Five great places for beers & bites in Cincinnati’s OTR

There are a lot of restaurant and bar options around Cincinnati stretching from The Banks area near the Ohio River north through downtown and across the proverbial “Rhine” Canal.  I could write a long-form piece about the Queen City and it’s beer and culinary scene, but I’d rather keep my readers’ attention and highlight five of my favorite places for beers and bites in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine District.

The district earned its name because of the large German population that walked over the Miami and Erie Canal (now Central Parkway) to work in downtown in the mid-1800s.  The canal was jokingly called “the Rhine” in reference to the important river in Germany.  Today, the German population has left, but the name has stuck.  You can read more the district’s history from the Over the Rhine Foundation.

Downtown is about 8/10th of a mile from downtown to the heart of OTR.  So it is walkable depending upon your definition of walkable.  If you don’t want to walk, the cheapest option to get from downtown to the district is taking the city’s streetcar (officially called the Cincinnati Bell Connector).  A two-hour pass costs $1 and a day pass costs $2 with discounts for kids.  The quickest way to get to OTR from downtown is taking the streetcar at either the 4th & Main or the 6th & Main stations.

Bakersfield (1213 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; Streetcar Stop: 12th & Vine)
In a district formerly heavily populated by German immigrants that is currently undergoing revitalization, you would not expect to find a great Mexican restaurant.  However, that is precisely what you will find at Bakersfield, which has grown from its first location in OTR to include six other locations throughout the country.

Bakersfield boasts over 100 tequilas and a wide selection of Mexican street food.  My favorites are the tacos that range from al pastor (chili marinated pork) to fish to hongos (grilled portabello – for vegetarians).  There are also salads, tostadas, and tortas.

A selection of tacos at Bakersfield OTR (Photo courtesy of Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau).

The restaurant covers the staples of the Mexican beer world (Corona, Modelo Especial, and Pacifico), but also has the elusive Victoria available.  If you want local craft beer, you can find selections from MadTree, Rhinegeist, and others.  However, the real treat here is the large selection of tequilas and whiskeys.  I’d have to dedicate an entire post to do them justice, but you can be assured to find something you know and love on the list.

Lachey’s (56 E. 12th St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; Streetcar Stop: 12th & Vine or Central Pkwy & Vine)
If you lived through the late-1990s and early-2000s you know that boybands dominated the pop charts.  Although 98 Degrees was not as popular at the Backstreet Boys or NSYNC, but Nick Lachey and his brother Drew used the money from their boyband career to open Lachey’s on the southern edge of OTR.

The eponymous bar is one of the few spots in OTR that specifically caters to the sports-watching crowd.  So there are plenty of flat-screen TVs.  For example, earlier this summer I watched Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals with a large and vocal contingent of Nashville Predators fans.  So while the emphasis is on local teams, you can find nearly anything on TV here.  The bar’s website even includes a sports schedule of major events.

Happy hour runs from 4 to 8 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.  The food menu features an assortment of appetizers, flatbreads, salads, sandwiches, and hamburgers.  The drink menu features rotating local craft beers, but you can find Queen City staples like Christian Moerlein and Rhinegeist on draft here.  The bottle and can list is more extensive, and includes your macrobrew staples.  The craft cocktail list includes some unique items like The Nick boilermaker, which is made with Rhinegeist’s Cidergeist Semi-Dry Cider and Fireball.

16-Bit Bar+Arcade (1331 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; Streetcar Stop: 12th & Vine)
Is there anybody who doesn’t like drinking beer and playing video games?  I’m sure someone out there dislikes both of those options, so if that applies to you then you should not visit 16-Bit Bar+Arcade.

In order to enter 16-Bit, you must be 21 so people with kids aren’t able to let them play games while having some drinks.  However, if you’re 21 or older and still a kid at heart who wants to play video games then this is the place for you.  Playing the games is “free” as long as you are purchasing drinks during your stay.  There are over 50 games on the floor including classics like NBA Jam, NFL Blitz 2000, Off Road, Rampage, and plenty of others.  There is also a limited selection of pinball machine, which are the only games that cost money to play.

