Hitting the Jackpot in Cincy
Everyone knows Kentucky Taste Buds is all about "What's Good" in Kentucky, but every once in a while we cross over a river or drive though a mountain parkway to places just across the border. A few week's ago, I was celebrating my boyfriend's birthday and wanted to do it up right so I decided to gift an experience. How cool am I? :) Knowing my boyfriend likes to gamble occasionally, I decided to take him to the big city of Cincinnati. And boy let me say, you would have thought it was my birthday because I had so much fun. Below are my top favorite things from the trip and my advice to anyone who wants to plan a little birthday getaway.
1. The Stay - Now I sweated for days on this one. To me, a hotel can make or break a trip. I don't need a penthouse suite but I need clean (NO BEDBUG CRITTERS), safe, and comfortable. Most chains meet this criteria but I always like to try new things. So I did my homework and after comparing price, ratings and proximity, I landed on The Summit, A Dolce Hotel. Boy, I'm so happy I did.
The Summit Hotel, is located in a business district of Cincy about 10 miles north of the city. It's an establishment built on the concept of modern lux and inspiring art. Similar to Lexington's 21C, the hotel is adorned with pops of colorful artwork, giant, vaulted ceilings and sleek, urbanesque flooring. As a graphic designer, I was in heaven! My eyes were working overtime! Two words came to mind as I checked into the hotel - Google and California which is ironic because the franchise is of European origin. But to me it had the trendy vibe of Google headquarters with its vast open space and boundless ceiling to floor windows. It was airy, lending itself to coastal serenity offered in places like Malibu or Palm Coast. But I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
The best part was the service. I had commented on my reservation that we were celebrating a birthday and when we checked in, they upgraded us to an executive corner suite!! FOR NO EXTRA CHARGE! Big time, baby, big time! Now how is that for customer service?! And the most unbelievable thing is my hotel was inexpensive to begin with. I found a deal when I booked though Expedia for only a $116 a night plus tax. Tell me where in the world can you find a 5 star hotel for that price? It pays to do your homework people and always tell the staff ahead of time the purpose of your visit. You never know when they will go the extra mile for you.
The Summit also has plenty of onsite food options and a beautiful rooftop terrace to enjoy it on. This is my new go-to hotel when I visit Cincinnati. In fact, I cannot wait to go back!
2. Daytime Fun - Most of us in Kentucky know by now that Cincy has many great places to go. The Reds, The Cincinnati Zoo, The Cincinnati Museum, the list goes on and on. But what I love about the city is how convenient it is to Kentucky. We love, love, love, Newport, Ky and it's so easy to cross the bridge and enjoy our state's offerings even while visiting Cincinnati. Saturday afternoon, we headed to Newport and ambled around the enchanting Newport on the Levee. It has so much to enjoy from The Newport Aquarium to restaurants to shopping and a great waterfront view. It was a gorgeous day to spend leisurely. We were both in the mood for a hamburger so we tried out Mad Mikes Burgers. It was scrumptious! Nothing like a good burger.
3. Dinner Time - Cincinnati has so many great restaurants to choose from, you could literally spend a day trying to decide where to eat. However, I knew there was one thing I wanted and that was to eat on the river. It's not everyday I can get that kind of view. I selected Moerlein Lager House, not only for its location but its amazing menu. From Dry Rubbed Sirloin to Squash Wellington, the eclectic menu has something for everyone. And should I mention the beers? They literally have an onsite operating microbrewery producing house beer, adding to their over 80 different options. The biggest question we had was not what to eat, but what to drink!
The food was delicious and the ambiance delightful. But the best part was watching the sun go down over the water while we enjoyed delectable food and awesome company. I will say the service was a little slow, but all in all it was a great experience and one I recommend.
4. The Surprise - Now everyone needs a little bonus on their birthday, something they would not suspect and I thought of the perfect one!! Are you ready for this? A tour of downtown Cincinnati in an illuminating horse and carriage! I still get goose bumps thinking about this one. It was the best part of the trip. I have always longed to take a fairy tale ride with Prince Charming on a beautiful night - just like Cinderella. It's been a bucket list item of mine and it was everything I imagined! It's by far the most romantic experience ever! But as much as I loved the concept, I knew he would too. I selected Hemingway Carriages because quite frankly, they are the best! Creating "Magical Moments & Enchanting Memories" is exactly their specialty and they are the only H&C company in Cincy to offer these charm-filled excursions in lights! Hemingway Carriages provides an historical tour, sharing unique aspects of architecture, people and days of old. Our tour guide was so friendly, so knowledgeable and it was just one of the best experiences I have ever had. In a world of fast paced living, it was so eye-opening to understand the feeling of how our ancestors traveled. Whether you have a loved one, a group of friends or are having a girls night out, you have to do this people. It's spectacular! And men, if you are reading this and want to score major points with your women, this is how. Do it! You can thank me later.
Thanks Hemingway Carriages for an experience we will always treasure and never forget!
5. Hitting the Jackpot - If you have a person in your life, like me, who likes to let loose from time to time, Jack's Casino is a great place to go. Not only is it close by but it has many games to play including Roulette, Craps, Black Jack and all that other fun stuff offered traditionally by casino's. The place is big but not too big that you can't find your way around and it's a little classier that some of the gambling boats. I do like that it's non-smoking too. But the minimum bets on the tables are a little higher than the average so be prepared for that. As a former accountant, I will have to say gambling is not my favorite thing to do but I let go, had a good time and saw my wagered money as merely a form of entertainment. I had zero expectations to win and in fact, just settled on the notion that I would lose. Which I did. All of my cash went right down the Crap table's toilet. But I had a blast and most importantly, I had fun watching the birthday boy partake in an activity he loved to do.
And that's what celebrating a birthday is all about. Hitting the Jackpot! Figuratively, not literally of course. Knowing and caring about a person well enough to make them happy. Whether you are at home or able to take a small getaway, personalize their experience. It's not about how much money you spend, rather it's making it about what they love. Give thought to what your person likes, even if it's simple. Birthday's are about celebrating life! Don't be a dud. Do it up right. It only comes 'round once a year.