10 years. Yup. We celebrated 10 years of wedded bliss (aka glorious insanity) on December 30, with a 24 hour date in Cincinnati. GASP. No kids. No laundry. No dishes. For 24 hours. I highly recommend this philosophy. It is actually my mom’s fault. One random day, months and months prior (like maybe even almost a year prior), she casually stated something to the extent of “We will take the girls overnight if you wanted to go somewhere for your anniversary.” That is all we needed to hear. No discussion. No debates. SOLD. DONE. YES. While many of us may not have that luxury, I would recommend trying to hand the kids over to a trusted neighbor, relative or aunt for an overnight; followed by a quick game of ‘get outta dodge.’ Take it or leave it, but regardless, consider it. Full of fun, food, and carefree wandering. We ate, we explored, we slept in an oversized bed that was perfectly made and did not have children climbing in it at 6am. This, simply, was our 24 hour date.
Why Cincinnati? Well, easy, it is not Dayton. There is something to be said about escaping out of the city you live in. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of things to do in the 937. But we needed an excuse to flee. Even if just for 24 hours. So the Queen City it was! Here is the list of our destinations conquered during a 24 hour escapade. Yup. We hit every one of these places in 24 hours. It can be done. Now mamas, get that childcare covered, and go do it!
Findlay Market – Located in Over the Rhine, the market is a catch all for vendors, fresh seafood, produce, locally made goodness, and Cincinnati history. We simply walked around the market, as we built up our appetites for brunch. If you haven’t read up on the history – do it. The history of the initial German immigrant settling area of Over the Rhine is amazing, and Findlay Market is actually Ohio’s oldest surviving municipal market house. Read up, brush up on some Ohio history (says the daughter of a history teacher) it will give you a new appreciation for the location. Then go hang out, buy some goodies and relax.
Taste of Belgium – Our goal was to hit at least one Diners, Drive ins & Dives location, and Taste of Belgium won. If you have not eaten there, then you, like me, have never had a TRUE Belgium waffle. Read up on their website, but in a nutshell, in 2007 the (now) owner busted out his 120lb waffle maker that he brought back from Belgium, started to make some waffles in the back of a produce shop in Findlay Market, and soon thereafter was hounded with waffle-eating- folks. They are almost scone like, and they are delicious. We decided to go with a classic dish, the chicken and waffles, and I have no words except HOLY YUM LAND. In fact, I could go for a plateful right about now.
JACK Cincinnati Casino – We aren’t gamblers, but we thought what the heck? We decided to walk off some of our brunch and partake in the free parking offered at JACKS, and simply walked around gawking at all of the slot-button-pushing fanatics. If you are looking for some cheap, but massive portions of food , you always can check out the restaurants at the Casino. If you like to play a few hands of blackjack or spend a few quarters in the slots, stop by. I love to people watch, so I was in heaven.
21C – Our home away from home, and man was it awesome! Located in the financial district of downtown, the 21C is not only a hotel, but an art museum. From the body parts outlined in our bathroom walls, to the artwork in the lobby that required you to take a flash-photo with your phone to see the ‘real image’, the ambiance was great. It is not the least expensive hotel, and there is no complimentary buffet breakfast like so many chain hotels now offer, but we were ok not having to scoop scrambled eggs for kids the next morning.
Nicholson’s – our hotel was located in the perfect spot, as we were literally just feet away from some great local spots, many being restaurants. A Scottish-American pub, Nicholson’s seemed like a nice ‘mid afternoon snack’ location, and one that would not involve kid-approved almonds, cheese sticks or fruit bars. We indulged in a mid afternoon cocktail as well as fried brussel sprouts with an old bay aioli. DELISH!
Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center – across the street from both our hotel and Nicholson’s sat this little gem, a city-wide arts center that featured art from all over the country. The CAC provides experiences through exhibitions and performances as well as educational and outreach programs. It was fun to walk through, just us adults, engaging with art and different ideas of our time. There was even a spot where you could ‘make your own art’, but I dodged it, because I was on this 24 hour date to NOT participate in crafts (mom life).
nada – YESSS. This place. I had the privilege of first experiencing this AHHmazing modern Mexican cuisine during a dear friend’s wedding reception, and I have been salivating over it ever since. I knew this was where I wanted our 24 hour date dinner to take place, and my husband made it happen. Reservations are a must, as this place is packed all night long, and it was worth it. We enjoyed their house-made salsa, guac and chips, and then ordered a variety of tacos, from pork belly to Asian themed, to chicken and fish. A margarita to top it off and we were set. The uninteruppted hours of adult conversation may have also been a plus to this experience.
Sotto – talk about going back in time. If you don’t look for Sotto you will literally miss it. Located ‘down in the ground’ in what seems like and old prohibition bar basement, this was our after-dinner destination. Mind you, it was around 9:45pm when we entered, without reservations, and we were given a look like ‘no reservations?’. That is how popular this place is. Dark. Chic. Old meets modern. Simple ingredients and simple Italian menu. We sat at the bar right away (no reservations, remember) and looked straight at the dessert menu. I also believe this was right around the time my husband had to open my eyelids because it was past my bedtime. We ordered the ricotta donuts. OH MY WORD. We knew we made a good choice when everyone around us was ordering the exact same thing, at 10:15pm, and holy goodness gracious. A perfect plate of these little ricotta stuffed donut hole shaped pillows, with a trio of dipping sauces that included salted caramel, chocolate and pistachio. I need to relive that evening simply for these babies. Go eat them. Now.
Maplewood Kitchen & Bar – No, we didn’t go from nada to Sotto to Maplewood. We actually slept in between. Yes we slept IN. We decided to walk around the next morning, and came a cross this sweet spot. It reminds me of First Watch amplified by 10. You stand in line and order at a counter, as if you are at a fast food restaurant, but then you are taken to your seat and your food is delivered. My husband enjoyed a bistro steak with eggs and chimichurri sauce, and I feasted on their version of avocado toast with a side of goetta. Goetta you ask? I had no clue either, but I wanted to try new fun things, and this was just what I needed that morning. Back in the day, when Cincy was a major location for Germans to settle (remember Over the Rhine?), it also was a major pork production area. Goetta is a meat-and-grain sausage or mush of German inspiration that is composed of primarily ground meat (pork, or pork and beef), pin-head oats and spices. It was a glorified crunchy sausage and was worth the experience! We gulped coffee and once again, mindlessly chatted about who knows what. It was crowded, but there was no high chair to grab or snot to wipe. So it was just fine. (By the way you can find goetta at Kroger. In the chance you are now in the mood for a glorified crunchy sausage.)
Collective Espresso – after some brunch we headed back toward the hotel, looking for a final spot of relaxation before we returned to the Gem City to pick up our little ladies. We passed the CAC and noticed the tiny coffee shop located inside. We had seen it the day prior but didn’t think a thing of it, this time was different, we needed (wanted) more java and mindless chatting – so Collective Espresso it was. I am a coffee diva. I love coffee. I love it for the taste, the smell and the experience. Never in my life have I ever had an espresso lemonade though, until this day. Imagine your best espresso carefully poured over a glass of ice, with San Pelligrino Lemonata added to that glory. It sounds, well, gross – but let me tell you it was awesome. To this day I have not attempted to make it myself, but my new barista friend guided me in the best route to do so. Heck, I’ll add it to my list!
SOOO there you have it friends. Hopefully I didn’t bore you with our 24 hour date details, but rather inspired you to explore. It is amazing to look back and see what we were able to accomplish and experience in 24 hours, not to mention simply enjoying some kid free time with each other.
Date on mamas, date on.