February 15, 2005 2:21 AM   Subscribe

When you think of Cincinnati, what do you think?

A friend of mine is visiting for a couple days. I didn't grow up here, but I'm here at the moment. So I said I'd give her the tour, but I'm not sure what to miss/not miss. There's a river. There's the ghetto. There's some malls. There's lots of chili parlors. There's gambling in Indiana. There's a deer farm somewhere on the west side. And midget town, I forgot about that. I figure we'll get something to eat and just drive around while the sun is up. What I'm asking is, having never been here, what's the quick impression you have of this town and what would you expect/not expect to find here? Or, less generally, what if anything, do you imagine you would like to see/do if you were here? I have some ideas, but comparison with a random sample will help.
posted by airguitar to Travel & Transportation around Cincinnati, OH (43 answers total)
Well, I think of Johnny Bench and the Big Red Machine, but I'm getting older and my mind sometimes wanders...
posted by fixedgear at 2:58 AM on February 15, 2005

Baby, if you've ever wondered,
Wondered whatever became of me,
I'm living on the air in Cincinnati,
Cincinnati, WKRP.

Got kind of tired packing and unpacking,
Town to town and up and down the dial
Maybe you and me were never meant to be,
But baby think of me once in awhile.

I'm at WKRP in Cincinnati..

I know its no help, but that's the first thing that comes to mind.
posted by tetsuo at 3:21 AM on February 15, 2005

posted by mr.marx at 3:32 AM on February 15, 2005

What would I show someone in Cincinnati who was interested in a good time? I can't really help you with night time, other than to say that Bogart's is a good club and has Patty Smyth w/ Scandal on Saturday (if you like that kind of thing). They used to have a few good brew pubs, but those seem to be in decline up here in Columbus, so I don't know if that's true down there too. For daytime fun, my knowledge is more complete. There's a lot to do and see that makes Cincinnati a nice place to be. I'll post some ideas when I get to work.
posted by putzface_dickman at 3:37 AM on February 15, 2005

Happy Days! Was that even set there? And the title of a Mono song.
posted by Navek Rednam at 3:39 AM on February 15, 2005

The Bengals. But only because they're my American football team and I've never actually been anywhere near the city.
posted by salmacis at 3:48 AM on February 15, 2005

I second Bogart's wholeheartedly.

For other nightlife go to Mt Adams, park the car and crawl from pub to pub.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens is awesome, though this isn't the best time of year for that.

The Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park, definitely, just for the orchid grotto [which used to be, I haven't been there on this trip yet] located at the far end of the 'desert climate' wing.

Another neat place is The Wooden Nickel - a shop that specializes in architectural salvage/resale. I used to love spending hours in there looking for just the right replacement for something broken in the early 1900s house I lived in back then. [this was 12 years ago]

Oh man, now I really MUST get out to see all these places again!
posted by kamylyon at 3:56 AM on February 15, 2005

Longfellow. His poem "Catawba Wine" is about the wine of the vineyards of the Queen City (Cincinnati) on the banks of the Beautiful River (Ohio).
This song of mine
Is a Song of the Vine,
To be sung by the glowing embers
Of wayside inns,
When the rain begins
To darken the drear Novembers.

It is not a song
Of the Scuppernong,
From warm Carolinian valleys,
Nor the Isabel
And the Muscadel
That bask in our garden alleys.

Nor the red Mustang,
Whose clusters hang
O'er the waves of the Colorado,
And the fiery flood
Of whose purple blood
Has a dash of Spanish bravado.

For richest and best
Is the wine of the West,
That grows by the Beautiful River;
Whose sweet perfume
Fills all the room
With a benison on the giver.

And as hollow trees
Are the haunts of bees,
For ever going and coming;
So this crystal hive
Is all alive
With a swarming and buzzing and humming.

Very good in its way
Is the Verzenay,
Or the Sillery soft and creamy;
But Catawba wine
Has a taste more divine,
More dulcet, delicious, and dreamy.

There grows no vine
By the haunted Rhine,
By Danube or Guadalquivir,
Nor on island or cape,
That bears such a grape
As grows by the Beautiful River.

Drugged is their juice
For foreign use,
When shipped o'er the reeling Atlantic,
To rack our brains
With the fever pains,
That have driven the Old World frantic.

To the sewers and sinks
With all such drinks,
And after them tumble the mixer;
For a poison malign
Is such Borgia wine,
Or at best but a Devil's Elixir.

