Making plans with people can be so difficult sometimes. I mean you either can’t agree on anything to do or you can’t come up with anything appealing to do. Been there done that.
But I think I found a creative solution to all those plan crushers out there: exploring the city. I mean think about it, there’s no way you’ve been down every street, eaten at every corner bakery or gotten a coffee from every cute cafe. You’ll never run out of things to do.
Now I’ve never been a city girl. As I’ve mentioned before, I want to live in the suburbs when I grow up. No big cities for this girl. They’re dirty, crowded, overwhelming and downright scary, but scary can be fun sometimes right? Right. So I ventured into Cincinnati to see what fun it had to offer for me.
Just like I’ve never liked cities, I’ve never liked markets. I’m that person who scurries past every booth avoiding eye contact at all costs and ignoring vendors’ calls to me. Sorry man. I’m not interested in whatever it is you’re selling and if I was then I would have stopped to look.
But if you’re one who wants to feel the hustle and bustle of the city (and everyone visiting) and loves finding custom pieces and trying local foods, then a local market is the perfect place for you to check out. While I don’t like all the people and pushy vendors at markets, I do love discovering local brands.
While I was there I did find though the best chocolate company ever. Like no joke. I wish I had a lifetime supply. Their white chocolate with cocoa nibs is to die for!
Sawyer Point Park
Now this park was way more style. Chill, quiet and by the river. I’ve actually been here multiple times and really love it because it’s on the outskirts of the city and not all up in the city’s business.
If you’re looking for a chill day, and don’t mind being outside, then try visiting a city park. You get a gorgeous view of all the buildings, they are always clean and kept up with and you get to play on the swings. (Best childhood past time, am I right?)
Now going to a park may seem boring on the surface, but I promise it’s not. They’re the perfect place to go on a walk and talk, waste time and enjoy nature, release your inner 5-year-old or even have a photo shoot.
If there’s water you can bet I’ll be there. #RealLifeMermaid
Real talk though, the aquarium is the perfect place to go with friends and spend a couple hours. Plus it’s educational so that’s a bonus. It’s like watching a Netflix documentary on the ocean but in real life.
The weekend I went, they even had the Weeki Wachee mermaids visiting! They had a bunch of mermaid decor and the mermaids swam around in some of the tanks and I think it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I mean not everyone can say they’ve seen a real life mermaid now can they?
An aquarium is perfect for people like me who get anxiety from walking through a city and for any day date with friends, family or a partner. Be warned though, the tickets are usually on the pricier side.
Freedom Center Museum
Another educational city exploration option are museums. The one I visited specializes in the Underground Railroad, so it has exhibits to do with slavery and racial relations.
It was crazy to read all the placards because it brought back how prominent slavery was only a little over 100 years ago right in my own backyard. I was so moved by the artwork and all the artifacts that I was almost brought to tears when I entered an actual house used for slave quarters they had on display.
Serious museums are not for everyone, so if they’re not your thing maybe check out an art gallery, children’s museum or science center on your day in the city. Some are free and others charge fees, so keep that in mind. I got into the Freedom Center free through a program with my college, so be on the lookout for opportunities like that!
Honestly, I couldn’t care less about major league sports. However, it is a great experience to sit in the stands and immerse yourself in the sports culture (even if it is like 90 degrees outside and you swear you’re sitting in a pool of sweat.) It also felt very American for going to a baseball game, so that was a pretty great feeling.
Obviously this isn’t something to do every weekend (unless you’re really into it because tickets can get super pricey. Especially if you go to something like a NFL game in your city. I’d save something like this for a special occasion if money is an issue.
Going to something like this also makes you feel like you’re actually a part of the city, so it really embodies the whole exploring a city idea I’ve got going on.
Bow Tie Cafe
Cities, especially downtown areas, are the perfect places to find small chains with stuff that is locally grown and homemade. That’s why it can be super fun to try out new restaurants on your day out.
I found this little coffee shop that was way too cute to pass up. I mean coffee and bow ties? Those are two of my favorite things, so yes please. And oh my gosh you guys, they had the best coffee I have ever had in my life. Like I didn’t need to add any sugar or anything.
I ordered an iced coffee and the barista got me a cup of ice, a pitcher of cold brew and a carton of almond milk and I got to measure everything out myself. (Although I wish I could have put the ice in myself because she gave me way too much.) It was so cool to pour the milk over the coffee and watch it all swirl together. I was mesmerized. It got me excited to use my own cold brew coffee maker when I move back into the dorms this week.
The cafe was also situated in the most picturesque part of town: Mount Adams. All the buildings were colorful and I felt like I was in a small waterfront vacation town walking around. I’m definitely going to have to go back there to have a mini photoshoot and get some more of the amazing coffee. I’m obsessed guys.
See? Taking a chance and trying a new place could lead you to finding your new favorite coffee shop.
Don’t be afraid to look like a tourist
It’ll make you feel like you’re on vacation.
It took me six visits into the city to go to all of these places, and I still have barely scratched the surface of places I want to check out. See I told you that you’ll never run out of things to do when exploring a city!
Other places that are worth checking out are a zoo, monuments and bridges, thrift shops, antique shops and free events put on by the city.
I hope I gave you some inspiration on what to do in your own city. I really did have a lot of fun and made some good memories going to all the places for this, and will definitely be going to back to some of them. (Can’t wait to go back to the cafe!)