Road Trip! Destination: Cincinnati
Sure, many Pittsburghers think Cincinnati and immediately start seeing red. But there’s more to the city than sports rivalry. Perhaps a few brews will help smooth out any onfield friction.
With a strong German heritage, the city is home to one of the country’s largest Oktoberfests. The annual event, this year from Sept. 18 to 20 in downtown Cincinnati, makes a great excuse for an autumn getaway to the Midwest city. While there, check out some other attractions for visitors of all ages.
Along with plenty of beer consumption, this year’s festivities will include the ninth annual Running of the Wieners, a race of 100 dachshund dogs dressed in hot-dog bun costumes.
More hilarity should ensue during the world’s largest chicken dance, which has taken place at the event every year since 1994.
New for this year’s event will be a 32-team Tug O’War competition. Other games and contests will include the World Brat Eating Championships and beer-barrel rolling. Visitors can also put their “beer muscles” to the test at the Samuel Adams National Stein Hoisting Competition — a test of how long one can hold a full stein of beer in the air before having to put it down.
Live musical performances will be played throughout the weekend at the festival’s five beer gardens.
Ask Cincinnati natives the best place for a tourist to visit, and King’s Island will likely be a common response.
One of the most visited amusement parks in America with 3.2 million attendees annually, it has been rated as one of the best in country by the Travel Channel, Huffington Post and others.
About 24 miles northeast of the city, the 364-acre park is home to 14 roller coasters, including six thrill rides that clock at faster than 60 mph. The park is most famous for The Beast, the world’s longest wooden roller coaster, with speeds of 65 mph, and the Banshee, the world’s longest inverted roller coaster with seven dizzying inversions.
King Island also has a dozen family rides and Dinosaurs Alive, the world’s largest animatronic dinosaur park with 65 life-sized dinosaurs figurines. Kids can check out the award-winning Planet Snoopy, a subsection of the park with more than 15 Peanuts-theme rides.
The park will close for the regular season Sept. 7. But then the park’s Halloween Haunt will run every Friday and Saturday night from Sept. 25 through Oct. 31. It features 11 mazes, four scare zones, three live shows and 20 rides — including some roller coasters.
Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic
More than 100 Midwest chefs, brewers, craft cocktail specialists and culinary experts, including many of Pittsburgh’s own, will take part in three days (Sept. 11 to 13) of instructional workshops, tastings and parties to showcase and celebrate the evolution of food, beer, wine and coffee in the region. The events will be held in Washington Park in downtown Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh-based chefs participating will include Justin Severino from Cure, Richard DeShantz from Butcher in the Rye and Jamilka Borges from Bar Marco.
Among the marquee events will be its opener, the Pork Chopped Grand Tasting on Sept. 11, during which 30 top chefs will make their pork dishes for judging and audience sampling. On Sept. 12, a “30-course” dinner party will be catered by the 30 participating chefs, complete with live music and a view of park’s historic Over-the-Rhine.
American Sign Museum
For history enthusiasts, the American Sign Museum is a chance to check out vintage and antique signs that founder Tod Swormstedt hopes provides a “fascinating reflection of America through the years.”
The museum displays everything from original fast-food neon signs and wartime posters to vintage signs of churches, bars, jewelers and gas stations. Many displays pay homage to the evolution of letter design, materials and technology. An adjoining shop — Neonworks — allows visitors to witness firsthand the production of neon signs.
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption
For less luminary, yet still stunning, sights to see, visitors should venture to one of America’s oldest and most charming sanctuaries. It’s just a couple of miles from the city and across the Ohio River in Covington, Ky. The cathedral’s construction began in 1894, during which it was inspired by Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral.
In 1953, Pope Pius XII elevated the cathedral to the rank of minor basilica. Today, it is one of 35 basilicas in the country. The 10-acre structure features Gothic architecture throughout that depicts the economic and cultural world view of the time. Many visitors are left most impressed by the cathedral’s 26 eccentric gargoyles.
A Pittsburgher’s autumn guide to Cincinnati wouldn’t be complete without mentioning diamond or gridiron action. The Pirates will play a three-game weekday series in Cincinnati from Sept. 7 through 9. Two months later, the Steelers will play their annual game in Cincinnati on Nov. 1. Mike Tomlin and company will hope to catch the Bengals suffering from Halloween hangover.