A row of video games at 16-Bit Bar+Arcade.

There are two dozen craft beers on draft and about 30 craft beers in bottles or cans.  If you prefer the finer things in life, there is a very extensive bourbon and whiskey list available.  Or you can try one of the craft cocktails like Macho Man, which is made with honey bourbon, Coke, and a Slim Jim. Oh yeah!  One thing you will not find at 16-Bit is food, but there are plenty of restaurants nearby.

The Eagle (1342 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202;  Streetcar Stop: 12th & Vine)
One of the restaurants not far from 16-Bit is The Eagle, which emphasizes Southern comfort foods in tandem with craft beers and cocktails.  Specifically, all of the chicken is sourced from nearby farms, which helps makes the fried chicken one of the best-known items on the menu.  In addition to the chicken, you can find a selection of sandwiches, soups, and salads.

There are over a dozen draft selections ranging from Miller High Life to Guinness to local brews from 50 West, Rhinegeist, and others.  Additionally, there are about 60 beers and ciders available in a bottle or can.  The list covers traditional macrobrews like Coors Light, but also features local craft choices like Rivertown’s Divergent and Mt. Carmel’s Nut Brown Ale.

Rhinegeist Brewery (1910 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202: Streetcar Stop: Brewery District)
Over-the-Rhine once boasted nearly 40 breweries, but that changed in the 1920s when the 18th Amendment enacted prohibition across the United States.  However, the landscape of breweries did not totally vanish.  So in the mid-2000s when Bob Bonder stumbled upon the old Christian Moerlein Brewing Company’s bottling plant in OTR.

In 2013, Bonder and his team finally opened Rhinegeist Brewery, whose name translates to mean “Ghost of the Rhine.”  Being located in the old Christian Moerlein bottling building provides Rhinegeist with a huge space.  Much of it houses the brewing equipment, but there is also more than enough space to provide benches and flat-screen TVs.  Perhaps the best part of visiting the brewery is the rooftop, which gives you a view of downtown Cincinnati.

The view of downtown Cincinnati from the rooftop at Rhinegeist Brewery.

The beer selection is large enough that regardless of your tastes you can find a brew that suits your palate.  There are three year-round beers that include an India pale ale (Truth), blonde ale (Cougar), and an imperial India pale ale (Knowledge).  There are numerous seasonal and limited-release beers available that change throughout the year plus some ciders for people who dislike the hoppy nature of beers.

Regardless of the adventure you seek in OTR, you are sure to find a place that leaves you with a night to remember.  If you want great Mexican street food with tequila or whiskey, then Bakersfield hits the mark.  If you want traditional bar food while watching the big sporting event on a huge flat-screen TV, you need to hit Lachey’s.  If vintage video games are your jam, then 16-Bit Bar+Arcade is where you can practice your sharp shooting skills.  If you’re in the mood for some Southern comfort food, The Eagle is where you’ll find home cooking like your mom’s.  If you want to play cornhole or maybe watch the sunset over downtown Cincinnati while enjoying an award-winning beer, then Rhinegeist Brewery is your watering hole.

Five great places for beer & bites in Cincinnati’s The Banks

There are a lot of restaurant and bar options around downtown Cincinnati stretching from The Banks development on the Ohio River north through downtown and across the proverbial “Rhine” Canal into the Over-the-Rhine District.  However, instead of diving into a long-form piece exploring every intricate detail of the Queen City’s beer and culinary scene, I am going to focus on The Banks development along the Ohio River.

For a handful of years, downtown Cincinnati and its surrounding environs have been undergoing a revitalization.  It started in the early-2000s when the local football (the Bengals opened Paul Brown Stadium in 2000) and baseball (the Reds opened Great American Ball Park in 2004) teams opened new stadiums.  However, it has been within the past five years that the area between the two stadiums has been especially attractive for people to visit even without the draw of a sporting event.  Over my seven years exploring Cincinnati here are my five favorite places to get a beer or a bite of food at The Banks area.

