Cincinnati Heritage Programs Tours

Free Union Terminal Rotunda Tours

Saturdays at noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
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 offer historical, cultural and architectural tours around Greater Cincinnati. For more than 30 years, the docents have enjoyed sharing their passion for history through their walking and motorcoach tours and hundreds of audiovisual presentations. 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 History strive to inspire people to learn and appreciate the region’s history.

2015 Tour Schedule*

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

Saturday, March 21Treasures of the Queen City SOLD OUT
Saturday, April 11Behind the Scenes of Union Terminal SOLD OUT
Thursday, April 16Cincinnati City Hall SOLD OUT
Saturday, May 9Subway Talk and Walk SOLD OUT
Friday, May 15Behind the Hangar Door at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base SOLD OUT
Wednesday, June 3Westwood Walking Tour
Wednesday, June 24Sentimental Journey SOLD OUT
Sunday, July 26Union Terminal Photo Shoot SOLD OUT
Sunday, Aug. 9Take Me Out to the Ballpark SOLD OUT            
Wednesday, Aug. 26Starry, Starry Night SOLD OUT             
Thursday, Sept. 3Industries that Create, Recycle and Restore SOLD OUT
Saturday, Sept. 12Roebling Suspension Bridge and its Covington Shore
Saturday, Sept. 26Greater Cincinnati Water Works SOLD OUT
Thursday, Oct. 1The Cincinnati Police Department
Saturday, Oct. 3Footsteps Along the Ohio River SOLD OUT
Thursday, Oct. 8Cemeteries are a Dying Art
Saturday, Oct. 17Inclines and Overlooks    
Saturday, Nov. 7High Steel of Union Terminal SOLD OUT
Saturday, Nov. 14High Steel of Union Terminal SOLD OUT

Cincinnati City Hall SOLD OUT

Thursday, April 16, 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 a presentation on the history of City Hall and its architectural style. Visit council chambers. Walk the marble staircases to see the interior stained-glass windows. Visit the Mayor’s Office, if available. Climb to the top of the City Hall tower for a special view of downtown Cincinnati. This tour meets at City Hall and has over 300 steps, including the trek to the tower. Lunch is not included.

Cost: $25 Members; $35 non-Members
Registration Deadline: April 9

Subway Talk and Walk SOLD OUT

Saturday, May 9, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30 a.m.

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, dusty and wet. 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. Not handicap accessible. Lunch is not included.

Cost: $60 Members; $70 non-Members
Registration Deadline: April 9

Behind the Hangar Door at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base SOLD OUT

Friday, May 15, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Learn about the aviation and operations activities of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Visit the base control tower, flight line maintenance and fire departments. Tour the Cold War Strategic Air Command Alert building known as the “Mole Hole.” Lunch will be at the base Officers’ Club. Government Issued ID required on day of the tour. Name at the time of registration must match carried Government ID. Tour changes may be necessary due to mission requirements. Not all parts of this tour are handicap accessible.

Cost: $85 Members; $95 non-Members
Registration Deadline: April 30

Westwood Walking Tour   

Wednesday, June 3, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit the Romanesque Town Hall, once used as the center of local government, fire, police and entertainment. See the spectacular stained glass windows in the First Presbyterian church. See the newly renovated 1909 Westwood Elementary School. Visit the Telephone Exchange building, the new home of the Madcap Puppet Theater. Listen to the carillon donated by James Gamble to the gothic-style Westwood Methodist Church. Visit the Broadhope Art Collective and the Bass Cellar. This tour will be walking about four blocks on uneven surfaces and there will be standing for long periods of time. Dress for the weather. Not all sites are handicap accessible.  Directions for parking at the Westwood First Presbyterian Church will be sent upon registration.

Cost: $50 Members; $60 non-Members   
Registration Deadline: May 27

Sentimental Journey SOLD OUT

Wednesday, June 24, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Recall the memorable success stories of Cincinnati’s songbirds, Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney. After a drive through the childhood neighborhood of the legendary Doris Day, travel to Maysville, KY to visit the hometown of Rosemary Clooney. Tour the glorious Russell Theater where Rosie debuted her first movie. While lunching at a historic restaurant, enjoy a live performance by a Cincinnati native professional singer in a dinner theater-like atmosphere of the songs made popular by super stars Rosemary and Doris. In Augusta, visit the Rosemary Clooney home, overlooking the Ohio River, now a museum filled with her memorabilia.

Cost: $110 Members; $120 non-Members
Registration Deadline: June 12

Union Terminal Photo Shoot SOLD OUT

Sunday, July 26, 6 to 9 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, original Men’s Lounge (now the Amtrak waiting room) and Tower A, once the main control tower for Union Terminal. The balcony above the Rotunda will also be open. This three-hour event begins with an optional 30-minute tour of many of the areas that will be open for photos. 

Cost: $30 Member; $40 non-Member
Registration Deadline: July 23

Take Me Out to the Ballpark SOLD OUT          

Sunday, Aug. 9, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Immerse yourself in Cincinnati’s baseball history with a visit to the site of the Palace of the Fans and Crosley Field led by the Reds Hall of Fame Chief Curator. At Great American Ballpark, enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour that includes the press box and Reds’ dugout. Meet a member of the ballpark operations staff who will explain the day-to-day operations of the complex. Explore the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum filled with record-breaking memorabilia, highlights from championship eras and artifacts from the first professional baseball team. Guests will drive their own cars on this tour. Upon registration, you will be given specific directions to the old Crosley Field site and then to the Great American Ballpark where arrangements have been made for convenient parking close to the entrance for an estimated cost of $8 upon exiting the garage.

