Rose’s Cincinnati

Rose Davidson was an intern for National Geographic Travel Books this past summer. She studied anthropology and journalism in college, where she developed a passion for culture and the arts, and has traveled extensively around the world, but this Ohio girl will always call Cincinnati home. Here are some of Rose’s favorite things about the Queen City.

Follow Rose’s story on Twitter @RoseMaeDavidson and on her personal website.  

Cincinnati is My City 

When people come to visit me, the first place I take them is the Cincinnati wing of the Cincinnati Art Museum. It houses tons of items that are unique to the Queen City, including Rookwood Pottery pieces and paintings such as “The Whistling Boy” by Cincinnati native Frank Duveneck.

Autumn is the best time to visit my city because Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is truly an occasion to celebrate. The free festival, America’s largest Oktoberfest – takes place in late September, when Cincinnatians flock downtown to experience the city’s German heritage. 

You can see my city best from Mount Adams, a neighborhood filled with quaint restaurants and bars. One place with spectacular views is the Mount Adams Pavilion, a bar and nightclub that’s particularly popular among the younger crowd. 

Locals know to skip the movie theater and check out the five-story OMNIMAX Theater in the Cincinnati Museum Center instead.

The I Love Cincinnati Shoppe is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. 

In the past, notable people like William Howard Taft, Steven Spielberg, and Sarah Jessica Parker have called my city home. 

My city’s best museum is also its newest – the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which puts a spotlight on the issues of slavery and human trafficking. It’s also conveniently located inside an ongoing development of real estate and entertainment destinations along the Ohio River called The Banks. 

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that the public transportation is severely lacking. There is a bus system – called Metro by the locals – but the city is still best navigated by car. 

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Consistently rated one of the best zoos in the U.S., the 70-acre space holds such exhibits as “Cat Canyon” and the interactive “Lorikeet Landing.” 

My city really knows how to celebrate Labor Day because the WEBN Fireworks, held the Sunday before the official day, are second to none. 

You can tell if someone is from my city if they can’t stop raving about Graeter’s ice cream. 

For a fancy night out, I visit a Jeff Ruby steakhouse. He has a few in the Cincinnati area, but one of the more intriguing experiences can be had at the Precinct, a restaurant that’s been transformed from a former Cincinnati Police patrol house. 

Just outside my city, you can visit Newport, Kentucky. Directly across the Ohio River, its main entertainment destination is Newport on the Levee. The area contains loads of restaurants and shops, along with some special attractions like the Newport Aquarium. 

My city is known for being focused on its sports teams, but it’s really a thriving community for local artists. You can see evidence of this in the multitude of small galleries sprinkled around the city. 

The best outdoor market in my city is Findlay Market. From April to November, it features an outdoor farmers market on the weekends. However, the market offers an array of produce, meats, cheeses, and other specialty items year-round in its indoor space. In Cincinnati, it’s an unparalleled shopping experience that many have come to cherish.

Sugar n’ Spice is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Shanghai Mama’s is the spot for late-night eats. 

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the city’s local arts publication, CityBeat, or Cincinnati Enquirer, the local daily newspaper. 

My city’s biggest sports event is Reds opening day. Watch it at Great American Ball Park. But be sure to catch the parade that takes place downtown before the game. 

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I consider a scenic walk across the Ohio River on one of two pedestrian-friendly bridges. One is completely closed to vehicles – the Purple People Bridge, a recently restored structure that’s now known around town for its striking lavender hue. The other, another vibrantly colored piece of architecture called the Roebling Suspension Bridge, served as a model for the Brooklyn Bridge and has an enclosed lane for pedestrians and bike riders. 

To escape the crowds, venture to Ault Park to spend some quality time with nature. 

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Neil Armstrong because both exemplify the personality of a humble Midwesterner. They’re hardworking and often selfless, but don’t seek recognition. 

The dish that represents my city best is the three-way (spaghetti topped with chili and loads of cheese) from the respected Cincinnati staple Skyline Chili, and a lager from local brewing company Christian Moerlein is my city’s signature drink.

Music Hall is my favorite building in town because its breathtaking Gothic architecture, in a neighborhood that is currently being revitalized, reminds me that Cincinnati possesses a wealth of intriguing history. It overlooks the recently renovated Washington Park, which has become a bustling hub for Cincinnati activity. 

The most random thing about my city is that before launching his provocative career as a television talk show host, Jerry Springer held political office as Cincinnati’s mayor.

Outdoor concert venue Riverbend Music Center is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Japp’s Annex in the up-and-coming Over-the-Rhine neighborhood for an eclectic mix of young people and oldies hits.

Thanks to Cincinnati’s past in the pork-producing industry, the Flying Pig Marathon could only happen in my city. 

In the spring you should take a stroll through Krohn Conservatory. Each year, the facility hosts a Butterfly Show in which visitors can mingle with these special guests. 

In the summer you should bounce around to the many church festivals throughout the city, particularly the popular Panegyri Greek Festival in late June. 

In the fall you should take in Cincinnati’s crisp, refreshing air while sitting on the concrete steps of the “Serpentine Wall” at Sawyer Point. 

In the winter you should try your hand at ice skating on the U.S. Bank Ice Rink in Cincinnati’s downtown Fountain Square, or take refuge from the cold in the new Horseshoe Casino. 

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss Kings Island – one of the Midwest’s largest amusement parks. In the summer months, don’t forget to check out the adjoining Soak City Waterpark. 

The best book about my city is Cincinnati and the Big Red Machine, by Robert Harris Walker. 

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because it maintains many of its beloved traditions, but is also a modern Midwestern destination that always has new things to explore.

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