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    Cincinnati,

    Ohio

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    Cincinnati ( SIN-sin-NAT-ee) is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located at the northern side of the confluence of the Licking and Ohio rivers, the latter of which marks the state line with Kentucky. The city is the economic and cultural hub of the Cincinnati metropolitan area. With an estimated population of 2,190,209, it is Ohio's largest metropolitan area and the nation's 29th-largest, and with a city population of 309,317, Cincinnati is the third-largest city in Ohio and 64th in the United States. Throughout much of the 19th century, it was among the top 10 U.S. cities by population, surpassed only by New Orleans and the older, established settlements of the United States eastern seaboard, as well as being the sixth-most populous city from 1840 until 1860. Cincinnati developed with fewer immigrants and less influence from Europe than East Coast cities in the same period. However, it received a significant number of German-speaking immigrants, who founded many of the city's cultural institutions. By the end of the 19th century, with the shift from steamboats to railroads drawing off freight shipping, trade patterns had altered and Cincinnati's growth slowed considerably. The city was surpassed in population by other inland cities, particularly Chicago, which developed based on strong commodity exploitation, economics, and the railroads, and St. Louis, which for decades after the Civil War served as the gateway to westward migration. Cincinnati is home to three major sports teams: the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball; the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League; and FC Cincinnati of Major League Soccer; it is also home to the Cincinnati Cyclones, a minor league ice hockey team. The city's largest institution of higher education, the University of Cincinnati, was founded in 1819 as a municipal college and is now ranked as one of the 50 largest in the United States. Cincinnati is home to historic architecture with many structures in the urban core having remained intact for 200 years. In the late 1800s, Cincinnati was commonly referred to as the "Paris of America", due mainly to such ambitious architectural projects as the Music Hall, Cincinnatian Hotel, and Shillito Department Store. Cincinnati is the birthplace of William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States.
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    Cincinnati Articles

    National Parks

    Welcome to America's newest National Park: New River Gorge!

    America's Best Idea is welcoming a new park to the National Park system. New River Gorge National Park was designated as the United State's 63rd National Park. New River Gorge is the first National Park in the great state of West Virginia. It sits on the southeast corner of the state. Despite its name, the New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world. It has carved beautiful canyons out of the Appalachian Mountains, and is a prime spot for adventure travelers. It boasts some of the best whitewater rafting in the USA, and offers some prime climbing and hiking trails. New River Gorge also offers plenty of wildlife, as it offers some of the most biodiverse ecosystem in the world. The nearest major cities to New River Gorge are Roanoke Va, Knoxville Tn, and Cincinnati Ohio. For more information, visit the NPS site.

