Five of the Oldest Spots in Cincinnati

Best of the City 2021 celebrates all that’s new in the Queen City, but we can’t forget these old favorites.

Having a wealth of new treasures to explore makes us appreciate our old favorites even more than we already do. So for Best of the City 2021, we looked for the oldest favorites out there.

Oldest Library: The Mercantile Library

Sacred ground for Cincinnati’s bibliophiles, writers, and thinkers, The Mercantile Library is one of the last remaining of its kind—a members-only literary institution. For nearly 200 years, the downtown library has been building and curating its collection, which today contains more than 80,000 tomes. • 414 Walnut St., downtown, (513) 621 0717,

Oldest Restaurant: Mecklenburg Gardens

Throughout its vibrant, sometimes turbulent history—it was, after all, a Prohibition-era speakeasy—this landmark of Cincinnati’s German heritage features some of the city’s best Bavarian fare and one of the finest biergartens in the country. Little has changed since the Mecklenburg opened in 1865. And that’s a good thing. • 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, (513) 221-5353,

Oldest Store: Bromwell’s

Back in the era of chimney sweeps and horse-drawn carriages, fireplace retailer Bromwell’s planted its flag in a downtown Italianate. More than 200 years later, Cincinnati’s oldest store still occupies that 10,000-square-foot showroom, and its bespoke fireplaces still adorn some of the city’s finest homes. • 117 W. Fourth St., downtown, (513) 621-0620,

Oldest Bar: Arnold’s

Speakeasy. Brothel. Cincinnati staple. Arnold’s reputation precedes it. And the legends of bathtub gin, paranormal activity, and mob connections are just a small part of why the city’s oldest—and perhaps most beloved—bar still draws a mighty crowd. • 210 E. Eighth St., downtown, (513) 421-6234,

Oldest House: Betts House

It’s been ages since anyone’s lived in the Betts House. But Ohio’s oldest brick home, built in 1804, is lively as ever in its afterlife as a museum. Visit to learn more about the architecture and peek into the lives of the earliest residents, or tag along for a tour of the Betts-Longworth Historic District. • 416 Clark St., West End, (513) 651-0734,

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