Despite the fact that Kentucky is the South and Ohio is the Midwest, we share a lot of border. I’m talking a lot. Cincinnati is only about ninety minutes away from Louisville, so I go there sometimes, just for kicks.
I am usually morally opposed to going to Ohio, because what do they have that I don’t, other than IKEA and some pro sports teams? Admittedly, those are some pretty big things to not have, but I also discovered they have some OTHER stuff that I like/want.
There is some amazing art deco architecture and the like, some beautiful museums, great food, and all kinds of stuff like that. All in all, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting from the third largest city in Ohio. A lot of people gave me amazing suggestions, and I followed them accordingly.
Don’t take my word for it. Photos and a city guide after the jump.
So above are my favorite photos from my trip(s). I conveniently excluded the photos from inside Ikea and Nordstrom Rack. You are very welcome.
Again with the caveat that I stay with friends, couchsurf, and Air B n B everywhere, here’s a good-but-not-exhaustive list of places to hit in Cincinnati.
- Terry’s Turf Club. Burgers in every iteration known to man. I am serious. You can get anything there. They’re low on service, but high on zaniness, and the system works. Get there as the door opens or be prepared to wait indefinitely. It’s among warehouses mostly, so you aren’t lost if you think you are.
- My friend, Michael Paley, just opened the new restaurant at 21C- Cincinnati, the second in a teensy boutique hotel chain based in Louisville. Metropole has a lot to look at, great cocktails, and fancy-but-filling food that is his calling card.
- Senate had hands down the best hot dog I have ever had. Before you’re like, “it’s a nine dollar hot dog!”, please just try it. It’s enormous, tasty, etc. Also, they have some great sandwiches and desserts. No reservations, so expect to wait. They have a little sister restaurant next door where you can sit and wait for a table, and it has great wine specials.
- There are now about 30 locations of Graeter’s, including my hometown, but if you’re not from around the area, you need to go here and get the chocolate coconut almond fudge.
- All I heard from anyone was to drink at Nada, but they were closed when I was there. Please tell me you’ve been and that it was outstanding. PLEASE.
- My favorite waffle ever is to be had at Taste of Belgium. It’s my impression that they have expanded and have more locations now, so just go to one, get a waffle, and don’t try and tell me it wasn’t amazing.
- Bakersfield has great tequila drinks and an amazing look. I’ve seen several direct rips on this in other cities, but they do it best.
- Findlay Market is Ohio’s oldest market, and they have what feels like an unlimited number of carts and stalls. I love the homemade soap, the gelato, and the fresh pastas. Outside, there are also brick-and-mortar shops, some of them with hard-to-find imports, rare teas, and fresh breads.
- This little place is like Cincy’s answer to Why Louisville? and I love that place! Get an unconventional souvenir and buy local.
- You want good records? I do. They have them.
- La Silhouette is off the beaten path if you’re doing all this stuff, but beautiful lingerie at every price point, from Victoria Secret prices to the unthinkable $600 bra.
- Take in a Reds game. It’s cheap and fun and it’s called the Great American Ballpark. Check your sense of irony and go enjoy yourself with a cold beer and some peanuts. Perk: the Reds are good right now!
- Check out the aforementioned great museums. I included some pictures above, but the Cincinnati Museum of Art has a great permanent collection and some outstanding exhibits. I had a great time there, and the adjacent Eden Park is a great place to have a picnic or just walk around. The neighborhood around there is a little hilly to say the least, but it’s really pretty and has some weirdly-shapen houses for you to enjoy. I also really liked the Contemporary Art Center, which is downtown and intimidatingly hip. Pro tip: Try out a weird hat you haven’t worn before while visiting here and the employees will all tell you how much they like it.
- Fountain Square has free movies in the summer and a lot going on indeed. It sounds silly to say “go look at this outside block” but it IS really nice.
- The only thing I haven’t done in Cincinnati that I really, really want to go to is…the zoo! I hear it’s so beautiful, and I’m itching to go. Maybe this spring when it warms up.