With spring comes sunshine, relaxation, and entertainment! There’s always so much to do and so little time, but no one is complaining about new shopping, food, and fun time opportunities. Even better, some of the most anticipated new venues are opening right in your own backyard.  I’m talking about all the new venues opening up on Calhoun Street this spring and summer.  U Square At The Loop is guaranteed to create some awesome memories for you and friends in the near future.

U Square at theLoop will offer food, shopping, housing and parking.  Those all are much needed things in our beautiful Clifton city but let’s get real; we’re all most interested in the shopping, eats, and fun. The shopping U Square At The Loop will host Rue21, Body Central, Altar’d State, and Rally House. With all those clothing stores and the Footlocker across the street, students should have no problem finding all the clothing items they need.  I’ve been living in Clifton for the last five years and until now; clothes shopping has never been so readily available and convenient.

Along with the shopping comes great food!  At U Square at the Loop, one thing is for sure; food will not be in short supply.  U Square at The Loop will host eateries such as; DiBella’s Old fashioned Submarines, Firehouse Subs, Hwy 55, Lime, Waffle House, The Brass Tap, Mr. Sushi, Bd’s Mongolian Barbeque, Keystone Bar and Grill, and Orange Leaf.  With all those places to choose from it will be almost impossible to go hungry! I can’t wait!

Good food, good friends, and good fun are the three main ingredients of any good party. U Square at the Loop is poised to bring us just that.  When the shops and restaurants open in the near future there will be only one answer for where to have a good time, and that’s U Square at the Loop!

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A Taste of the Best

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Photo Courtesy of TAVOLA

When sitting inside of A TAVOLA (1220 Vine Street), be surprised if you don’t find yourself smiling; you’re in the Best Pizza Restaurant of Cincinnati 2013. Located in OTR (Over the Rhine) A TAVOLA boast a menu of stellar cocktails at the bar and handcrafted pizza from the shop’s owners.  Just sampling? The Wagyu Meatball Sliders will set you straight. Hungrier than that? Pick up a signature pizza like the Fig+Prosciutto, or the Soppressata (a spicy cured ham).  Did we mention A TAVOLA cures all meat in house?  http://www.atavolapizza.com/menu/

But A TAVOLA didn’t get here riding on tasty treats alone. Billy Draznik, Sam Ginocchio, and Jared Wayne are the owners and masterminds behind some of the tastiest and unique Italian inspired concoctions.  Working on recipes from their family they set out to craft a destination for all. More importantly they are amongst a group of people helping to build a culture of arts and entertainment in Cincinnati, “we love this neighborhood”, Wayne said.

When the 3CDC Development Group approached them with a space on Vine Street they were reluctant, the Gateway Quarter was in its infancy, barely the culinary haven it is now. “There’s a renaissance going on down here you know, it’s kind of like this whole culinary boulevard,” Wayne said. “A couple of years ago, even ten months ago I thought ‘there’s no way we could be down here, that’s crazy.” This passion is just what Cincinnati needs to fuel its climb back from urban decay. Today A TAVOLA has just won the 2013 Best of Cincinnati for Pizza, supported by a group of people striving for the best this city has to offer. 

For more Best of Cincinnati visit:

http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/articles.sec-209-1-best_of_cincinnati.html

Cincinnati’s Oasis

Interactive-fountains-at-Washington-Park-photo-by-Donna-Covrett-640x480

Nearly 100 years ago, amongst the industry and thriving neighbors of Cincinnati, lay Washington Park. The go too spot for a family picnic, an afternoon with friends throwing the Frisbee or just to walking the dog, Washington Park was one of downtown Cincinnati’s Meccas. Eight acres teeming with life.

Present day has seen different times, from the fall out of urban decay and migrating population away from the downtown, Washington Park had a very different face. Drug sales, prostitution and violence crippled this neighborhood and likewise Washington Park.