Cost: $65 Members; $75 non-Members
Registration Deadline: July 31

Starry, Starry Night SOLD OUT

Wednesday, Aug. 26, 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. This tour meets at the Observatory.

Cost: $30 Members; $40 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Aug. 19

Industries that Create, Recycle and Restore SOLD OUT

Thursday, Sept. 3, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

See a variety of regalia being constructed at the National Flag Company, which has manufactured flags since 1869. See what happens to your recyclables as they are received and sorted at the newly constructed Rumpke Recycling Material Recovery Facility. Learn about snack-food products such as popcorn and shaved ice machines at the Gold Medal Products Company, which supplies concessionaires throughout the world. Visit the Antique Boat Center to see the restoration and maintenance of over 60 classic wooden boats.

Cost: $80 Members; $90 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Aug. 27

Roebling Suspension Bridge and its Covington Shore

Saturday, Sept. 12, 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. Hear an explanation of its towers and cables. Visit the Covington Flood Wall Murals that chronicle significant episodes in the Ohio River Valley. Walk Covington’s Riverside Drive and listen to the stories behind various sculptures and celebrated figures. Dress for the weather. This tour meets under the Roebling Suspension Bridge on the Covington side. Parking is on your own.

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

Greater Cincinnati Water Works SOLD OUT         

Saturday, Sept. 26, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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 newest 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: $35 Members; $45 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Sept. 21

The Cincinnati Police Department                 

Thursday, Oct. 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

See the region’s Emergency Operation Center to learn how the region’s community security departments coordinate services in times of disaster. Visit the Emergency Communication Center to see operators and dispatchers receiving 911 calls. Look inside the newest SWAT and Command Post Center Vehicles. Attend the Police Academy for an explanation on the training of new police recruits, equipment carried and demonstrations by K9 units. Assess your decision-making skills using the Firearms Training Simulator. Visit the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum and see the vast collection of police equipment and stories of the men and women sworn to honor and protect all citizens. This tour has steps and standing throughout the day.

Cost: $80 Member; $90 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Sept. 24

Footsteps Along the Ohio River SOLD OUT

Saturday, Oct. 3, 9 a.m. to noon (in the event of inclement weather, tour will be rescheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10)

Walk a leisurely three miles and learn about Cincinnati’s early settlement, commerce and the Miami Erie Canal. Visit the original site of Yeatman’s Cove, where the first white settlers landed their flatboats. See the sites of Fort Washington and early railroad stations. Hear about the ever-expanding plans for new parks and recreation on our vibrant and expanding riverfront. Participants must be physically capable of walking three miles. There will be a mid-morning snack served and opportunities for restroom and resting along the route. Participant must be available on the back-up date in case of inclement weather on the original date. Parts of the tour are not handicap accessible.

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

Cemeteries are a Dying Art

Thursday, Oct. 8, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

See historic Mother of God Church in Covington, known for its magnificent art and architecture. Visit the grounds of Mother of God Cemetery, the resting place of Cincinnati’s renowned artist Frank Duveneck whose grave monument was created by famous sculptor Clement Barnhorn. At Evergreen Cemetery, originally a Civil War Battery and lookout, visit the graves of George Wiedemann, Brent Spence and Richard Southgate. Visit Highland Cemetery, the largest in Kentucky, designed by Adolph Strauch of Spring Grove Cemetery fame. There is walking on uneven surfaces and standing throughout the day. Not all sites are handicap accessible. Dress for the weather.

Cost: $80 Member; $90 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Oct. 1

Inclines and Overlooks

Saturday, Oct. 17, 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 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 the weekends. Lunch is not included.

Cost: $40 Member; $50 non-Members
Registration Deadline: Oct. 12

High Steel of Union Terminal

Saturday, Nov. 7, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. SOLD OUT
Saturday, Nov. 14, 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 2 hours, ascends 300 steps and has ladders. No cameras or personal carried items are permitted on this tour. No photos permitted. Sturdy shoes required. Not handicap accessible.

Cost: $30 Members; $40 non-Members  
Registration Deadline: Nov. 6

Behind the Scenes of Union Terminal SOLD OUT

Saturday, April 11, 9, 9:30 & 10 a.m.

This three-hour tour is your chance to experience the inner-workings of the largest half-dome building in the western hemisphere. Visit with the projectionist behind the five-story OMNIMAX® screen. Meet our curator and view rare documents from our vast 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 under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Lunch is not included. Not handicap accessible. 

Cost: $35 Members; $45 non-Members     
Registration Deadline: April 10

Treasures of the Queen City SOLD OUT

Saturday, March 21, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  

Museum Center’s Geier Collections & 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 is not included.

Cost: $35 Members; $45 non-Members
Registration Deadline: March 18

* 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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History Sessions

To celebrate the long-awaited repairs, restorations and renovation of Union Terminal, Cincinnati Heritage Programs docents will present five sessions in April and May on the history of one of the country’s most iconic buildings. Click here to learn more.


Speakers Bureau

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