While pure as a spring
Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it, one needs but name it;
For Catawba wine
Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it.

And this Song of the Vine,
This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
To the Queen of the West,
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.
posted by pracowity at 4:02 AM on February 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

(As noted above)
W-K-R-P in Cincinaaaaaaaati!
posted by jeremias at 4:20 AM on February 15, 2005

Chili. Marge Schott. Those people getting killed at the Who concert in 1979. P&G. Riverfront Stadium.

Good luck getting a tour out of that.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:42 AM on February 15, 2005

The only thing I've ever heard about the city is that they have a nice zoo. I would want to see it if I visited.

Doing the free association before I saw the explanation inside, my first thought upon seeing "Cincinnati" is Homer caliing the sports betting tip phone:

Coach: In the game... of... My... am... eee...
Homer: Uh huh.
Coach: Versus Sin...
Homer: Cincinnati.
Coach: sin...
Homer: Cincinnati.
Coach: nat...
Homer: Cincinnati.
Coach: eee...
Homer: Come on! Come on! Don't you realize this is costing me money!
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:47 AM on February 15, 2005

Jerry Springer and Scott Walker
posted by the cuban at 5:06 AM on February 15, 2005


Jungle Jim's -- Singing. Robot. Lion. Elvis.
posted by lotsofno at 5:11 AM on February 15, 2005

The new Contemporary Arts Center is considered the most important post-Cold war american building. The art is cool too. It's just north of Fountain Square, which is where the fountain in the WKRP opening is from. There's a good scottish pub around the corner from the CAC.
The Roebling Suspension Bridge goes across the Ohio and is the other bridge by the Brooklyn bridge designer. It's between the new stadiums, which are pretty, but not doing much right now. There's a new Reds Hall of Fame by the ballpark, if that's your thing. Bonus activity: finding all of the references to Pete Rose hidden in the ballpark that just squeak under the ban. Also between the stadiums is the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Look at their calendar. It's definitely worth the visit if there's a program you're interested in and can include with the museum portions.
Across the river in Newport is the popular Newport Aquarium and an officially licensed Hofbrauhaus for all of your bavarian lager needs (they've got a doppelbock this month!).

I'll second the zoo and eden park. The Museum Center is in a gorgeous art deco train station. I love the building so much. There's an Omnimax and travelling exhibits (right now about the czar) but the Natural history museum is great, my favorites being the lifesize diorama of ice age animals at the southern boundary of glaciation, and the caving tour.
posted by putzface_dickman at 5:14 AM on February 15, 2005

Yeah, Jungle Jim's. The Museum Center (more for the architecture than for the exhibits). And the modern art museum, the place where the outrageous reaction to Mapplethorpe's photographs all began. And maybe the Rookwood pottery restaurant, where you can eat your dinner inside a kiln.
posted by crunchland at 5:26 AM on February 15, 2005

My roommate in college was from Cincinnati and when I went to visit I went to the Museum Center, a Skyline chili restaurant, a president's (Warren G. Harding, maybe) house, downtown, Mariemont (English-style suburb). Oh, and we drove across the bridge to see Kentucky.
posted by Frank Grimes at 5:31 AM on February 15, 2005

I meant to add this link to regional historical sites. Fort Ancient is just up i-71, and is the most impressive pre-Columbian earthworks living site I know about. They have a good little museum too, including a reconstructed dwelling and dietary garden that was meticulously reconstructed from pollen & seed samples. It's much farther off, but there's nothing comparable to the serpent mound.

Frank Grimes: Cincinnati gets the fat president, WH Taft. (One of his great grandsons, Bob, is our governor, another, Dudley, can play the banjo). Marion, Ohio claims America's worst president, Warren Harding (how this happened is dicussed in Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Blink).
posted by putzface_dickman at 5:41 AM on February 15, 2005

The Serpentine Mound is in Adams County, Ohio and quite interesting. I climbed the tower the day before my second child was born. (yes, insanity doesn't run in my family, I pwn it ALL)

I also claim fame of having gone to the Mapplethorpe exhibit, which was interesting in a completely different way.
posted by kamylyon at 7:07 AM on February 15, 2005

Happy Days! Was that even set there?

