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Fall 2013

Cincinnati: A Home Run Destination

The first boomtown in America’s heartland was none other than Cincinnati, Ohio. Although it was quickly surpassed in size by the urban sprawl of Chicago, Cincinnati remains a gateway to some of America’s most fascinating historical monuments and cultural landmarks.

“Cincinnati is a wonderful place to visit because it has such a vast history and covers an entire region, not just a downtown area,” says Linda Antus, president of Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network. “A lot of what’s helped shape America started right here.”

America’s Crossroad

As the crossroads of America’s struggle against slavery, the Ohio River may be one of our greatest symbols of freedom. Historically, the Ohio River bordered the Mason-Dixon Line from pre–Civil War America and served as a major hub of activity for the Underground Railroad. The banks of this river offered refuge to thousands seeking hope and a new way of life.

Established in 2004, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center highlights the struggles once endured by slaves and presents the world’s first permanent exhibition on the subjects of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The exhibit also brings to life the important struggles for freedom around the world and throughout history.

However, the Ohio River served as more than just a symbol of freedom in the early days of Cincinnati. The river was also the main source of trade and the reason the city became industrialized so quickly after its settlement in 1788.

Even today, the Ohio River remains the central focus of the greater Cincinnati area. “My favorite thing about Cincinnati has to do with anything on or near the river,” Antus says. “You can get a beautiful view of it from just about anywhere.”

For a fun day trip, cross over the river by riding in the BB Riverboats or by walking across the suspended Rumbling Bridge to arrive at Newport on the Levee—the Kentucky riverfront area of the city. In Newport on the Levee, you’ll find Newport Aquarium, complete with a daily penguin parade, and a wide variety of shops, theaters, and restaurants all along the beautiful Ohio riverfront.

Cultural Center

In addition to the Ohio River, Cincinnati is also known for the architecture in its historical neighborhoods. One of these is Over-the-Rhine, the largest urban historic district in the United States. Over-the-Rhine also boasts one the world’s largest collections of Italianate architecture. Attractions such as the Music Hall, the Cincinnatian Hotel, and the Shillito Department Store claim this architectural style, which is characterized by wide, ornamental roofs and elaborate entryways.

As a student at the University of Cincinnati, Gabrielle Walter enjoys visiting the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. This zoo is often referred to as “America’s Sexiest Zoo” because of its unique breeding program and because several baby animals are born there each year.

The summer months are the best time to see the zoo’s vast array of flora and fauna. “It’s the first place I always take my friends who come visit,” Walter says. “It’s one of the oldest and most famous zoos in the country, and it has great programs during the summertime.”

Another main attraction is the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal. Originally built in 1933, the building is a national historic landmark and was renovated and reopened as The Museum Center in 1990. The Museum Center hosts a wide variety of museums that cater to all kinds of interests. A few of the museums are the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science, and the Cincinnati Historical Society Library. An OMNIMAX wrap-around theater shows science documentaries.

America’s Pastime

There’s no sport more American than baseball, and Cincinnati has perhaps the most hard-core baseball fans you’ll ever meet. Established in 1869 and originally known as the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the Cincinnati Reds is the oldest major league baseball team in the country. No visit to Cincinnati is complete without a trip to the Great American Ball Park, a stadium that grants patrons another breathtaking view of the Ohio River.

Right next door to the Great American Ball Park is the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. This place offers baseball fans a comprehensive look into the sport and into the team’s heralded past. Adjacent to the ballpark is the brand-new Riverfront Park, a 45-acre park located along the riverfront that includes an outdoor event stage, promenade, bike center, labyrinth, and interactive fountains—this setting is guaranteed to give your day at the ballpark a whole new feel.

(Sidebar) Cincinnati Chili

“I didn’t know there was another kind of chili until very recently,” Walter says. “I always thought the Cincinnati version was the only kind of chili there was.”

A sauce usually used over spaghetti or hot dogs, Cincinnati-style chili contains a unique spice blend that gives it a very distinct taste. Created by Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides in 1949, the recipe is a well-kept family secret among Lambrinides’s surviving children. However, many people believe that the unique taste of Cincinnati chili comes from chocolate and cinnamon, spices popular in Greek meat dishes.

The first and most famous restaurant chain to serve this unique style of chili is Lambrinides’s Skyline Chili. Skyline’s menu includes their signature dishes: cheese coneys (hot dogs topped with Skyline Chili, mustard, onions, and cheese), 3-ways (spaghetti topped with Skyline Chili and cheese); 4-ways (choice of beans or onions added), and 5-ways (beans and onions both added). No matter which way you choose, no meal here is complete without oyster crackers on the side. Enjoy!