A Locals Guide to Cincinnati With Daytrip Recommendations
Updated: Oct 1, 2021
Written By: Jon Shumaker
Cincinnati has been my current place I have lived for these last 8 years. As a person I have always tried to follow the advice of a Navy chief, to always treat the place you are as a tourist/explorer. To often people become to settled in their normal routine and have limited knowledge of a place that they have been for much of their lives. My journey may have started on a cycling trip up the eastern coast of the States but will end when it is meant to end. My hope is that folks can be inspired to check-out that new coffee place to find the best Flat White (or whatever your favorite coffee drink might be), the small burger joints, or even Hispanic markets/restaurants for the most authentic. Change and the unknown is the best way to develop as people, for in the face of adversity we become something more than we were. This has been my little bit of a soapbox on what my goals are and now it is time for the must does and someday/weekend trip information.
First and foremost is the coffee of course! For people who think that a certain overpriced chain coffee store with coffee that tastes burnt is the best, keep going there. For me, the best indicator of a real coffee shop is that they only offer one size. If you want a place with good seating and coffee (along with alcoholic drinks at the latter two) there are three standouts. Rohs Street café by the University of Cincinnati makes great coffee with plenty of spread-out seating. It might not look like much from outside, but it is worth a visit. Bean & Barley is busy for a reason, they make a true cup of joe (and the probably the best flat white in town, but the owner/manager should make it) and offer on tap/bottle some of the area’s finest beers. The Upside Brew is a new shop in a location that was formerly occupied by a lady that retired and it is looking to maintain the reputation. The flat white is spotty on quality, but the other drinks tend to be good along with excellent alcoholic drinks. The standout part is the space and atmosphere. A great place to chill and in the evenings, you often can get a good conversation. For drive-thru or stand only, Urbana Cafe is my favorite. They have one size and usually get a good flat white (especially when my favorite barista is working), along with high overall quality. For the purists out there, this is the place to go. The best purist place is 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab by Washington park. This is one size coffee done right and if you are a flat white fan, the cappuccino is made like a flat white. If you are looking for a true small-town shop with outstanding coffee, the Branch Hill Coffee Company is the place. For an interesting café that fits it's name, Sitwell's Coffeehouse Act ll is a good place for a conversation or to read a book. They also have an open mic night on Tuesday evenings. For a upscale café, go to Caffe Vivace in Walnut Hills, they have live jazz music 6 nights a week, with quality cocktails, coffee drinks, and food. The hot chocolate in a unique and smooth blend also if you want a change from coffee. Cincinnati has many small, local coffee shops and most that have been open for some time is probably decent. They also have to be better than burnt coffee, so explore the senses.
If you are looking for doughnuts, you are in luck for cake and yeast in the general area. Holman’s Donut Shop in OTR is known for their cake doughnuts and is a must go if your near Washington Park. For yeast go to California Market Place if you do a day trip to Augusta, KY.
Findlay Market at night.
One of the many local street musicians
. Washington Park: Art in the park.
The selection of local markets in the area is good, with one standout. Findlay Market (FM) in OTR is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) in Ohio and is a must for any visitor or local. On the weekends a nice mix of small local vendors sell their wares, food, and plants. With several outstanding butcher shops, bakeries, produce sellers. My personally favorites reflect what I care about in life, unique and quality foods. Bee Haven has great local honey, and the owners are wonderful. They also carry many unique types of honey (my favorites are Buckwheat for cooking and Blueberry Blossom for tea). For a place for imported foods and house made Greek food, Dean’s Mediterranean Imports is my favorite. Try the hot meals by the register for a cheap and tasty meal. Also, they import French macarons, and they are the best I have had (less sweet, with more flavor). The baklava is house made unlike most places and well worth trying. To satisfy the chocolate craving, head over to Maverick Chocolate Co. They are an internationally awarded bean-to-bar company with a great story about their FM location history. For real tea fanatics out there, Churchill’s Fine Tea’s is a must. The selection is incomparable, and the tea samples is one of my traditions. For amazing fudge, go to Gibbs Cheese in the market. For authentic french Crepes Camille & Arnaud make both savory and sweet. The other notable markets are Peddlers Flea Market, Northside Farmers Market, and Covington Farmers Market. If you want the true farm experience, Valley Orchard Farm Fresh Produce has pick-your-own (as well as picked) strawberries, along with other seasonal offerings. It makes for a nice country drive.
