Don't worry, it's just for the Midwest Homeschool Convention. When the end of April rolls around, you'll find thousands of Moms, Dads, teenagers, kids, and strollers roaming the convention center and nearby streets downtown.
We'll be listening to great speakers, meeting up for lunches, fueling ourselves with Starbucks, and browsing the huge vendor hall. Seriously. Wear comfy shoes because your feet will be done before you are if you don't.
You can go to the Ultimate Homeschool Convention Guide hosted at The Homeschool Village if you'd like to see other posts about planning for and making the most of a homeschool convention.
What I'd like to share is what else you can see and do while you're here. This is what I would recommend if you were coming to visit me here.
1. Skyline Chili. You might have heard people talk about Cincinnati chili. Here's the thing: it might not be what you expect when you hear the word "chili". It's thinner and sweeter than other chili. And it's usually served over spaghetti, with cheddar cheese on top. That's called a "three way". You can add beans and onions, too, so you might hear folks ordering a "four way" or a "five way". There are many "Cincinnati Chili" restaurants around but Skyline is a chain, so you'll see many locations and it's also my favorite.
2. LaRosa's Pizza. The convention center has a small LaRosa's inside the vendor hall. It's over priced and the lines can be long. Don't let that be your only impression of this Cincinnati staple. The pizzas are good (I always choose the hand-tossed crust since the traditional is super thin and not my favorite), but they also have good sandwiches and salads. We usually order the Family Tossed Salad with the LaRosa's Family Recipe Italian dressing on the side and there is never any leftover.
3. Montgomery Inn. A bit pricier of an option, but the ribs are amazing. And the desserts are over the top fantastic, if you have room left (you won't).
4. Frisch's Big Boy. A comfort food favorite. Burgers, amazing onion rings, and a simple vegetable soup. Unfortunately serving Pepsi now. Ordering a cheeseburger, cup of vegetable soup, and Vanilla Coke used to be my go-to quick meal. No longer - now I'm a "just water please" girl since Vanilla Pepsi is NOT THE SAME THING. Sorry about that. We locals are still processing this change. Frisch's is still a good choice if you just want a basic meal. There are so many locations, you're bound to see one while you're here.
5. Graeter's Ice Cream. This ice cream is so much better than most other ice creams, it seems almost a shame to call anything else ice cream. There's a location just a few blocks from the convention center and you should definitely walk on over
So, if you decide to come for the convention and spend a few extra days here, what else should you see?
1. The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens are world famous. You can get a group discount if you have 15 people. Don't miss Manatee Springs, our Tigger's favorite place to be. The giraffe canyon is another favorite spot. And try to make at least one of the special animal encounters.
2. Cincinnati Museum Center in Union Terminal. There are actually several museums in this one amazing building. I highly recommend the children's museum.
3. The Cincinnati Reds. The Reds won't be playing in town during the convention, but if you have a baseball fan you might want to check out The Great American Ballpark and the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.
4. Kings Island is just a short drive north of Cincinnati. It has some amazing roller coasters and a nice area with rides for the younger set. It's opening for the season April 18 and it will only be open the days of the convention (Friday and Saturday), so you might just have to plan to come back and visit us again.
5. If you're a Christian you might want to check out the Creation Museum. It's a fun, informative experience for the entire family. The petting zoo and gardens, while not large, are a favorite for my family. You might even get to ride a camel. Try to see a show in the planetarium, too. It's incredibly inspiring. The best part: kids are free in 2014. (And the petting zoo / gardens are always free.)
For the convention I recommend you bring:
1. A notebook & pen. Old school is best sometimes. Sure you can bring gadgets too, but don't forget the notebook and pens.
2. A rolling cart or suitcase. Bags of curriculum are heavy and sometimes flimsy. Plus you don't want your feet AND your hands hurting. Ask me how I know.
3. Bottled water. This is one complaint I've heard from an out of town convention attendee - there's no one handing out bottled water. It's true - most likely no one is going to hand you free water. There are water fountains around, but if you want bottled water, prepare to buy it at the Starbucks in the lobby or bring it from home.
4. Phone / gadget charger. Nothing like trying to meet up with your family when your cell battery is dead.
5. Snacks. Food inside the convention center is mostly overpriced and the lines can be crazy long. You can find a decent meal for not too much money outside the convention center (Panera, Chipotle, and others are located a few blocks away) but you might want to be prepared with a few granola bars or something to hold off mealtime.
So, have you visited Cincinnati? What are your favorite tips for enjoying a homeschool convention?
If you're thinking about attending the MidWest Homeschool Convention - and let me know if you are, I'd love to meet you in person! - please consider using my affiliate link. Thanks! See my disclosure page for more about affiliate links.
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