That was Milwaukee, I believe.
posted by jalexei at 7:10 AM on February 15, 2005

Make it up to Monroe to see Giant Jesus!. Not much else up that way worth seeing, but your almost in Dayton... not much to see there. The flea markets at that exit are impressive, Turtle Creek and Traders World .

there's a cool laser tag place, up in fairfield, and you can see that mills mall.

I know not historic stuff, or even very interesting... but it's the best I could do.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 7:13 AM on February 15, 2005

Take her to get some Graeter's ice cream. I know it's a little cold to eat ice cream, but it is really incredible ice cream.
posted by amarynth at 7:26 AM on February 15, 2005

I've been there once or twice. I took a walk around the new fancy train station which had some history/museum stuff in it, and took a drive up to the Rookwood area [I think?] which was a neat funky neighborhood way up a hill with a good Thai restaurant. The library downtown is also pretty cool, but maybe not everyone loves to visit libraries like I do.
posted by jessamyn at 7:41 AM on February 15, 2005

...the ghetto-ass neighborhoods in Traffic, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Jerry Springer.
posted by glibhamdreck at 7:44 AM on February 15, 2005

The Zoo! My parents used to drive us all the way from Indianapolis to see the white Bengal tigers at the Cincinnati Zoo!
posted by headspace at 7:59 AM on February 15, 2005

Les Nessman, baby! And Dr. Johnny Fever! And the WKRP carp fighting with the WPIG pig in the bathroom! And live turkeys plummeting to their deaths! And masking tape walls! And getting drunk on air!

Was there ever a better sit-com?
posted by jdroth at 7:59 AM on February 15, 2005

The Reds and the Bengals. And U of C basketball.

Yeah, I like sports.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:03 AM on February 15, 2005

Mostly, I think of the protests surrounding that Mapplethorpe exhibit in the 80s, and my ex-girlfriend's insane ultra-Catholic parents. But, sometimes I think of Greg Dulli and the Afghan Whigs.
posted by psmealey at 8:06 AM on February 15, 2005

I've never been there, but whenever I hear 'Cincinnati', I always think about Martha, the last existing Passenger Pigeon, who died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. I think there's a Passenger Pigeon Memorial in the zoo, in what used to be the aviary. I would definitely go see that.
posted by iconomy at 8:08 AM on February 15, 2005

I'm a bit biased, as my father used to be in charge of economic development for the city in the early 90's, but i like Over-the-Rhine. A lot of people dismiss it as ghetto, but there's some interesting stuff there. One of my favorite restaurants in Cincinnati, Kaldi's, is in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. OtH also has a really neat historic farmers market, Findlay Market, which takes place Wednesday through Saturday.

To fully answer the question: though it's not the most positive thing, when I think of Cincinnati I think of riots caused by repeated incidents of white cops shooting unarmed black men.
posted by j3s at 8:25 AM on February 15, 2005

The Reds. WKRP. Persecution of Robert Mapplethorpe and Larry Flynt. And if my girlfreind who lived there for two years is correct, lousy chili.
posted by jonmc at 8:47 AM on February 15, 2005

I remember that I was born there. that's about it for me, but my parents would tell you to get ribs at the Montgomery Inn.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:47 AM on February 15, 2005

Queen City Jazz and the sequel, Mississippi Blues, by Kathleen Ann Goonan -- wonderful "nano" science fiction.
posted by Rash at 8:54 AM on February 15, 2005

The Taft Museum is a pretty good Federal-period house museum.

The Aquarium in Newport is cool because there are plexiglass tunnels that allow you to actually walk through the shark tanks. If you are lucky enough to visit on feeding day, the staff will tell you more than you ever thought you wanted to know about sharks. The walk-through ends with the penguin exhibit which is quite entertaining.

There's a fairly new nightclub in Newport which was fun even on a dead-of-winter weeknight. Can't remember what it's called, but it has enough neon to light up most of Northern Ky.

Sadly, WKRP doesn't have nearly so much presence in Cincinnati as it should.
posted by Alylex at 10:02 AM on February 15, 2005

Cincinnati-style Chili!
posted by spock at 10:22 AM on February 15, 2005

I used to work for The Know Theatre Tribe. They're having "pay-what-you-can" performances on 2/17-2/19 of 4.48 Psychosis...
4.48 is the time most suicides take place. 4.48 Psychosis takes us into the mind of one of the most talented writers of the past decade. Bombarded with imagery, chaotic streams of thought collide with free-form verse. Dealing with a society trying to medicate her out of anxiety, ADD, Depression; a world that did not understand her love of another woman, and the absence of true friendship, Sarah Kane leads us to the edge of life itself.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 10:32 AM on February 15, 2005

Scribble Jam, chili and Mr. Dibbs.
posted by box at 10:54 AM on February 15, 2005

As a resident for the past seven years, I can say that most if not all these suggestions are very good idea. Alylex is right in saying that WKRP plays no role in the goings on of the daily functioning of the city.

