A July 2003 trip
to Cincinnati by wildhoney269
Quote: Cincinnati was our half way point on our way to our summer vacation. We spent one night going, and one night on our way back. We did several things in a short amount of time, sampling some of the features of this city on the river.
Life in Cincinnati focuses on the Ohio River. Head downtown or cross the river into Newport for some evening fun. The Newport Levee has many shops, restaurants, a movie theater and is also home to the Newport Aquarium. While there are tons of great restaurants in the area, make sure you check out a classic chili pallor. The one we tried, Pleasant Ridge Chili, was so good we actually ate their twice!
For some thrills head over to Paramount’s Kings Island to ride some of the wildest roller coasters in the world.
Suggested local dish to try: Chili and French Fries with Cheese and Gravy.
Getting Around: Since we already had our car we drove everywhere. Also, we chose places to visit that were not central to the city such as the Cincinnati Zoo and King’s Island. If you chose to do things in the city itself, there are several buses available. Note that you can not hail a cab in Cincinnati (I think it’s illegal) so they won’t stop if you try. However, you can get a cab at any hotel in the city.
Hotel | "Homewood Suites by Hilton® Cincinnati"
We stayed here twice. One night on our way down to our vacation and one night on the way back. When making reservations you can choose from a standard room with or without a fireplace, for the same rate. We had each different type because I made reservations for both. Before our visit I called the hotel to ask the difference in the sizes of the rooms and I was told that the fireplace rooms are only a tiny bit larger, just enough for the fireplace. On our second stay we got room 131 which is a large corner fireplace room and I suggest you request that room if you choose to stay here. It seemed about 1.5 times larger that our first standard non-fireplace room. Also, the bathroom in the standard room was through the bedroom, which meant the kids would have to come into our room if they had to go in the middle of the night. Room 131 had a separate hallway for the bathroom so we weren’t disturbed. It also had two sinks, one in the bathroom with the toilet and one in the hallway in between the bathroom and bedroom.
There is an outdoor pool and spa and activity court which is a tennis court and basketball court. Breakfast is included in the nightly rate and there is a manger’s reception Monday through Thursday evenings. The breakfast is really great and offers a waffle bar where you can make your own Belgium waffles. Choose from strawberries, whipped cream, powdered sugar, whipped butter and syrup to top off the fresh waffles. Scrambled eggs, sausage, fried meat, hash browns, yogurt, fresh fruit, cereal and oatmeal are also available. They have a very nice tea bar with a variety of at least eight different teas which is available all day and night.
We got a summer special rate that included a SPY KIDS™ 3-D SpyPak with a pair of sunglasses and watch in a fanny pack for the kids. For booking the offer online we also got a buy one get one free e-coupon from Tony’s Frozen Pizza. And for showing my AAA card we received two matinee movie tickets for each visit, so the four of us can go see the new movie for free as well.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 26, 2003
2670 East Kemper Road
When you look at the chili section of the menu, you will probably be quite confused unless you are familiar with "Cincinnati-style" chili. Chili comes in 3-way, 4-way or 5-way variety. The nice waitress was very kind explaining the differences to us. A 3-way is the basic option. This comes on a plate with spaghetti noodles bottom, topped with a layer of chili and then a layer of cheese. The chili is just meat and sauce, no beans. This may be helpful to know for people who don’t like beans, but want to try some famous Cincinnati chili. The rest is easy. Add onions for a 4-way, and onions and beans for a 5-way.
There are also options for chili dogs. A Coney is what they call a hot dog with chili, mustard, cheese and onions. The kids absolutely loved these but I think they could be better if they used a beef hotdog. One more thing we had to try was the french fries with cheese and gravy. Imagine a big plate of fries smothered with gravy and topped with a pile of freshly shredded cheddar cheese. Mmmmmm.
Prices are reasonable too. The first night the four of us ate dinner for $18 and the second night we ate for $25 because we loaded up on extras and stuffed ourselves on the wonderful indulgences.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 26, 2003
Pleasant Ridge Chili
6032 Montgomery Rd.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45213
The restaurant is designed as a Rocky Mountain Lodge. It is all wooden and has warm touches such as antler chandeliers and a large fireplace with comfy chairs. The inside bar seems like a good place to watch the game on a weekend since there are several TVs.
The menu offers classic food with tasty extras. You can get a classic burger or more elegant burgers such as their fajita burger with grilled onions and peppers and Monterey Jack cheese. Lots of other unique sandwiches are offered on the menu as well. They have dinners in addition to sandwiches. The kids menu comes with soft drink and fried and has choices such as ribs, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, cheeseburger, chicken strips and more.
If you plan to relax on a Sunday afternoon, stop by and have the Bloody Mary special for $2.99 and enjoy some time watching the city from a distance and relaxing down by the river.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 26, 2003
Buckhead Mountain Grill
35 Fairfield Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 41073
Some of the world’s most unusual and interesting sea creatures are on exhibit in the Bizarre and Beautiful section of the aquarium. The most unique fish we saw were the Flashlight Fish. Walk around into a very dark room and watch these fish flash on and off. This process is called symbiotic bioluminescence. When evading a predator, the flashlight fish will swim away, constantly changing direction while blinking the light off and on to confuse its attacker. A Giant Pacific Octopus is also on display and you may be lucky to see it change colors. Continue on into the Dangerous and Deadly Gallery where you learn about the Oarfish, the unique sea creature usually found in the depths of the ocean that washed up on shore. Here you will also find Lionfish, Rockfish, Piranhas, the unique Zebra Moray Eel, several types of Poison Dart Frogs, and various snakes.
