American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
Exploring Cincinnati with a Longtime Expert, Part 2
Yesterday, I posted the first installment of a three-part interview with Betsa Marsh – Cincinnati resident, longtime travel writer, and author of Cincinnati Essentials ($2.99), a handy app available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. In the first part of my interview with Betsa – admittedly, the most knowledgeable Cincinnati expert I know – she shared her favorite aspects of “The Queen City,” described her nine-year experience as a history docent for the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC), and offered a few recommendations for outdoor enthusiasts.
If you'd like to learn a bit more about Cincinnati, here's the second part of my interview with Betsa:
American Nomad: You've already shared a few recommendations for outdoor activities. Alternatively, which indoor attractions would you most recommend for first-time visitors to Cincinnati?
Betsa Marsh: It's always good to start at the beginning: Sawyer Point downtown is a riverside park celebrating Cincinnati's 200th birthday in 1988. You can trace the area's ancient origins, Indian past, and European settlement in creative outdoor exhibits. No one ever gets tired of the Flying Pig Sculpture, a paean to our past when Cincinnati was, alas, pork packer to the world.
Once you have your bearings, it's fun to see the giant mosaics in the rotunda of the Cincinnati Museum Center. One tells the tale of Cincinnati's settlement, its twin on the other side of the vast dome, the tale of Westward Expansion.
To savor some of the most beautiful architecture saved from our early days, head to the Taft Museum, a world-class art collection beautifully set within an 1820s mansion.
AN: Where can shoppers find the best local goods and artwork?
BM: The Over-the-Rhine region north of downtown is a great starting point, with shops such as MiCA, full of local talent in jewelry, fiber art, and clothing. The 5th Street Gallery downtown is stocked with works by local artists in glass, pottery, painting, and paper. The Cincinnati Art Museum carries jewelry by local artisans.
AN: Where can you catch the city's best views?
BM: Well, it might sound like heresy, but I often take people across the Ohio River to Riverside Row in Covington, Kentucky, a gorgeous street of mansions from the era of legendary riverboat captains. You can grab a bench and take in the river, the stadiums, and the skyscrapers of downtown Cincinnati.
It's also fun to start at Newport on the Levee in northern Kentucky and walk across the Purple People Bridge, the longest pedestrian span connecting two states. Just ogle downtown and look straight down at the barge traffic below your feet.
And there may be a tie for the best aerial view. From the 49th-floor Observation Deck of the 1931 Carew Tower, you can see the bend in the Ohio River, all of downtown Cincinnati, and much of northern Kentucky – it's just gorgeous. Or, go a mile east to Mount Adams, our little San Francisco-style enclave, and head to the back of Holy Cross-Immaculata Church. The view high above the river is a spiritual moment all its own.
AN: Which accommodations, restaurants, and diversions would you most recommend for couples trying to enjoy a romantic getaway in Cincinnati?
BM: Downtown, you might want to book a little nest at The Cincinnatian, where all the stars stay when they're in town. Start with a cocktail at the hotel's Cricket Lounge, then head over to the Carew Tower and zoom up to the observation deck – it's our own Sleepless in Seattle moment. To seal the deal or celebrate a special moment, there's a Tiffany's just across the street.
In Oakley, one of the sweetest spots is Aglamesis, an authentic ice cream parlor from 1914 – Bon Appetit called it “one of the last authentic ice cream parlors in the U.S.” Over the century, hundreds – and maybe thousands – of couples have gotten engaged over a sundae here.
AN: On the other hand, which accommodations, attractions, restaurants, and activities would you most recommend for a family vacation?
BM: This is a family town, and most of the museums cater to kids. Cincinnati Museum Center includes the Duke Energy Children's Museum, and little ones can play for hours up in the tree house or at their own farmer's market. At the Museum of Natural History & Science, they can hike through a Kentucky limestone cave or shiver through Ice Age Cincinnati 19,000 years ago.
The Contemporary Arts Center downtown has the Unmuseum, with a crazy tilted room and lots of materials for kids to make their own masterpieces. It's a full-sensory spot.
If you're still curious about Cincinnati, stay tuned for the final part of my interview with Betsa. In the meantime, you can explore other destinations in the region with the help of Douglas Trattner's Moon Cleveland, Theresa Dowell Blackinton's Moon Kentucky, and my own Moon Michigan guide.
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below, contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com, or connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of the Cincinnati Museum Center courtesy of the CMC / Text © 2012 Laura Martone