    Inspiration

    Socially distanced scaring at your local haunted drive-thru

    COVID-19 is impacting a Halloween tradition that relies on close contact and screaming: haunted houses. While some attractions are staying closed this October, others have altered their plans to provide socially distanced scaring. This year, you will see haunted car washes, drive through courses, and increased use of special effects. The Rainforest Car Wash in Ohio was ahead of the curve. In 2019, they hosted a haunted car wash with goblins peering in your window behind colorful foam and clowns waving next to air dryers. This is a two-in-one, providing family friendly frights and a clean car. They plan to repeat their one-of-a-kind attraction this year at their Medina location. Dragon's House of Horror, which holds the Guinness World Record for longest walk-through haunted house, in New Mexico transformed the Mile of Terror to a drive-through trail. Visitors can experience the maze with several horror genres entirely from inside their car, which eliminates the risk of virus transmission. Actors won’t touch cars and windows must be rolled up as additional safety measures. Photo provided by The Haunted Road in Florida The Haunted Road in Orlando, Florida is another contactless Halloween drive-through event that has recently emerged, aiming to provide screams with “twisted creatures and theatrical storytelling.” At this attraction, visitors drive scene to scene at night and stop. While parked and trapped inside the car, scare actors appear, visual effects take place, and sound effects are synced to a radio station. Another take on a drive-through attraction takes place at The Horrorland in Miami, Florida. Car passengers “follow Rapunzel’s journey into a world of disarray” happening in real time and sit through six themed passages for a contactless haunting experience. Los Angeles will open an immersive Stranger Things “drive-into” adventure. In partnership with Fever and Secret Cinema, the theme of the attraction is based on the Netflix’s show Season 3 horrors. It will be a multi-level experience with cars stopping at each set like the Starcourt Mall, a subterranean Russian lab, and the Upside Down. Some haunted attractions will continue to be walking experiences but with additional safety and creative measures. Andrew Curran, president of design company specializing in haunted house design Practical Imagination, said, “People like new and exciting—this is the year to create new and exciting.” Curran hinted that use of special effects such as mirrors alter the appearance of distance, plexiglass barriers can be used in hospital scenes, and sound technology tricks will be utilized. Use of props and claustrophobia tunnels will be on the decline and animated figures will be used in close proximity to visitors. For those haunts with the occasional close contact, costumes with built-in PPE gear is recommended. The Dent Schoolhouse in Greater Cincinnati said their monsters will integrate a face mask into their costumes. Reservation-based ticketing is also a tactic attractions are using to reduce capacity and spread out groups. The 13th Floor Haunted House in Denver plans on doing temperature checks, limiting capacity, keeping groups private, and enforcing social distancing with ground markings. Dr. Margee Kerris, a sociologist who studies fear, said in May that COVID-19 should not cancel the spookiness Halloween. “Haunted attractions offer what we could all use right now: opportunities to take control of our fears and to be reminded that we can be brave.”