The newest exhibit to the aquarium is Turtles: Journey of Survival. This exhibit contains 23 different species of exotic and legendary turtles from different places in the world. We could not see the legendary sea turtle in his tank, so we were most impressed with the gargantuan alligator snapping turtle.
The Gator Bayou is a delightful exhibit. Gators lay on top of a porch, surrounded with rocking chairs. If they dive into the water they will swim under the see-through floor and over to where some turtles hang out. The jellyfish are regally presented in the Jellyfish Gallery with their tanks each lit in different colors and surrounded with large gold picture frames. Walk though a passage way in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit containing three species of sharks, sting rays, and several schooling fish swimming all around you. This is also where the sea turtles reside.
There are a handful of other exhibits in the aquarium as well. At certain parts during my visit I could not figure out what type of fish I was looking at because they change around the information about the fish from exhibit to exhibit and I must have gotten lost with the inconsistency. Also, the glass used here seems to be different, or thicker, than glass at other museums. We had a hard time looking at some of the fish because it made us a bit dizzy to look down at the bottom of their tanks through the thick glass. Also, I couldn’t get any pictures because of this glass. The museum does a great job emerging the visitors in the various exhibits they are in. Music and colors match the mood of the fish and there are several interactive opportunities for children and adults alike.
One Aquarium Way
Newport, Kentucky 41071
The Jungle Trails is an incredible section of the zoo, and definitely my favorite. Visitors are immersed in the sights and sounds of African and Asian rainforests. You will start off walking through a mist of fog searching for the animals in the exhibits beyond. The white handed gibbons and an orange orangutan cohabitate in a large outdoor exhibit on the Asian trail. Inside the African section you will see rare animals such as two Bonobos and an Emperor Scorpion. I was introduced to the Grey’s Crowned Ghenons which are unique looking animals in the monkey family. They were very playful when we were there and one guy had amused me because he was having a lot of fun looking at himself in a little mirror dangling from the ropes.
The zoo also features rare animals including White Lions, Komodo Dragons and Sumatran Rhinos. The Sumatran Rhino is the smallest and oldest species of rhino and is one of the most endangered species on earth. His horn is not as large as black and white rhinos, and he has shaggy hair on his body. In an effort to conserve this rare species, scientists at the zoo helped their Sumatran Rhinos produce the first of their species born in captivity in 114 years. Emi, the mother, gave birth to a baby boy, Andalas about two years ago and he just moved to the Los Angeles Zoo. Debbie at the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife explained their story and we were even able to watch Emi give birth. Emi is now pregnant again.
We spent the rest of our time looking at the amazing Manatees in Manatee Springs, wandering through the Cat House, and spying on the Bald Eagle and Stellar’s Sea Eagle in Eagle Eyrie. We got very close to a giraffe at the Vanishing Giants section and also saw an Okapi, which is a relative to the giraffe, and some elephants. We finished our trip at the Children’s Zoo where we go to watch two otters wrestling in and out of the water at Otter Creek.
What an amazing zoo! I suggest planning on spending 4 or 5 hours at the zoo to see it in its entirety.
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
3400 Vine Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45220
Attraction | "Paramount's Kings Island"
There’s plenty for the kids to do as well. Tomb Raider, Face Off, Flight of Fear and Delirium are so wild that all riders must be over 54 inches. But anyone over 48 inches can go on all the other rides in the park – if they dare. Hanna-Barbera Land and Nickelodeon Central are two sections of the park designed especially for the kids. Rugrats Runaway Reptar is one of the only children’s roller coasters where the rider’s feet are dangling. In Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle, riders sit in their own mini-mystery machine and shoot ghosts as you travel through a haunted castle. One of the must unique attractions for kids is the Green Slime Zone. This is a type of water maze where kids run through waterfalls and spraying water. In this section of the park, kids can meet and get their picture taken with their favorite Nickelodeon characters such as Sponge Bob, Eliza from the Wild Thornberry’s, several Rugrats and more.
While water rides are usually some of the most popular rides at amusement parks during a hot summer day, Kings Island has its very own water park which is included in the price of admission. The WaterWorks section of the park offers a 600,000 gallon wave-pool which fills up quickly. A lazy river, inner tube slide, body slide, family raft adventure slide, and some seriously wild enclosed slides are also available. Fastracks allows riders to choose from four speed slide, with various degrees of steepness. The highest slide is almost a vertical drop. Our 8 year old was brave enough for this one and she said she wasn’t even touching the slide on the way down. Boys should be warned, if they have any metal in their swim trunks including zippers or decorations, they will not be allowed down the slide.
If you need to leave the park to take a break or grab a meal, remember to get your hand stamped. You can use your parking receipt to park your car when you return so you do not have to pay again. Discount tickets are available online with rates are a few dollars cheaper than other discounts, including AAA.
I-71 & Western Row Rd.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45040