To me the most important question is where the best Hispanic stores and restaurants/food trucks are. The best store and second-best Mexican restaurant in Cincinnati are Mi Tierra in Sharonville. With the best Mexican restaurant being San Luis Grill (corn tortillas are made in house). These are additions to grocery stores and usually the best in my experience since very few gringos even know they exist. Veracruz Mexican Grill is good if you are looking for a formal restaurant (I preferred it when it was small, but glad for their success). Taqueria San Marcos is a particularly good authentic Mexican restaurant also in Norwood. For Guatemalan food you must go to East Price Hill. There is a large Guatemalan population there and stores to support them. Maranata Store is the best Hispanic/Guatemalan restaurant in town. They will generally make their own tortillas and is very authentic. The best Guatemalan butcher is the shop next St Lawrence Bakery. My favorite Mexican food trucks are along Queen City Ave called Taqueria Yolandita and Tacos El Joven. For an evening out with live music often on the weekends is Empanadas Aqui (Venezuelan street food). They have that place bouncing in a modern glass building If you want the most authentic ethnic food in any city, go where that population is concentrated. For a quality and authentic lunch spot in Norwood, Taco el Brian is parked in the BP parking lot at Ridge and Madison Rd (by the Crossroads mega campus).
For one of my favorite Hispanic restaurants is a Peruvian place that is busy on the weekend with a dance floor, bar, and restaurant called Sabor Peruano near Sharonville. Peru is known for the first rate ceviche, so this is a must if you like seafood for around $20. You can get a wonderful steak and sides on top of a bunch of fries for around $15. This place is a must if your in the Cincinnati area.
One of the many Cincinnati breweries barrel rooms.
For the local foods, Cincinnati is known for its chili and goetta. The two big chili chains are Skyline Chile and Goldstar Chile, with Skyline getting my vote. But there are a few well known local chili restaurants also that are particularly good Price Hill Chili and Camp Washington Chili. Goetta is a local tradition stemming from the German immigrates trying to stretch the meat further by adding other ingredients. A good place to buy goetta (other German foods as well) are some of the local German butcher shops on West side, Wassler Meats is exceptionally good (Kroger's also carries it now, I believe). Another good butcher shop is R&R Quality Meats (it is the extension of the catering business) that has delicious spreads and the Tony Burger (a must if you want to cook). They also bring in different products special that is of excellent quality. This isn't meat, but the bakery next door has wonderful bread to pair and exquisite small specialty desserts. For a classic seasonal dessert outing, go to the The Root Beer Stand. They make their own root beer.
The ice cream debate is solidly decided with the local favorite Graeter’s. There a many small local and generally seasonal soft serve places to choose from thou. If you want a unique French ice cream parlor that has been open since 1908, go to Aglamesis Bro's. The ice cream is small batch with delicious flavoring. I'd argue that it might be better than Graeter's even and a bit more expensive. For soft serve, a Cincinnati couple spent the summer determining that the Cone Zone in Cheviot has the best soft serve (the local flavor is Blue) and they make their own waffle cones as well (there soft serve is a bit sweeter). For shakes/malts, my favorite is Zip Dip also near Cheviot due to not being as sweet and more unusual flavors. For a bit less sweet and very creamy (thicker texture also) soft serve, the Walker Bros Ice Cream is a good place go. Make sure you try the Cincinnati Blue Raspberry flavor. Two local pizza chains are Dewey’s Pizza and LaRosa’s Pizza. Mr. LaRosa is a very humble man from humble origins, that has made a very Cincinnati flavor.
For ya’ll lovers of southern food, there are several good restaurants in town. My personal favorite is a small and obscure place called Emma’s 3122 in Cheviot. The food is made in house just like momma’s kitchen. There are several places that have excellent southern food as well. Alabama Fishbar in OTR is a local classic with breaded fish. But if you are looking for barbeque, look to Ollie’s Trolly (OT) and Alabama Que as the classics. Alabama Que many consider better for barbeque, but OT has great hamburgers. Ot also has a $9 dollar buffet guaranteed to fill up with some of the best lemonade (sometimes lemonade/tea mix). For probably the best barbeque in town and some of the best I've had, try Just Q'in Barbecue Restaurant. This is a must do for all fans of smoked meat!
