Saturday, September 20, 2003

An eventful weekend for the Queen City

Need we mention, there'll be beer?

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Between the Oktoberfest Zinzinnati bash, a cutthroat Bengals-Steelers rivalry and a huge college open house at the convention center, hundreds of thousands of people from across the country will crowd downtown Cincinnati beginning today.

Many will cram into nearly sold-out hotels on both sides of the Ohio River. Here are a few secrets for navigating downtown and having a fab time doing stuff that may not have mentioned:

• Getting around:

Today and Sunday, Oktoberfest road closures include Fifth Street between Race and Broadway streets. Vine, Walnut, Main and Sycamore streets are closed between Fourth and Sixth streets. But there will be access to all parking garages.

Don't count on finding street parking, and be prepared to shell out $8 to $20 for garage parking.

Locals can avoid the hassle of driving and take a Metro shuttle. For $1.50 each way, catch a ride from Western Hills Plaza in Westwood, Cobblewood Plaza in Forest Park, Raymond Walters College in Blue Ash or Anderson Township Park and Ride.

• Cool spots to hang out tonight:

Check out The Federal Reserve Piano Lounge - a chic place to have a midnight snack and drinks while being serenaded by live music - at the southwest corner of Fourth and Race streets.

Take a cab to the new Club Clau at 12th and Sycamore streets for beautiful, hip people and an exclusive club environs.

Or try Empire inside the Newport on the Levee complex (walk across the Purple People Bridge from downtown to Newport), where two nightspots - one high-energy dance and the other '80s retro - will lure you in.

• Sunday brunch ideas:

Hamburger Mary's is a wild and wonderful eatery at 911 Vine St., with a Sunday brunch ($9.95) 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. that features an omelet station and homemade cobbler. The Bloody Mary bar ($5.50 per drink) is open 1-4 p.m.

Customers rave about the banana crunch pancakes at First Watch at 700 Walnut St.

Take another stroll the Purple People Bridge to Newport for a buffet of German pastries, roasted pig and omelets at Hofbrauhaus, 200 E. Third St. It's open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. ($13.95 adults, $7.95 6-11, under 5 free).

• After the game ...

Head to Oktoberfest for potato pancakes from Wertheim's (two for $3), sauerkraut balls from Black Forest ($4), grilled goetta sandwiches from Goetta - Over Here! ($3) and a jumbo cream puff from Schmidt's ($4). Wash it all down with a Spaten Oppimator, Konig Ludwig or Warsteiner Dunkel beer.

• A stunning forecast:

Both today and Sunday will be sunny, with a high in the mid-70s and lows around 50.


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