Sunday is a great day to explore downtown Cincinnati. We developed more than a dozen itineraries for friends and families to direct you in seeing downtown Cincinnati with new eyes and ears.
Girls’ Day Out
Start the day with a cafe latte and Nutella and banana on a bagel from Tazza Mia then head over to Saks Fifth Avenue to shop the latest from Nanette Lepore or Marc Jacobs, and perhaps pick up the season’s hot lip color from Bobbi Brown. Stop in The CAC Store and soak in great gift ideas, stock up on all occasion cards, and maybe a funky bottle opener to spruce up your kitchen gadget collection. From there, get your legs moving and head up to the Gateway Quarter and explore the jewelry and intricacies of The Little Mahatma. Then jog over to Park + Vine’s new location on Main Street and discover why just one trip to this green general store makes you instantly embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle. Enjoy a leisurely stroll back to Inner Peace Holistic Center to treat yourself to a Bamboo or Hot Stone Massage. Round out the day with a cocktail and salad at the Cricket Lounge in the Cincinnatian Hotel and if it’s your lucky day, a potential celebrity sighting.
First dates can be…well…stressful. Here’s a surefire way to spend a great first date with plenty to keep you busy. Start the day on Fountain Square – people watch, check out the big screen, then head to Via Vite and grab a seat at the bar, or if it’s nice, upstairs on the patio overlooking the Square. Share a wood fired pizza (try the house-made basil pesto, artichoke and goat cheese) and a half liter of their house wine. From lunch, walk a block over to the Contemporary Arts Center and take a peek at one of the current exhibits, or just enjoy the lobby exhibit. Head to East Fourth Street and take advantage of free Sunday admission at the Taft Museum of Art. Be sure to see the Taft’s Rembrandt oil painting (one of only two in the state), the Farny and the Duveneck, both local favorites. It’s a hop and a skip down to the riverfront where you can walk to the end of International Friendship Park and back, ending up at the surrey bike rental stand, Wheel Fun Rentals.
Hope on the “1 for Fun!” Jump aboard Metro’s recently expanded Route 1 service to connect to all your favorite museums using “1” convenient route. Did you know you could soak in not only a trip to the Taft Museum of Art and the Contemporary Arts Center but also some of downtown’s favorite neighbors, Cincinnati Art Museum and Cincinnati Museum Center (and even the Zoo!) just by riding Route 1. Check it out!
“Mad Men’s” Day
Try a Mad Men’s tour of downtown. Begin at the Palm Court and enjoy a feast at their Sunday brunch. When you’re ready to shop, head over to Macy’s Fountain Place and browse their impressive men’s department. From there, it’s one floor down to Tiffany & Co. and Brooks Brothers where you can add a touch of sophistication and style to your accessories and wardrobe. Next door is Jos. A. Banks. For a change of pace, The Rosson Crow: Myth of the American Motorcycle exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Center is worth the trip, open now through April 2011. After all the shopping and exploring, it is probably time to refuel and wind down with a bite to eat, and oh, perhaps a Manhattan? Bar 12.21 at Morton’s offers just the spot to enjoy both.
A surefire bet for any Sunday afternoon or evening is a trip to Music Hall in historic Over-the-Rhine to hear world class music performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra or Cincinnati Pops. Summer months promise a host of offerings by the Cincinnati Opera. The CSO’s “Pathways” performances even feature post-concert talk-backs. Pair the concert with a dining experience at the Symphony Hotel around the corner from Music Hall and drinks after at Senate or vodka martinis at Below Zero Lounge, or the newest on the scene in the Gateway Quarter, The Lackman, and you will be treated to an absolutely inspiring outing.
The Tailgate Party That Keeps You Moving
Take a break from tailgating party at Longworth Hall and head to Tina’s to watch the pre-game action on one of their 15 TVs. Indulge in some wings or chili fries and an ice cold beer. Before kickoff, make a quick stop a the Plum St. Café on your way to KnockBack Nat’s for a round of video golf or bowling where you can also catch the first half of the game. At half time, make a beeline to Gilpin’s Bagel & Deli and refuel with a steamed wrap or bagel sandwich before going to Madonna’s to shoot a game of pool and catch the second half. After the game, recap the score and highlights with your friends over any of several of Irish whiskeys at O’Malley’s. Still hungry? You’re in luck because Therese’s homemade chili is what puts O’Malley’s on the map, so they say!
