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Did You Know … ?
- Cincinnati’s Gibson Greeting Card Company was the first to publish greeting cards in the U.S. (1850).
- Three presidents were born in or near Cincinnati: Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison and William Howard Taft.
- Singing cowboy Roy Rogers was born Leonard Franklin Slye in Cincinnati in 1911.
- The Cincinnati Red Stockings introduced the knickers that form part of a baseball uniform today (1868).
- The first outdoor pay phone was installed on a Cincinnati street (1905).
Built on seven hills
Cincinnati sits in southwest Ohio with suburbs in Indiana to the west and in Kentucky across the Ohio River to the south. It is one of multiple cities described as built on seven hills. It’s also named for the Roman soldier, Cincinnatus. The undulating landscape, combined with the river, several bridges and historic buildings, provide considerable charm.
Just north of downtown, the Over-the-Rhine historic area, originally a German settlement, encompasses the recently redeveloped Main Street Entertainment District. Its steep streets are lined with brick row houses, many recently refurbished, as well.
In addition, Cincinnati and allied interests invested heavily to revitalize the riverfront. Projects included, in the 2000s, new riverside baseball and football stadiums. More recently, the new Banks Entertainment District, located between the stadiums, introduced an expanded roster of retailers and restaurants.
Cincinnati was shaped by its location on the Ohio River, as well as its site next to Kentucky, a slave state.
The river was of incalculable importance to Cincinnati’s expansion into a major transport center. Centrally situated, Cincinnati then became a rail hub and, by the 1880s, was Ohio’s largest city (300,000 residents) and America’s most densely populated.
Cincinnati was the locus for significant abolitionist activity in the mid-19th century. Today, its National Underground Railroad Freedom Center brings much to the visitor’s understanding of that era.
Cincinnati and northern Kentucky share a heritage derived from 19th century German immigration. Covington, Ky., has its own revived settlement district — MainStrasse Village. By the mid-1800s, 36 area breweries produced more than 30 million gallons of beer annually.
That business, gutted by Prohibition, is experiencing a lively revival. Visitors can take a guided brewery tour, follow a brewery heritage trail or attend Oktoberfests north or south of the river. Newport, Ky., is one of the area’s entertainment hubs, too.
Tourists can literally walk across a bridge to either Covington or Newport. Further, the city’s proximity to Kentucky adds choices for horseracing and auto racing (there is horseracing in Cincinnati, as well).
Finally, Cincinnati is the cultural center of its region, with the requisite art galleries, ballet, music halls, opera and theater.
Things to do for Venturers
- Explore the nightlife in the Main Street Entertainment District, located in Over-the-Rhine, a formerly dilapidated downtown area now rejuvenated. Scout for live music in downtown or in Newport across the river in Kentucky.
- Choose your summertime music festival: Bunbury for indie/alternative music; Buckle Up for country; a Macy’s Music Festival featuring up-and-comers and old-timers in the blues, hip-hop, jazz and R&B genres, and the Cincy Blues Fest.
- For that matter, choose your Oktoberfest, in MainStrasse Village in Covington or Newport on the Kentucky side, or the biggest in downtown Cincinnati, all in September. America’s Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati is described as the world’s second largest and America’s largest with 500,000 attendees.
- Be sobered by the struggle of escaped slaves when visiting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Also, consider the Cincinnati History Museum at the Union Terminal.
- Rent a bicycle and trace the route of the 70-mile Loveland Bike Trail.
- Ride 68 mph on the world’s longest inverted roller coaster at King’s Island. Or, try the canopy adventure and ziplining at Creation Museum; it offers courses of varying levels of difficulty to accommodate individual preference.
Things to do for Centrics
- Eat goetta, a local food favorite, made with pinhead or cut steel oats, ground meat and secret seasonings. Two summertime Goettafests on the Kentucky side celebrate the dish, in MainStrasse Village in Covington and at Newport Festival Park.
- Go to the races at the Kentucky Speedway. For racing of another sort, see the thoroughbreds run at River Downs in Cincinnati or Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.
- Check out collegiate athletic competitions, particularly the basketball. Or, get tickets to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game.
- Celebrate the area’s Appalachian heritage at the springtime Appalachian Festival with appropriate foods, old-time music and handmade crafts.
- Walk across the Newport Southbank Bridge (the Purple People Bridge, locally) or the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge when opened (1866) until upstaged by the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, another Roebling project.
- Join a guided brewery tour that includes, besides the obvious, a look at abandoned brewery tunnels. Or, you can plot your own brew-sampling itinerary to experience a revived industry.
Things to do for Authentics
- Visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. Stowe, author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” lived in the house until 1850.
- Put the William Howard Taft National Historic Site: Birthplace and Boyhood Home on the itinerary. The site recalls much about the life and times of the only man to have been both U.S. president and chief justice of the Supreme Court. Separately, the Taft Museum displays art treasures collected by the former president’s half-brother.
- Ski at the Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Ind., about 25 minutes from downtown Cincinnati.
- Shop in the area’s outlets for some potentially big bargains. Then head to Waynesville, Ky., to shop for antiques. Time that visit to coincide with Waynesville’s Sauerkraut Festival in October.
- Take a riverboat sightseeing cruise on the Ohio River. On land, see the zoo in Cincinnati or the aquarium in Newport, Ky.
- Book accommodations in a B&B across the Ohio River in Covington. In the town’s restored MainStrasse Village. In the village, head to Goebel Park to watch mechanical puppets emerge from the park’s bell tower to reenact the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
For more information, consult the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.cincyusa.com