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The Scoop - Cincinnati worth the short drive
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After a decade of going to the same beach, Hilton Head, and staying in nearly the same beach house year after year, our family made the decision to see different parts of America.

Since then we’ve been to New York City, which everyone should visit for at least a week, Las Vegas, which is flashy and exciting, and Los Angeles and San Diego, which are definitely less enjoyable due to the smothering traffic and often rude people.

This past weekend we made a 5-hour, 15-minute trip to Cincinnati to catch a Reds baseball game, check out the famous Cincinnati Zoo, and take in a little shopping. Here are a couple observations from what was a great weekend.

• I always like to make note of what different cities do with their downtown districts and Cincinnati deserves applause. It has an A-plus park along the Ohio River, complete with playground, water features, a walking trail, flower garden, and picturesque foot bridge.

The park is located between the football stadium, home of the Bengals, and the baseball stadium, home of the Reds. There are tons of restaurants and bars located a block away from the park and the street is closed to traffic. It’s now home to hundreds of tables for outdoor dining and gathering.

• Perhaps the item that grabs the most attention on the menu at the Reds game is helmet nachos, which are made using a standard batting helmet that fits on your head. I know this because I put the helmet on my head after finishing the nachos.

We were stopped four or five times from the helmet nacho stand to our seats by people wanting to know where they could get helmet nachos. They were a thumbs-up hit with everyone in our family.

• Admission to the ball game wasn’t excessive and we only paid $5 to park. But you know they’re going to get you somewhere. A large Coke and bag of peanuts was $16.95 plus tax.

• Make sure to check out the hippo exhibit at the zoo. It provides an up-close look at these massive creatures which are incredibly deadly if encountered in the wild.

A hippo can run faster than a human despite weighing up to 5 tons. And if you’re worried about getting bit by a dog, think about getting bit by a hippo with a mouth the size of a large dog.

• The zoo has a very educational exhibit on insects. I think the reason I found it so entertaining is I’m probably not going to encounter a tiger in my everyday life, but I will come across many ants, spiders and bugs. For every 1 pounds of humans on earth, I learned there are 3 pounds of insects.

• I didn’t notice a single Dollar General store in northern Kentucky or southern Ohio. What's up with that?

• It's fun to explore our great nation. Cincinnati is defintely worth the short drive north. Miami and Denver are next on our list, with a stop in Key West sure to accompany the Miami trip.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.