Several years ago, my father, who you might remember from my Father’s Day post, moved to a small town in Indiana just outside Cincinnati. Last week, he turned the big 7-0, so my sister and I ventured to the Midwest to be with him.

To be honest, the first couple of time I visited the Queen City – side note: Charlotte, NC is also the Queen City and it confuses me – I wasn’t impressed. Sure, the Ohio River is pretty, and granted, Cincinnatians are proud of their city, but there didn’t seem to be much going on. 

This trip was different.

Driving from Lawrenceburg, IN (where I was staying) into Cincinnati down highway 50 along the river, I first stopped at the William Henry Harrison Memorial. Famous for being the shortest serving President (he died 32 days into office), the Memorial holds the family tomb and some information about his life prior to the Presidency. Worth a 20 minute stop, for sure!

Arriving in Cincinnati proper, my first destination was the historic Spring Grove Cemetery. Old cemeteries are amazing to explore (if you’ve ever been to Boston you have no doubt done so), and this one was no exception. It is huge! Crypts and monuments line lakes and amble up grassy hills over acres and acres of grave sites. There are numerous Civil War generals buried here, both Proctor and Gamble, and other local leaders in business and culture. The highlight, though, is the Dexter Mausoleum, an incredible neo-gothic structure.

Cincinnati is also home to a diverse arts scene, and at one point was one of the leading communities for producing artists. I visited the Cincinnati Art Museum, located at the top of the hill in Eden Park. While I found much of the permanent collection a bit lacking compared to the Met, or even the Detroit Institute of Art, the visiting exhibition on Tiffany Glass was captivating! Best of all, the museum is free!!

If you want to shop, and are looking for something unique to Cincinnati, visit Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield. It is enormous, and it feels as if it holds any good product made anywhere. For instance, there are several hundred kinds of hot sauce, more beers than BevMo, and enough cheeses to satisfy even the most savvy dairy connoisseur. I spent nearly two hours, admiring things from a $5,000 bottle of wine to escargot shells to live bass, tasting different items on my way. Don’t miss this!

And if you really want to taste something uniquely Cincinnati, don’t skip a trip to Skyline Chili. A chain located all over (and even down to Louisville), it serves Cincinnati-style chili, made with cinnamon to be a bit sweeter. Get the three-way, a plate of spaghetti smothered in chili and topped with as generous a serving of cheese as you’ve ever seen. I can’t eat this daily, or even monthly, but once per trip is a certainty.

I’m grateful for this trip, as I got to see a side of the city I’d never seen before. Happy birthday, Dad, and thank you, Cincinnati!

5 thoughts on “History, Culture, and Chili in Cincinnati

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