Please? What We Did with 48 Hours in Cincinnati

Friday, August 23, 2019

Cincinnati is just under four hours away, but neither Mike nor I has ever spent much time there. My aunt, uncle, & cousin live there, & so I've visited them in the suburbs a few times, but I've only been to downtown Cincinnati once - just two months after Mike & I started dating! 

We decided to do a quick weekend trip to visit the fam & check out the city, though we arrived late Friday night, which really only left Saturday for exploring. I think we made the most of it, though, & the kind folks at the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau helped out by sending along some ideas & hooking us up with some adventures.  

We arrived late on Friday & had a drink on my aunt & uncle's roof deck, which has a gorgeous view of the river (as seen above). The Cincinnati Reds brought out the big fireworks for us, too: They started within 10 minutes of our arrival! What a freakin' view.

On Saturday, we walked around downtown a little bit, checking out the "Mr. Redlegs" benches you see in that top photo & below. This throwback mascot from the Cincinnati Reds is everywhere - & that mustache is extremely photogenic! 

There's also a very cool Ferris wheel downtown - right along the bank of the Ohio River - but alas, my husband is a litttttle bit afraid of heights, so I didn't get to ride it this time. 

Much like Cleveland & Pittsburgh, Cincinnati is full of bridges, & some of them have fun colloquial names, like the Purple People Bridge (pedestrians only!) & the Big Mac Bridge (formally named the Daniel Carter Beard Bridge, though it looks like one of the famous golden arches).

Did you know I have a thing for bridges? Truly. I love them. And am also sort of afraid of them. It's like how I feel about serial killers, you know?

The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, that blue one pictured above, heads into Covington, KY, just across the river - & when it was built in 1866, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

We explored downtown Cincinnati and the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood a bit, too, which I found to be adorable & artsy & kitschy & full of shops I would've loved to have spent more time in had my poor, shopping-hater of a husband not been standing around outside waiting for me every time I stopped into one. 

Once the largest pork-producing city in the world, Cincinnati earned the hilarious but not-so-flattering nickname of Porkopolis, which is has since reclaimed & made adorable in the form of flying pigs statues throughout the city. I collect snow globes (another fun fact about me!), & I was thrilled to find a Cincinnati snow globe with a flying pig in the center to take home for my collection.

We had brunch at Krueger's Tavern in Over-the-Rhine, where I ordered a blue cheese burger that did not disappoint. Our server was incredibly friendly & helpful, & he kept the Arnold Palmers flowing, so obviously I have fond feelings toward experience. Also, look how cute Mike is, please.

We caffeinated up at 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab before heading to the main event of the afternoon, a Queen City Underground Tour. It was indeed partially underground - a welcome respite from the heat & the incoming rain. The 90-minute tour hit up a beautiful old church, including the crypt below, & an old brewery, including the tunnels beneath it. Who knew Cincinnati was so full of history?! (I mean, our guides sure did. Shout-out to Dean & Ann!)

Quick bit of that history: Pre-Prohibition, Cincinnati was one of the biggest beer-producing cities in the country - & one of the biggest beer-drinking cities, too, as most of its product didn't even make it out of the city limits. By the late 1800s, the local beer consumption rate was 40 gallons for every man, woman, & child (yes, child), which was about 2.5 times the national average - because given the city's dirty drinking water, beer was one of the primary sources of hydration. God bless the imminently drinkable German lager! (Awesome history piece here, if you're curious.) 

As a lover of street art, I was also excited to find that Cincinnati is full of vibrant murals & other artwork - like, way more than in downtown Cleveland. There are more than 40 pieces of public art in downtown Cincinnati & Over-the-Rhine alone - & next time I'm in town, I'd love to take the walking tour of all of them. 

Here are just a few of the many vibrant murals we spotted while wandering - & that doesn't include the book fountain outside the public library, which I couldn't get a picture of because we were in such a hurry to get to our tour on time! Look how cool it is, seriously.

For dinner, my aunt had made us reservations at Please, also in Over-the-Rhine - & while the name struck me as funny, she explained that "Please?" is known Cincinnati slang. Apparently it's something you say in the vein of "Huh?" or "What?" or "Excuse me?" I've never heard of this before - but then again, at nearly four hours apart, it's not really that surprising that Cincinnati has some completely different customs & slang than Cleveland does!

Please - the restaurant - was awesome, & I can't recommend it highly enough. My aunt ordered the chef's tasting menu while the rest of us ordered a la carte, & we all tried a little bit of everything. I think my favorite dish was the honeydew with burrata, sorrel & shiso leaves, & black sesame - which was shocking to me because I usually refer to honeydew as "filler fruit." If only it were always this good!

Though it didn't photograph quite as well, I also loved the rye gnocchi sardi, bottom right, made with a vibrant green sauce of kale, aleppo pepper, & preserved lemon, topped with Parmesan cheese & bottarga. I'm usually a little freaked out by bottarga, but this dish might've made me a believer!

After dinner, we hit up an FC Cincinnati game, the city's new Major League Soccer team, although they lost to New York. Because the team is new, it doesn't yet have its own stadium, so they play at Nippert Stadium on the University of Cincinnati's campus. It was kind of cool to see the university & to feel a little bit collegiate again!

And Sunday, more food: We headed into Covington for brunch at Otto's, a small, quirky spot with truly impeccable food (& service). We split an apple butter cruffin so good that I forgot to take a photo of it, & Mike tried goetta, another Cincinnati thing. I, for one, did not feel much of a desire to try a pork-and-grain sausage, so I opted out, but he swore it was tasty! 


We'd planned to hit up Jungle Jim's International Market on our way out of town because I've been wanting to visit this 200k-square-foot shopping mecca for years. Alas, we had to call AAA before we could head home - apparently my battery was so dead that it was literally at zero - & the tech told us not to turn off the car for a couple of hours. No Jungle Jim's for me!

It was still a great visit, though, & our inability to visit Jungle Jim's just means we'll have to go back soon. It was so nice to visit my family, & it's great to have someplace to stay next time we go. Plus, please look how cute they are:

We've been traveling a lot this summer, & I've been a little overwhelmed by it, but this trip felt more like a very fun staycation. Staying with my family meant we felt at ease, at home, & taken care of, & we got to tour the city a bit with locals who love it. I can't wait to go back - & this time, I definitely won't wait another four years to return

What close-but-far city is in your state? Is it worth visiting? And have you been to Cincinnati? I recommend it - though I still think you should come to Cleveland first, of course!

Disclaimer: The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau coordinated our Queen City Underground Tour, and I was provided a complimentary gift card to be used at any number of downtown Cincinnati establishments during our visit (we chose Krueger's), As usual, though, all opinions are my own - & the rest of the trip was on us! 

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