Cincinnati makes a fine, laid-back stop. Neon troves, European-tinged neighborhoods and a steamboat-themed ballpark are among the local pleasures. Everything splashes along the banks of the Ohio River, Cincy's backbone. Bonus for border fans: elegant bridges let you walk over the waterway into Kentucky, where antebellum mansions suddenly appear.
Mount Adams is a 19th-century enclave of twisting streets, Victorian town houses and jazzy little bars on a rise overlooking the city. Over-the-Rhine, an old German neighborhood, has morphed into a hipster playground of farm-to-table bistros and brewery tap rooms. The Banks is a downtown riverfront district edged with eateries. Cool-cat Northside flaunts record stores and taverns with killer jukeboxes.
What else to do? The American Sign Museum glows with retro neon marquees. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center showcases Cincinnati's role in helping slaves escape to the north. The Cincinnati Art Museum exhibits a worthy collection, heavy on European masters. And pro baseball's first team, the Reds, play at panoramic Great American Ballpark, right by the river.