Profile of Clifton Neighborhood
In the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati, you'll find diverse people and architecture, activities for any age and a deep connection to the city and the state. Picture rolling hills, rambling houses, lush parks and a hip shopping district. Imagine an active arts scene, historic landmarks and a college-town atmosphere. What more could you ask from a neighborhood? Clifton lays claim to all of that and more. Adjacent to the University of Cincinnati and only 3 miles from the city center, Clifton attracts people from all walks of life: college kids, young professionals, families getting started and life-long residents. They all take tremendous pride in their neighborhood and everything it has to offer.
Restaurants & Nightlife
The gaslight district along Ludlow Avenue gets its name from the original gas lamps that illuminate the streets in the area, providing an old-style atmosphere like nowhere else in Cincinnati. College students and young professionals flock here for good food and nightlife. Residents also like to take in a flick at the [Esquire Theater], famous for indie and foreign films — and complete with their own Back Alley Bar inside. After a movie, you have plenty of dining options to choose from, including Chinese, Moroccan, Cajun and more. For upscale dining, try [La Poste Eatery and Wine Room], which serves innovative American and French cuisine, such as wild mushroom ravioli and pork cassoulet. [Ambar India Restaurant] features some of the city's best authentic northern Indian cuisine in a low-key, comfortable setting. Ambar makes the usual dishes — samosas, tandoori and so on — but they are also known for their vegetarian dishes. Some say that Cincinnati's signature chili, made with cinnamon and chocolate, is an acquired taste, and there's no better place to acquire it than at Skyline Chili in Clifton. Look for the retro signage out front, then belly up to the counter and try a five-way: chili on pasta, topped with cheese, onions and beans. If that seems too daunting, try a coney — a hot dog topped with chili, cheese and onions. For late night munchies, it can't be beat. Speaking of late night, Arlin's Bar is the local watering hole, with bar food, bar games and TV, and a spacious patio for the warmer months. Those looking for the nightclub and trendy bar scenes head to downtown Cincinnati.
Clifton began life as Clifton Farm and grew into an area of grand mansions, estates and parklands during the 19th century, many designed by famed landscape architect Adolph Strauch. Most of those estates have been demolished or subdivided since then, but evidence of them survives in the parklands and some smaller structures. As the city expanded, universities and colleges built their campuses in and around Clifton. The University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati State University and others gave Clifton a reputation as an intellectual part of town. That reputation remains today, embodied by the Fairview-Clifton German Language School and the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, where you'll find activities, events and classes of all sorts. People from all over Cincinnati attend Cliftonfest on Ludlow in the fall, a street festival complete with music, vendors, fascinating sidewalk chalk art and carnival amusements.
Cincinnatians love their cars, and usually think first of using them when going anywhere. The neighborhood has nearby access to Interstate 75, one of the main arteries in town, which makes it about 15 minutes from everything. Parking on the narrower side streets can be something of a problem, especially during the weekend evenings. Parking meters line Ludlow Avenue and paid public lots can be found, but most people tend to circle the back streets hoping for a free spot. Clifton is an excellent neighborhood for pedestrians, thanks in large part to its proximity to the University of Cincinnati. Wide sidewalks abound, and the gaslight district is within walking distance of anywhere in the neighborhood. If you prefer to bike, be warned that there are no designated bike lanes. Going farther than you care to walk? You can call a cab or use Uber in Clifton, or you can take advantage of Cincinnati Metro's convenient bus services. A bus fare of $1.75 will get you anywhere inside the city limits, with bike racks on most buses as well.
Although Cincinnati's cost of living hovers below the national average, you can expect to pay a little more to live in Clifton that in other parts of the city — about 13 percent more. That's the price for living in a beautiful and trendy neighborhood, and most residents accept the trade-off. You can find all manner of housing in the area, from small apartments to starter homes to historic houses. Median rent for a one-bedroom apartment runs around $611. Gas prices are about 4 percent lower than the national average.
In addition to wonderful restaurants, the Gaslight District hosts all manner of shops and boutiques, from the local hardware store to high-end jewelry. The Mustard Seed Boutique stocks vintage clothing and accessories for the well-dressed hipster, PAOLO makes custom jewelry for any occasion and Ludlow Wines puts on tastings of wines and craft beers. Just exploring Ludlow Avenue can take an entire afternoon. Kroger Supermarkets provide your grocery needs with stores just north and south of Clifton. Several convenience stores and pharmacies are nearby as well, and if you're into gourmet foods, check out Jagdeep's Indian Grocery for those exotic items.
With Clifton's history of estates and landscaping, it's no surprise to find two of Cincinnati's best parks here. Mt. Storm Park perches on a hill in the north end of the neighborhood, overlooking the Clifton skyline and the Millcreek Valley. Sporting a playground and wide open spaces, and with the historic Temple of Love gazebo — designed by Adolph Strauch — at its center, this park is a popular spot for picnics and dog walking. In wintertime, it becomes the place for sledding. Adjacent to the gaslight district, Burnet Woods features everything a park should have: walking trails, playgrounds, disc golf course, bandstand and even Wolff Planetarium, the oldest planetarium west of the Allegheny Mountains. Both of these parks were once part of the estates that made up the area, and it shows in their beauty and design.