Best of the City: Entertainment

Alternative Cinema: Mini Microcinema
You won’t find the latest summer blockbuster playing at the Mini anytime soon, and that’s OK. The Mini Microcinema is a very small (folding chairs as seats small) theater on Main Street in OTR that fills a void in our independent and experimental film scene. Owner and director C. Jacqueline Wood posts the theater’s lineup about a month out, including a roster full of low-budget docs, avant garde motion pictures, and yes, even some movies on actual film. 1329 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 486-6464, mini-cinema.org

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Adult recreation: Axe Throwing at Flying Axes
Throwing an axe is a completely foreign action for many. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Add in some beer, and it honestly doesn’t get much easier. But it can make for a fun night. At Flying Axes the staff sets up an experience that takes the worry out of an activity that many of us as properly functioning adults have programmed ourselves not to do. After a bit of adjusting, it actually makes for an incredibly fun experience with a group of friends—like a round of darts, but bigger and, you know, with sharp axes. 100 W. Sixth St., Covington, (859) 261-0526, flyingaxes.com/covington

Flying Axes

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Tipsy Tour: Bourbon, Beer, and Wine Tasting
Cincy Brew Bus offers guided tasting tours of local distilleries, wineries, and craft breweries, combining them all into a mega-tour one Saturday afternoon each month. For $75 (or $40 for non-drinkers along for the ride) you’ll see New Riff Distilling in Newport, taste bourbon at The Littlefield in Northside and wine at Henke Winery in Westwood, and try a variety of beers at a local brewery. Then sleep the rest of the day. Just leave the driving to them! (513) 258-7909, cincybrewbus.com

Standing Ovation: Broadway in Cincinnati
For three decades Broadway in Cincinnati has been bringing touring productions to the Queen City, starting with Singin’ in the Rain back in 1987. This season is the biggest yet, featuring the 20th anniversary tour of RENT, Best Musical Tony winner Dear Evan Hansen, and a little show called Hamilton. Here’s to three more decades of blockbuster performances. cincinnati.broadway.com

Vending Machine: Ron’s Roost
While waiting for your table at the west side’s best fried chicken spot, pop a quarter in the Fun Chicken! vending machine. The mechanical bird clucks and turns in circles, laying a plastic egg filled with a tiny toy—ours was a gold Kindness Coin that says, “You made me smile!” Yes, you did. It’s a better bet than the adjacent Lotto ticket machine. 3853 Race Rd., Bridgetown, (513) 574-0222, ronsroost.net

Illustration by Rami Niemi

Pop-up Fitness Class Host: West Side Brewing
Ditch the gym membership. West Side Brewing offers a pop-up fitness class almost every Sunday. Held in the brewery’s 3,000-square-foot Ruehlman Room, instructor-led classes range from Jazzercise to Pure Barre to hip-hop dance. You don’t have to sacrifice your weekend sleep-in schedule, either: Each hour-long class starts at 11 a.m. Select classes are free, too. And those that aren’t reward participants with a free post-workout beer. We’ll sweat for that. 3044 Harrison Ave., Westwood, (513) 661-2337, westsidebrewing.com

Drag Show: Metropole’s Drag Brunch
Your frittata comes with a side of fierceness at these every-other-month mid-morning dance parties, hosted by Amaya Sexton. Most attendees are celebrating birthdays or a girls’ day out; performers lip-sync, go through several costume changes, and get up close and personal with the audience (especially straight dudes). It’s an experience you can’t sashay away from. 609 Walnut St., downtown, (513) 578-6660, metropoleonwalnut.com

Goat Yoga: Honey Sweetie Acres
Bored with workouts that don’t feature barn animals? Well, you’re in luck. Honey Sweetie Acres’s main gig is handcrafting soap and other skin care products from goat milk. But they also dabble in goat yoga, starring their own herd of Nigerian Dwarf Goats (exactly as cute as they sound). You might not reach a new level of consciousness, but you’ll get in a few good laughs, which is just as good for the soul. 2710 Spring Hill Rd., Goshen, (513) 313-1110, honeysweetieacres.com

Illustration by Rami Niemi

Riverside Park: Smale Riverfront Park
Before 2012, Cincinnatians only spent time at The Banks if they were tailgating a Reds or Bengals game. The riverfront between Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park is booming every day of the week now, thanks to Smale Riverfront Park. Spanning 45 acres, the urban park offers activities the whole family can enjoy: interactive fountains, gardens, porch swings, playgrounds, multipurpose trails, and a carousel, to name a few. Downtown, cincinnatiparks.com/smale-riverfront-park/

Woke Holiday Event: Black Santa
When Black Santa set up shop at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Great Hall in 2015, the line of families stretched out through the front doors. “So many African-American families were traveling to other cities for their children to meet an African-American Santa Claus,” says Crystal Kendrick, president of local minority-owned marketing firm The Voice of Black Cincinnati, which presents the event. Look for Black Santa at the CAM again December 15 and at other appearances around the city through Downtown Cincinnati Inc. facebook.com/thevoiceofyourcustomer, downtowncincinnati.com

Drive-In: Holiday Auto Theatre
Despite the fact that you can see distinctly 21st century releases like Ralph Breaks the Internet at the Holiday Auto Theatre, the classic Hamilton drive-in has a real American Graffiti vibe—retro, low-key, and pretty innocent (“absolutely no obscene language” and “no alcoholic beverages”). Drive on in (parking lights only, please), hit up the snack bar, and enjoy your evening of time travel. 1816 Old Oxford Rd., Hamilton, (513) 929-2999, holidayautotheatre.com

