Oh, the places you'll go: Shops and events spring up along Cincy streetcar line

Since launching last September, the Cincinnati Bell Connector has created an atmosphere for residents and tourists alike to better enjoy the many sights, sounds, food, art, performances and outdoor spaces that downtown and Over-the-Rhine have to offer.

The streetcar travels on a 3.6-mile loop with 18 stops featuring the city’s most established and up-and-coming hubs for both residents and visitors. Each stop features a specially designed shelter to protect riders from rain, snow and sun — all weather conditions Cincinnati has been known to experience inside the same week. Stations also offer a route map, important messages for riders, pay station — fare is $1 for two hours or $2 all day — and electronic signage displaying the next car’s arrival time.

From Washington Park to The Banks, Findlay Market and more, check out Soapbox’s roundup of things to do along the streetcar route:

The Banks (Stop 1):
Heading to a Reds game or looking to join the party? The Banks boasts several area bars and restaurants teeming with locals and tourists alike. Whether it’s Reds' Opening Day — practically a citywide holiday in Cincinnati — or a postseason Bengals matchup, game time at The Banks is often an exciting affair, with tailgating, block parties and people lining the sidewalks of the “mini town” outside places like Tin Roof, Howl at the Moon, Moerlein Lager House and others.

8th & Main (Stop 4):
If you love digging through unique collections of old books, this is the perfect spot to spend a good portion of your day. Ohio Book Store has been located at 726 Main St. since 1940 and continues to shine as a local gem. Visitors can spend hours combing through the store's five floors of carefully curated books and magazines. The store also offers book restoration services for the die-hard book lover who simply can’t part with that cherished hardcover edition.

Brewery District (Stop 11):
Rhinegeist. Need we say more? Located in the historic OTR Brewery District, this fast-growing local staple began brewing in 2013 at 1910 Elm St. and has been a hit ever since. Visitors can take advantage of one-of-a-kind views from the rooftop tap room or rent space for private events. Must-try beers include Truth, the brewery’s signature IPA with dry, tropical notes and Bubbles, a rosé cider that combines two of summer’s best gifts in a single can.

Findlay Market (Stop 10/12):
Open year-round Tuesday-Sunday, Findlay Market has been a huge presence in Cincinnati since 1852 and a great place to lunch with friends and find fresh, local goods. If you head down on a weekend, prepare to be greeted by large and diverse crowds of residents and tourists alike, plus more than three dozen vendors, a weekend farmers’ market and a variety of street performers. Visitors can enjoy everything from seafood to local honey, beer, dry spices and smoky barbecue. The patio is a great place to sit and have lunch on a nice day, and OTR Candy Bar just across the street offers a wide range of artisan and bulk sweets for dessert.

Washington Park/Music Hall (Stop 8/14):
Serving as front lawn for the iconic (and currently under construction) Music Hall, Washington Park is one of the city’s most treasured outdoor spaces, featuring a bandstand/film projection screen and ample opportunities for families with kids to sit in the sun, play in the water and enjoy food from local food trucks and other vendors. Two streetcar stops border the park, which offers kickball leagues, live concerts and movie nights during the warmer months.

Cincinnati Public Library (Stop 16):
The library’s main branch, right in the middle of the streetcar line at Eighth and Vine, offers a great place to check out some of the latest reads or take in unique exhibits and events. The library offers a 3D printing lab and makerspace, story time and movies for kids, plus weekly learning opportunities for people of all ages — everything from crocheting lessons to coloring and poetry workshops. Well-known authors make regular visits; the library recently welcomed Chris Bachelder, current University of Cincinnati teacher and author of The Throwback Special (2016).

Aronoff Center for the Arts (Stop 17):
Looking to catch the latest concerts and other onstage performances? Boasting three large performance spaces, Aronoff Center for the Arts is home to Broadway in Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Ballet, whose 2017-18 lineup features the usual beloved holiday favorites as well as shows like the current Bold Moves contemporary dance celebration, which runs through the end of this month. For food before or after the show, the Aronoff offers an onsite café/deli and a bevy of nearby spots that include Jeff Ruby's, Nada, Mr. Sushi and more.  

Fountain Square (Stop 18):
German toy markets, salsa dancing, indie rock concerts, ice skating, live Reds games, 11 bars and restaurants, food trucks, beer: with Fountain Square’s action-packed programming, there’s truly something for everyone. The square itself stays busy at lunchtime during the summer and the fun ramps up all the way through the weekend, with a steady stream of 20- and 30-somethings mingling at places like newly opened Jekyll and Rock Bottom Brewery. Make this your streetcar destination on a Friday night, and prepare to mix it up with a wide swath of Cincinnatians in the heart of the city.

Read more articles by Erin Pierce.

Erin Pierce is a contributing writer for Soapbox, and a recent graduate of Northern Kentucky University.
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