This week’s task was more of an adventure for Gus than it was for me, but I enjoyed it just the same. My mom playfully filled out a challenge card from my beloved little rescue pup so that he could be a part of the project, too!
“Take me for a walk in a different neighborhood every day so I can explore all of Cincinnati!” – From Gus Hayden
Gus is my three year old yellow lab mix. I got him in August of 2010 and he has completely changed my life. He has lots of personality, loves everyone and follows me around like he’s my shadow. He puts up with me mildly tormenting him and gets into things every now and then, but he’s the best dog in the whole wide world.
It is important to note that Gus HATES riding in the car. He does all that he can to hide his eyes from windows and shakes uncontrollably at the mere mention of getting into a vehicle. It’s actually kind of funny because we go to my parents’ house fairly frequently and when it’s time to leave, I ask him “You wanna go home?” Every time I ask the question he runs and hides because he knows what that means. I was somewhat surprised to see he “selected” this challenge as it requires extensive car travel and unfamiliar territories. Way to step outside of your comfort zone, buddy. 😉
In effort to make this more pet-friendly I did some research on pet-friendly environments for Gus. Outside of Hyde Park and a few OTR spots, there aren’t too many establishments in Cincinnati that publicly state they accept dogs. I did however find that if you show up with your dog, they don’t always turn you away.
One of Cincinnati’s best features, in my opinion, is the fact that there are dozens of little villages scattered around the tri-state area. Each one, lined with sidewalks, offers a different atmosphere with a variety of restaurants and small businesses adding their own little charm and atmosphere. Gus and I strolled through Mariemont, Old Montgomery, Newport/The Banks, Ludlow/Clifton and Over the Rhine. This will likely read like a visitor’s bureau brochure, but I assure you, Gus had a great time!
I would be doing a disservice to my sweet little neighborhood if I didn’t brag about it first. I live in Hyde Park. We typically stay pretty local whenever Gus and I go on walks. We are familiar with the Area and Gus loves to see all the sights. He is not, however, a fan of school buses and trucks. They send him running, tail between legs, clear to the other side of the sidewalk. When I was a child I remember I always wanted to live in a place that had side walks. It seems silly, but growing up in Anderson, there aren’t many places that actually had them. Now, I am surrounded by them. And they are constantly packed with locals running, walking their dogs, riding their bikes or simply enjoying the weather.
Some of our favorite pet-friendly hotspots are the patios of Dutch’s, Indigo and Cock and Bull. The lovely firefighters of the Hyde Park Fire Department always have a large bowl of water and a plethora of dog treats ready for passers by. Like owner like dog, Gus likes to look at his reflection in the store windows. If you are out for a stroll, most shop owners will let you bring your pooch pal in while you shop. It would be silly for them to discourage it as there are so many dogs in tow.
Places like Arthur’s, The Echo and Teller’s are also restaurants and bars I frequent. They are all in walking distance from my house and serve up delicious bites! I’d also like to point out that rumor had it Hyde Park Meats was closing. It did in fact close, but has since reopened under new ownership. Stop in!! If they don’t have something they used to carry, the new owner is taking suggestions to satisfy the clientele!
Onto the challenge…
We’ll start with Mariemont. Gus and I parked off of the square to that we could walk around and do a little exploring. The architectural style is one of the things that I love most about the area. The square is surrounded by tudor styled buildings that house specialty shops, cafes and a quaint little movie theater. The National Exemplar is a little restaurant in the Mariemont Inn that has been around since the early ’80s. They have a delightful Sunday brunch and I have never had better French Onion Soup in my life. Seriously. It’s amazing.
Dilly Cafe and The Quarter Bistro are two of the other fabulous restaurants in Mariemont. With fantastic menus, outdoor seating and great wine selections, they are the perfect place for delicious evening out! Tucked in between are shops like Pomegranate and Lime, a great little gift shop, or The Top Drawer, a needlepointer’s paradise.
We just so happened to arrive on the day they host a little farmers’ market in the parking lot! An organic pet food store gave Gus a treat, but he didn’t seem to enjoy it.
Next we will visit Old Montgomery. It’s a smaller area and if you blink, you’ll miss it, but it boasts a sense of familiarity and longevity, welcoming all who come through. The streets and brick-paver sidewalks are lined with lamp posts and hanging floral baskets that make for a pleasant backdrop to a stroll through the neighborhood. Restaurants like Montgomery Inn (the original location) and Germano’s have been delighting the tastebuds of locals and visitors alike for decades. Just outside the village is Carlo and Johnny’s, part of the Jeff Ruby’s family of restaurants. The European Cafe has a patio that is in fact pet friendly, but if you’d like to grab a coffee to-go, you must leave the pooch outside. Lesson Learned, haha.
