Cincinnati, Ohio. It doesn’t really give you visions of grandeur from a great city, like New York City, New York or Chicago, Illinois does. You may not know that we exist, let alone where we are. But, like the little Whos on Horton’s dandelion, I’m here to insist that we are in fact here. I was born and raised here, and I’m not ashamed to call myself a Cincinnatian. As previously mentioned, I work at the front desk of a hotel, as well as a concierge of sorts for a group who stays with us for a month about 8 months of the year. It’s kind of my job to know what there is around town. We may not have the plethora of museums, parks and restaurants that you’ll find in NYC or Chicago, but they aren’t lacking in quality.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is a great way to spend a day, plus admission is always free, thanks to a generous gift from a local arts patron’s philanthropic foundation, The Richard and Lois Rosenthal Foundation. They have on permanent exhibit a wonderful collection of Rookwood pottery from the famous pottery company here in Cincinnati. There’s a whole wing dedicated to the arts from Asia, India and the Islamic world. They also have pieces from the greats; Picasso, Monet & Matisse just to name a few. When I was there in December they had a collection of Gainsboroughs on loan, which were breathtaking. Last time I was there they even had a few Warhols on special exhibit. There’s an exhibit featuring artists who’ve called Cincinnati home during its formative years and works depicting the area while they were in residence, which I’ve always found intriguing to see how my hometown looked before it became the city I know today. Then there’s a collection of European and Christian art, African art and art from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. They even have a conservation project for Van Gogh’s piece “Undergrowth with Two Figures” that you can watch them work on. There’s so much to see that you really need to dedicate a whole day if you want to see everything.

The location of the art museum is also of note: Eden Park. This gorgeous park is located up on a hill called Mount Adams that overlooks the Ohio River and the downtown area. For a bit of trivia, Cincinnati is sometimes likened to Rome because both cities sit on seven hills. We even have a copy of the Capitoline Wolf in Eden Park, a gift from Mussolini himself. Eden Park is also home to the Krohn Conservatory, which has a wonderful butterfly show each year highlighting butterflies from a specific country and the culture within that country. This year’s show is highlighting Brazil. The park is also home to Playhouse in the Park, which puts on wonderful productions. It has the world premieres of 2 Pulitzer Prize-winning shows under it’s belt, as well as winning a Tony Award for Best Regional Theater and Best Revival for “Company.” Overall, it’s a wonderful place to go to enjoy a leisurely walk, not to mention enjoying some culture.

Speaking of culture, the Museum Center at Union Terminal is fantabulous as well. The building itself is a beautiful work of Art Deco construction. Anyone who’s ever seen the Hall of Justice from the DC comic universe knows what Union Terminal looks like on the outside. On the inside, there are 3 museums. Personally, my favorite is the Natural History & Science museum, but there’s also the Cincinnati History Museum and the Children’s Museum. There’s also a special exhibition area where we’ve previously had the Bodies & Titanic exhibit. Right now they are hosting a Cleopatra exhibit. And then there’s the Omnimax theater, which shows wonderful IMAX films. One of my favorite things to do on a lazy Friday night is to go see a Friday Night Classic, where they show old documentary films.

And those are just the big museums and most known park. There’s also the National Underground Railroad Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center, the Taft Museum of Art and even the Creation Museum. We also have historical sites, like the Harriet Beecher Stowe house, the William Howard Taft house and a few Civil War sites like the Waldschmidt Homestead. One of the best parks in my opinion is Bellevue Hill Park. It’s a small park frequented by students at UC because of it’s proximity, but it has a gorgeous view of the downtown area and the river. There are also the bigger parks like Winton Woods and Sharon Woods, which have all sorts of activities like boating and horseback riding.

And of course we also have our sports teams. We have the MLB’s Cincinnati Reds, the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and the ECHL’s Cyclones. Then there’s the UC Bearcats for college football and basketball, plus their intra-city basketball rival, the Xavier Musketeers. And if you’re looking for some summer fun, there’s Kings Island and The Beach.

Two of my absolute favorite things to do are the zoo and the aquarium. The Cincinnati Zoo is the second oldest zoo in the country and is also a registered National Landmark. It’s ranked in the top 5 of all zoos nationally, has a well-established endangered animals breeding program and is currently going through a major renovation, which you can currently see in the form of the new Vine Street entrance and Night Walkers house. They even have a solar-panel canopy that sits atop the parking lots, keeping your car cool and providing the zoo with 20% of it’s energy needs.

As far as city restaurants are concerned, I have one warning. Don’t buy into the hullabaloo for Montgomery Inn. Their BBQ sauce, while delicious, isn’t enough to save their ribs. I usually get the spring chicken, which is quite enjoyable with the BBQ sauce. One thing I will suggest you try is Skyline Chili. A cheese coney is $1.50, so it’s a lot cheaper to try that out than it is for a $25 slab of ribs at Montgomery Road.

I highly suggest Urbanspoon to figure out where to eat. We have 4 steakhouses that are operated by Jeff Ruby, and all of them are spectacular. They really are the best steaks in town. There’s also the romantic Italian restaurant Primavista that sits on a hill in the west side of town overlooking the city. And we also have the first authentic Hofbräuhaus outside of Munich, as well as a soon-to-be opened Christian Moerlein Lager House. We are a German town historically, and we’re getting back to our roots as a major player in the American brewing world. And if you’re a fan of Diner, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network, Guy even made a stop to a couple of places in town. He visited Terry’s Turf Club, which honestly is THE best burger in Ohio, and Blue Ash Chili, which is a yummy variation of the classic Skyline chili recipe.

And as with any city, I’m scratching the surface here. There’s loads of other things to see and do and other restaurants to try. But you’ll never know what else is here until you visit.