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Insider’s Guide to Cincinnati

a large yellow sign on a river
By Murissa, Food Tours Kelowna, BC Canada February 11, 2020

A guide to Cincinnati, Ohio? No, I am not an Cincinnati insider as you might have guessed. But I know someone who is! Let me explain…

You might have read, I am starting a food tour company and the website has officially launched! Along with starting Food Tours Kelowna I am a member of the Global Food Tourism Association. It has provided a wealth of knowledge for me as a newbie and many members have been so gracious in answering my questions. Another aspect that I love about GFTA is that its members are from all over the world which gave me an idea that led to this post. I am starting an “Insider’s Guide” series!
People from all over the world are contributing their expertise and insight to us at The Wanderfull Traveler!

This week we head to Cincinnati, Ohio where Laura Noyes guides us through the unique food scene.

Laura Noyes and her husband Mike created Riverside Food Tours in 2016 so I asked her a few questions about the Cincinnati food scene. This is her insider’s guide to Cincinnati, Ohio!

Tell us a bit about yourself Laura.

After raising 5 sons, I was feeling a little bored looking for my next adventure.  We happen to take a food tour in Newport, Rhode Island and I was hooked!  I could see myself doing the same thing back home.  We actually created our first food tour in a picturesque German Village called Mainstrasse in Covington KY.  By the end of the first year we expanded to another neighborhood and now we offer 10 different tours!  Fortunately, Cincinnati and Covington have an abundance of privately owned local restaurants, rich histories and beautiful architecture.  So creating different tours is easy because each area has its own niche.

Cincinnati Ohio is experiencing a renaissance.  What used to be a “fly-over” city prior to 2000 was listed by the NY Times as one of the 10 Best Cities in the Country to visit in 2018!  Situated along the Ohio River, it is home to two National League Sport Stadiums for the Reds and the Bengals. The riverfront features over 3 miles of parks and recreational opportunities for biking, boating as well as showboats that feature dining and entertainment.

What are some iconic sites and facts Cincinnati is known for?

There are some very awesome things about Cincinnati. For example, Cincinnati is known for its German heritage and hosts the 2nd largest Oktoberfest in the World, behind Munich.  We love our beer and brats!

Cincinnati has the oldest standing urban market, Findlay Market as pictured above.

Over – the Rhine is a 360 acre historic German neighbourhood full of breweries, restaurants and shops.

Downtown Cincinnati is easy to explore on foot. Or you can zip around downtown Cincinnati  on the new 3.6 mile Streetcar loop all day for $2.

If you love museums, concerts, parks, great food, wineries or craft beer, you will find plenty to do in Cincinnati.

And on the south side of the Ohio River is Covington Kentucky.  Founded in 1815, Covington has beautiful architecture, great restaurants and enough sights to see to fill a couple days!

 What mistakes do travelers typically make while visiting your city or region?

Travelers fail to plan enough time to see everything in Cincinnati.  So often, visitors on our food tour will say, “Wow, we need to come back.  We didn’t realize there were so many areas to visit and things to see.”

I always suggest taking a food tour in order to avoid any travel regret. Whenever we visit a new city, we always sign up for a food tour the first day! It provides insight into the city or neighborhood so we know what we should do and where to go for much of our stay.

One of our most popular Riverside Food Tours  is the Cincy Top Sites and Top 5 Bites tour.  This 3 hour tour is hosted five mornings a week Mon- Fri at 10AM. With the aid of the streetcar plus walking, guests see the entire downtown area, learn the history, enjoy the food Cincinnati is known for and receive a streetcar guide.  Equipped with all the knowledge needed, they can continue to explore the city or revisit their favorite places. Food tours are just a great way to come to know a city within a few hours.

What are some must-see attractions?

One of the biggest draws to the area is the Ark Encounter, a full scale replica of Noah’s ark, the Cincinnati Zoo, Kings Island Amusement Park featuring Orion, one of only seven giga coasters in the world, and catch a  Cincinnati Reds Baseball game. The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge is also a sight to see as the sun sets!

What are some great places to stay?

I actually just posted a blog Where Should I Stay in Cincinnati. But our newest hotel in Cincinnati deserves mentioning. The Marriott Hotel in downtown Cincinnati is stylish and modern boasting the best views in the city of Smale Riverfront Park, the historic John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge and the Ohio River from their Upper Deck – the largest hotel rooftop bar in downtown! Step out the door to the Great American Ball Park and dozens of restaurants located on Freedom Way, which is “party central” after a Red’s home game!

Is your city known for a specific dish or drink?

Cincinnati Chili is a regional dish that visitors are always eager to try and  is featured on the Cincy Top 10 Tour. It contains no tomato sauce or chili powder, so it’s quite unique.  The best way to enjoy the chili is on top of a plate of spaghetti loaded with shredded cheddar cheese!

What new trends (if any) do you see emerging in your city/region?

We just introduced a new Cincy Vegan Food Tour two months ago because plant based diets are so popular now.  We wanted to be the first in the city to offer this tour.  It has been very successful.  One of our stops is Harmony Plant Fare which is a vegan New York style deli.  The case has an array of “meats and cheeses” that are all plant based!

What are some great places to eat?

One of my favorite Italian restaurants is Via Vite located in the heart of the city on Fountain Square.  It is perfect for special occasions, yet won’t break the bank!  Another unique restaurant is Nicholson’s Scottish Pub. You feel you’ve left the country and entered Scotland.  Finally, you can’t leave Cincinnati without trying some German lager beer.  One of the best spots is along the river at Moerlein Lager House.

You can find more Cincinnati at Laura’s site riversidefoodtours.com

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