Moerlein Lager House (115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202)
Christian Moerlein Brewing Company dates back to the 1800s, but shutdown during prohibition.  In 1981, the brand was revived, and eventually bought by local resident Gregory Hardman.  More details about the company’s history can be found on its website.  Following years of growth and a return to brewing in its historic home of Over-the-Rhine District, Christian Moerlein Brewing opened the Lager House across from Great American Ball Park and adjacent to The Banks in 2012.

Obviously owned by a brewery in town, the bulk of the beer selection is brewed by Christian Moerlein.  However, there are “guest” taps from regional and national craft beer brands with many of those brands available in cans and bottles as well.  As an homage to Cincinnati’s beer history there is also a selection of “heritage” beers available.  These “heritage” beers are brands with a long history in Cincinnati, such as Hudepohl Pure Lager, Hudy Delight, or Little Kings Cream Ale.  All of these brands now belong to Christian Moerlein Brewing, which brews them using the original recipes.

There’s a lot to like about the Lager House, but perhaps one of the coolest perks of dining or just having a beer there is the view.  The building sits right across from the Ohio River, so guests are often afforded a view of Northern Kentucky.  If you’re lucky you may get a really scenic view of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge that connects Cincinnati with Covington, Ky.

View of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge from Christian Moerlein Lager House. (Photo courtesy of Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau)

In addition to the beer, the Moerlein Lager House has an extensive food menu.  I’ve eaten the hamburgers on a few occasions, and the onion rings are gigantic.  So if you opt for them with a burger or perhaps as a starter be prepared for a LOT of food.  You can also put together your own meat and cheese board if you’d like to pair your beer with some traditional options.

Yard House (95 E. Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202)
Craft beer lovers should know the chain Yard House, which has nearly 70 locations throughout the United States.  If you don’t know the chain, what you need to know is that it carries nearly 150 different craft beers and ciders.  If that’s not enough to get you through the door, then I’m not sure what else to tell you.

Naturally, there is an extensive food menu.  I’ve dined at this location multiple times, and typically order a hamburger.  I have also had the street tacos, which are excellent if you want a lighter option.  You can order the tacos as a set or pick and choose what you want.  The vampire taco is a delicious mix of flavors, and one of my favorites.

Regardless of what you choose, you cannot go wrong with any of the food or beer choices at Yard House.

Taste of Belgium (16 W. Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202)
Taste of Belgium is a local chain that began in 2007 serving what you would expect: Belgian waffles.  What started as one shop has grown into five in the Cincinnati area plus one in Columbus.  Around town you can find a location in the heart of Over-the-Rhine (1133 Vine St.), but if you’re attending a sporting event you can check out this location in The Banks area.

With a wide selection of delicious toppings for their Belgian waffles, there is sure to be something you want with yours.  The menu also includes crepes, sandwiches, omelets, and perhaps most notable a wide selection of genuine Belgian beer and Belgian-influenced brews.

Taste of Belgium
The chicken and waffles goes well with a wide selection of beers. (Photo courtesy of Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau)

It’s easy to think about only eating waffles for breakfast, but Taste of Belgium seeks to defy that stereotype.  Even if you’re not willing to try waffles for dinner, you are sure to find a great beer among the nearly 100 brews on the menu.

Jefferson Social (101 E. Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202)
Proof that The Banks is becoming more attractive for visitors lies in the history of Jefferson Social.  Owner Tony Cafeo closed his Jefferson Hall establishment across the river at Newport on the Levee in 2013, and ultimately opened this establishment the same year.  Newport on the Levee offers similar options to The Banks, but its major drawback is the walk across the river to the stadiums.  So if you’re already on the north side of the Ohio River, it’s easier for visitors to check out the restaurants at The Banks.

