Ohio’s cinematic spots: An Intelligent Travel report

Every time John Ur covers a state via its cinematic hot spots in his series “Cinematic Road Trip” for Intelligent Travel, I look to see which movies I’ve seen and what spots I know. It’s always a pleasure.

This week Ur hit Ohio. Ohio, as he found, is diverse. He did skip over Columbus. I’ll have to think about a movie that may have been filmed there. Columbus is not dull, but can slide under ones radar. Cleveland, however is not easy to miss. Christmas Story, one of Cleveland’s most well known films is one of my favorites and one that Ur covers.

Ur also hits Cincinnati. I am partial to Cincinnati since I grew up going here as a child and I know it well. However, I wasn’t aware that parts of Traffic was filmed here. Or perhaps I noticed this and forgot.

I do know of a couple Ohio locations on the silver screen that Ur missed. One can’t include everything, so this is no slight on Ur. He always does a fine job.

One movie is The Shawshank Redemption. The prison outside of Mansfield, the abandoned Ohio State Reformatory was one of the main locations. A friend of mine’s father was one of the extras.

Another film with Ohio scenes is Rain Man. One of Cincinnati’s most spectacular buildings, at least it’s my favorite, is Union Terminal. Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise spent some time here while looking for alternative transportation to California. The murals you see in the background as they walked through were done as a WPA project. The building is now mostly a museum center.

Another shot in this film is when the pair are in a car going from Cincinnati across the Ohio River on the Roebling Bridge. The bridge, also known as “The Singing Bridge” because of the sound it makes when cars go across, leads to Covington, Kentucky.

Cincinnati, one of the worst cities for women?!!!

Iva’s post about the best cities for women caught my attention since Cincinnati was listed as one of the three worst. I wonder if Self magazine gathered the statistics that led to this list before Ohio’s smoking ban? The reason Cincinnati ended up at the bottom is because of the high number of women who smoke here. Since smoking is not allowed in restaurants or bars in Ohio I wonder where women are doing all the smoking? Next time I go, I’m going to have to pay more attention to see if they are gathered on sidewalks and huddled in doorways puffing away.

Since I don’t smoke, I find Cincinnati one of the better cities to visit. I think it’s Ohio’s prettiest. Winston Churchill even sang Cincinnati praises once. If you feel inclined to smoke and need a distraction, here are three places I’d go to spur you on to a healthier life.

#1. Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park. The flowers and plants here will keep your senses occupied. As it happens, today is the conservatory’s 75th birthday. You can’t smoke, but you can eat cake.

#2. Union Terminal. This art deco train station is fabulous and now mostly a museum center. This year is also its 75th. Head to Bodies, The Exhibition to see what smoking does to you. This is a version of the exhibit where specially preserved real bodies and cross-sections of real bodies are on display. I saw a version of this in Cleveland. Sort of unnerving, but great.

#3 Pendleton Pilates at the Over-the-Rhine location. This studio is not in its 75th year, BUT it has a following of performers. Cirque du Soleil, Chicago and Rent cast members come here when they are in town. Pendleton Pilates owner Stacy Sims credits Pilates with her own kick the smoking habit. You can drop in for some of the classes.

If you’re heading to Cincinnati: Holiday options plus pirates

Of all the Ohio cities, I think Cincinnati is the prettiest. Even Winston Churchill thought so. He once talked about its loveliness.

Each Christmas, I have plans to head to Cincinnati to take in some sights, but normally have just enough time to swing by Krohn Conservatory to see Paul Busee’s train music box before heading to my aunts’ craft show in northern Kentucky. Perhaps, you’ll have more time to see more of the city’s offerings. Here are some places I recommend based on what I’ve done myself in the past.

The Cincinnati Museum at Union Terminal have a special event happenings. The holiday offering, Holiday Junction is magical if you’re traveling with the younger crowd. We took my daughter here when she was five. There are model train displays that are over the top with their elaborateness. There’s also a train kids can ride that winds through a display set up to capture the feel of a winter wonderland.

Also at the center, not holiday related, is Real Pirates, a special exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is the real pirate ship Whyduh that sunk in 1717. I’ve been meaning to get here since it opened. The exhibit is closing on January 6, so I have to hustle my son down here. I’m thinking about Saturday–although we may head here after January 1 to avoid a holiday crowd. There are other regular exhibits that are worth seeing. One is a simulated cave.

For a look at a marvelous art decco hotel, stop in the Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel. Once, I sat in the lobby writing the next great American novel, drinking wine and snacking on the complimentary bowl of party mix type fare. I had to leave before the novel was finished. It’s still not done.

Another place dear to my heart is Fountain Square. The aesthetics have been partly ruined by a build up of modern buildings in downtown Cincinnati, but the fountain is the loveliest in all the world–in my opinion. These days, you can go ice-skating for some holiday cheer. If you’re near here, don’t miss the Cinergy Train Display. Model train buffs put together quite the collection. The trains wind through creative displays where some of the features move. I remember dancers that “skated” and twirled on a mirror lake. My son loved the free cookies, as well.

I haven’t been here for years, but I’ve written about it a few times. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of the first zoos to do holiday lights kind of events in order to boost up winter attendance. They’ve perfected it for sure.

The Cincinnati Ballet’s “Nutcracker” performance is another holiday treat. Once when I was in high school, my grandparents bought tickets for my whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins included) to see the show one Christmas. We took up more than 20 seats in orchestra seating.

And, one of my all time favorites, since I remember it from when I was a child is the Live Nativity outside Krohn Conversatory in Eden Park. Here you’ll find live animals in a manger scene set up. The same family has been involved with this display since the 1930s. It’s the oldest nativity display in Ohio.