sundays at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.

Step inside Union Terminal and take a closer look at one of Cincinnati’s National Historic Landmarks. During this 45-minute tour, docents explain the construction, architecture and art of one of the world’s finest examples of Art Deco. Hear details about the world-famous mosaic murals and visit the Harold C. Schott Cincinnati Union Terminal President’s Office, today’s Amtrak waiting room, the newly renovated dining rooms and the Rookwood Tea Room. Tours can also be arranged for groups during the week with advance notice; call 513-287-7031 for more information.

Cincinnati Heritage Programs Tours

Cincinnati Museum Center Heritage Programs is proud to present its 2014 schedule of historical, cultural and architectural tours. For more than 30 years, docents have enjoyed sharing their passion for history through hundreds of audio-visual presentations and tours. As an outreach association of the Cincinnati History Museum, the all-volunteer Cincinnati Heritage Programs has unlocked doors to privately owned places generally not open to the public. All topics are thoroughly researched for accuracy. The Ambassadors of Cincinnati strive to inspire people to learn and appreciate the region’s history.

Download the 2014 Cincinnati Heritage Programs Tours brochure here

2014 Tour Schedule*

Saturday, Feb. 22 Behind the Scenes Tour of Union Terminal  SOLD OUT    
Tuesday, March 11 Steel to Wheels
Sunday, March 23 Union Terminal Photo Shoot
Saturday, April 12 Treasures of the Queen City        
Thursday, April 24 Cincinnati City Hall
Saturday, April 26 The Roebling Suspension Bridge & the Covington Shore
Saturday, May 10 Subway Talk & Walk SOLD OUT
Tuesday, May 13 The Crosleys & the American Dream
Wednesday, June 4 Historic Churches of Newport             
Wednesday, June 18 Walnut Hills to the Garden of Eden SOLD OUT                  
Wednesday, July 16 Rookwood Pottery SOLD OUT
Wednesday, Aug. 27 Starry, Starry Night   
Wednesday, Sept. 10 The Industrious Ohio River SOLD OUT
Tuesday, Sept. 16 The Emery Family Legacy  SOLD OUT  
Saturday, Sept. 20 Greater Cincinnati Water Works SOLD OUT
Thursday, Sept. 25 Kentucky Bourbon SOLD OUT
Wednesday, Oct. 8 Till Death Do Us Part     
Saturday, Oct. 18 Inclines & Overlooks     
Friday, Oct. 24 Cincinnati’s Art Deco Architecture
Saturday, Nov. 8 The High Steel of Union Terminal 

Behind the Scenes Tour of Union Terminal

Saturday, Feb. 22, 9, 9:30 & 10 a.m.

SOLD OUT This three-hour tour is your chance to experience the inner-workings of the largest half-dome in the western hemisphere. Walk behind the OMNIMAX ® screen and meet our curator to view rare documents from our collections. Climb into the workings of Union Terminal's illuminated clock and visit the "high steel" above the Rotunda. This tour has more than 300 steps with climbs on ladders in confined, dark spaces. No personal items or cameras are permitted. Children must be at least 12 years of age and those who are under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Lunch not included. Not handicap accessible.

Cost: $30 Members, $40 non-Members
Registration deadline: Feb. 20

Steel to Wheels

Tuesday, March 11, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Learn about Cincinnati’s automobile industry. Watch a video about the assembly of Ford Model Ts while en route to the modern Toyota Motor Manufacturing Plant in Georgetown, KY. Visit portions of the 7.5 million-square-foot facility via electric trams. See the construction of a modern day car from rolls of steel to its complete assembly. Government-issued photo IDs are required. No purses, cell phones or carried bags during the tour. Lunch not included.

Cost: $55 Members, $65 non-Members
Registration deadline: March 7

Union Terminal Photo Shoot

Sunday, March 23, 4 to 7 p.m.

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 Harold C. Schott Union Terminal President’s Office, Cincinnati and Losantiville Dining Rooms and original Men’s Lounge, now the Amtrak Waiting Room. Tower A, once the main control tower for Union Terminal, will be open and the balcony above our Rotunda will be open, too. Consider attending a free weekend Union Terminal Rotunda Tour beforehand to enhance your experience.

Cost: $25 Members, $35 non-Members
Registration Deadline: March 20

Treasures of the Queen City

Saturday, April 12, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  

Museum Center’s Geier Collections and Research Center is the repository of our city’s historic objects and fine art. Visit a treasure trove of Cincinnati memorabilia with the Curator of History and Fine Art. View items such as furniture of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the baby cradle of General U.S. Grant, personal Civil War artifacts of General Lytle and Nicholas Longworth’s wine goblet. This is a rare opportunity to view the collections which are not normally open to the public. A mid-morning snack will be served. Lunch not included.

Cost: $30 Members, $40 non-Members
Registration Deadline: April 9

Cincinnati City Hall

Thursday, April 24, 9 to 11:30 a.m.

