Cincinnati, I came for your IKEA, and I stayed for your other offerings. You were lovely.
Here’s what we did in a little Cincinnati city guide:
+ Hello Honey: Toasted homemade marshmallows on unique ice cream flavors. We kind of hit the desserts hard on this trip. This cute spot is in a nondescript storefront downtown. Their ice cream flavors and other homemade dessert offerings were most wonderful, though. Honey lavender ice cream, lemon meringue pie ice cream, green tea cake. You get the idea. Just go.
+ Buona Terra: Delicious gelato in a cute spot. They have crepes, too, though we did not try them. The gelato was expensive, but isn’t it always? The staff was friendly and happy to let us sample everything. The shop was cute and modern with a fair amount of seating.
+ Graeter’s: A Cincinnati staple with a cult following. My husband’s former roommate’s parents would bring him coolers of Graeter’s when they came to visit. That was my first introduction, but I’ve continued to pick up on a sort of strange this-is-the-ultimate-ice-cream obsession from others I’ve met. There’s shops — unless brand new — are all over the area and all seem a bit dingy to me. But that’s not what you’re there for. Try the black raspberry chocolate chip!
+ Nada: Contemporary Mexican downtown. Mixed feelings on this one. It was pricy, but it was kind of classy in a restaurant chain-like way. (But it is not a chain!) Nada felt like a contemporary Mexican Cheesecake Factory. Can I say that? We sat outside in the shade of a tree with globe ball lights strung in it. I got barbacoa tacos — two tacos for $12. I’m a sucker for pickled red onions lately.
+ Sharon Woods: A park with rolling paths around a small lake. It costs a few dollars to get in, but it feels good to support such a nice park. The bathroom was actually pretty nice, which I appreciate in a park. There was a splash pad and playground, boat rentals, fishing areas, picnic tables, and several miles of paved trails. There are several geocaches along the way, too!
+ Findlay Market: Historical public market. Like Soulard Market in St. Louis, there’s something charming about markets with physical buildings in addition to the little pop-up stands. Our favorites were the Taste of Belgium stand, where we got waffles, and Pet Wants, where we got a dog treat for Oscar waiting patiently at the hotel. It was crowded when we were there, but not overwhelming. The market is open every day of the week but Monday.
+ MiCA 12/v: Home decor, jewelry, and gifts in Over-the-Rhine. This shop is in the middle of the hip Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The prices are what you would expect, but the items they carry are pleasantly unique. The gift options seem to hit all groups of recipients, too — men, women, and children. Though I only walked out with a perfume sample, I would come back to slowly browse again.
+ Loveland Castle: A hidden gem that may or may not be worth your money. We’ve been obsessed with castles since spotting one hidden on a hill on another trip. This one is strange but interesting. It’s volunteer run and operated solely on the admission price of $5 a person. If you like strange, unique spots, it’s worth it. There’s a small castle to walk around inside, gardens to view, and a river to picnic near. They didn’t mind our dog or our giggling about the strangeness of it all.
+ Union Terminal: Art deco beauty at an old train station. It’s free to park for several minutes and fun to check out the fountain out front and ceilings inside. There’s a museum, but we didn’t go into that section. It was fun enough to see the architecture, though a little out of the way from the other places we were.
+ 21C Museum Hotel: Art gallery inside a hotel. The art here is contemporary — or creepy, if you’re unfamiliar with most contemporary art. We’re fans of the 21C Hotels (in Louisville and Bentonville besides Cincinnati), because we like free art opportunities but aren’t quite ready to shovel out money for the nightly rate to stay. This was right near Nada and the Contemporary Art Museum, which I’m still sad we didn’t make time for.
We did the good ol’ Drury Inn for this one — hello Kickback and low pet fees! But other options:
+ 21C Museum Hotel: Do it if you’ve got the cash. It looks so fun.
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