If you are looking for fancy dinning and willing to pay for it, there are two must eats. The first is a grade A1 (in reference to the ship insurance rating system, not the steak sauce) steak place with a jacket suggested setting called Jeff Ruby’s Precinct. The other is in the Hilton in the Carew Tower called Orchids at Palm Court. The only Michelin starred restaurant in the city. The Carew Tower is worth visiting as well for the architecture and the skyline observation deck (it is the tallest building in the city if you do not count the Great American Insurance’s crown, which I do not). For a little less expensive, but well plated and good drinks there are a few more. In the downtown/OTR area there are three notable restaurants. The first is the Senate, a pub with gourmet hot dogs and unique toppings, along with local beers and cocktails. The second is Khora with quality food and nice presentation. The third has authentic Spanish tapas, along with entrees and drinks called Chef Jose Salazar Mita's Restaurant. For a hidden gem, the Postmark Restaurant is fine dining with an excellent cooking staff and a extensive wine list. The foods presentation and texture is fabulous. Combined with a knowledgeable serving staff and a calming ambiance, this place is great for a nice evening out or stopping in for a beer. The area also makes for a nice date night. Check out there sister restaurant Red Feather Kitchen in Oakly.
There are numerous local bars but some of the most recommended are a few as a must do. First, the Blind Lemon in Mount Adams has a long list of luminaries who visited it and the Tiffany and wood paneled interior is paired with amazing mixed drinks. My personal favorite is Milky Way. Knock Back Nates is a local favorite in downtown Cincinnati that has excellent wings. Incline Public House in the Incline District has good local beer and food for a reasonable price. The view is amazing with the deck overlooking the city. For a local bar and a good conversation Arlen’s on Ludlow is a nice spot. Also, Arlen’s can make a night out with a small independent film theater and many places to chill near by. The square is often active with live music on weekends and for a great conversation. Near the McMillian street area with some of the best cheap sushi in town. Izen’s Drunken Bento is the best quality, but a bit tight inside. The interior is a nice bare brick if you can get a seat. My personal favorite is Mr. Sushi for working and the conversation with the beautiful waitresses. They also serve Red Stripe warm. If you do a day trip to New Richmond, Skipper’s River Café is recommended. It has a simple menu of wings and burgers on a barge with a river view. For a good selection of local and import beers, Clifton Market near UC has a good selection of reasonably priced beers.
My favorite breakfast/lunch restaurants in the area all have local charm with a unique character. Sunnyside Grill, Proud Rooster (cheap, tasty, and plentiful), Sugar n’ Spice (great tasting and those rubber ducks), The Hitching Post (Fried Chicken), Krishna Indian Restaurant and Carry Out (one of the last survivors of the development), and French Crust Café and Bistro (a great French infused goetta dish). For Italian, the Primavista is a classy place and Giovanni’s Family Italian is classic family cooking for a reasonable price. For an amazing Korean restaurant, go to the Riverside Korean Restaurant in Covington, KY. It has some traditional near floor seating and more traditional American seating. For a tasty experience with multiple small restaurants, go to Oakley Kitchen. They are open Tuesday to Saturday, with Tuesday has open seating. The food is solidly delicious. For fried chicken probably the most famous place is The Eagles OTR, they soak their chicken in buttermilk and you have to pre-order with daily waiting lists. For the best chicken tenders in the the city and maybe anywhere, go to City Bird Tenders. These are lightly fried and moist tenders with many unique sauces.
Cincinnati might be more of a food city than an entertainment destination, but the offerings are plentiful. The historical nature, parks, fine arts, and museums scene is arguable the highlight of the city. The historical center of the city is largely located in the valley and surrounding hills. The cities population was on par with other large stateside cities such as New York and Boston around the 1900’s. That was around the time the subways and trains were introduced to those cities. Around 1920 Cincy started their own subway project, but the politics and the inflation of WW1 ended that with around a mile of track built and several stations. An interesting note, the Liberty Street Station was turned into a bomb shelter during the cold war. You can still see some of the subway infrastructure today with the stairs and formed concrete railing along Central parkway (formerly the Erie Canal and the origins of the name Over-the- Rhine OTR). The subway was a tour offered at the Museum Center until some years ago due to structural and behavior issues. The easy access spots were closed around 2011.
