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Our Yearly Pilgrimage

Cincinnati Museum Complex

A replica of the Cincinnati Union Station Museum complex. It looks very similar to this except for the Model-T cars out front!

For the past 5 or 6 years, my family and I have been making a yearly pilgrimage to a place we found when we were looking for a short trip to get away from our little bubble.  It has become part of the fabric of our family and the source of many memories together.

What is this place?  It’s a converted train station in Cincinnati, OH- about an hour and a half away.  But it’s not just any old train station, it’s a 1930s art deco style train station that has been converted into museum space called The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.

It’s absolutely beautiful!  The main lobby, once the central terminal, is an immense, three-story rotunda with large archways that lead to the various museum complexes.

Mural in Cincinnati Union Station Museum complex

Part of the beautiful mosaic mural in the rotunda of the Cincinnati Union Station Museum complex

Then there is the stunning mosaic mural wrapped around the back wall of the rotunda depicting the cultural heritage of the United States and Cincinnati, with a particular emphasis on local industry.  This was created by Winold Reiss, a German artist who had emigrated to the United States and made a name for himself by painting Native Americans in the American West.  It is such a colorful and intricate mural- I’d love to be a fly so that I could get up close and examine the thousands of tiny glass tiles used to create it!

The complex is home to the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science, the Cincinnati History Museum, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, and an OMNIMAX theatre.  It also has a space for traveling exhibits. (Such as the amazing Dead Sea Scrolls that we saw there last year!)  Our family loves the Natural History and Cincinnati History museums.  The others are great, but there’s only so much you can see in one afternoon!

Hamming it up in front of the Cincinnati Natural History Museum

Hamming it up in front of the Cincinnati Natural History Museum

Here you see my family in rare form in front of the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science.  If you look closely, you can see the art deco sign above us and the gigantic mammoth skeleton through the entrance.

Our utmost favorite exhibit in this museum is THE CAVE.  It is an actual replica of a cave that you must traverse through, sidestepping waterfalls and inching through narrow passageways along realistic-looking rock walls.  There’s even a bat exhibit inside of it with live bats!

Model Train display of Cincinnati from the Cincinnati History Museum

Part of Cincinnati History Museum’s immense model train display of the city.

Our other favorite museum, the Cincinnati History Museum, is a goldmine for those who love model trains.  (My eldest son counting among them!)  Through the entrance, there is a scale model of Cincinnati with model trains running throughout it.  There are computer terminals scattered throughout the exhibit that explain the various landmarks and the lighting is sequenced from day to night as you walk through the exhibit.  It is a wonder!

Working on train at Cincinnati History Museum

A man working on one of the model trains used in the museum’s model of Cincinnati.

On our last trip there we got to see something that not many visitors get to witness.  We were passing through other exhibits and came upon an open door to what looked like a workshop.  When we peeked in, a man asked us if we’d like to come in and take a look around.

It took us a few minutes to realize that this was the actual underbelly of the model train exhibit with the electrical wires that connected to all the model trains above us.  It was fascinating and so gracious of the men who worked there to give us a private tour!

Hofbrauhaus Newport

My son and I enjoying the atmosphere at the Hofbrauhaus in Newport, KY

Our last stop before heading home has also become a tradition.  It is the Hofbrauhaus in Newport, KY- a mere 10 minutes away.  It’s based on the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany and lives up to its name.  It contains a large beer hall and an even larger beer garden. (Which we’ve never been in since its always winter when we go!) They brew their own lagers and have an extensive bavarian menu.  The kids love it, as well, because there is plenty of variety for them.  Its a win/win!

I’m happy to share our yearly little pilgrimage.  No matter what the rest of the year looks like, we can always look forward to OUR PLACE and know that we’ll be getting a mini-break from it all.

Does your family have a similar place?  What has become your familiar stomping grounds when you need a break?

Next week I promise to get back to the business of art- making and share a new series that I’ve begun.

Until then, Have a Wonderful Week!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. We don’t really have anything like this, and your post inspires me. I wish we did have a family trip we did somewhere annually. I’d really like to start a new tradition! Will have to think of something.

    February 21, 2014
  2. I’m sure there are plenty of places up in the Cleveland area. We also love Chagrin Falls which is up near you. I’d love to hear how it goes and specifically where you go. (Maybe it could be a yearly trip to see Columbus and us!:))

    February 23, 2014

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