Are you pumped for Taste of Cincinnati? We are!
There’s no better way to kick off the “officially unofficial” beginning of summer, and there’s nothing quite like this yearly celebration of all things food, drink, music, and culture:
Begun in 1979, Taste of Cincinnati is celebrating its 40th annual event—making it the longest-running public culinary festival in the nation.
With more than half a million guests expected to participate in the festivities, it’s also one of the largest and most popular street festivals in the country, too.
More than 40 local restaurants and food trucks will be on hand to serve hundreds of delicious and unique dishes, craft beers, cocktails and more.
Continuous live entertainment is on the menu, with five main music stages and dozens of local, regional, and national artists on the bill.
With no admission fee and plates ranging from $3-$6, it’s an affordable way to spend an afternoon and sample some amazing food! Plus, it’s kid-friendly.
While Taste of Cincinnati is definitely one of our favorite yearly traditions, it can be pretty overwhelming for the uninitiated—or those simply struggling with foot or ankle pain. It’s great fun, but you’d better be prepared for it! Here are some tips to help you have a positive experience.
Know How You’re Getting There (and Where You’re Going to Park)
With so many people flooding into downtown, transportation and parking is going to be an issue. You’re just going to have to accept it!
Fifth Street is going to be shut down between Main and Sentinel, along with most of the cross streets there between Fourth and Sixth.
There are several parking garages in the area—the festival recommends Fountain Square (enter on Vine), Fourth & Main, and the Sixth Street & Sycamore garage. But competition for spots is going to be fierce! If your feet are up to it, you may consider parking a little further away and giving yourself a little extra exercise.
Of course, if you don’t want to deal with the hassle, you might instead choose to take public transit—or even park a mile (or several) away from downtown and bus the rest of the way.
All four of the following options will take you right to the festival front door. Though of course, you’ll have to educate yourself beforehand on scheduled departures and arrivals so you can plan your day:
Metro Bus (covers much of SW Ohio)
Tank Bus (covers a good chunk of the Kentucky suburbs)
Bell Connector (connects Downtown to Over-the-Rhine)
Prepare for Crowds (and A Lot of Standing)
Packing so many people into just four blocks means you’ll be dealing with some congestion, occasionally long lines, and—perhaps most importantly—not exactly a ton of available seating within the festival area proper. In order to maximize your comfort:
Wear comfy, supportive shoes (super important)
Don’t dress too warmly (or if you do, give yourself a removable layer). It can get HOT, if not from the air temperature than at least from all the people, motion, and heat radiating up from the street. Sunscreen and a hat are recommended.
Try not to overpack, as big backpacks and purses can be a major drag.
However, do not forget to bring along some water! Water tends to be scarce at the festival itself, so pack your own. (Don’t try to pack your own booze, though—definitely not allowed.)
Be patient. For the most part everyone is friendly! But things take time.
Take breaks as necessary. While you might not be able to find a seat right there on Fifth, you might be able to pop a squat along a neighboring street, or in a nearby restaurant, hotel, or park.
Do a “Scouting Mission” First
It can be tempting to get excited and buy up the first two or three delicious plates you see—only to run out of either money or stomach space before you’ve even halfway through the crowd.
Even though there’s an absolutely insane amount and variety of choices available, it’s still only four or five blocks to cover. So do yourself a favor and make a complete food-free lap first. Check out what’s available, then make your game plan. You can’t eat it all—no matter how delicious it looks!—but you can at least prioritize the best of the best.
You can also check the full menu ahead of time at the Taste of Cincinnati website.
Go Hungry—But Not Necessarily That Hungry
How much you sample at the Taste of Cincinnati will depend on your budget (and how many mouths you have to feed!) Remember that while per-plate costs top out at about $6, they’re typically half portions (or less) compared to full restaurant meals.
So, if you’re already ravenous and expect to fill yourself up at Taste—and we’re not saying you necessarily shouldn’t do that, either!—expect that you’re probably going to pay a bit more than regular restaurant price for a full meal’s worth of food. For a family of four or five, that can get pricey!
It’s not a bad idea to figure out beforehand about how much money you want to spend, and then adjust your hunger level to match.
A very important point! Not all vendors will be set up with the capability to accept payment cards. There are tons of nearby ATMs if you’re really in a jam, but it’s always better to take some along beforehand so you can skip the lines and potential fees.
Bring a Buddy
It’s always better to go with a friend, family, or group. Divide and conquer! You have more fun and you get to try and share more delicious treats. Plus, the fewer cars y’all have to take, the less frustrated we’ll all be!
Piece of cake, right?
Of course, if your feet are prone to aching after only a few minutes on your feet—or they just hurt all the time—you might need a bit of a tune up before braving the festival. Fortunately, our experienced foot and ankle physicians can help with that.
Give us a call toll free at (888) 689-3317 to schedule at an office location near you. We have five convenient locations in Ohio and one in Northern Kentucky.