Jefferson Social provides approachable Mexican street food.  There is a wide variety of street tacos that you can order as a platter or pick-and-choose by going the à la carte route.  You can also build your own nachos or opt for Asian-Mexican fusion choices likes the Southwest chicken egg roll like I did.  There are also about 50 beers available from an extensive list that features some of the staples, but also a great selection of local and regional craft beers with beers from Braxton, Fifty West, MadTree, and Rivertown among others.

Holy Grail Tavern & Grille (161 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202)
The entire development of The Banks is walking distance to Great American Ball Park, but Holy Grail Tavern & Grille proudly boasts that it is 100 yards from home plate.  So you can’t get any closer to the stadium than visiting this establishment.  Additionally, in 2015 The Sporting News named Holy Grail the best bar to visit near Great American Ball Park.

A waitress at Holy Grail, which is filled with Reds and Bengals memorabilia. (Photo courtesy of Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Holy Grail has a good beer selection, but does not have an extensive craft list featuring just two local selections plus two Christian Moerlein “heritage” beers (Hudy Pure Lager and Hudy Delight).  They do have an extensive list of macrobrews if that is what you prefer (and I’m not here to judge anybody’s beer preferences).

The food menu is likely where you will get the best bang for your buck.  There are pizzas, wraps, salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, and a limited kids menu.  Most items on the menu max out around $9, so it’s an excellent option for bit to eat before attending a Reds game.

The Banks features more restaurants and bars than I’ve detailed, but these five are my favorites.  Each place has its own vibe and offers something that the others do not.  If you want truly local beers, Moerlein Lager House is the place for you.  If you want a beer list that features over 150 brews, then Yard House is the spot.  If the kid in you wants breakfast for dinner while quaffing down a Belgian ale, then you should dine at Taste of Belgium.  If you want Mexican street fare with a smattering of craft beers, Jefferson Social is calling your name.  If you want to socialize with die-hard Reds fans and watch fans file into the ballpark just yards away, Holy Grail is your jam.  Whatever you like to eat or drink or whether you’re traveling solo, with a group, or with kids in tow there is a place for you at The Banks.

Touring the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum

For six years I have participated in the Advanced Placement (AP) Human Geography Reading in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the first week of June.  Each year, I attend a few Reds games (and blogged about last year’s visit to the park – read it here).  However, one thing I had not done until this year’s visit was tour the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.  I didn’t plan on visiting it this year either, but when I saw that the museum was giving away a special Pete Rose bobblehead with admission during my first weekend in town I felt like I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

So following the Friday night game, I bought the bobblehead and received a voucher that would give me admission to the museum on Saturday or Sunday.  With Saturday’s game starting at 4:05 p.m., I decided that was the best time to explore the museum with a couple of friends from the AP Reading.

Main entrance to the museum.

Before reaching the ticket desk there is an excellent statue and display commemorating the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings’s barnstorming tour of the United States at the first all-professional baseball club.  A map also displays the team’s 57 stops across America, which helped expose professional baseball to a variety of cities.

Display commemorating the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Currently, the rotating exhibit is “Red to Bronze.”  It details how the team and local artist Tom Tsuchiya have created the eight bronze statues outside the stadium and the ninth (one of Pete Rose dedicated after my visit).

Sign welcoming fans to the rotating exhibit, “Red to Bronze.”

The exhibit features cases dedicated to each of the nine men who now have a bronze statue outside Great American Ball Park.

Case with items from Joe Nuxhall’s career and parts of the plaster cast used for the sculpture.
Case with items from Ted Kluszewski’s career and miniatures used for the sculpture.
Case with items from Pete Rose’s career and miniature used for the sculpture.
Case with items from Joe Morgan’s career and parts of the plaster cast used for the sculpture.
Case with items from Johnny Bench’s career and parts of the plaster cast used for the sculpture.

