This question has come up in conversation and, when I’ve had the pleasure of hosting visitors to Cincinnati, as I did just a few weeks ago, I’ve faced this challenge myself: how best to introduce an outsider to the Queen City? Here is my ideal itinerary for a weekend visit.
Let’s assume arrival late afternoon on a Friday. After settling in, we would head out for a taste of old-school Cincinnati goodness either at Price Hill Chili or Pleasant Ridge Chili. On a nice evening, we would head to Bellevue Hill Park to watch the sun set over the city.
Just to mix things up a bit and show a different side of old-school Cincinnati, we would get a drink in the Art Deco splendor of the Netherland Hilton in Carew Tower downtown.
If we were feeling really ambitious, we would trek over to Rhinegeist in Over-the-Rhine. I’m not a beer person at all, but it’s part of Cincinnati’s German heritage, and this is a unique space with cornhole [yet another bit of local color!] and ping pong; definitely a must-see for a visitor.
Saturday morning, we would head to Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine, feasting on pastries and coffee at Skirtz & Johnston [hello, goetta danish!]. I’m more of a weekday shopper, but it’s fun to check out the market in all its competitive shopping glory.
Afterward, we would stop by the Rookwood Pottery showroom to see the work of this historic Cincinnati company, and then we’d head to Cincinnati Union Terminal for a free, docent-led tour, where we’d learn all about the gorgeous Art Deco architecture, glass mosaic murals and the unique all-Rookwood ice cream parlor.
Then we’d go up to the top of Tower A to check out the train tracks.
Meandering back through OTR, I would point out some of the awesome ghost signs and ghost graffiti, and then we’d visit Mike and Carolyn [and VL work] at MiCA 12/v, our favorite neighborhood store. Grabbing some coffe at Coffe Emporium on Central and continuing downtown, I would show off some of my favorite ArtWorks murals, like Amanda Checco’s Ice Cream Daydream.
We’d stop for an obligatory photo-op in front of the Hustler Store, and then we’d check out the Contemporary Arts Center, where my favorite exhibit is the UnMuseum on the top floor, which includes a really cool interactive piece by my friend Cedric.
We would explore the detailed Art Deco interior of Carew Tower and take in a view of the area from its observation deck.
In nice weather, we would grab a cone of Graeter’s on Fountain Square and continue down to the riverfront, walking across the Roebling Bridge to explore Covington. There, we’d try some bourbon at the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar and get dinner at Bouquet or Otto’s, if we were feeling fancy, or at Zola, if we just wanted excellent burgers.
On a cool evening, we would stay in OTR instead, grabbing an early dinner at the recently opened and excellent Salazar, and then we’d swank it up at Music Hall [tickets start at $12, so the symphony is a fancy evening without a fancy price tag].
Sunday brunch is the most important meal of the week and, while there are plenty of options in OTR, I’m partial to MOTR. Brunch in a bar? Hey, it works, and it’s some of the tastiest food in the neighborhood. Plus, pinball machines in the basement, so…
Afterward, we’d walk off our meal with a leisurely walk around Northside, checking out all the CoSign signs and doing a bit of shopping at Black Plastic Records, Fabricate, Shake It Records, and other cool independent businesses in the neighborhood.
We would end the weekend excursion with a visit to the legitimately awesome American Sign Museum in Camp Washington:
Note: This is an update of last year’s “perfect weekend” post. Places have closed or opened since then, and I incorporated a few things from the comments. Plus, a friend from Detroit visited a few weeks ago, and this is almost exactly what we did, which reminded me to make an official update.
Anyway, that’s my romp through Cincinnati at its Cincinnatiest. Fellow Queen City dwellers, what would you put on your must-do list? Where do you always take your guests?