Improv Show: ComedySportz
Two teams of three performers, cleverly named Red and Blue, compete for audience approval on Friday nights in the cozy basement space at Memorial Hall. A referee awards points for the loudest cheers and for especially creative puns, jokes, and improvised songs based on audience suggestions. It’s a fast, funny, interactive 90 minutes, plus intermission. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 878-6286, otrimprov.com

Theater for All: Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati
Since 2016, almost 2,400 people have enjoyed the Children’s Theatre’s sensory-friendly shows—with adjustments to lighting, sound, and special effects—designed for those on the autism spectrum or anyone else who might benefit. Experts from Cincinnati Children’s and other organizations helped make this happen, so everyone can experience a live performance. See Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS at the Taft Theatre February 16. 4015 Red Bank Rd., Fairfax, (513) 569-8080, thechildrenstheatre.com

Indoor Playscape: Adventure Station at Sharon Woods
If you want a place for your kids to lose their damn minds for an hour while you sit and drink a coffee, this is it. There are two levels of indoor ladders, slides, and climbing ropes, plus a cave, a giant bird’s nest, a play jail, general store, and other Wild West-style sets. Heads up: It’s for kids ages 2–12, so keep your littles separated in the 2- to 5-year-old area, lest they be trampled. 11450 Lebanon Rd., Sharonville, (513) 563-4513, greatparks.org

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Outdoor Playscape: Highfield Discovery Garden
Glenwood Gardens is its own little hidden gem, and Highfield Discovery Garden lies within. The 12-acre fairytale-themed garden is a magical wonderland for kids and their grown-ups, complete with frog ponds, lily pads, a model train running through the trees, raised-bed vegetable and herb gardens, and so much more. And Highfield’s centerpiece is a life-sized tree house, where kids can climb, crawl, and explore their hearts out. 10397 Springfield Pike, Woodlawn, (513) 771-8733, greatparks.org/parks/glenwood-gardens

Free Live Music: MOTR Pub
An OTR mainstay on Main Street for eight years, the pub continues to host live music seven nights a week with no cover charge, from touring bands to the best local musicians. There’s also comedy and poetry readings on Sundays and Tuesdays. And don’t sleep on the lunch and dinner menu here, including an impressive brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 381-6687, motrpub.com

Sunday Funday: Tea Dances
Richard Cooke and Marty Wagner revived the tradition of Sunday afternoon tea dances for Cincinnati’s LGBTQ community in 2017, and today they host monthly events at the Contemporary Arts Center, Hotel Covington, American Sign Museum, and other venues. There’s no tea, but lots of dancing to DJs and community support. Their motto: Live, love, dance! (513) 910-9875, facebook.com/teadancecinci

Private Karaoke: Tokyo Kitty
Karaoke can be a very personal experience. Or rather, it should be. That’s why the private rooms (“karaoke boxes”) at Tokyo Kitty are so key. Because that random dude at the bar doesn’t necessarily need or want to hear your rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream,” but your besties will love it. Order drinks from an app and they float down from the ceiling on a robot. It’s like the most fun house party you never had to host. 575 Race St., Downtown, (513) 744-0909, thattokyobar.com

Cool Place to Play Pool: Mecca OTR
Neon-lit murals practically pop off the walls and hanging plants make for a jungle-like oasis at OTR’s Mecca. And it has a pool table, in a room with racks of vintage, thrifted clothing (it’s for sale), an old leather couch, and even more eye-grabbing art. Pool tables are hard to find these days, so racking up here, the signature Chichunker in hand (San Pellegrino served with a little bottle of liquor), is a treat. 1429 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 421-9900, mecca-otr.com

 


Happy Trails: Find a natural adventure to match your mood.

Mountain Biking
Devou Park’s 11 miles of off-road bike trails include 200-foot-plus drops (or climbs, depending on your mood) and crazy switchbacks. The Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance helps keep trails clear with monthly work days and hosts a biking podcast, Gravel Lot.
devouparktrails.com, thegravellot.libsyn.com

Horseback Riding
Winton Woods is a crown jewel of Hamilton County’s parks system, and the Riding Center is just one reason. Connected to a 2.6-mile scenic trail, they’ll hook you up with one of 40 horses and a wide array of year-round lessons, trail rides, and more. You can even bring your own horse. (513) 931-3057, greatparks.org/parks/winton-woods

Hike for Your Health
Grab a Cincinnati Nature Center passport and get it stamped after hiking each of 15 year-round trails at Rowe Woods near Milford and Long Branch Farm & Trails in Goshen. Though not all in one day. You’ll earn a Cincinnati Nature Center “trailblazer” shirt or hat as a prize. (513) 831-1711, cincynature.org

Accessible Trail
Caldwell Nature Preserve is a hidden gem just up the hill from Carthage and Elmwood Place on North Bend Road. Trails stretch for 3.5 miles through an old-growth forest, including a flat paved one that’s accessible to wheelchair users. (513) 357-2604, cincinnatiparks.com/central/caldwell-preserve

Dog-Friendly Trail
Red Bird Hollow’s three-mile in-and-out trail follows a bubbly creek along a wide, flat gravel path and is a favorite for dog-lovers, with plenty of on- and off-leash pooches. The trailhead isn’t well-marked, but can be found near Camargo Country Club in Indian Hill. indianhill.org/history

Trail with a Treehouse
As the city’s largest park, Mt. Airy Forest has a lot to brag about. Take Everybody’s Treehouse, a whimsical, accessible structure along a walking trail whose posts, rafters, and other support elements were made from natural materials harvested in the forest.
cincinnatiparks.com/west/mt-airy-forest

 

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