    Budget Travel Lists

    10 socially distanced travel experiences near Indianapolis

    The state of Indiana is in Stage 4.5 out of 5 of reopening due to COVID-19. The good news is that Indiana has not only farmland but also rivers, forests, and lakes that are great ways to have socially distanced travel fun. 1. Turkey Run State Park There are many ways to explore Turkey Run, especially the ravines and sandstone gorges. Trail 2 and Trail 3 (Ladders Trail) are notable hiking trails and were voted as the top two hiking trails on VisitIndiana.com. Trail difficulty ranges from “easy” to “very rugged.” Other activities include camping, hiking, fishing, boating, birding, hunting, bicycle riding, horseback riding, and geocaching. Turkey Run State Park is open for nearly all activities. The public outdoor swimming pool is closed for the summer season, and the drinking fountains are turned off. The Nature Center and historic buildings are open but may have limited hours and visitor capacity. 2. Brown County State Park Within an hour drive from Indianapolis, the largest state park in Indiana has many opportunities to recreate responsibly. It has the longest mountain biking trail in Indiana, which Bike magazine said has the most varied terrain east of the Mississippi, and the hiking Fire Tower Trail which was ranked as the fourth best hiking trails on VisitIndiana.com. You can also go horseback riding on well-marked trails or visit picnic areas, fishing and boating lakes, and tennis courts. Stay overnight in various campsites, cabins, or lodging. The state park is open for nearly all activities. The public outdoor swimming pool is closed for the 2020 summer season, and drinking fountains are turned off. Gates may be closed on busy weekends when parking capacity is reached. Photo by Katelyn Milligan 3. Kosciusko County lakes Build your own weekend getaway by visiting Lake Wawasee, Tippecanoe Lake, Winona Lake, or Barbee Lake which are some of the lakes formed from glaciers in Kosciusko County in northern Indiana. On the water, each lake has opportunities to go boating, fishing, skiing, or kayaking, and outside of the lake, there are areas to go biking, geocaching, and bird watching. Stay in hotels, resorts, rental houses, or condos. Most of the area is commercialized and has several local tourism attractions. Most places are open, but check for COVID-19 updates and restrictions on their website. 4. Hoosier National Forest Hoosier National Forest spans nine counties in southern Indiana. You can hike, mountain bike, ride horses, camp, fish, hunt, or canoe. There are many special places, like the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, to visit within the 203,000 acres of land. Most areas are open. After you’re done exploring, cool off from the hot weather by visiting the nearby Patoka Lake, the second-largest reservoir in Indiana. If you a weekend getaway, Patoka Lake has houseboat rentals and floating cabins, and within a half hour drive is the iconic hotel The French Lick Resort which has many outdoor leisure activities like golf, horse stables, swimming pools, and sporting clay ranges. Most places are open with social distancing guidelines in place. 5. Clifty Falls State Park If you are looking for waterfalls, creeks, and canyons made from the last Ice Age, then Clifty Falls State Park is the place to visit. Big Clifty, 60 feet in height, and Tunnel Falls, 83 feet in height, are popular waterfall attractions. In addition to hiking, there are picnic tables and tennis courts. Clifty Falls is located in Madison, IN. It is open for nearly all activities. The public outdoor swimming pool is closed for the summer season, and the drinking fountains are turned off. Photo by Patrick Williams / @cartoonsushi6. Indiana Dunes National Park Explore the 15,000 acres of sand and beaches among this shifting Hoosier landscape. Swim on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, or hike the multiple trails of dunes, wetlands, prairies, rivers, and forests. The 1.5 mile 3 Dunes Challenge reveals a great view of Lake Michigan. It is currently recommended to visit West Beach due to the open space available there. Near the Indiana Dunes central beach is the Michigan City Lighthouse, built in 1904, and pier. Most beaches, trails, and restrooms are open. Park closures and updates are in a constant flux. Visit here for the most recent information. 7. Canoe Country Located in Daleville, IN, rent a kayak, canoe, or inner tube for the day and float down the White River with different options for length of trip. Park at the main building and board a shuttle that drops you off upriver so you will end up back at your car. Along the river, spot turtles basking in the sun or eat a packed lunch on the riverbank. Due to Covid-19, online reservations are required, and they close at 3 p.m. For evening activities or eateries, check out the nearby cities of Yorktown, Muncie, or Anderson. Photo by bellena/Shutterstock8. Shipshewana Located in northern Indiana, this town is home to the third largest Amish community in the U.S. and operates the Midwest's largest flea market. Shops have a reputation for selling hand-crafted wares and antiques. The flea market is outdoors and is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays through September 30. The Blue Gate Restaurant, known for home cooked Amish meals and featured in USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times, is also open and following state guidelines. LaGrange County is currently requiring face masks to be worn indoors or when 6 feet social distancing cannot be maintained while outdoors. A violation of this may result in a fine. 9. Mammoth Cave National Park Exactly a three hour drive from Indianapolis is Mammoth Cave National Park, which has the world's longest cave, 400+ miles. below ground and 53,000 acres of forest. There are 70 miles of trail, including tree covered ridges and valley floors, nearby the Green River. The visitor center, food/beverage opportunities, and retail sales have recently reopened. From June 1, 2020 - July 31, 2020, you can take a 2 mile round-trip, 1.5 hour self-guided Extended Historic Tour of Mammoth Cave, done at your own pace. Make a reservation online for your ticketed entrance time because tickets are limited to reduce capacity. Park campgrounds are open. Masks are strongly encouraged. Check the website for additional information on park operating modifications. 10. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden The Cincinnati zoo, the fifth-oldest zoo in the U.S., is open to the public with new changes in place. Outdoor animal habitats and large garden exhibits are open as well as the train ride and giraffe feeding. Some indoor animal habitats are closed, and animal encounters are closed momentarily. Per Ohio’s city ordinance, face masks are required in all buildings and high congestion areas. Indoor restaurants and gift shops are closed at this time, but outdoor dining options are available. Online reservations with reserved entry times are required to ensure limited capacity. To learn more, visit the Reopening FAQ. Katelyn Milligan is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a graduate of Purdue University.

