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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

We Love Cincy!

I'm back! I've been M.I.A. this week. Mainly because this past weekend was our little mini vacation. We took a three-day trip to Cincinnati, Ohio. It was our first trip here (well, as adults - I think Trent had been to King's Island as a kid). And we officially LOVE Cincinnati! I couldn't believe everything there is to do in the area. We got to hang out with a couple of Trent's cousins and their significant others. Couples night. But, it's a great place for families, too.

Today I'm sharing some details from our Cincy trip. We had so much fun, we definitely want to go back in the future. Get excited.

First of all, who knew how gorgeous of a city Cincinnati is? It's right on the Ohio River, and it has some amazing views! We saw a lot of them while we were here. There are also several cool bridges, and the city isn't flat - it's full of hills. We learned that one of its nicknames is actually the City of 7 Hills. We actually stayed on the Kentucky side, in Covington, KY, which is just across the river. But it was just a few minutes' drive to all of the action. The Kentucky side actually has a bunch of fun things to do, too. But I'll get to that in a little bit.

We stayed at the Radisson in Convington, on the 15th floor, and had a balcony. It didn't suck. Just look at our view!

We drove up on Friday, and got there mid-afternoon. And what did we plan this trip around? A Dave Matthews concert, of course. Friday night Dave played at the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati. We got lawn tickets, and this lawn was great. All astroturf! We didn't have to worry about mud or bugs in the grass. We had blankets that we stood on anyway. But it was still nice.

While waiting for Dave, it was a muggy 90 degrees with the sun beating down. Needless to say, we couldn't wait for the sun to set and the cool to set in.

Trent's cousin Amanda and her husband Steve (who are from the Columbus area) met us at the concert. Dave was great, as always. Though we didn't really love the rain that poured down midway through. It was fine when it was sprinkling, but pouring rain was a little much!

Luckily the rain cleared up and we still ended up having a good time, even though I was soaking wet!

The next day we slept in a little bit, then got ready to explore the town.

We drove a few minutes from our hotel, down to Newport, Kentucky. I loved this city. It was right across from downtown Cincinatti, so it had a great view. There was so much to do here, and we stayed around Newport by the Levee almost the whole time. There was a shopping center, movie theater, tons of restaurants, an aquarium...and we decided to go to the aquarium in the afternoon.

We went there on Saturday, so it was pretty busy. Lots of families with kids were here, and we had to wait a while outside in line to get in (Maybe a half hour or so). It's a great place if you take a vacation here, though. It was huge. I recommend going on an off day if you can (the next day - Sunday - there was hardly a line at all to get in).

The main draw here was the sharks. The shark exhibits are amazing. This aquarium has tons of rooms that are encased with glass, so sharks could be swimming literally above your head, behind you, or right under your feet.

New this year was a "Shark Bridge" - It's a draw bridge that spans right over where the sharks are swimming. Basically you walk across what feels like a giant net, and hope sharks don't leap out of the water and want to eat you for dinner.

They make it seem scary, but I didn't really find it too bad. It's more or less just something cool to say you did. So yep, we walked over some swimming sharks.

Later we met up with Amanda and Steve again, who were also staying in the Cincinnati area. We ate at a German restaurant/bar in Newport called Hofbrauhaus, and then we walked across another, larger bridge - The Purple People Bridge. It not only has a cool name, but it's a pedestrian-only bridge (It was an old railroad bridge back in the day), and it's actually purple. It connects Newport, KY and Cincinnati.

Couples put locks on this bridge, just like the famous bridge in Paris. Though I don't think there's near that many. We all walked across it and enjoyed more beautiful views. This was the first of lots of walking that we did around Cincinnati!

On the riverfront there was actually a 3-day music festival going on, the Bunbery festival. The boats you see in the picture below were all parked and listening to the concert. There was a famous violinist rocking out while we were on the bridge. Kacey Musgraves was performing after, but we headed down the road after Trent's cousin Jess and her husband Dusty arrived, so we missed that one, unfortunately!

Once we got downtown Cincinnati, we decided to walk to a bar called City View Tavern that was alllll the way up on the hill. It was a long hike, but when we made it the view was definitely worth it!

When we left that bar, we walked back down all the hills, and on to the next view! This time we walked to a rooftop bar on top of the Residence Inn in Cincinnati. This was probably one of the coolest bars we've ever been to. There were two rooftops, with a bar on each level.

The views were once again, awesome. We couldn't believe we were there.

But the night didn't stop there. It kept getting better! By this time we were officially in love with this city. Amanda and Steve were convinced they will be moving here. After we left the rooftop bar, we walked downtown in search of something else to do, and we just happened to stumble upon a free Ja Rule concert out by the street! So we joined in. 

At this point we were completely shocked by our luck that night and how many amazing turns the night took, and we were totally screaming out "I love Cincinnati!!"...while singing along with Ja Rule, of course.

We concluded the night with more walking - we walked around the Cincinnati Reds stadium (which was playing The Sandlot on the screen inside, apparently for a Boy Scout troop who was getting its own private showing). Then we walked over one of the other bridges where we got more amazing views of the city at night.

A big thanks to Amanda for taking this picture of us on the bridge. I love it! That's the Reds ballpark and the hockey stadium behind us.

We just had one more drink after, and then called it a night. And what a night it was! Cincy was pretty awesome indeed.

The next morning we ate at the 360 Restaurant at the top of our hotel. They had a Sunday brunch buffet, which was HUGE! It wasn't exactly cheap, but it was all you can eat, and you can't beat the views either.

The whole restaurant slowly rotated, so you can literally get a 360 degree view of the Cincinnati area. Pretty darn cool.

After our huge brunch, we did one last thing while we were there - Ride the Ducks! I hadn't done one of these tours since I was a kid, and Trent had never been on a Duck before. So we had to experience it. And it was a great time.

We even got these "Quackers," and I should have never let Trent have one. Yes, they make noise!

We had a pretty cool tour both on the Ohio River, and downtown Cincy. And we got to learn lots of cool facts about the city and all of its landmarks. Check out this amazing suspension bridge that we went under! It's one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country, even older than the one in Brooklyn, NY, and it was built at the time when people were very skeptical about suspension bridges, as they were a completely new thing. This is actually where herds of buffalo used to cross a long time ago, so the land was really compacted down and sturdy, and that's why they chose this spot to build it on. Cool, huh?

Here's a far away view. You can kind of see some murals in the background, which are on the Kentucky side, but they depict the history of the area from 800 BC through 2008. We didn't get any close-up photos of these, but there's some info about them here along with a few pictures.

We had a lot of fun on the Duck tour, and on the entire trip. We've decided that we're going back again someday to see a Reds baseball game, since we didn't get to do that this time around. We also didn't get to try Graeter's ice cream, which we've heard is the best ice cream around. So that's next time! All in all though, it was a really fun, and much needed weekend!

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