Confession: I am afraid of heights. Like, really afraid.
I have vivid memories of tightly gripping the floor of the Eiffel Tower at Kings Island as a kid. Then there’s the disastrous trip to the top of the St. Louis Arch with my family. I cried and sat huddled in a ball on the floor, begging to go back to the ground.
That’s probably why my parents never took me to the top of the Carew Tower. And I don’t blame them. But, it’s one of the most famous buildings in Cincinnati — a prominent part of our skyline — and should really be on every Cincinnati Parent’s bucket list. So last weekend, on a stunning October afternoon, my family ventured downtown to see Cincinnati from the top of Carew Tower. (Because when you’re a mom, you can’t be scared of anything.)
The Carew Tower is located in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati, right off Fountain Square. It’s 49 stories (570 feet) tall, making it the second tallest building in the city (Great American Tower is the tallest). It was built in 1930 and the inside reflects the modernist, art deco style of the time. Today, the Carew Tower is home to offices and more than 25 shops.
We rode the main elevator up to the 45th floor, then over to a very narrow elevator which took us to a stairwell, where we walked the final flight up to the Observation Deck. There’s a small shop to pay (cash only!) and purchase a Cincinnati souvenir, then out to the deck you go!
As you open the doors, it’s a little disorienting — you’re literally above Cincinnati’s iconic (and giant) buildings like Paul Brown Stadium, Fountain Square, the Big Mac Bridge and Kroger Building. You can see train yards and interstates, the Ohio River for what feels like miles, The Museum Center on the other side of the city.
The views are breathtaking — truly 360 degrees. Carew Tower is one of those places that’s perfect anytime of the year — but the fall is especially beautiful. I recommend going in the next few weeks as the fall foliage in Cincinnati is at its peak!
Despite being so high up, the Observation Deck feels very grounded. Tall, sturdy concrete walls form a barrier taller than my toddler — and just the right height for my 5 and 3 year old to see over without giving their mom a heart attack.
My kids absolutely loved it — they were fearless and breathless and awestruck. Seeing them so excited was absolutely worth the minor heart attack I had venturing up to the Observation Deck. And — for several minutes, I even forgot about my fears!
But you still won’t see me on the Eiffel Tower anytime soon.
The Carew Tower Observation Deck is open seven days a week: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Admission is $4/adult, $2/ages 6-11 — cash only; small bills under $10 preferred! You can find metered parking on the streets surrounding Carew Tower or at the lot under Fountain Square.