5 Ways to go Tropical in Cincinnati


Cincinnati, on the cusp of the Mason-Dixon Line in Southwest Ohio, is nearly 1,110 miles from the tropics. However, there are several ways to have a tropical, or subtropical experience in and around the Queen City.

Pirates Cove Bar & Grill
Tucked away in the Four Seasons marina, this tropically themes eatery is essentially the back deck of the fancier Four Seasons restaurant which sits among the boats in the center of the marina. Pirates Cove features tropical drinks, food, and live music through the summer. Up the hill is the Sand Bar, a mostly outdoor, beach-themed bar and has several sand volleyball courts.

King's Island Soak City
This section of Kings Island amusement park opened in 1989 under the name WaterWorks. When Paramount, the moving picture and TV folks, owned the park, the area was known as Crocodile Dundee's Boomerang Bay, then just Boomerang Bay after Paramount sold all its parks to Cedar Fair. Free with park admission, you could really spend a whole day in Soak City. There is the usual collection of slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river. Adjacent to the wave pool is Pipeline Paradise, an artificial surfing attraction. It's a lot harder than it looks, and expect a line on hot, crowded days.

Newport Aquarium
The anchor, as it were, of the Newport on the Levee shopping and restaurant complex, the Newport Aquarium has been attracting visitors since 1999. While not totally tropical, its themed areas do include Rain Forest, Amazon, and Coral Reef. There is also a Shark Central which features one of the facilities 14 seamless acrylic tunnels. Feeling too tropical? Visit what is perhaps the most popular area of the aquarium Kroger Penguin Palooza.

Krohn Conservatory
This Art Deco style conservatory was built in 1933 and replaced the original Eden Park greenhouse that was built in 1894. It definitely doesn't look as big on the outside as it does on the inside, housing more than 3,500 plant species across seven collections including tropical. There is also an indoor waterfall and mini cave. Special collections are rotated in and out periodically.

Jimmy Buffett Concert
A bit of strange tale this. In 1985 Jimmy Buffet was a '70s era singer/songwriter, touring primarily as a nostalgia act. Known for songs like "Margaritaville" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise," his country-flavored tropical tunes provided an evening of fun and a party-like atmosphere for concert goers. During a stop in Cincinnati that particular year, at Kings Islands' Timberwolf Amphitheater, he noticed almost everyone was dressed in Hawaiian shirts. One of the members of his band suggested that the fans be dubbed Parrotheads, inspired by the Grateful Dead's legion of fans known as Deadheads. And it stuck. Buffett, a native of Alabama with no apparent ties to Ohio, became hugely popular in the area, while his following remained steady elsewhere. By the early '90s, he was playing multiple sold out shows at the Riverbend Music Center and was again releasing new material. The fervor has died down since, but he still plays here once a year to a sold-out Riverbend, packed with enthusiastic Parrotheads.

P.F. Wilson is a freelance writer who has lived in Cincinnati for over 20 years. He's been published in magazines and newspapers across the country and hosts his own comedy podcast.