A couple folk have contacted us with questions about lodging and local delicacies in preparation for a trip to Cincinnati for the April 5-6 Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event (10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday) at the Popular Woodworking Magazine office and shop. In case there are other out-of-towners, here’s some helpful information (especially if you’re planning to bring the family along). I’ll post the schedule for demonstrations from the Society for American Period Furniture Makers later this week – but click on the link above for a list of other weekend presenters.
How to Get Here
Our palatial compound (if you consider a tarred roof and cinder block to be palatial) is located at 8469 Blue Ash Road, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45223. The Google machine will direct you to the front of the building (where it’s also OK to park, though you’ll have to walk across the railroad tracks then follow the signs to our entrance), but there’s a parking lot out back accessed off a side street named Vorhees. To get to it, turn on either Kugler Mill (half-block south) or Sycamore Road (half-block north), cross the railroad tracks and Vorhees will be the first turn. The tiny sign on the fence says “F+W Media,” but we’ll also hang the PWM banner close to the gate. Plus, there will be Lie-Nielsen signs directing you to the lot. (It’s much easier than I’m making it sound.)
Where to Stay
The most conveniently located hotel is the Hannaford Suites, which is less than two miles and only one turn away. But there are many options just a little farther away in Blue Ash – click here for a list and contact information.
So what can your family do while you’re at the show? The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal (an impressive Art Deco building just west of downtown Cincinnati) houses three museums (plus an Omnimax Theater): The Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum and the Museum of Natural History and Science (“Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times” is on special exhibit at the Center through April 14) plus Tower A – the original control tower for the train terminal, where you can get a bird’s eye view of the tracks (still in use today) and explore artifacts from Union Terminal’s history.
And of course, the world-renowned Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens is always fun to visit (a baby giraffe was born there just yesterday – but I don’t know if it will be on exhibit in less than two weeks).
There’s also the Cincinnati Art Museum in Eden Park, with more than 60,000 works of art spanning 6,000 years. Of note is the museum’s Cincinnati Wing, comprised of more than 400 objects from artists born in or trained in Cincinnati – including a lovely collection of art-carved furniture (much of which was created by women around the turn of the 20th century) and furniture from the Shop of the Crafters.
Also in Eden Park is Krohn Conservatory, an Art Deco glass structure built in 1933 that houses 3,500 species of plants from around the world. And, opening on April 16 is the International Butterfly Show.
In the middle of downtown Cincinnati, you’ll find the Contemporary Arts Center – housed in an impressive structure designed by Zaha Hadid. Current exhibitions include works by Hema Upadhyay and Atul Dodiya, as well as “ON! Handrafted Digital Playgrounds.”
Also downtown, don’t miss the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which celebrates the heroes of the freedom movement from the time of the Underground Railroad to the present, and houses the FamilySearch center, for those interested in discovering their family history.
The Taft Museum of Art, on the east side of downtown Cincinnati, has masterpieces by Rembrandt and Whistler (among others), a delightful cafe and an impressive collection of furniture pieces. Plus it’s in a gorgeous early 1800s Palladian building.
Just up the road in Mt. Auburn is the William Howard Taft National Historic Site, which commemorates the only person to serve as both Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and President of the United States.
And, we have the oldest professional baseball team in the world right here in the Queen City. The Cincinnati Reds will be hosting the Washington Nationals Friday-Sunday (and the Los Angeles Angels on April 3-4) , and tickets are still available to take in a game at Great American Ballpark.
I’m not too fond of chain restaurants, so here are some of my favorite local places.
1. A Tavola. This pizza restaurant is in the “Gateway Quarter” in the hot urban center (as are several of the others on my list), and one of the owners, Jared Wayne, is a woodworker (he built the bar and all the tables in the beautiful space). They make all the pizza components on site, and it’s all delicious.
2. Senate. Located just a door away from A Tavola, this place specializes in homemade hot dogs/sausages (my favorite dog is the Croque Madame, with bechamel, black forest ham and a poached egg, served on a brioche bun). Oh, and I could eat their poutine every day (but that would be a very bad idea indeed). I am also prodigiously fond of one of their house cocktails, the “Kitten Fizz.”
3. Dewey’s. OK – this excellent pizza joint is now a chain, with six locations in Cincinnati, and more in Northern Kentucky and other locations. But it started out as a local place, and I’m glad it’s grown (there’s one close to our office and one close to my house – dangerous). All the crust is fresh, and tossed in front of a plate glass window (fun to watch while you’re waiting for a table). My favorite? Pepperoni and goat cheese with red sauce.
4. Tom+Chee. Best. Grilled. Cheese. Ever. And great tomato soup two ways. But I can’t bring myself to try the grilled cheese donut.
5. Also in the Gateway Quarter is Abagail Street, a delightful wine bar with tasty Mediterranean food served tapas style. Try the chorizo-stuffed dates and lamb sliders.
6. And again, in the Gateway Quarter (are you sensing a theme here?) is Tucker’s, a venerable, down-home restaurant with no frills and great cooking. Try it for breakfast, and get the goetta.
7. In my neighborhood, Northside, you’ll find a gem of a bakery – Take the Cake – that serves up a the best Sunday brunch in town (and I’m not just sayin’ that because my neighbor is a part-owner). The steak and eggs, the shrimp and grits and the bicuits and gravy are not to be missed (though I wouldn’t order them all on one visit).
8. Also in Northside, Melt is a funky cafe with delicious sandwiches (I’m partial to the “Joan of Arc”) – and I hear the vegetarian and vegan fare is great, too (though I’ve no personal experience with it).
9. For special occasions (such as right after I get my tax refund), I’ll take in a nice meal at Honey – conveniently located within walking distance of my house (a good thing, because the wine list is excellent). The creole meatloaf with tasso ham gravy is better than…well, let’s just say it’s awfully good.
10. And for extremely special occasions (or if someone else is buying…joking), I recommend Boca. Beautiful food. Beautiful environment. And drop-dead delicious.
And of course, there’s Cincinnati-style chili (I prefer Skyline to Gold Star…but really, I prefer Texas-style chili – which is darn hard to come by in these-here parts) and Graeter’s Ice Cream (though I also like Aglamesis Bro’s.)
I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of things to do and places to eat – but I hope this is a good starting point.
And I hope to see you on April 5-6 for the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event.
• Can’t make the event but want need some excellent hand-tool instruction? Check out the book “Hand Tool Essentials” (on sale right now for just $6.99), Christopher Schwarz’s 2-DVD set “Mastering Hand Tools” and our latest season of Roy Underhill’s “The Woodwright’s Shop” on DVD – Season 11.