The Cincinnati Experience
Start off the day by taking a trip to Findlay Market to take in the sights, sounds and smells of Ohio’s oldest public market. Here you can enjoy a diverse crowd of shoppers, an assortment of fresh foods and excellent people watching. Then make your way over to the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal for an enlightening day exploring the current exhibits. Afterward, grab some dinner at Gold Star Chili at Tower Place Mall Food Court, then treat yourself to the Carew Tower Observation Deck and enjoy breathtaking views of the city and beyond. Though you may not have physically climbed to the top of Cincinnati’s second tallest building, you still deserve some Graeter’s ice cream on Fountain Square. Final stop is Original Thought Required to pick up an original Cincinnati t-shirt to remember the day!
Easy on the Wallet
Step into a little slice of Paris with the Blueberry Cream or the Oh Honey crepes at It’s Just Crepes. You’ll find two locations of this fabulous husband and wife operation downtown. Time now for some browsing at Weston Art Gallery – admission is free – whose exhibitions are acclaimed for their eclectic mix of emerging and professional artists presented in museum quality environs. Before heading to Over-the-Rhine, stop by our favorite TJ Maxx on Fourth Street and shop thousands of name brand designers at great prices. For the savvy, second-hand shopper, check out Atomic Number 10 for vintage clothing and treasures, and Another Part of the Forest for used vinyl, DVD sales and rental, a collection of pulp fiction, and comics.
There Goes the Bride
Treat your BFF to a fun farewell to singleton-ness with an afternoon downtown. Begin your day with a trip to England’s Bridal Attire to review bridesmaid options and check out the latest in formal wear trends. Take a break and stop in Palomino where Happy Hour is every day. Indulge yourself with delicious apps like Dungeness Crab Artichoke Dip, Potatoes Gorgonzola or half-price pizzas and relax with a cranberry mojito or pomegranate Margarita. After kicking back for a bit, head to the Hustler Store to pick up some naughty accessories.
Head downtown to get your fill of literary goodness. Fuel up for the day at Iris Book Café where you’ll find soups, sandwiches, smoothies and desserts from local favorites, such as produce from Findlay Market, ice cream from Aglamesis and goodies from Shadeau Bread. Browse the shelves for an eclectic mix of titles about art, myth/folklore, philosophy, film, spirituality, in addition to a great selection of foreign language texts. Interested in finding out more about Cincinnati history? The Shop at the Taft Museum of Art has a great selection of books on local architecture, Cincinnati neighborhoods and history, plus admission to the galleries of this historic home is free on Sundays. After that, head up to the Main Library which boasts one the finest collections of materials among public libraries in the U.S. and attracts more than one million users each year. With special programs and exhibits for the whole family, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon then checkout a newly released, best selling, or classic book, or a CD or DVD to enjoy at home. Last stop is Fountain News Shop where you’ll find a diverse selection of periodicals including hard-to-find art magazines, international newspapers, and popular favorites.
Cincinnati is a great sports town and whether or not Sunday is game day, you’ll find plenty to cheer about downtown. Get your fill of Reds’ nostalgia with a trip to the Reds Hall of Fame. Make the call on a historic play, test out your fastball, and relive the triumph of the Big Red Machine during your visit. If the gridiron is more to your liking, the Bengals’ Proshop at Paul Brown Stadium will get you outfitted for your next tailgate party, whether you need an official Bengals’ fleece or a football to toss around the parking lot. For a great selection of sportswear, head to Koch’s. If all that shopping and rooting for the home team(s) made you hungry, grab some grub and talk stats with fellow diehards at Champ’s, Plum Street Café or Head First. Looking to get in the game yourself? Workout at the Gym at Carew Tower with a day pass or take a hike to Sawyer Point to find volleyball, tennis or stair stepping on the Serpentine Wall.
Have a Gay Old Time
Cincinnati has plenty to offer those in the GLBT community. Want a fun spot for Sunday brunch? Look no further than Taste of Belgium for brunch with sweet and savory crepes, plus mimosas and, of course, Bloody Marys. Head to Pink Pyramid for gay-friendly publications and adult novelties. Then relax at Simon Says, known around town as the gay “Cheers,” with an afternoon cocktail and jukebox tunes. Wind down your day with a visit to Shooters, if you’re looking to line dance, or Below Zero, if you’re in the mood for karaoke.
