Traveler: Kat Calvitti
When: July 2017
Places visited: Cincinnati, OH
My friend from Philly and I have been volunteering at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG) since 2014. The host city changes every year and normally my friend and I plan a mini vacation around the games. We didn’t think Cincinnati had much to offer aside from the zoo so we only spent one weekend there and it wasn’t enough! This was a great weekend getaway from DC (and Philly)—just a quick flight for a weekend filled with fun, food and ANIMALS!
NVWG: I feel compelled to tell you a bit about the games since this was the fourth year I traveled to volunteer. The NVWG are co-presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and bring Veterans with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, amputations and other neurological impairments together to participate in wheelchair sports. Some Veterans are experienced, while others are novices, yet the games are a welcoming environment for all! I highly recommend volunteering or being a “fan in the stands” when the games come to a city near you!
Logistics: R/T nonstop airfare from DCA to CVG was about $200; Uber from the airport (which is actually in Kentucky) to downtown Cincinnati was about $30.
Getting Around: We stayed at the Millennium Cincinnati, which is located downtown, and were able to walk to most places; the city is very taxi/uber/lyft-friendly and also has a streetcar (now called the Cincinnati Bell Connector).
Things to Do:
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is by far the best zoo I have ever been to, not only because I got to see Fiona (the hippo who was born two months premature), but most exhibits have many active animals. Admission to the zoo is $19 for one adult at the gate but you can save a couple bucks if you buy online.
Be sure to check the animal encounters schedule to see which exhibits have zookeeper talks—it’s a great way to learn about the animals and see how they interact! You can also stop by the Welcome Center for information on feeding times and other special encounters. The zoo is absolutely beautiful since it is also a botanical garden—there are beautiful plants and gardens throughout the zoo!
I had no idea Cincinnati was such a “foodie” city, but it is! Cincinnati is known for their Skyline Chili and LaRosa’s pizza; however, I was too busy eating everything else in sight that I didn’t have room for either of those. Be sure to check out the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which has transitioned over the years, and has plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to choose from! I highly recommend grabbing dinner at The Eagle OTR—the food and atmosphere are fantastic! The Maplewood Kitchen + Bar, located next to the Millennium, serves amazing food from breakfast to dinner.
If you’re a sports fan who is visiting during football or baseball season, be sure to check out a Bengals or Reds game. The stadiums are conveniently located downtown and you may be able to find reasonably priced tickets.