For baseball lovers, a members-only museum called The Green Diamond Gallery offers some incredibly rare and highly coveted memorabilia in a place where “baseball heroes never grow old. ”
Montgomery is also home to one of my favorite places in the city, The Woodhouse Day Spa. As a connoisseur of spas around the world, we are lucky to have one of this caliber in Cincinnati. Woodhouse, a favorite amongst my friends, offers a variety of treatments that are sure to make your stresses drift away. If Gus wasn’t with me I’m sure I’d have dropped in for a visit. Sadly, it is not a doggy spa.
On Sunday, my Aunt Debbie and her dogs, Bonnie and Clyde, joined Gus and I for a three-hour tour of Newport, Kentucky and The Banks of Cincinnati. Both she and my parents have recently taken up residence in the SouthShore condominiums and we thought it would be fun to do a little exploring. We strolled along the river bank, across the Purple People Bridge, through Sawyer Point, up to Smale Riverfront Park and onto The Banks.
Sawyer Point and Yaetman’s Cove, recently host to Bunbury Music Festival, semi-weekly Party in the Park, and a variety of other pubic events is a mile-long stretch with tennis courts, volley ball courts, playgrounds, stages and Serpentine Wall. There is literally so much to do there you can’t accomplish it all in one visit.
Smale Riverfront Park is part of an ongoing project to spruce up the Cincinnati Riverbanks, one of our greatest assets. Due to the effort of many private donors and LOTS of hardworking people, especially the Women’s Committee, this place is really taking shape. Here’s a flyover of the Smale Riverfront Park vision:
They have recently added large swings for relaxing and taking in the view.
After that we headed up to Wine Guy at the Banks. They do not regularly accept pets on patio, but since we were there and it wasn’t very busy, they let us come in for a beer and a flat bread! Jenna joined us briefly for our break before we headed back to the Southbank.
We spent a day alone strolling around my old stomping grounds in Clifton and Ludlow. I spent 5 years here while I attended University of Cincinnati and the growth the area has seen since 2007 is insane. They recently constructed U Square at The Loop between Calhoun and McMillan. This is home to apartment buildings, restaurants, bars and shops. UC is really turning into a fantastic place and I’m quite jealous we didn’t have these amenities when I was a student there. Naturally, we walked past Uncle Woody’s (my very own Cheers during my undergrad years) and Gus tried to go in. Closed and not pet friendly.
We strolled past Tri-Delt, my old sorority house. He tried to go in there, too. It’s like he knows the places I love 🙂
After that we headed down to Ludlow. I know there are so many eclectic shops so I thought I’d see who would let us in. To my surprise, none of them open until noon! What is that about!? But since we were in the area we walked around anyway. If you are looking for foreign cuisine, this 4 block stretch has more to offer than any other area in the city.
I mean like wow. We’ve got Indian, Mexican, Thai, Ethiopian, Mediterranean, French and the list goes on. They also have Skyline and Graeters, two Cincinnati staples.
My favorite aspect of the Ludlow area is the Esquire Theater. If you want to see an indie film, something completely obscure, a good viewing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show or a small handful of new releases, you should check it out. They offer a full bar and a wide variety of snacks. It’s owned by the same people that run the Mariemont Theater and the Kenwood Theater. It’s old and doesn’t offer new high-tech reclining seats, but it’s awesome. Sometimes you can even bring in carry out from local restaurants.
On Tuesday, Aunt Debbie and the pups joined us again as we ventured to OTR. If you’ll remember from one of my previous posts, I loooove Over the Rhine. It is also one of the most pet-friendly areas of the city. Washington Park has created a dog park specifically for Gus to run around and play in. He absolutely loves going down there and exploring. Many of the shops will let you bring your (well-behaved) dogs in for a quick browse. Not likely to turn away business, most patios will let you enjoy a quick bite, as well. My favorite hot spots are Lackman, Rhinehaus, A Tavola, Bakersfield, Anchor and Senate.
There is a shop called Pet Wants on Vine Street and it is awesome! They make all of their products, especially organic canine cuisine, in-house and have a shop at Findlay Market. Also, their sidewalk is actually painted to look like wooden planks! Check ’em out!!
They have all kinds of shops like Switch ( a high-end lighting store), Mica (a fun gift shop mostly consisting of locally handcrafted wares) and Joseph Williams Home (a furniture and decor wonderland) that draw in a variety of customers.
My favorite hot spot in the city, also notoriously known for their acceptance of the canine crowds, is Neon’s, or The Famous Neon’s Unplugged. They offer craft beers and very creative cocktail specials. In the winter, they have fire pits and hot apple cider = heaveeeen. Gus also loves going to Neon’s and he just so happens to be a dude-magnet. Thanks, pal 🙂
Gus has gotten SO good at walking that I no longer need to hold his leash. I simply wrapped it around his collar and he walked himself. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s terrified to leave my side or if he just knows that’s what he’s supposed to do.
He came home completely exhausted every day, but I think he really enjoyed his little tour of the town. Now go visit all of the places I talked about because they’re FABULOUS. Many of the masterminds behind these small businesses are friends or friends of friends that took big risks. Buy local! Support them!