Taste of the World
Bring your appetite and head downtown. Navigate your way along a culinary path featuring a wide variety of international cuisine. You’ll find authentic Mexican at Taqueria Mercado and authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern at Al-Amir Café – both offer casual atmospheres and easy-on-the-wallet prices. Nicholson’s Gastropub just might have the best beer battered fish and chips in town – plus, a little Scotch whiskey to wet your whistle never hurts. Across the way, on Sixth Street is Trattoria Roma, where the Aracri family has been delighting Cincinnatians with their original, homemade Italian entrees for many years. Meat lovers unite! With a trip to Boi Na Braza, experience a Brazilian churrascaria steakhouse and indulge in all the meat (and salad) you can eat. If Asian food and sushi is what you’re craving, Sung Korean Bistro and Fusian won’t disappoint.
Ground yourself firmly in the 21st century, amid sleek design, inspired architecture, and inventive dishes. Begin your day at Lavomatic with brunch and a glass of wine from their extensive list on the restaurant’s rooftop deck in the Gateway Quarter. Stop in Mica 12/v, where you’ll find design based gifts, home accessories, jewelry and clothing with many handmade items by local artists. Take a ride on the latest in transportation with a Segway tour originating at Fountain Square. This guided excursion takes you through the historic sites and popular landmarks of Cincinnati. Once you’re back on your own two feet, head over to the Contemporary Arts Center offering a world-renowned building by Zaha Hadid (a work of art on its own) to see “art of the last 10 minutes.” Its galleries have featured work by celebrated artists including Shepard Fairey, Charley Harper, and Tony Oursler. After feeding your soul, feed your appetite at Nada, with ingredient-driven, contemporary Mexican cuisine in a gorgeous setting. Enjoy a killer Margarita at the bar and enjoy some good people watching. Need a nightcap? Stroll over to FBs. This Alice in Wonderland- themed bar, with its eclectic furniture, large mirrors, and art from local artists, will no doubt inspire you with creative ways to arrange your purchases from the day at home.
Easy stops from Christ Church Cathedral
Enjoy lunch at the Taft Museum of Art Lindner Café (open Sunday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) then take a docent-led “Highlights of the Taft” tour at 1:30 during Free Sundays. Take a walk down to Sawyer Point where you’ll find Wheel Fun Bike Rentals, free tennis courts, and a world class playground. Or, just enjoy the variety of sculpture throughout Bicentennial Commons.
Easy stops from St. Louis or St. Xavier
After Sunday Mass, take a short walk to First Watch for a leisurely brunch. Perfect for small or large groups, First Watch has a plentiful menu of breakfast dishes, including three kinds of eggs Benedict, hearty skillets, and yogurt parfaits, plus a number of lunch options ranging from fresh salads to cheeseburgers. If you’re in the mood for a more casual meal, head to Gilpin’s Bagel & Deli where you can build your own or choose from 15 steamed bagel sandwiches including “peace, love & happiness,” “the rooster” or “banana loco.” Order your bagel to go and head to Fountain Square for great people watching or maybe even a concert. Looking for a more European option? Try It’s Just Crepes. Choose from sweet or savory, with options like Hawaiian, Vegetarian, Cordon Bleu, S’mores and Cinnamon and Apples. Good food options certainly awaits you!
Easy stops from Covenant-First Presbyterian, St. Peter in Chains and Union Baptist
From either of these churches, it’s a short walk to enjoy brunch at Mayberry, which offers high quality gourmet food at an affordable price made from fresh, local ingredients. Brunch specials include a rotating menu of fancy French toast options, BLTs, and homemade biscuits and gravy. Or try Cafe Martin at the Garfield Suites Hotel. Work off the meal with a walk to the Cincinnati Fire Museum, and find unique items that outline the evolution of firefighting in Cincinnati and across the country, including leather fire buckets and the oldest surviving fire engine in the city. Through interactive exhibits, you can learn about the bomb squad, chemical spills, and the Jaws of Life.