Just past the current rotating exhibit is a theater that features a film detailing the history of the Cincinnati Reds.  The most unique part is the entrance, which is crafted to replicate the entrance of the Palace of the Fans (home of the Reds from 1902-11).

The Palace of the Fans replica entrance.

On the way to the rest of the museum, fans walk up a flight of stairs.  However, these stairs overlook the Rose Garden, so instead of just ascending stairs fans get to take in the flowers and 4,256 baseballs to commemorate Pete Rose’s number of career hits.  The Rose Garden also contains a special feature to honor Rose for becoming MLB’s all-time hits leader.

The white rose bush marks where Pete Rose’s 4,192nd career hit landed at the former Riverfront Stadium.

As previously mentioned, towering over the Rose Garden is a wall of baseballs.

Landmark events are marked en route to Rose’s final hit.

At the top of the steps is a display dedicated to Pete Rose’s career accomplishments.

A chart tracking Pete Rose’s pursuit of the MLB all-time hits record.
A collection of baseballs from Pete Rose’s career.
A piece of AstroTurf from Riverfront Stadium with a mark designating where Pete Rose’s 4,192nd career hit landed.

There are so many more pictures I could have shared from the display, but then this post may turn into a complete Pete Rose love fest.  One of my friends touring the museum with me noted that because Rose is ineligible to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame that the Reds turned this exhibit into Pete Rose’s personal hall of fame.  Whether you love, like, or hate Pete Rose the exhibit is really amazing and worth seeing if you truly appreciate his role within baseball history.

From the expected to perhaps the absurd, no museum would be complete without an off-beat piece in its collection.  Baseball fans who lived through the 1980s will remember the Reds’s eccentric/controversial owner Marge Schott affinity for her Saint Bernard dog, Schottzie (see a photo from SI).  When the Reds won the 1990 World Series, she had a specialty made championship dog collar made for Schottzie, which is on display.

Schottzie’s 1990 World Series championship dog collar among other items.

For people with kids, the rest of the museum will be worth the price of admission.

Play Ball! features numerous interactive games for kids of all ages.

Play Ball! has a clubhouse for kids, a strike zone display that allows fans to see how fast they can throw a ball, and perhaps the biggest crowd pleaser is an interactive menu that allows people to build their own baseball card.  Additionally, there is a giant display of Reds bobbleheads.  Naturally, I was quite excited checking out the various iterations that team has given away over the years.

A plethora of Reds bobbleheads fill the display cases.

Adult fans can enjoy the various games in the Play Ball! exhibit or relive some of the Reds’ greatest moments and give their own call at The Reds are on the Radio exhibit.  Or bask in the Ultimate Reds Room presented by Moerlein Lager House.

Inside the Ultimate Reds Room presented by Moerlein Lager House.

Baseball fans who lived through the 1970s and best remember the Reds as “The Big Red Machine” can relish those memories in the Glory Days exhibit.  Glory Days features a statue depicting some of the greatest Reds ever and has three of the team’s World Series trophies on display.

“The Great Eight” sculpture, which is based off the Reds’ win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1972 National League Championship Series.
The Reds’ World Series trophies from 1975, 1976, and 1990.

The last exhibit in the museum is the Hall of Fame, which features plaques celebrating the achievements of the halls.  I didn’t feel it necessary to capture pictures of each set of plaques, but believe two photos are worth sharing because of their importance to the team’s history.

The first plaques you see entering the Hall of Fame feature brothers George and Harry Wright, who were instrumental in establishing professional baseball.
One of the last plaques in the Hall of Fame features Ken Griffey Jr., who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.

A tour of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum concludes with fans filtering out into the team store, but with a unique twist.  Fans get to overlook a giant replica of the Reds’ 1990 World Series trophy.

An overview of the Reds’ 1990 World Series trophy replica in the team store.

