After two trips to Cincinnati in the past couple of years, I must say that I have become a huge fan of the city. Its vibrancy, architecture, fine arts, history, food (specifically its version of chili), and, of course, its passion for their Cincinnati Reds baseball are all contagious.
But, Cincinnati also has its fair share of quirky places, hidden gems reflecting the skills or the collections of individuals in the area. Allow me to introduce you to 4 of these.
With over 900 ventriloquist dummies (and yes, that is the politically correct name for them), you’ll sense many eyes looking back at you when you walk in the door. Technically, Vent Haven is at 33 West Maple Avenue in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, but that is considered to be part of the greater Cincinnati area. Founder W. S. Berger spent 40 years on this collection, which has been gathered from 20 different countries and has examples from 3 different centuries. Be sure to see the Edgar Bergen display as well as Shari Lewis and her beloved Lamb Chop.
It is only open from May 1 to September 30, and you’ll need to call ahead to schedule a tour. Click here for that link. A $10 per person donation is suggested. Be aware that there are no public restrooms at Vent Haven.
For me, this is the kind of place that proves that you can find a passionate collector or person who is interested in just about anything you can name. The Lucky Cat Museum consists of hundreds, probably even thousands, of cat statues with a paw held up or waving — the kind found in virtually every Japanese or Chinese restaurant. These are considered to be lucky charms that bring prosperity to the person(s) displaying it.
The museum is inside Essex Studios at 2511 Essex Place in Cincinnati and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 3:00 to 6:00. Admission is free but donations are gladly accepted.
The Swing House is one of the truly coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. It is actually an art project inside a 3-story house. Located at 1373 Avon Place in the Camp Washington section of Cincinnati, owner/artist Mark de Jong took out the interior walls and floors and suspended a 30-foot swing from a metal beam in the ceiling. I took a short turn in that swing and found it to be exceedingly smooth and exhilarating. Imagine swinging from over your bed to over your kitchen sink!! There is an Open House to visit on the first Saturday of every month from 12:00 to 4:00.
The house can actually be rented out as an AirBnB. Here is a link to that listing.
The American Sign Museum is at 1330 Monmouth Avenue in Cincinnati, also in the Camp Washington section. It is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 4:00 and on Sunday from 12:00 to 4:00. Admission is $15 per adult, but 3 children are free with each adult admission.
This Sign Museum is a colorful trip down memory lane with sights that will trigger images of your childhood. The 20,000-square foot space is filled with signs covering a 100-year time span.
Cincinnati is only about a 6 1/2-hour drive from North Alabama. It’s a great place. I strongly suggest that you think about visiting. Links to each website are embedded in the headings.