More than 40 downtown and suburban hotels are currently offering special deals. What are you waiting for?
Steamboats, flying pigs and chili on spaghetti … Cincinnati certainly has some interesting quirks! If you really want to fit in, practice using “Please?” for “What?” before you visit. All quirks aside, this city on the Ohio River offers something for everyone in your crew.
A Lesson in History
No visit to Cincinnati is complete without visiting Fountain Square, the heart of downtown. Amid the hustle and bustle, you’ll find the Visitor’s Center, along with plenty of places to eat and shop. Be sure to stop by Carew Tower, the tallest building in the area, and take a ride up the elevator to the observation deck ($2 adults; $1 children). You can see all of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky!
One of the best places to learn about the city’s rich history – as well as get a glimpse of its amazing architecture – is at Cincinnati Museum Center, located in the historic Union Terminal. Once a railroad station, the building is now home to the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, The Cincinnati Historical Society Museum and Library, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX Theater and the Cinergy Children’s Museum. The history museum offers detailed exhibits showing the city’s growth, including Cincinnati In Motion – an interactive model of the city featuring working trains and trolleys.
The natural history and science museum invites families to explore the Ice Age of the Ohio Valley, as well as a recreated Kentucky limestone cave with underground waterfalls, streams and a live bat colony. The Cinergy Children’s Museum – a must for younger members of the family – allows kids to climb, crawl and explore a variety of educational, hands-on exhibits. At the Energy Zone kids learn about different forms of energy; Kids Town features a scaled down neighborhood where kids run the town; Kids Like Me teaches multiculturalism; and Kids at Work focuses on construction to teach teamwork.
Cincinnati – in fact, all of Ohio – is currently preparing for the state’s Bicentennial Celebration. Cincinnati’s big moment in the celebration won’t arrive until October, along with more than a dozen riverboats, for Tall Stacks 2003 – a music, arts and heritage festival. The festival will highlight the culture of the steamboat era and include riverboat tours and races, history exhibits with costumed characters and on-shore entertainment. Visit www.tallstacks.com for details.
Some of the area’s biggest attractions require a full day, such as the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Ky., just over the river. Home to 11,000 marine animals, including jelly fish, penguins, alligators, sharks and more, the aquarium features clear tunnels for visitors to wander through, providing a 300-degree view of the underwater world.
The award-winning Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is open year-round and offers 70 acres of both indoor and outdoor exhibits, where you can get up close and personal with everything from polar bears to a real Komodo dragon from Indonesia.
Paramount’s Kings Island, which opens for the season in April, features plenty of rides for thrill-seekers (be sure to check out The Beast, the country’s largest wooden roller coaster), as well as tamer attractions for the very young (although adventurous kiddies will get a kick out of The Beastie – a scaled down version of its grandparent). Little ones will enjoy Hanna-Barbara Land, Nickelodeon Central and the park’s newest addition, Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Castle.
If you want to sample the flavors of Cincinnati, several eateries are a must. Be sure to stop at one of the many Skyline Chili diners and order a “three-way” (spaghetti, chili and cheese). Cincinnati locals also love their barbecue, and they make Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse the most popular restaurant in town. The restaurant’s fare has been enjoyed by presidents, professional athletes and other celebrities, and diners enjoy a magnificent view of the Ohio River. After dinner, head over to any Graeter’s ice cream shop for another hometown treat. The famous French pot ice cream is made in small batches of very dense, rich, ice cream about every 20 minutes. The mix is swirled along the sides of the pot, which spins slowly in a refrigerant. Liquid chocolate is poured in as the cream chills, forming giant chunks. The first Graeter’s store opened in 1879 on McMillan Street.
Where to Stay
The Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau is currently coordinating a special promotion, “Warm Up Your Winter.â€ More than 40 downtown and suburban hotels are offering special rates ranging from $39 – $89 through March. The vouchers are available for purchase until Feb. 28 and may be redeemed through March 31.
If You Go …
Cincinnati Museum Center
1301 Western Ave.
800-733-2077 or 513-287-7000
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
3400 Vine St.
800-94-HIPPO or 513-281-4700
Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau
800-CINCY-USA or 513-632-5378
1 Aquarium Way, Newport, Ky.
Paramount’s Kings Island
800-288-0808 or 513-754-5700
Sherry Landers is a freelance writer and editor.