Chilli is a common theme but keep in mind that this is "Cincinnati Chilli" and quite a bit different than what people think of chilli. Its a bit sweeter than most people are used to and is served on top of spaghetti with cheddar cheese on top. You'll love it or hate it. There usually isn't much middle ground with this one.

If your friend was visiting a bit later in the year, then Paramount's Kings Island is one of the biggest seasonal theme parks in the country. If the weather works out for you, the zoo previously mentioned is something that is quite nice if you like that sort of thing.

In addition to the Contemporary Arts Center and the Taft Museum, you shouldn't pass up the Cincinnati Art Museum which is located in the Eden Park/Mt. Adams area just outside of downtown. It is a very large Museum (with free admission) that has a very large collection of works by all the typical masters as well a new wing that focuses on the art and history of the city including a large collection of pottery. Very close by is the bars and restaurants of Mt. Adams (including the aforementioned Rookwood Pottery restaurant which you can indeed dine inside of giant kiln). The views of the city skyline and the river are very nice from up here.

Across the river, there are some nice attractions around the Newport Aquarium. Adjacent to the aquarium is a shopping/entertainment complex called Newport on the Levee with lots of shops, restaurants, bars, a multiplex, a caberet and a comedy club (I see that Mitch Hedberg is playing this weekend and he is supposed to be very good). Due south of the complex is neighborhood with lots of 19th century Victorian houses and mansions. It can make for a nice walking tour.

If the walking thing is something you are into, you might check out the squares of Hyde Park, Oakley and Mt. Lookout. There are lots of little, independent shops and restaurants in these areas and tons of big pretty houses and tree lined streets. Also, about a mile past the Hyde Park Square, you can find the oddest house in Cincinnati [Self Link].

As for additional things for this upcoming weekend, it happens to be the Fine Arts Fund Sampler Weekend which offers 180 different cultural events around the city all for free. In general,'s Freetime section has a decent list of things that are going on as well as restaurant reviews and the like.

Lastly, feel free to drop me a note with any questions.
posted by mmascolino at 3:55 PM on February 15, 2005

A block and a bridge.
That bar on the slope of Mt Adams where I spent way to much time drinking beer, playing darts and soaking in the view. The bartender at the time looked like Ted Dansen.
Architecture: school first and foremost but really the Contemporary Arts Center, half of Cincinnati's campus, Union Terminal, this could go on for some time.
That only someone living in Cincinnati would use the word "ghetto" in 2005.
The Blind Lemon. In the winter. With snow falling. And a big steel firepit.
The Metro (not mass transit and probably long gone).
A bed in a drawer.
posted by Dick Paris at 3:59 PM on February 15, 2005

You forgot "Please?"
posted by kamylyon at 4:04 PM on February 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

WKRP and Mapplethorpe.
posted by NortonDC at 2:36 AM on February 16, 2005

Thank you, thank you, all very much.
posted by airguitar at 1:31 PM on February 16, 2005

That only someone living in Cincinnati would use the word "ghetto" in 2005.

Actually, I live in Chicago, and have for the last five years, thanks for the incorrect assumption. Next time I suppose I'll use "socioeconomically-challenged" instead.
posted by j3s at 8:12 AM on February 17, 2005

I brought this up with Dick Paris privately. It's a semantics thing, let's not get post-modern. For the record, I like Over the Rhine. I lived on Mohawk for a while. It's worth a tour just for the shape of the place.
Over-the-Rhine is the largest collection of 19th century architecture in the country.
It's an anomaly. A strange juxtaposition to the shiny office spaces south of the old canal (Central Parkway). A foothill to the University of Cincinnati. But make no mistake, it's ghetto. The battle for gentry continues. I don't know of a declared winner, but that itself is of interest. There is flux. Anyone who enjoys being in the midst of a story can make a good day of OTR.
posted by airguitar at 1:25 AM on February 18, 2005

« Older Why are electric guitar pickups designed the way...   |   How do I get my LG flatron 795 monitor to work... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.