Summer in the City

Between buying a house, packing up our apartment, wrapping up the busy season at work, my husband beginning his busy season at work, and taking care of my mother in-law after spine surgery, blogging hasn’t been a priority in the McEwan house.


I wanted to take at least a moment to share my favorite things about summers in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Tall Stacks Festival
Tall Stacks is supposed to happen every three or four years, but hasn’t happened since 2006 and can’t find any information about when we can expect the next festival. The festival features national, regional, and local music acts, loads of expressions of Ohio river culture, and appearances by dozens of fabulous riverboats. Highlights from 2006: Heartless Bastards, Wilco, Medeski Martin & Wood, Over the Rhine, Blind Boys of Alabama, and Rosanne Cash. I sure hope they schedule another one soon… (Does anyone know any insider information about this?)

Fountain Square
Cincinnati really does it up on the Square during the summer. There are public events scheduled nearly around the clock, with everything from family-friendly movie nights to wine tastings. You can expect live music nearly every night of the week (Friday nights courtesy of Midpoint Music Festival) and some days during the lunch hour (I’ll be playing an Acoustic Thursday on August 26th). It’s nice to know that I can walk down to Fountain Square on any given day and find tons of people milling around. The energy is infectious.

Kayaking on the Little Miami
Although I haven’t been since my son was born, taking a day-long kayak trip down the river is easily one of my top five favorite summer activities. I don’t have my own boat, but I have rented multiple times from Morgan’s Canoe Livery and have always been pleased (though the price has increased quite a bit since my first time five years ago). Does anyone else have a favorite Livery?

Backpacking at the Red River Gorge
Confession: I’ve never been to the Gorge in the Summer, but I’m sure it’s just as fantastic as it’s been in the Spring. If you’re looking for a nice extended weekend backpacking trip within a few hour drive, it can’t be beat. And if backcountry camping is not your bag, you can find rental cabins with basic amentities to soften the wilderness experience. Try Red River Gorgeous on for size.

Local State Parks
Growing up in Chicago, with the beautiful Lake Michigan in the city and (seemingly) millions of fresh water lakes within driving distance, lake culture is in my blood. Since I can’t drive the 6 hours to Michigan where my family has a small summer cottage, it’s nice to have other lakes nearby. The only one I’ve spent a decent amount of time at is at Caesar Creek State Park, where the beach is clean and swimming-friendly, if a bit cold. A lot of my friends frequent East Fork State Park, as well. (There was a national rowing regatta held there last weekend. How cool is that?)

The Public Library
I know that the library is not a particularly summer activity, but hot summers do give me a new appreciation for the downtown library’s convenient, walkable location and it’s air conditioned comfort. It’s the perfect place to pop-in during a hot walk downtown, use the bathroom, change a diaper, and see what’s new on the shelves. They just held their summer Friends of the Library book sale, which was awesome. (Sorry if you missed it!)

Biking to work
I’ll admit it–I’m a fair weather bicyclist. But, since I live a mile from my office, I have absolutely no excuse to drive to work unless necessary. Since the onset of Spring, I’ve walked or biked to work about 80% of the time and it’s proven to be a great decision. Not only do I get some exercise, but I get to see bits and pieces of downtown in a way I wouldn’t if I was driving. And, I actually save a bit of time when I ride my bike since I don’t have to worry about finding free parking near City Hall. (Parking tickets suck.) I hope I can continue this into the Fall (and Winter?).

Gratisfest is like that favorite coffeeshop that you love too much to keep secret, but way too much to tell everyone about, lest it become everyone else’s favorite coffeeshop and, suddenly, you can’t find an open table. It’s a small, mostly private (though not invite-only) music and arts festival on a family farm in SE Indiana. It’s super family-friendly, but also super grown-up (which is awfully hard to find), with good food, good music, communal art projects, camping, beer, and fresh air. Suffice to say, when the patron saint of Gratisfest birthed the event a few years ago, he brought something amazing to life and I’ve been honored to be included in the fun the past few years. It’s the perfect way to end the summer.

What about you?
What are your favorite things about Summer in Cincinnati?

2 thoughts on “Summer in the City

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