City Hall, a Richardsonian Romanesque monument, was constructed in the late 1800s to celebrate Cincinnati’s stability and growth during the 19th century. Listen to the history of City Hall and its architectural style. Visit council chambers. Walk the marble staircases to see the interior stained-glass windows and visit the Mayor’s Office. Climb to the top of the City Hall tower for a special view. This tour meets at City Hall and has close to 300 steps, including the trek to the tower. Lunch not included.

Cost: $25 Members, $35 non-Members
Registration Deadline: April 22

The Roebling Suspension Bridge & the Covington Shore

Saturday, April 26, 9 a.m. to Noon

Less than 300 National Historic Engineering Landmarks exist in the U.S., and Cincinnati’s Roebling Suspension Bridge is one of them. Learn about its towers and cables. Visit the Covington Flood Wall Murals that chronicle episodes in the Ohio River Valley. Walk Covington’s Riverside Drive and hear about its sculptures and celebrated figures. Dress for the weather. This tour meets under the Roebling Suspension Bridge on the Covington side. Parking not provided.

Cost: $25 Members, $35 non-Members
Registration deadline: April 23

Subway Talk & Walk

Saturday, May 10; tours start at 9:30, 10:30 & 11:30 a.m.   

SOLD OUT Delve into the history of Cincinnati's Rapid Transit Subway tunnel, intact since 1928. Enter the subway for a guided five-block walk underground. The "talk and walk" lasts approximately two hours. Be aware that the tunnel is dark and dusty. Walking surfaces are uneven and may be muddy with standing water. Sturdy shoes or boots and a flashlight are required. Release forms and notification of the meeting site will be mailed upon registration. No cameras or headlamps permitted for safety reasons. Lunch not included. Not handicap accessible.

Cost: $50 Members, $60 non-Members
Registration Deadline: April 11

The Crosleys & the American Dream

Tuesday, May 13, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Powel Crosley and his engineer brother, Lewis, were American inventors. Together, they created the affordable radio, the Shelvador refrigerator and the Crosley Car. Visit Pinecroft, the Crosley mansion located in Mt. Airy. At the Voice of America Museum, learn how the Crosleys cooperated with the U.S. Government during World War II and brought news of the Free World to Europe. Explore radio and television artifacts in the Gray Wireless Museum and Media Heritage Museum. Visit the 736-foot WLW radio tower and find out why WLW was once called the Nation’s Station. This tour has a lot of walking, steps and standing. Not handicap accessible. 

Cost: $85 Members, $95 non-Members
Registration Deadline: May 9

Historic Churches of Newport

Wednesday, June 4, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tour the stained glass in the St. Stephen’s Catholic Parish Church. Visit St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, spiritual home for members of the Wiedeman brewery family. Hear how Newport’s mafia met at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Visit the former Salem Methodist Episcopal Church, now the home to Stained Glass Theater, and Grace Methodist Church, now home to the Southgate House Revival.

Cost: $70 Members, $80 non-Members
Registration Deadline: May 28

Walnut Hills to the Garden of Eden

Wednesday, June 18, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

SOLD OUT In 1794 the Reverend James Kemper purchased a farm and called it Walnut Hill, after which the Cincinnati neighborhood was eventually named. Visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, once home to the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Tour McMillan Street’s Time Hill, home of Gruen Watch Company and site of the Beau Brummell Tie Factory. Visit the Maxwelton Mansion at Edgecliff Point. Tour St. Francis De Sales Church, home to Big Joe, the largest swinging bell cast in this country.

Cost: $75 Members, $85 non-Members
Registration Deadline: June 11

Rookwood Pottery

Wednesday, July 16, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.   

SOLD OUT Rookwood Pottery Company has been world-renowned for producing beautiful ceramic masterpieces since its founding in 1880. Tour the Rookwood Pottery in Over-the-Rhine, and talk to the artists who create decorative items for homes and institutions. Learn about Rookwood’s history at the Cincinnati Art Museum with a curatorial expert. Visit St. Ursula Convent’s archives, where Rookwood Pottery founder Maria Longworth Storer lived for several years, and see some of her works. Finally, visit the LeBlond Estate, now St. Ursula Villa, and see installations of Rookwood art tiles.

Cost: $80 Members, $90 non-Members
Registration Deadline: July 9

Starry, Starry Night

Wednesday, Aug. 27, 7 to 9:30 p.m.            

Enjoy the 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 30 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.

Cost: $30 Members, $40 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Aug. 22

The Industrious Ohio River

Wednesday, Sept. 10, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

SOLD OUT The Ohio River is an aquatic highway that delivers goods efficiently and cost-effectively. Visit a barge terminal and explore its day-to-day operations of warehousing, shipping and distribution. See the Meldahl Lock and Dam control center, structures which manage the river as a transportation system. Tour a major power plant to see how electricity is generated and stand inside a nuclear reactor never put into operation. Sturdy shoes are required. This tour requires walking, stair climbing and standing and is not handicap accessible.