Although I did not grow up a Cincinnati Reds fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the museum and hall of fame.  The team does an outstanding job of preserving and presenting its rich history, which is deeply entwined with professional baseball’s history in the United States.  I admittedly bought the ticket and toured the museum because I really wanted the Pete Rose bobblehead, but in hindsight I would have been just as pleased touring the museum even if I did not receive the bobblehead.  Baseball fans visiting Cincinnati, whether they get to attend a Reds’ game, should absolutely check out the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

My night with the Cincinnati Reds – June 3, 2016

Since 2011, I have participated in the AP Human Geography Reading in Cincinnati, Ohio, which means I have gone to a number of Cincinnati Reds games – specifically 11 games over the last five years after this visit.  However, I did not post about my first visit to Great American Ball Park, but after starting this blog I wrote about my visit in 2012 while combining it with my visit to a Dayton Dragons game (read it here).

As I’ve grown my blog and the stadium underwent renovations in preparation for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game, I decided that I should write a more complete entry about the stadium.  So I decided that I would write about my first visit to the stadium this year, which was a Friday night game between the Reds and Washington Nationals.

So after making the usual mile trek from my downtown hotel to the ballpark, I captured what most fans see as they come to Great American Ball Park.

“The Spirit of Baseball” sculpture designed by Mark Riedy.

The sculpture is part of the Reds’ office space and varies based upon sunlight and artificial light, but really what people care about seeing when coming to the stadium is the actual main entrance.

Main entrance.

Outside the main entrance there are multiple statues honoring former players, the team’s main gift store, and the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.  There are nearly too many statues honoring players to photograph, after all the Reds are the oldest professional baseball club and claim a history dating back to 1869.  So I don’t have photos of every single statue, but did capture some noteworthy players’ statues and one of the most recent additions, a mustache.

To promote the 2015 MLB All-Star Game the Reds commissioned mustache statues that are now throughout Cincinnati.

In homage to the franchise’s history the Reds created a monument in front of the main entrance called the “Reds Legends of Crosley Field” that was designed by Tom Tsuchiya.  The sculpture includes Joe Nuxhall pitching, Ernie Lombardi catching, Frank Robinson batting, and Ted Kluszewski waiting on deck.

“Reds Legends of Crosley Field” monument that honors of team’s former home field (1912-1970).

The Reds also have some decorative shrubbery by the main entrance that has become a popular place for fans to take photographs.

Decorative shrubbery by the main entrance.

Besides the imaginary baseball game featuring former star players there are two other sculptures by the entrance recognizing some of the Reds greatest and most beloved players: Tony Perez and Johnny Bench.

Tony Pérez (1964-76, 1984-86) was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.


Johnny Bench (1967-83) was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.

So what do fans see when they walk into the concourse?

First sight upon entering the stadium.

There are also two mosaics called “The First Nine” and “The Great Eight,” which commemorate the 1869 Red Stockings (the first professional baseball team) and the 1975-76 Reds teams known as the Big Red Machine that won back-to-back World Series titles.  Both mosaics were designed by Mark Riedy, who also designed the bas relief that welcomes fans outside the stadium.

“The Great Eight” and “The First Nine” mosaics that are immediately inside the main gates.

There are a lot of great food choices, but I ate before the game on this particular night.  So I don’t have the typical food photo to share, but have shared a pair of signature Cincinnati food items on Twitter from previous visits.

Food porn photos aside, the options at the concession stand cover the spectrum, but most notably incorporate a lot of items associated with food in Cincinnati.

The hot dog and sausage stand is known as Porkopolis, which was a nickname given to Cincinnati in 1835
because the city was a major hog packing center.

There’s pizza…

LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria was founded in 1954 in Cincinnati, but now has stores in nearby Kentucky and Indiana plus Dayton.

There’s also a burger chain…

The Big Boy statue by the Frisch’s Big Boy concession stand.

While Big Boy is a national chain, Frisch’s owns the rights to the franchise in most of Ohio and all of Kentucky and Indiana, so it is a chain many Reds fans know.

Additionally, there are Skyline Chili stands throughout the stadium that serve not only the namesake chili, but also coneys (a hot dog topped with chili and shredded cheese).

