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Cincinnati—A Chili Dish, Warm Reception

by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer and WTA Member

Learn about Cincinnati, Ohio by reading Cincinnati—A Chile Dish, Warm Reception by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer. It features a mini, but thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to know to plan your trip including getting there, objective information on places to stay and eat, and things to do. At the end of the article, we've provided a summary of the contact information for your easy reference. Enjoy!

Cinicinnati Art Museum
Located in scenic Eden Park, the Cincinnati Art Museum features
an unparalleled art collection of more than 60,000 works spanning 6,000 years.
Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Art Museum

Back in the early 1930s when even radio was in its infancy, an actor named Jack Pearl was featured on a radio program as the famous Baron Munchausen. Several times on each program, after being questioned about some of his outlandish stories, he would ask "Vas you dere, Charlie?" Frequently he would include a place in his stories and the question would be "Vas you effer in Zinzinnati?"

If you "effer vas in Zinzinnati" you would certainly remember it, because this city in the southwest corner of Ohio surely is a premier spot for living or visiting. Cincinnati is situated on the shoreline about center of the 981-mile long Ohio River. Although the city itself is spotted on the northern side of the river in the rolling hills of the buckeye state, the attractions spread out into northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana. The name is plural for Cincinnatus—Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus—to be exact. And like the city of Rome where Cincinnatus was respected for his wisdom and virtue, Cincinnati is a city built on seven hills. Throughout all seven are interesting places to visit from top sporting events to fascinating bits of history and fun-filled action.

One of your first stops probably will be the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, where she lived and wroteUncle Tom’s Cabin. Cincinnati was a key location in the Underground Railroad that brought many slaves across the river into freedom. During certain times of the year the house is open to the public; at other times it can be viewed by appointment.

The role of this city in the antislavery and abolitionist movements can be found at one of the many museums in the city—The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Here you will see exhibits from the Railroad’s active days.

Another must see on your visit is the Cincinnati Museum Center. It was originally built in 1933 as a modern and ornate Union Terminal railroad station. The Center is home for the Cincinnati History Museum, Cinergy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX Theater and the Cincinnati Historical Society Library. Nearly one-and-a-half million people visit these museums annually.

Art lovers must take in the Taft Museum of Art. Paintings here include works by Whistler, Rembrandt, and Turner as well as Chinese ceramics and European decorative arts. Let’s visit one more museum before we go off to other adventures. That would be the American Sign Museum where you take a walk down memory lane where you can experience the only public sign museum in America.

If touring those museums gives you an appetite, make a bee line for one of the chili parlors and enjoy a dish that had its beginning here but has now spread out to satisfy the hungers of people in many parts of the nation—Cincinnati Chili. Add cheese, onions or other garnishes to the chili heaped over a bed of spaghetti. And nothing cools down the hot chili better than a cold stein of beer. Cincinnati has a large population of German origin whose touch is found in locally brewed beers. You will also enjoy the authentic German beer gardens and restaurants.

There are many fine restaurants and much night life right downtown in the Fountain Square area. You’ll also find clubs and bistros abound in the Mt. Adams neighborhood and be sure to take part in the fun at the Houfbräuhas, an authentic German brewery.

Sports are big in "the Queen City." In 1869, the first professional baseball team—the Red Stockings—was formed and now play as the Cincinnati Reds. Take a few minutes to visit the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Football season has the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is rated one of the top zoos in the United States. Besides seeing more than 500 animals, you will enjoy some 3,999 species of plants.

For fun for the youngsters and adults, go out to Coney Island Amusement Park. It is no longer the biggest amusement park in the area but this center on the riverbank has survived many floods over the years and keeps coming back because it is so well liked and convenient. There are twelve major and eight kiddie rides, including a new steel rollercoaster. Youngsters will enjoy the Kids Town, skeetball, miniature golf, and many more fun features. Coney’s Moonlight Gardens was once the premier place for dancing in the area. During the Big Band era, all the top orchestras played here. Although the Dorsey, Miller, Goodman and other legendary bands no longer grace the bandstand, there is still dancing under the stars in this romantic setting.

Another highlight of your visit will be taking a lunch or dinner cruise on one of the BB Riverboats. This is the oldest and largest riverboat company and features cruises on different vessels. TheBelle of Cincinnatisternwheeler is the queen boat of the Queen City. In its inner decks with lavish Victorian décor or on the open top deck, you will cruise in comfort as you watch the beautiful skyline of Cincinnati and the rolling hills of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Each climate controlled deck also includes a bar and dance floor.

And on the subject of bars and dance floors, just a few miles out of Cincinnati are casinos, open every day and night. The Argosy Casino and Hotel in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, for instance, has more than 2,000 slots and about 90 gaming tables. Another casino is across the river in Florence, Kentucky.

The first bag of airmail was lifted from here in a hot air balloon in 1835, but the city is not noted for its aviation activity, other than manufacture of aircraft engines. However, Ohio is considered the birthplace of flight. Dayton, where the Wright Brothers developed the airplane is just a few miles north and well worth the trip to soak up the historic and current exhibits of flight.

Cincinnati was the first city in the U.S. to publish greeting cards and the company, Gibson Greeting Cards, still flourishes here. It is just one of the major companies located here and one of the many firsts that Cincinnati can claim. The city was the first to establish a weather bureau, first to establish a municipal fire department, and first to establish a municipal university. Although the trip you plan might be your first to this corner of Ohio, you certainly won’t want it to be your last.

How to Get There

By Air:Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG) is served primarily by Delta airlines and because it has a near monopoly, fares are often reported higher, making flights to and from this airport often considered some of the most expensive in the country. Try checking fares to other airports: Dayton, OH is only an hour away by car; Louisville, KY or Columbus, OH each are about a two hour drive away.

By Car:Interstate 71 serves from Louisville and Columbus; Interstate

75 takes you from Dayton in the north or Lexington from the south.

By Train:Amtrak serves the area from Tuesday through Sunday, stopping at the Union Terminal/Cincinnati Museum Center. All arrivals and departures are at night from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. The station is about one mile from downtown hotels.

By Bus:Greyhound offers service from many American cities. The station is downtown.

Where to Stay

There are seven excellent hotels in the downtown area with more than 3,000 rooms available. In addition, you will find additional hotels and motels just a few miles across the Ohio River in northern Kentucky and numerous motels in suburban areas like Reading or Sharonville.

You can check rates and book your room and rental car atWTA’s Online Travel Booking Service. Significant discounts may apply.

Where to Dine

By all means visit one or more of the Cincinnati chili houses. Try the Skyline─which has grown into a chain—or eat at a competitor, Gold Star. Cincinnati chili has no beans but you can have them added if you wish. There are numerous ethnic restaurants, particularly those that feature German dishes. The downtown hotels have excellent dining rooms.

Notice: This information is current as of June 2008. It is recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or visit the websites above to determine any changes to the information.