This too, is now a memory of the past. Powered by 3CDC a private redevelopment nonprofit and the Cincinnati Park Board the plan to infuse Washington Park with a $48 million renovation plan that will fuel, and be fueled by the community around it. The Music Hall, School for Creative and Preforming Arts, Memorial Hall and the Gateway Quarter are all part of the Urban revival to bring Cincinnati and Washington Park back to former glory. Take a walk down through OTR and see the difference.

The change is visible everywhere you look in Cincinnati, the morphing landscape of the Smale Riverfront Park, The Banks, 21c Museum Hotel and the Horseshoe Casino all point at the change Cincinnati is experiencing. The return of the Park welcomes that central gathering place. Head down to explore the area, have lunch in the warm spring weather or take in the history.An oasis amongst the downtown for the people of Cincinnati to embrace, enjoy and keep close to our hearts as one of Cincinnati’s oldest treasures.

Opening Day In Cincinnati

           Well it’s almost upon us folks, Reds Opening Day.  Every year eager Cincinnati fans patiently bide their time just waiting for the day to arrive. It’s not only a celebration here in Cincinnati, but rather a Home Town Holiday  Findlay market parade.com says, “When sparky Anderson arrived on the scene with the reds in 1970, Opening Day was an established holiday in Cincinnati.  You can’t find it on the calendar, but make no mistake: Opening Day is baseballs annual festival and nowhere is it celebrated like it is in the Queen City.”  Sparky Anderson also said, “It’s a holiday- a baseball holiday!  Ain’t no other place in America got that!”  Back when Opening Day started, the reds were a better known team and known a lot more for winning. Recently they have started to take back that reputation; however, many of the years throughout my childhood (after an amazing opening day or not) the Reds would have a terrible season. They aren’t the Big Red Machine that they used to be, however, slowly but surely the names of the current Red’s all-stars are gaining more and more fame. 

            This year’s Opening Day celebration takes place on Monday April 1st and my fellow Cincinnatians and I couldn’t be more excited. In 1994, Opening Day for the Reds was scheduled for Easter Sunday, however, Marge Schott, the owner of the reds at the time, refused to make a big show of it and instead re-scheduled the game for the day after.  The day after was actually the Monday after Easter and ever since then Opening Day has fallen on that Monday.  It’s a tradition that hasn’t died yet and it won’t for years to come.  Needless to say, countless Cincinnatians will be gathered with their family and friends this coming Monday, huddled up around the TV for the parade, eating all the spoils obtained from Easter Sunday.  It’s the perfect time for family and friends to bond over something that all of us faithful Cincinnati fans cherish together; the Cincinnati Reds Nation. 

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Not so humble Horseshoe

Cincinnati’s brand new Horseshoe Casino downtown is not for the faint hearted. As an avid gambler myslef I was eager to see what the new addition to the city had to offer. Based on what my assumptions were from previous casinos i had been to made me think that there are very few things that could differ; boy was I wrong. This new spectacular 22-acre building has raised the bar on the casino nightlife. Owned by Ceasars Palace, Horseshoe Cincinnati  has 100,000 square feet of gambling fun with approximately 2,000 slot machines, 85 table games inluding blackjack, let it ride, roulette, etc. and a 31-table World Series of Poker room. It’s amazing to think about how much time and money went in to making this one of the highest rated casinos in the midwest. I would personally compare this casino to those in Vegas, that’s how incredible it is. Of course they weren’t able to build a city in the middle of the dessert by people WINNING money, so be careful what you wish for. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville was the first of the four restaurants to be announced and provides guests with the ultimate tropical experience with island inspired food and live entertainment.

As for the city of Cincinnati, this casino means wonders. For a city that is already infested with amazing entertainment and opportunity, the casino just provides one more attraction for people to be excited about. A pro baseball team, a pro football team, and a pro gambling venue provides anything citizens or vistors could want. This will bring a ton of money into the city and allow for new and exciting renovations. If it is anywhere near as succesfful as Hollywood casino was in Larenceberg, IN then Cincinnati will have another reason to be put on the map. Time to win some money!

