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Downtown :: Arts & Play

Downtown artsWith Cincinnati’s history and reputation as an artistic and creative center, Downtown abounds with galleries and theatres. The Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, itself a modern work of art designed by architect Zaha Hadid, contains a dazzling series of art-dedicated vaults and visual feasts. Its upper level features the UnMuseum, an innovative experiment in art education that children of all ages (including adults) will love.

Other must-sees for arts enthusiasts include the Westin Gallery, a modern gallery where you’re as likely to encounter conceptual sculpture as conventional oil paintings, and the Artworks Gallery, which specializes in work by budding artists, often teenagers. Closer to the river, the Taft Museum of Art is one of the finest small art museums in America, displaying works by Whistler, Rembrandt, Goya and Sargent.

Stage-wise, with its many theatres and proximity to theatre-rich Over-the-Rhine, Downtown is something of a performance Mecca. The Aronoff Center for the Arts includes three major performance halls regularly presenting dance, theatre and music. The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company on Race continuously reinvigorates the works of the great bard, while the Taft Theatre on 5th Street features comedians, musicals and children’s shows. Throughout the summer, LPK sponsors an “Acoustic Lunch” series every Tuesday in Piatt Park.

Downtown Fun--RiverboatDowntown isn’t just a place to do business – it’s also a great place to have fun. The nooks and crannies of Cincinnati’s winding riverfront are a delight to explore on foot or by bike, which can be rented from Wheel Fun Rentals at Sawyer Point. At the Public Landing you'll find the Showboat Majestic, a floating National Historic Landmark where live theatrical productions are performed to this day. Serpentine Wall wriggles upriver away from the Public Landing below U.S. Bank Arena, offering an easy and visually stimulating stroll. International Friendship Park meanders along the river beyond Sawyer Point and below affluent hillside homes.

The riverfront hosts many festivals, ranging from after-work concerts to enormous, multi-day music and culture festivals such Tall Stacks, Paddlefest and the Cincinnati Salsa Festival. In the summer, families spread picnic blankets on the lawn at P&G Pavilion at Sawyer Point, and enjoy free concerts by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as well as many other local and national acts. Sawyer Point offers a slew of recreational activities, from extensive playgrounds and a wading pool to sand volleyball, tennis and roller skating. On Labor Day weekend, the riverfront on both the Ohio and Kentucky sides becomes a huge stomping ground as families claim their spots for the city’s biggest annual pyrotechnic display, the WEBN fireworks.

Cincinnati Reds and Bengals games are, of course, one of the most visible local pastimes — the opening day parade signals a city-wide holiday, and a festival air surrounds home games for both baseball and football. Pre-game, bars on the south side of Downtown fill early with excited fans. Sports veterans know that post-game traffic is better avoided, and tend to do so while celebrating their home team’s success or commiserating their defeat with an appropriate alcoholic beverage.

For the contemplative visitor, the observation deck of Cincinnati's tallest building, the Carew Tower, affords a breathtaking 360 degree view of the Ohio and Mill Creek valleys. If heights aren’t your thing, you can get a horse-eye view from a carriage ride around Downtown. Other festive ways to enjoy the sights include ice skating at Fountain Square during the winter, and Cinergy’s impressive model railroad display throughout the holiday season.

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