Cost: $75 Members, $85 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Sept. 3

The Emery Family Legacy

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

SOLD OUT Start the day with an audiovisual presentation about the Thomas Emery Family, known as the “builders of 19th-century Cincinnati.” Tour Downtown and Walnut Hills to see historic Emery dwellings that represent a spectrum of architectural styles. Dine in the Palm Court and tour the Netherland Hotel, built to be “a city within a city.” Visit elegant Peterloon, the Indian Hill estate designed for the Emery Family, and tour the Village of Mariemont, developed in the 1920s by Mary Emery.

Cost: $75 Members, $85 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Sept. 9

Greater Cincinnati Water Works

Saturday, Sept. 20, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

SOLD OUT 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. See the Old River Station with its world-famous triple expansion steam pumps. Government photo ID required. Parts of this tour are not handicap accessible. Lunch not included.

Cost: $25 Members, $35 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Sept. 12

Kentucky Bourbon

Thursday, Sept. 25, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Since the 1700s, generations of Kentuckians have made whiskey from corn. In the 1800s, the popular drink came to be known as bourbon. Learn more about bourbon’s backstory, including details about its unchanging manufacturing process, now regulated by the U.S. government. Visit Four Roses Distillery, known for its Spanish-Mission style architecture, and Woodford Reserve, the smallest and oldest distillery. Must be at least 21 yearrs old. Government-issued ID required. Not handicap accessible.

Cost: $100 Members, $110 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Sept. 10

Till Death Do Us Part

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit Congress Green Cemetery, where John Cleves Symmes, proprietor of the Miami Purchase, is buried. Then travel to the William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial. Visit the Aurora Casket Company. In Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery, hear about traditional funerary practices and gravestones. And at Hillside Chapel and Crematory, learn about the cremation process and see the urns of Ruth Lyons and Patricia Corbett.

Cost: $75 Members, $85 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Oct. 1

Inclines & Overlooks

Saturday, Oct. 18, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During the late 1800s, Cincinnati boasted five inclines that carried people and freight away from the smoke, noise and crowds of the city. 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 not included.

Cost: $40 Members; $50 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Oct. 16

Cincinnati’s Art Deco Architecture

Friday, Oct. 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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. Tour the Art Moderne Union Terminal, 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.

Cost: $75 Members; $85 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Oct. 17

The High Steel of Union Terminal

Saturday, Nov. 1, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.     
Saturday, Nov. 8, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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 two 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. Must be at least 12 years of age and if younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Not handicap accessible.

Cost: $25 Members, $35 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Oct. 28

* All bus tours depart from the front of Cincinnati Museum Center. All tours are subject to change. Lunch is included unless stated otherwise. There are no refunds after the registration deadline. Sometimes due to traffic and situations beyond the control of Heritage Programs, tour schedules may need to be altered. Heritage Programs strives to provide access for all individuals attending our programs, activities, and events. Those needing information for alternative or other assistance should make the request at the time of the initial reservation.

Photo by Phil Didion


Contact Information

To make a reservation or for more information, call 513-287-7031.

If you are interested in becoming a Heritage Programs docent or would like information on volunteering in the Cincinnati History Museum, contact the Director of Volunteer Services
at 513-287-7025, email or visit our Volunteer Opportunities page.


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Speakers Bureau

Heritage Programs has a variety of historical, architectural and cultural topics that docents can bring to your organization. Learn more


Custom Tours

Have an idea? Work with one of our experienced guides to plan the perfect tour. Maybe you want to stay on the bus or visit a museum or historic site. Or maybe you’d like to add a meal and an extra stop to the tour. We’re happy to accommodate you—just let us know your expectations, thoughts and limitations. We’ll plan an informative, affordable and enjoyable day for a large or small group. For more information, call 513-287-7031.


Brown Bag Lecture Series

In its 20th season of lunchtime programs that focus on Cincinnati history, the Brown Bag Lecture Series returns with lectures presented in association with the docents of Cincinnati Heritage Programs.

The lectures, presented in Reakirt Auditorium, are free and open to the public. You're welcome to bring your own lunch or purchase lunch in the Gateway Cafe in the Rotunda, featuring a new menu. No reservations are required, but space is limited.

All lectures take place from noon-1 p.m.

Jan. 26, 2015
Delta Queen and Cincinnati's First Family of the River

Feb. 16, 2015
Cincinnati During the Civil War

March 16, 2015
Entertainment and Recreation in Early Cincinnati

April 20, 2015
Cincinnati's Jewish Heritage

May 18, 2015
Sentimental Journey - Doris and Rosemary

June 15, 2015
Cincinnati Union Terminal

July 20, 2015
Crosley Field of Dreams

Sept. 21, 2015
Cincinnati and the Prohibition Period

Oct. 19, 2015
The Sad, Seamy, Sinister Side of Cincinnati - Part 2

Nov. 16, 2015
Cincinnati's Winter Holiday Traditions

Dec. 21, 2015
Golden Age of Television