A neighbourhood guide to Northside Cincinnati

By: Margy Waller

June 19, 2015

The indie-DIY vibe of the Northside Cincinnati neighbourhood is a draw for foodies, makers, music-lovers, vintage shoppers, and more. Northside is a hot destination with a young and diverse population of residents who love the architecture and many local shops with owner-operators. Close to the city centre of Cincinnati, it’s a quick drive, or rent a Red Bike for the easy ride over to the new bike share station at Hoffner Park.

Guide to Northside | Sidewinder Coffee
Sidewinder is one of many great places to grab coffee in Northside © 5chw4r7z/Flickr

Start your stroll along historic Hamilton Avenue with a coffee from Sidewinder, get a quick bite at the Blue Jay Restaurant if you like an old school breakfast, or stop in at Melt Eclectic Café for some of their “˜food for everyone’. Ruth’s Parkside Café is another local favourite, offering both comfort food and innovative dining options.

Guide to Northside | Moline Court Houses
The historic Moline Court houses are a quick side trip off Hamilton © Margy Waller

Be sure to check out the beautiful buildings all along the avenue and on side streets and alleys. The tiny, colourful nineteenth century worker houses on Moline Court are a favourite of residents and visitors alike.


Vintage finds

Guide to Northside | Casablanca Vintage
You can find any kind of hat you want in Casablanca Vintage, one of the great Northside vintage shops © Casablanca Vintage

Northside Cincinnati is a magnet for people with a love of vintage treasures and upcycling. Start at Chicken Lays an Egg for fanciful clothing and home décor, before heading to Casablanca Vintage to hunt through the decades on the racks. Just around the corner is Building Value for salvaged historic architectural elements, and up the street you’ll find mid-century modern elements at Modology. A little further up Hamilton Avenue, Nvision‘s owner curates beautiful vintage clothing and furniture, and hosts local artists and designers, too.


Handmade and repurposed

Guide to Northside | Marketplace Mercantile
Marketplace Mercantile is a colourful place dedicated to redesigning and upcycling © Margy Waller

The local design schools graduate plenty of artists who create the goodies at places like Fabricate, a tiny place where the Crafty Supermarket founders share locally made art, jewellery, and gifts. Up the street is Marketplace Mercantile, where owners make new out of old with repurposed items, large and small.


Bikes and other things that spin

Guide to Northside | Spun Bicycles
Spun Bicycles is more than a bike shop; it’s a community © Margy Waller

Northside Cincinnati is also a place for people who ride bikes. When you park your Red Bike at the station, walk across the street to Spun, one of the nation’s top bike shops and a regional hangout for people who love to ride. There’s a regular Thursday Night Slow Ride that starts at Northside’s Hoffner Park, so grab a Red Bike and join the group for a leisurely spin through the city. Up the street is Galaxie, a skate board gallery and shop filled with everything you’ll need for the temporary skate ramps that pop-up here, as well as the city’s first skate park – opening soon.


For a different kind of spinning, check out the beloved record store, Shake It Records, a massive 3,200 square foot location where the owners have their own label and specialize in indie releases, plus offer 25,000 titles on vinyl and 15,000 titles on compact disc, and a well-stocked used selection.


Brunch, lunch, and more

Guide to Northside | Tacocracy
At Tacocracy you can count on putting together something delicious © 5chw4r7z/Flickr

Northside features a growing foodie and weekend brunch scene, with so many options you’re sure to find something you love at places like The Littlefield, Bistro Grace, Django, Tacocracy, Boswells, and Barrio. Vegetarians and vegans can easily eat side by side with their non-veggie friends at Happy Chicks Bakery, Kitchen Factory (vegan pizza), Melt, and Tickle Pickle Organic Burger Bar.

Guide to Northside | The Littlefield
The Littlefield is all about Bourbon cocktails and regional craft beer paired with great food and art © Pippin Rush

The Northside music scene


Cincinnati’s free live music tradition is in evidence in the Northside neighbourhood, with strong nightlife options from local and national acts at the Comet Bar, Northside Tavern, Barrio, Tacocracy, Northside Yacht Club, Listing Loon, and Urban Artifact – a new brewery in an old church just off of Hamilton Avenue.


Northsiders love a festival

Guide to Northside | Fourth of July Parade
The Northside Fourth of July Parade always offers a touch of the weird and wonderful © Jere Keys/Flickr

With all the resident artists and creative types, it’s no surprise that you’ll find regular events celebrating the fun and eclectic nature of this vibrant neighbourhood. Cincinnati’s most beloved Independence Day parade and party takes place along Hamilton Avenue and features costumes, wigs, bikes, and neighbourhood groups like the Lawnchair Ladies Brigade and the Men’s Drill Team – both use unusual props, like real power drills. August brings Cincy Summer Streets, a celebration of public space where everyone can use the street to run, bike, walk, play, and make art. And on Second Saturdays, the businesses and galleries stay open late for a celebration that features food and drink specials, street artists, and art openings.


Green space and playtime

Guide to Northside | Spring Grove Cemetery
Tulips in bloom at Spring Grove Cemetery, a national landmark © Joe Wessels/Flickr

When you’re ready for some green space, Northside Cincinnati has you covered. Start with the lush Spring Grove Cemetery, a national historic landmark and USA’s second largest cemetery where many notables are buried, including Civil War generals, members of Congress and the Supreme Court. This cemetery is a great place to walk, run, or bike and regularly hosts moonlight walks and Segway tours. Places that the kids like to play are abundant in the smaller city parks of the neighbourhood, like Hoffner Park at the centre of Northside, where you’re likely to see people practicing with hula-hoops and you’ll find the Farmer’s Market on Wednesday afternoons. Jergen’s Park is a favourite for families and Mt. Airy Forest is the largest park in Cincinnati. Families with kids can also check out the events at WordPlay and Happen, Inc., local weekend hangouts for kids of all ages.


Header image © 5chw4r7z/Flickr


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Have you been to Northside Cincinnati? What are your favourite shops and music spots? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.


Written by Margy Waller



Margy Waller

Margy is a boomerang Cincinnatian: she returned to promote the city’s arts after living in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, and loves to show off her hometown, a place where she knows all the indie shopping spots and architectural beauties. She’s a fan of the region’s surprisingly diverse performances of theatre, dance, and music in unusual spots. Follow Margy @margyartgrrl.

Categories: Our Places