Beyond hot dogs, beer might be the most famous ballpark item, and Great American Ball Park does not lack for a selection of excellent local craft beers.  Near home plate there is an extensive bar that features macro brews, but also great Cincinnati-brewed beers and some solid regional choices from Kentucky and other parts of Ohio.

Brewery District Bar near home plate.

For fans along the first base line and in the outfield there is another large bar.

Bootleggers Bar along the first base line.

By Bootleggers Bar there is a sign commemorating Cincinnati’s brewing heritage, which runs very deep.  It may not be as well-known outside the region because there are no major macro breweries in town nor is the craft beer industry as well established here as elsewhere around the United States (read about it here), but Cincinnati has a rich brewing history that recently has begun to be celebrated.

Sign showing off the Cincinnati Brewing Heritage Trail.

While exploring the concourse I happened to encounter one of the team’s mascots: Rosie Red.

Me with Rosie Red.

Perhaps one of the most unique things I saw while walking around the terrace level was a special seat between the Sun/Moon Deck in right field and the Power Stacks in right center field is a vacant seat designated to the memory of American prisoners of war and and those missing in action.

The Chair of Honor was dedicated in 2014.

But enough of the concourse, what do fans see what sitting in their seats?  After all, fans comes to games to watch a game not tour a stadium, right?  Well, most fans come to watch the game.  I generally do, even when I explore and check out the unique components of a new ballpark I’m visiting for the very first time.

So onto the game’s first pitch from my seat high above the field.

Reds starting pitcher Brandon Finnegan getting ready to deliver the first pitch
to Washington Nationals center fielder Ben Revere.

The most unique feature of the outfield has to be the riverboat above the batter’s eye in center field.  Cincinnati was once well known for its riverboat, and still has some in service now that do tours along the Ohio River.

The Riverboat Deck in center field.

Along side the riverboat is a pair of smokestacks, which are a staple of the vessel.  Additionally, highlighting the smokestacks allows me to point out the secondary videoboard in right field that was added during the 2015 in advance of the All-Star Game.

Right field’s Sun/Moon Deck with the secondary videoboard alongside the PNC Power Stacks, which shoot fireworks.

With the secondary videoboard in right field, the stadium’s primary videoboard stands over the left field bleachers.

With the bases loaded early in the game, the videoboard features a graphic referencing a common phrase
used to describe the situation.

While enjoying my view from the upper deck, I was able to capture a photo of the pitcher’s mound.

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

I have shown off most of the stadium except for the seats down the first base line, where the JACK Cincinnati Casino Champions Club is located.  It is a member’s only club that features a buffet along with seating inside and outside.  It had been the Riverfront Club, which was open to all stadium-goers, but it was renovated prior to the 2015 season and became a members-only area.

View down the first base line featuring the JACK Cincinnati Casino Champions Club.

The stadium faces the Ohio River, which is great because so much of Cincinnati’s history is tied to the river.  However, the views into Kentucky can be considered a little lackluster as there are no skyscrapers or other stunning sights.  So in order to get views of the city’s skyline fans need to walk to the outfield.  Normally fans wouldn’t be able to see much of a skyline outside a stadium because the upper deck would block the view, but Great American Ball Park has a specially designed gap that allows fans to see the downtown Cincinnati skyline.

View of Great American Insurance Group Tower, headquarters of the namesake sponsor of the ballpark.

While capturing the view of the skyline, I also got a photo of the grandstand behind home plate.  Naturally this includes the press box and many of the luxury suites, but all of the franchise’s retired numbers are also honored

View of the grandstand behind home plate with the press box and the franchise’s retired numbers.

As the oldest professional franchise in baseball, the Reds have a lot of retired numbers (read about them here).  So I won’t detail all of them, but instead focus on the one number that was not posted when I attended this game in June: Pete Rose’s #14.  Following Rose’s banishment from MLB in 1989, the Reds did not retire his number.  Finally entering this season the Reds announced they would retire his number.  A few weeks after my visit the team fêted Rose as part of a weekend-long event that also honored the 1976 World Series (read the details here).

