Your Destination Guide to Cincinnati

Destination Guide Cincinnati - Your Destination Guide to Cincinnati, OH

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© Jere Keys

Tucked away just outside the hustle and bustle of downtown and the buoyant college campus in Clifton, sits a neighborhood full of arts and entertainment: Northside. Dubbed by locals as the "urban village," Northside is the neighborhood to go to for a creative, friendly, artistic, innovative, and close-knit-family feeling. With an abundance of artsy venues, independently owned restaurants, cafés, boutiques, and bars, this area of town has no shortage of ways to spend a day.

Lining the main street of Hamilton Avenue are eclectic clothing and second-hand boutiques, one-of-a-kind record stores, and endless dining options. Casablanca Vintage offers a unique assortment of clothing, shoes, and accessories for men and women, while Ali's Boutique is a spot for imported jewelry and gifts. Avant Garage is known for vintage furniture, clothing (especially the selection of men's western shirts), shoes, and accessories. The locally owned video rental shop, Bughouse Video, features a wide selection of art-house and indie films. Those looking for rare musicians and hard to find tunes can try Shake It Records, where the music savvy staff can help find sounds to suit your taste.

An ideal neighborhood for vegans and vegetarians, the food options in Northside are vast and delicious. Enjoy a meal inside the friendly walls, or on the outdoor patio of Melt, a vegan deli offering an extensive menu: combinations from soups and salads to any of the famous melt sandwiches and a small variety of tasty desserts (including vegan options) complete any meal. Entering popular brunch spot Blue Jay is like stepping back in time, back to the good ol' days of simple life and simple meals. Great for the southern home-style breakfast of eggs, bacon, biscuits, and gravy, Blue Jay has tasty food at appealing prices, and offers a wide range of veggie options for breakfast and lunch. At Honey, fine dining meets casual atmosphere, where everyone can feel at home while enjoying the unique food combinations offered.

Need to satisfy a sweet tooth? Stop by Take the Cake, a specialty store that serves up delightful homemade goodies for weddings, events, parties and more, and has a small café open for lunch. A morning or afternoon pick-me-up can be found at Sidewinder Coffee and Tea, specializing in locally roasted, organic, and fair trade coffees, as well as locally blended teas. An assortment of breakfast treats are available, like vegan-friendly baked goods, soups, and also light lunch fare - all can be enjoyed on-the-go or inside this cozy coffeehouse. Further down Hamilton Avenue lies The Comet, a Mexican eatery where the burritos are enormous and the homemade salsas go unmatched. The Comet features themed nights like Bluegrass Sundays, Bike Night, and Scooter Night, as well as live music, local artists' work upon the walls, and an extensive list of bottled and draft micro brews, both local and imported.

To wash down the cuisine, Northside houses enough bars, pubs, and cafés with seasonal beers, micro brews, and timeless favorites on tap. Northside Tavern is a neighborhood staple, serving the locals more than just thirst-quenching beers. Nearly every night of the week there is live music. Tuesdays are dedicated to live-band Karaoke, and Monday through Saturday, a happy hour to make everyone smile (5 to 8pm). Another local favorite is the C & D Café, a bar that offers over 30 imports and micro brews, a welcoming atmosphere, and DJs Wednesday through Saturday nights. Dance all night at BronZ, a gay-friendly nightclub with a climate-controlled courtyard and nightly features, including Euchre happy hour and Rock music on Tuesdays, Hip Hop DJ on Thursday nights, and Drag Shows with the Club BronZ Beauties on Saturdays. Off the main strip of Hamilton Avenue is another hot spot, Mayday (formerly the Gypsy Hut), where live music, great beers, and gourmet hot dogs are only a few of the perks. A large outdoor patio with fire pits can be enjoyed year round, and the Draft & Dog happy hour (specials on any draft and dog Monday through Wednesday, 4-8pm) is unlike any other.

Escape the busy streets filled with drinking, dining, and shopping, by visiting one of the many green spaces found in Northside. Jergens park is ideal for families as it offers a playground for children, while Hoffner Park is centrally located, making it a terrific spot for local festivals and events. Mt. Airy Forest is just on the outskirts of Northside and is Cincinnati's largest park, with miles of hiking and bridle trails, nearly two dozen picnic areas, playgrounds, shelters, and an Arboretum often used for weddings due to its grand lake, lush gardens, and charming gazebos.

Northside is known for its distinct indie atmosphere, friendly village-vibe, and abundance of options for shopping and dining. The creative energy and inherent sense of community sets this part of town apart from all others. Its effervescent undertone and hometown familiarity make visitors and locals alike feel at home.

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