Mike’s Travelogue: It’s a Cincy to get to Cincinnati

May 13, 2023, 4:02 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2023, 4:04 pm


Never been to Cincinnati? It's time to remedy that thanks to Alaska Airlines. (Courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

(Courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

SPONSORED – When was the last time you went to Cincinnati? Wait, you mean you’ve never been there? Well, it’s time to remedy that. And with Seattle heading there for an early-season matchup, you have the perfect excuse.

Of course you know that Cincinnati is in Ohio. But you might not know that it is right on the border of Kentucky. That means that it can be a good start for the famed Bourbon Trail between Louisville and Lexington. The cities are about a 90 minute drive away from both Cincy and each other, so it might be the perfect starting point for an adventure you might not otherwise have an excuse to try.

There are 18 distilleries that participate, and all offer tours and tastings. You can take a special bus or just drive yourself. But you’ll want to plan ahead to decide how long you want to take and how many stops you want to make. The great thing about this trip is that it isn’t just about the bourbon – the incredible Kentucky landscape is a central character, with its white fences, horse farms and bluegrass as far as the eye can see.

Once you’re back in town, there are two “must do” activities: visit the zoo and eat some chili!

The Cincinnati Zoo is one of the best in the country. Yes, the first animal in their alphabetical listing is aardvark. But they also have an aardwolf! You may have seen alligators, but how about alligator gars or alligator snapping turtles? And that’s just the “A” page. The point is that this zoo goes above and beyond the normal expectations. You can even plan ahead to get behind the scenes access to elephant baths or the hippo barn, hang with their penguins and kangaroos, or even feed a sloth!

The second mandatory event is eating some Skyline Chili. Here’s the thing about Skyline: it isn’t really chili. At least not in the way you might think. It isn’t primarily comprised of ground meat and beans like its more common Texas counterpart. And it isn’t served with rice. It’s more of a sweet, savory and spicy sauce and it goes best with spaghetti or on a hot dog (which they often call a Coney). Some other things to know so you are set up for success:

-If you get it with spaghetti (called “two-way”), don’ twirl it like you would in Italy. Cut it with a knife and fork and eat it in scoops.
-Ordering it “three-way” adds shredded cheddar cheese.
-“Four-way” and “five-way” bring beans and onions into the mix as well.
-A “coney” puts the chili on a hot dog, a “cheese coney” adds cheddar.
-A “sandwich” puts chili on a bun. A “chili-cheese sandwich” adds cheddar again.

Got it? Good.

There are plenty of other things to do and places to eat in Cincinnati. Like most metropolitan areas, it has an aquarium and an art museum. But more unique to this city is the American Sign Museum which took over an old warehouse and now displays more neon and Americana than you’d expect. If the weather is nice, you probably want to get as close as you can to the Ohio River, which winds its way by the city and separates Ohio from Kentucky.

The Findlay Market should give Seattleites a taste of home as it is somewhat reminiscent of Pike Place. Dozens of vendors with flowers, food, desserts and tchotchkes but with more of a Midwest flavor than you’ll find between Pike and Pine.

If you enjoy a good scavenger hunt, try to find all of the Flying Pig Statues around the city. Cincinnati was once nicknamed “Porkopolis” and that eventually led to a flying pig art project that produced some 500 pig statues. There are now closer to 60 around the city and it’s a challenge to find as many as you can.

With all that done, you should be ready to get to the game. Make sure you arrive early as tailgating is a well-established tradition in a part of the country where college football is just as popular as the pro version.

Stadium: Paycor Stadium
Stadium Food: Elm Street Schnitzel Sliders or Gold Star Chili
Seattle haunt: Nope

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