    News

    Allegiant Airlines adds new budget routes for summer 2020

    Allegiant Airlines has announced an expanded list of low-cost flights beginning in summer 2020. We've rounded up all the information you need about these routes! Planning a trip to any of these destinations? Let us know in the comments! Flight days, times and the lowest fares can be found only at Allegiant.com. The new seasonal routes to Las Vegas via McCarran International Airport (LAS) include: San Diego, California via San Diego International Airport (SAN) – beginning June 3, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $43.* Fort Wayne, Indiana via Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) – beginning June 4, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $69.* Tucson, Arizona via Tucson International Airport (TUS) – beginning June 5, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $49.* The new seasonal routes to San Diego via San Diego International Airport (SAN) include: Las Vegas, Nevada via McCarran International Airport (LAS) – beginning June 3, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $43.* Tulsa, Oklahoma via Tulsa International Airport (TUL) – beginning June 3, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $69.* Billings, Montana via Billings Logan International Airport (BIL) – beginning June 4, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $59.* Medford, Oregon via Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR) – beginning June 4, 2020 with fares as low as $59.* Sioux Falls, South Dakota via Sioux Falls Regional Airport (FSD) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $69.* Idaho Falls, Idaho via Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $59.* The new seasonal route to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) from Central Illinois Regional Airport at Bloomington-Normal (BMI) begins June 4, 2020 with fares as low as $49.* The new seasonal routes to Nashville International Airport (BNA) include: Bozeman, Montana via Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $66.* Sioux Falls, South Dakota via Sioux Falls Regional Airport (FSD) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Norfolk, Virginia via Norfolk International Airport (ORF) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Peoria, Illinois via General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport (PIA) – beginning June 4, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Tulsa, Oklahoma via Tulsa International Airport (TUL) – beginning June 4, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Fargo, North Dakota via Fargo International Airport (FAR) – beginning June 4, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Flint, Michigan via Bishop International Airport (FNT) – beginning June 5, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Greensboro, North Carolina via Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO) – beginning June 5, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* The new seasonal routes to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) include: Grand Rapids, Michigan via Gerald R. Ford Airport (GRR) – beginning May 7, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Asheville, North Carolina via Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) – beginning May 8, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Knoxville, Tennessee via McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) – beginning May 8, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Destin / Ft. Walton Beach, Florida via Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) – beginning May 14, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* The new seasonal routes from Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) include: Allentown, Pennsylvania via Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE) – beginning May 14, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Des Moines, Iowa via Des Moines International Airport (DSM) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Savannah, Georgia via Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Asheville, North Carolina via Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Knoxville, Tennessee via McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Destin / Ft. Walton Beach, Florida via Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* The new seasonal routes to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) include: Des Moines, Iowa via Des Moines International Airport (DSM) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Asheville, North Carolina via Asheville International Airport (AVL) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Knoxville, Tennessee via McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Grand Rapids, Michigan via Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) include: Boston, Massachusetts via Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) – beginning May 8, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Chicago, Illinois via Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Houston, Texas via William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Austin, Texas via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from Des Moines International Airport (DSM) include: Chicago, Illinois via Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Memphis, Tennessee via Memphis International Airport (MEM) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Austin, Texas via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from Gerald R. Ford Airport (GRR) include: Los Angeles, California via Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $66.