The first game I attended in Cincinnati was on a Friday, so following the Reds victory over the Nationals fans got treated to a fireworks show.

Fireworks over the Ohio River.


Fireworks above the Sun/Moon Deck in right field.


A colorful fireworks display.

Great American Ball Park really does live up to its name.  It is a great American ballpark.  It has wide concourses.  It has tons of concession stands with local-inspired options.  It has lots of great craft beer selections.  It has great architecture.  It has a penchant for incorporating history into the stadium.

There is one very minor drawback about the stadium.  The views from the seats are good, although the Kentucky hilltops aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing.  However, the stadium beautifully incorporates views of the Cincinnati skyline for fans sitting in the outfield.

Despite this minor drawback, the stadium lives up to its name.  It is a great American ballpark.

Final Score: Washington 2, Cincinnati 7
Box Score

William Henry Harrison Burial Place in North Bend, Ohio

It is commonly believed that due to not wearing a heavy coat during his inauguration despite poor weather that William Henry Harrison contracted pneumonia and died nearly a month after he took office.  A contemporary analysis of the doctor’s notes and records about the White House water supply lead to the conclusion that Harrison died from septic shock due to enteric fever.  Regardless of the cause of death, Harrison died just after midnight on April 4, 1841.

Following a brief internment at Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., Harrison was buried on his estate in North Bend, Ohio.  The family chose a spot at the crest of Mount Nebo, which became William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial.  The site contains his grave, his wife Anna, and several other members of the Harrison family.

View of William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial from the road.
Stairs to the tomb entrance.
The Harrison family crypt.
Graves of William Henry and Anna Harrison, and their son John Scott.

William Howard Taft Birthplace in Cincinnati, Ohio

Alphonso and Louisa Maria Taft lived in Mount Auburn, just a mile from downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.  The couple lived in a Greek Revival house where William Howard Taft was born on Sept. 15, 1857.  William lived at the house until entering Yale University in 1874.  The house was sold in 1899, and later restored with the aid of the William Howard Taft Memorial Association, who transferred the property to the National Park Service in 1969.  The National Park Service operates the property as the William Howard Taft National Historic Site, which became a national historic landmark in 1964.

An overview of the Greek Revival-style Taft residence.
A closeup of the residence that served as home of the Taft family from 1852 to 1899.
The room where William Howard Taft was born.

Benjamin Harrison Birthplace in North Bend, Ohio

On the estate of William Henry Harrison in North Bend, Ohio, the second son of John Scott and Elizabeth Harrison was born on Aug. 20, 1833.  Benjamin Harrison was born in “The Big House” on his grandfather’s estate.  The house later burned down, but was located at the intersection of Symmes and Washington avenues.  A historic marker commemorates Harrison’s birthplace.

Benjamin Harrison was born on a family farm in the “Big House,” which burned down in 1858.

Ulysses S. Grant Birthplace in Point Pleasant, Ohio

Jesse Root Grant moved to Point Pleasant, Ohio, after finding work in the township as a tanner.  Shortly after moving to the small borough, he met and married Hannah Simpson, and the coupled settled in Point Pleasant.  On April 27, 1822, the couple welcomes their first child.  The boy was unnamed for a few weeks before his name was chosen at a gathering of the Grant and Simpson families.  The chosen name was Ulysses, but Jesse wanted to honor his father-in-law and declared that the child would be named Hiram Ulysses Grant.  However, most people in the family called the child Ulysses.  He became known as Ulysses S. Grant upon entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when the U.S. Congressman nominating him for the commission mistakenly wrote down “Ulysses S. Grant.”

The U.S. Grant Birthplace State Historic Site includes four other properties besides the president’s birthplace.
The Grant family moved from the house less than a year after Ulysses’s birth.