When I went to New York City for the first time, I fell in love with Brooklyn. Don’t get me wrong, I was awestruck when I saw the lights of Times Square for the first time, but something about Brooklyn — with its red brick buildings and trendy boutiques and coffee shops — captured my soul in an unexplainable way.

When Over-The-Rhine [located in downtown Cincinnati] first began its renaissance a few years ago, it was often compared to Brooklyn’s own revitalization. Since then, OTR has flourished and its streets are now lined with locally owned boutiques, coffee shops and other makers. When I’m looking to get away from the [often monotonous] routine of the suburbs of Cincinnati, OTR is my favorite place to spend the day. 

Okay, so in all honesty my favorite place to start my day at isn’t actually in OTR [but, it’s only a 20 minute drive and is definitely worth it!] The Contemporary Arts Center is a FREE art museum that focuses on performance art, photography and architecture in addition to the traditional painting and sculpture mediums. When I visited, one exhibit in particular caught my eye: it was a blend of visual art and performance art.

In a dark room behind the white walls lines with breathtaking photographs and drawings was a single projector and a video displayed on a screen. The speakers were loud and seemed to encompass the entirety of the small room. On screen, hands fiercely typed away at an old typewriter, each line showing up on the page in real time. The conversation followed a man and a woman who had recently ended their relationship. The dialogue mimicked that of a modern-day text conversation, a stark contrast to the vintage tone of the piece itself. As I stood and watched, I [quite literally] held my breath. The words were so raw and real, I had never seen or experienced art that had touched me so deeply before. My only regret is the fact that I don’t remember the title of the piece or the artist [if anyone knows, please share!].

After wandering the many floors of the CAC [including the top floor designed to entertain children and adults alike with interactive art pieces], my day in OTR finally actually takes place in OTR. After the ~short~ drive, stop at 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab for a post-museum refuel. This eclectic cafe offers a variety of drinks [I certainly would not have thought to pair wine, beer and liquor with coffee] that pair perfectly with one of their fresh pastries or. When I say they serve one of the best vanilla almond milk lattes I’ve ever had, I am NOT exaggerating. The vanilla is just sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth without overpowering the espresso. 

While sipping on the last of your drink, visit one of the many boutiques and shops that line the streets of OTR. From home goods to candle making to clothing stores, there’s a little bit of everything here. My two favorite places to browse are Continuum and Elm & Iron. With racks of carefully curated clothing and display tables of funky accessories, it’s hard for me to resist purchasing everything inside Continuum [but, as mentioned many times before, my college student income cannot sustain that :(]. Similarly, the furniture, home goods and other miscellaneous items that Elm & Iron sell are constantly calling my name every time I step inside [I don’t even have my own house to decorate yet!]. 

After a day of art and shopping, my favorite place to satisfy my now growling stomach is at Krueger’s Tavern. The two-floor restaurant is in high-demand, so expect a slight wait if you go right at dinnertime [I prefer to go around lunchtime when it’s a little less crowded.] Ever since befriending so many people who live vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, I’ve made more of an effort to substitute meat products wherever I can. One way I’ve done that is by opting for a veggie burger instead of a beef patty and Krueger’s has one of the best veggie burgers I’ve tried thus far. Served on a challah bun with pesto mayo with a side of mixed greens [or french fries if I’m feeling particularly indulgent], the veggie burger at Krueger’s is a must-have when in OTR. 

I’ve recently been rediscovering Cincinnati and have been so awestruck by the culture and passion for supporting locally owned businesses within my city and OTR is the perfect example of this. Though I’ve spent countless days wandering its streets, I’m always more than willing to go back!

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