* Boston, Massachusetts via Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) – beginning May 7, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Austin, Texas via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) include: Boston, Massachusetts via Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) – beginning May 8, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Houston, Texas via William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Chicago, Illinois via Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Austin, Texas via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Myrtle Beach, South Carolina via Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) – beginning June 6, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* The new seasonal routes from William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) include: Knoxville, Tennessee via McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Asheville, North Carolina via Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Savannah, Georgia via Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) – beginning May 28, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* Destin / Fort Walton Beach, Florida via Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $33.* The new seasonal routes to Savannah International Airport (SAV) include: Belleville, Illinois via MidAmerica St. Louis Airport (BLV) – beginning June 6, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Houston, Texas via William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) – beginning May 28, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $33.* Chicago, Illinois via Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $33.* Punta Gorda, Florida via Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) – beginning June 6, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Newburgh, New York via New York Stewart International Airport (SWF) – beginning May 20, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes to Norfolk International Airport (ORF) include: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Columbus, Ohio via Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* Nashville, Tennessee Via Nashville International Airport (BNA) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* The new seasonal routes to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) include: Nashville, Tennessee via Nashville International Airport (BNA) – beginning May 22, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* Norfolk, Virginia via Norfolk International Airport (ORF) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $44.* Memphis, Tennessee via Memphis International Airport (MEM) – beginning May 21, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) include: Boston, Massachusetts via Logan International Airport (BOS) – beginning May 14, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $33.* Dayton, Ohio via Dayton International Airport (DAY) – beginning May 14, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $55.* Houston, Texas via William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) – beginning June 5, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $33.* Chicago, Illinois via Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) – beginning June 5, 2020 with one-way fares as low as $33.* Newburgh, New York via New York Stewart International Airport (SWF) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from Memphis International Airport (MEM) include: Des Moines, Iowa via Des Moines International Airport (DSM) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Palm Beach, Florida via Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) – beginning May 21, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Cincinnati, Ohio via Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) – beginning May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal routes from Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) include: Providence, Rhode Island via T.F. Green Airport (PVD) – beginning June 5, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* Knoxville, Tennessee via McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) – beginning June 6, 2020 with fares as low as $44.* Elmira, New York via Elmira Corning Regional Airport (ELM) – beginning June 6, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal route from Louisville International Airport (SDF) to Charleston International Airport (CHS) begins May 22, 2020 with fares as low as $55.* The new seasonal route from Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) to Albuquerque International Airport (ABQ) begins June 4, 2020 with fares as low as $66.* Flight days, times and the lowest fares can be found only at Allegiant.com. *About the introductory one-way fares: Seats and dates are limited and fares are not available on all flights. Flights must be purchased by Feb. 12, 2020 for travel by Aug. 15-17, 2020, depending on route. Price displayed includes taxes, carrier charges & -government fees. Fare rules, routes and schedules are subject to change without notice. Optional baggage charges and additional restrictions may apply. For more details, optional services and baggage fees, please visit Allegiant.com.

