Cincinnati’s Vibrant Vine Street

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When I told people that I had planned to go to Cincinnati as part of my six-month travel adventure, by and large, they had one reaction: Cincinnati? Um…why?

Apparently, I knew something they didn’t. To clarify, I am indeed talking about Cincinnati, not Cleveland, and not Columbus, as you may be thinking. Cincinnati is its own city, and it has some things going for it. This is not just my theory. I tested it by going there, and I can personally confirm it.

First let me say that Cincinnati is a city that has had its troubles, just like a lot of Midwestern cities. I saw a lot of boarded up buildings, and I passed through some areas on the bus that made my heart rate quicken. Also, the downtown area tends to empty out at night, so it’s not a bustling metropolis like some other major cities.

If you want some action, head up to Vine Street, full of restaurants and eateries, or Main Street, packed with bars and clubs. Both of them are northward-running streets that have been revitalized in recent years, and have the newfound glitter and excitement of recently-designated-as-hot areas.

I went to Cincinnati alone, and for the most part it was a lonely trip, so on the nights when I felt like getting out of the hostel, I went to a nearby wine bar on Vine Street and got cozy with some consuming non-fiction. Not a hugely exciting Saturday night considering the local nightlife options, but it gave me the chance to snap some photos of the vibrant downtown area at night.

People often wonder (I think) why I bother exploring mid-sized cities, especially given that I’ve traveled to some major ones and used to live in Chicago. I guess for some, accessibility is a drawback. For me, it’s a draw. Cincinnati is small enough that I could walk from the library downtown (which is awesome, by the way) to Vine Street in just a few minutes. Downtown to uptown, just like that.

I could talk more about what I liked about Cincinnati, but I will save that for later posts. I’ll just say that Cincinnati is the only city in which I’ve ever attended a dance party in a burned-out auto repair shop. It’s the only place I know where you can still get a damn good slice of pizza for $2, and where you can stay in a hippie hostel walking distance to downtown for next to nothing.

Cincinnati is not Cleveland or Columbus—it’s a unique, fun city with its own flavor. And I like it.

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