Cincinnati Museum and Historical Site attractions

    The city of Cincinnati boasts a history full of art and culture that extends decades into the past. Currently, there are over 60 museums and historic sites located in the Greater Cincinnati area that are open to the public on a daily basis. Each museum is unique ranging from the American Sign Museum to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. Many of these museums are considered a “Must See” when visitors stop in Cincinnati. The wide variation of historic sites and informational museums has offered locals and tourists endless stories and exhibits to discover.

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http://www.21cmuseumhotels.com/cincinnati/  

   Recently renovated and located on Walnut Street across from the Aronoff Center for the Arts is the 21c Museum Hotel. The 21c Museum Hotel is a boutique hotel that offers 156 guest rooms, a contemporary art museum and a cultural civic center. It’s located in the 100-year-old Metropole building that has been recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There is 8,000 square feet of exhibition space that is open to the public free of charge 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The Hotel also offers meeting and event space available for corporate and social events. Located within the building is the Metropole restaurant that was opened by Chef Michael Paley. The restaurant offers “a contemporary take on old world fireplace cooking techniques”. There are over ten current exhibitions that contribute to the aesthetics and functionality of the building itself. One of the exhibits is incorporated into the elevator cab that gives guests an “interactive experience that moves through space and time.”

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http://contemporaryartscenter.org/

     The Contemporary Arts Center is known for showcasing “art of the last five minutes.” The buildings architecture gained international praise. It was founded as the Modern Art Society in 1939 and has changed with time since. The Contemporary Arts Center became one of the first showcases for contemporary art and new artistic movements. The exhibitions are focused around recent developments in architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, performance art and new media. The Center is located next to the 21c Museum Hotel on Walnut and Sixth Street downtown. Currently, there are three exhibitions available to the public for viewing. They also host programs where families, schools and individuals can come and learn more about evolving artwork in the community. Similarly to 21c Museum Hotel, the Contemporary Arts Center has event space available for rent to host parties, wedding receptions, fundraisers and many other events.

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http://www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org/

     The Cincinnati Art Museum located on Eden Park Drive was ranked the “Top Art Museum for Families” by Parenting Magazine. There is free admission every day and the museum is an excellent place for public tours and educational activities for people of all ages. The Cincinnati Art Museum showcases over 60,000 objects that come from a range of 6,000 years in history. The art is from all over the world including ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome as well as Native American and African art galleries of furniture, glass, ceramics, costumes and folk art. Some of the artwork comes from historic European artists such as Titian and Van Dyck. Also available for show are works from the 19th and 20th century by Monet and Picasso.

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http://www.signmuseum.org/           

     Another popular ‘must see’ museum is the American Sign Museum located in the Camp Washington area. This museum covers a full range of the history of American signage. Guests can take a guided tour or a private tour through time while viewing the most popular signage from each decade. The tour begins with “fancy gold leaf glass signs” that were popular at the beginning of the last century and moves through neon sign popularity in the 1940’s and 50’s. Through the tour, guests can stop at the onsite neon shop where they can learn how neon signs are created. Tours range from $10.00 – $15.00.

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http://www.freedomcenter.org/

   Located symbolically on the Ohio River is the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The Center presents the “worlds first museum quality permanent exhibition on the subjects of modern day slavery and human trafficking.” The museum consists of three buildings that symbolize the three cornerstones of freedom – perseverance, cooperation and courage. In the 1800’s, Cincinnati served as a major hub to those seeking freedom from slavery in the Underground Railroad. Today, the building itself symbolizes many aspect of the long journey to freedom that slaves faced years ago. Recently, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center was included in Kyle McCarthy’s “The Ten Best Family Destinations for Learning Vacations.” Many schools from around the Midwest make educational trips to the Center. The museum is one of the only museums to offer historic exhibits as well as insight and awareness of slavery around the world today. Tickets range from $8.00 for children to $12.00 for adults. Currently, there are over five exhibits available to the public for viewing.

     There are many more museums and historic sites located throughout Cincinnati and the surrounding areas than those listed above. Each site has a different story to tell of art, history and culture. For those interested in Cincinnati’s history and culture that helped shaped the city, there are plenty of sites to visit for a decent price that make for a good day or weekend trip.