    FamilyBudget Travel Lists

    The 10 Best Zoos in the US

    There are plenty of fun, interesting ways to walk on the wild side all across North America, but these destination zoos lead the pack by offering some of the most memorable visitor experiences rooted in animal encounters, community outreach, conservation efforts, unique programming and special events. Lincoln Park Zoo The 35-acre Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868 on Chicago’s north side, making it one of the oldest in the country. Movie buffs might remember the Lester E. Fisher Great Ape House from its appearance in the 1999 film Return to Me; although the habitat has since transformed into the $26 million Regenstein Center for African Apes, the mighty gorillas are still a major draw. There’s also an amazing conservatory on site to check out. Best of all, the zoo stays open 365 days a year, and while you may have to pay for parking, admission is always free. San Diego Zoo Long respected for its conservation initiatives, the Balboa Park-based San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,700 animals across 650 different species, many rare or endangered. The property is massive and navigation can be a little overwhelming; double-decker bus tours make it easier to get the lay of the land. A few of the most popular animal attractions include the Australian Outback koalas, the 2.5-acre elephant habitat and the penguin-populated Africa Rocks exhibit. Hearts broke when the zoo’s beloved giant pandas were returned to their Chinese homeland in spring 2019. However, the adorable red pandas are still around to admire. Cincinnati Zoo Paired with a world-class botanical garden, the Cincinnati Zoo has been delighting Midwestern youngsters and their families since 1875 when it opened under the direction of the Zoological Society of Cincinnati. A pioneer in successful breeding efforts, the facility launched the Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife in 1986 to help propagate and preserve globally endangered species. Amid the lovingly tended collection of animal exhibits, visitors tend to gravitate toward the cheetah run, the meerkats and the lions, but the world-famous Fiona — a charming young hippo born in early 2017 — is the biggest animal celebrity in residence. Bronx Zoo A much-loved New York City fixture since 1899 and the largest city zoo in the US, the Bronx Zoo gives guests a glimpse into the world-wide animal kingdom within the beating heart of the urban jungle. With more than 260 forested acres to explore and 6,000 animals from aardvarks to zebras, this expansive attraction merits at least a full day to truly appreciate. Expect to do a lot of walking; you can always hop on the Wild Asia monorail or the seasonal Dinosaur Safari for a quick breather. The facility is also notable for having opened the very first veterinarian-staffed animal hospital back in 1916. Henry Doorly Zoo Home to the largest indoor desert habitat in the world, the Henry Doorly Zoo’s soaring glazed geodesic Desert Dome has come to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in Nebraska. Inside, a 55-foot tall central “mountain” divides the landscape into distinctive Namib, Australian and Sonoran habitats; nocturnal creatures make their home in the Kingdoms of the Night exhibits on the lower level. Elsewhere on the property, immersive Asian Highlands, Alaskan Glacier Bay and African Grasslands exhibits transport visitors around the world without ever leaving Omaha. The stunning Scott Aquarium facility showcases sea turtles, sharks and other marine life. Indianapolis Zoo Arranged in five distinctive biome areas, the Indianapolis Zoo delivers a comprehensive visitor experience for animal lovers of all ilks. The organization partners with global researchers to promote animal conservation and education, acknowledging the work of worthy recipients with the coveted Indianapolis Prize awarded annually. The ethereal Dolphin Pavilion often doubles as an event space (guests can even arrange in-water adventures to swim along), and the Simon Skojdt International Orangutan Center furthers efforts to study and support these majestic animals in the wild. Access to the lovely White River Gardens is included in the price of admission. St Louis Zoo One of several appealing attractions that populate Forest Park, the city’s verdant crown jewel, the free-to-visit St Louis Zoo receives approximately 3 million visitors each year. A leader in animal management, conservation and awareness with assistance from the Saint Louis Zoo Wildcare Institute, this friendly Midwestern facility houses and cares for more than 17,000 resident mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects on site. The zoo originated during the 1904 World’s Fair, taking shape around the original Flight Cage that still stands as part of the Cypress Swamp exhibit in the Historic Hill section. Woodland Park Zoo This Seattle-based organization enlightens visitors as to the vital roles conservation and sustainability play (particularly in the Pacific Northwest region) through field projects and interactive exhibits spanning 70 developed acres. Bioclimate zones range from tropical rainforest and Australasian to temperate forest and African savanna habitats, housing more than 1,100 animals across 300 species. African Lions and Malayan Tigers and Brown Bears — oh my! Don’t miss the Assam Rhino Reserve, a partnership project with the International Rhino Foundation that raises funds to protect these threatened animals from illegal poaching. Detroit Zoo With sections that showcase African forest and grasslands dwellers; Arctic animals; and American, Asian and Australian-hailing creatures, the 125-acre Detroit Zoo offers plenty of incentives to visit. The state-of-the-art Polk Penguin Conservation Center is currently closed until summer 2020 for repairs, but once it reopens, visitors will be able to again observe the antics of 75 resident penguins in a spectacular 25 foot-deep, 326,000-gallon aquatic facility. In the meantime, you can still enjoy the butterfly garden, the bird enclosures and a diverse variety of other animal exhibits. Sedgwick County Zoo Wildlife park meets mainstream animal attraction at this award-winning Wichita zoo, where guests can watch elephants splash, play and eat in the third largest dedicated habitat in the country. Spend some time in the Downing Gorilla Forest, then marvel at the big cats in the immersive Slawson Family Tiger Trek. Animals are grouped according to geographical origin, making it easy to beeline directly to African, Asian, North American or tropical settings. A leisurely wander through the impressive aviary caps off the adventure in fine feathered form.

