City Life

Best of the City 2013

Established in 1934, this place is as old school as they come. Shoot the breeze while getting an “adult haircut” or—better yet—a hot lather face shave, replete with steam towels, Bay Rum aftershave, and a quick neck massage. If you feel an urge to talk about Johnny Carson, don’t be alarmed. You’ve just gone retro.

The best test of a farmers’ market is whether you can source an entire meal from its vendors: At Madeira, you’ll find a robust assortment of local meats, just-picked produce, desserts, plus flowers for the table. And the line for Blue Oven Bakery isn’t heinous.

For grown-ups, who bear the brunt of the shopping, cooking, wrapping, and decorating during the holidays, the wonder of the season often becomes I wonder how I’ll get it all done. Recharge your festive batteries December 14 at SantaCon. Hundreds of people dress as Santa (or Mrs. Claus or elves or reindeer—we saw Yukon Cornelius last year) and meet on Fountain Square to sing a few carols, then hop between local bars offering drink and food specials (follow @CincySantacon on Twitter to keep up). We guarantee your Grinch heart will grow a few sizes this day.

Somewhere in your roster of traditions you should find a place for the Cincinnati Playhouse production of A Christmas Carol. Under Michael Haney’s direction there are always lots of comforting tropes, a few surprise turns, and the perfect balance of spectacle and story. Local favorite Bruce Cromer continues his role as Ebenezer Scrooge, and for the 22nd year in a row, Greg Proccacino returns as the eggnog-curdling Jacob Marley.

By best dog outing, we meant cutest. On December 14 at 2 p.m., pooches clad in festive holiday costumes will once again prance their way into our hearts at the 24th annual Reindog Parade. It’s free, but donations are accepted and benefit the SPCA of Cincinnati (you know, in case you still need to secure your spot on Santa’s Nice List). The best-dressed fur babies get prizes; registration begins 12:30 p.m. We’re aww-ing already.

You won’t find the Lotus Pond at Rowe Woods advertised anywhere except unceremoniously on the park map. The water and floating leaves (and flowers, if you come during high summer) first seem as still as a painting. But stand still for a moment: You’ll suddenly see and hear a multitude of frogs, fish, turtles, dragonflies, and miscellaneous amphibians. The pond isn’t just timeless—it feels practically primordial.

There’s a lot to make this ArtWorks mural special: It’s the largest to date for the organization, it depicts John A. Ruthven’s gorgeous Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon, and it featured Ruthven himself as a guest artist.

Date night can’t get much better than a free movie in one of Cincinnati’s most historic parks. The Mt. Adams Civic Association and the city’s Parks and Planning departments team up each summer to offer Cinema in the City—free classic movies at the Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park. One movie is shown in June, July, and August. Before each showing there’s live music, and local eateries sell food onsite. There’s probably not a better place to experience cinema in the summertime.



For your speed-obsessed brother: The richard petty driving experience Gets you on the track at the Kentucky Speedway. You can drive starting at $449 (8 laps), or Call shotgun starting at $59 (3 laps).

For your history-obsessed uncle: The Museum Center’s heritage programs will cover lots of Cincinnati History in 2014. $35–$85 (member discounts),

For Your animal-obsessed niece: the junior zookeeper experience will let her channel her inner Dr. Doolittle. April–October, $500 for two people,

For Your bengals obsessed (but football-clueless) bestie: football 101. She’ll learn more about the sport, meet some coaches, and have fun. $199 (benefits Marvin Lewis community Fund).


In search of the best extracurricular activities for 2014? We’ve picked 12 to get you started.

January: Get Religion
It’s foul and it’s funny (What else would you expect from the creators of South Park?) and it opens January 7: Tony-winning musical The Book of Mormon.

February: Impress Your Sweetie
Valentine’s Day is a Friday—make reservations now. We suggest Primavista, for pleasing Italian cuisine with a side of skyline views.

March: Sip & Sample
The Cincinnati International Wine Festival’s grand tastings feature more than 700 wines and great nibbles from Kroger. Plus, proceeds benefit a slew of local charities.

April: Burst Into Bloom
Head to Krippendorf Lodge at the Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford for a riot of spring blossoms.

May: Plant a Seed
The Civic Garden Center’s annual plant sale can jump-start your landscape with great deals for green thumbs.

June: Meat Meet
The MainStrasse Village Original Goettafest puts our local sausage on display in dishes that range from sweet (fudge) to savory (Reubens).

July: Go For Three
The third annual Bunbury Music Festival hits downtown July 11–13. Buy tickets before January 31, and you can put them on layaway (and avoid the two price increases). Lineup will be released February 20.

August: Return a Serve
Top tennis pros make the Western & Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center (Aug 9–17) a must-see event.

September: Shop Like a Mom
Hit up the fall edition of the Mother’s Exchange Sale at Lakota West High School (two other sales take place in March and November). A $1 admission gets you access to gently used kids’ clothes, toys, furniture and more.

October: Scare Up Some Treats
Costumed tipsters tell us that Orchard Lane in Kennedy Heights fully embraces the ghoulish spirit of Halloween. Note to trick-or-treaters: friendly (and polite) ghosts get more candy.

November: Burn off the Bird
The 105th installment of the Thanksgiving Day Race lets you enjoy your dinner all the more for having braved the weather and pulled off a 6.2 mile run.

December: Engineer a Holiday Tradition
The Main Street Holiday Trains display is free at Entertrainment Junction, but you’ll want to check out all 25,000 square feet of model train setup, plus the play area, funhouse, and other attractions.

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