    Inspiration

    Locals Know Best: Cincinnati

    About three minutes into conversation with Molly Wellmann you fall under the spell of her enthusiasm for Cincinnati. Her lineage here goes back seven generations, so it makes sense that after 12 years working as a bartender in San Francisco, she couldn’t justify staying away any longer, so she went back home and opened a bar. Then another bar. Then another. And she cannot imagine doing that anywhere else. “There’s magic in Cincinnati. I’ve traveled quite a bit, but I never found the je ne sais quois we have here. There’s something about its heritage or history. It doesn’t matter who you are or what background you’re from. I think it feels welcoming to everyone.” We checked in with her to get the inside scoop on where anyone visiting the Queen City should eat, drink, hangout, and shop. Just one word of advice: arrive hungry. Very hungry. Eat Your Heart Out Cincinnati was once an enclave of German immigrants, and their legacy endures in some of the city’s longstanding eateries. Molly is particularly fond of Arnold’s (arnoldsbarandgrill.com), one of the city’s oldest bar that dates back to the 1860s. “You walk in and you feel like you’ve gone back in history,” she says. The gorgeous slab of mahogany, wooden booths, and vintage booths are only the start of it. It’s the lack of TVs that really makes her a fan. And the world-class bourbon selection. And the year-round outdoor patio that regularly hosts bands. And the blueberry chicken dish. And their spaghetti. And a few other things on the menu of eclectic comfort food. She’s also a regular at Salazar (salazarcincinnati.com) which features exposed brick walls and tiled floors, remnants of its storied past, and turns out very modern fare. “I’m enamored by what Chef Jose Salazar does in the kitchen,” she gushes. “He’s inspired by old recipes, and he brings them into a modern way of eating—but it’s never too far off the map. It’s just always something lovely.” And, as per her usual preference: there aren’t any televisions. Situated in a unique cross-section of alleys, it’s located one block from Washington Park, one of the city’s biggest public spaces. When an occasion calls for a splurge, her choice is Please, a nod to the term the local German immigrants use with a quizzical tone to mean everything from “what did you say?” to “what do you mean?” to “are you for real?” “He thinks completely outside the box,” Molly says of Chef Ryan Santos. “His food isn’t molecular, but it’s close. He’s worked in kitchens all over the world, and he’s taken bits of what learned and put them together in a really cool way.” Molly couldn’t consider herself a true Cincinnatian if she didn’t recommend Ruby’s Steakhouse (jeffruby.com/Cincinnati), which dates back to the 1980s and now has five outposts across the region. It is “a force to be reckoned with,” Molly says. “I hold all steaks up to Ruby’s steaks. Everything here is just over the top—from décor to food to staff uniforms. There’s never a time when someone says no. they always say ‘always ‘We’ll work it out for you.’” Experience Regional Flavor Philly has cheesesteaks, NYC has pizza, and Cincinnati has whippy dips. And you shouldn’t leave Cincinnati without eating one. Or three. Whippy dips are the Midwest’s seasonal fix to soft-serve ice cream cravings. Sold mostly out from nostalgic little stands all over town and pretty much every local has a favorite that they frequent. Molly’s is Putz’s Creamy Whip (putzscreamywhip.com), which greets guests with a hand-written menu. Don’t bother reading it, though. Chocolate/vanilla swirl with chocolate sprinkles is the only thing that’ll do the trick, Molly insists. But the city’s ice cream obsession doesn’t end there. Another one of Cincinnati’s culinary signatures is French-style copper-pot-made ice cream, and Graeter’s (graeters.com), which started in the early 1900s and now has 16 soda-fountain-style parlors around town, makes some of the best. You’d be remiss if you didn’t try the chocolate chip, made with big chunks of chocolate. (“Not chips,” Molly clarifies. “Chunks of chocolate!”) Grippos is another brand that’s inextricably linked to Cincinnati. A bag of the hometown potato chips is a must if you’re at any of the number of low-key neighborhood bars with a burger and a beer, and if you are anywhere that you spot a menu item with Grippos in the description, take note that it may come crushed up and used as seasoning. It’s how locals like theirs. Make an Afternoon of It Cincinnati is a city of neighborhoods—52 neighborhoods, to be exact. And with its location so close to Kentucky, there are several Bluegrass State areas that are included in that count, including Covington, a hip Kentucky enclave that Budget Travel named a Best Affordable Discovery in 2017, and Newport. It’s hard for Molly to pick favorites, of course, as each neighborhood has its own things to love about it, but whenever a visitor is in town, she recommends Mount Adams, a neighborhood on to of a hill (Cincinnati has seven of them) on the east side of the city. The bucolic Eden Park lives up to its name, she assures. It’s anchored by the Krohn Conservatory (cincinnatiparks.com/krohn/), a magnificent paradise with bonsai trees, a desert garden, orchards and more, and is home to the Cincinnati Art Museum. There’s no shortage of choices where food and drink go, so spend the day and explore the diverse bars and restaurants. For something offbeat, check out the Vent Haven Museum (venthaven.org), the world's largest--rather, only--ventriloquist museum, displaying 900 ventriloquist figures from 20 countries and lots of oddball memorabilia that's sure to, well, get you talking.

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