The city was focused on the valley till around the 1870’s with the Inclines allowing for expansion by the masses. Prior to this, only the wealthy had homes in the orchards of the country of the surrounding hills. Now the city has expanded outside of the 275 loop. The remnants of the historical German roots of the city are still evident in the city with the architecture, food, breweries, and names. If you are interested in going to a German mass, Old St. Mary’s Church has a service in German on Sundays and the building is a must see. The OTR neighborhood is the center of the German heritage.
The nature parks and activities are one of the highlights of the city with rivers for kayaking, forested lands, and bike trails. As an active kayaker and hiker, I have found several areas that are my favorite for folks who do not like walking on paved trails. There are two categories of rivers for kayaking: strong current and weak current. If you need to rent a kayak, the Little Miami River offers several full-service options in companies and length of trips. The other option is at the Lake Harsha Beach during the warm months of the year. They often offer small boat rentals and is probably the only beach in the area. The hiking trails at East Fork State park are some of the longest in the area, with the best being around the back area. By the visitor’s center, take the road right before the center and take a left. Around a mile down the road you will find some pull-offs and the best trails in the park. For rivers that have weak currents and good for those who have their own yaks without having to have two staged cars, the beach at the mouth of the Licking River in James Taylor Park is my favorite spot. There are some cool half sunk barges and a tower you can climb about 1.5 hours upstream. In the evening, you can find some of the best skyline views of Cincinnati heading back to the beach.
My favorite small park with excellent trails is Buttercup Valley Preserve. It has miles of trails through rolling hills in-between neighborhoods. Gunpowder Creek has been my favorite year around park since moving here. The park is in a housing development and seems to be nothing, but it is in a horseshoe in the creek that prevents you from getting lost when roaming random trails (or even the many game trails). Also, you can go back many times and find something new every time. In the spring the water gets strong, and you will have to wade the creek to access most of the trails. The highlight for me is a massive foundation of an old plantation house behind the barn, across the river from where the horse camp cabins are located. You can see the remnants of the stone arch at the former path leading up to the house (from the river side). Well worth a visit if you are into history. Eden Park has excellent views, with the Krohns Conservatory and the Cincinnati Art Museum nearby. Good for spending a day in the Mount Adams area (check out the Blind Lemon bar while your there). California Woods Nature Preserve is my favorite springtime park with the Northwest pacific rainforest feel but bring some bug spray. Boone County Cliffs State Nature Preserve in Kentucky is also one of my favorites. If you are looking for one of the most under appreciated and middle of nowhere parks Hartig Park & Wildlife Reserve is one of the best and there is free camping. The Devou Park Sleepy Hollow Rd back entrance is great for trail riding or hiking. There is some challenging trail riding on some of side trails. The old incinerator is a cool old building also. Having lived by Burnet Woods (by University of Cincinnati) might make me a bit biased, but it is a unique place with excellent non-paved trails and a fishing pond. Bring some waxed cardboard with you to, the concrete slide by the center is extremely fast! If you are looking for a good picnic spot to throw a ball around, this is the spot. During the summer, they have a free concert in the park on Wednesday evenings. They have quality local bands and food vendors. When I went, they were doing a 1930's big band set.
There are several exceptionally good, paved bike trails in the area. The most popular is the Loveland Bike trail along the Little Miami River (it goes much further) that makes a good day trip in the warm months with many food options, shopping, and sometimes they have festivals on the weekends. The trail head is at the Little Miami Golf Center. For a long trail through the many small towns along the Great Miami River (trail head is Joyce Park). On the weekends, you can often find a small-town festival during the summer. This trail leads to Dayton and beyond. For mountain bikers, the trails at East Fork State Park and Devou Park are exceptionally good.
I was told once, that to determine the quality of the city go to the zoo, art museum, and botanical garden. The zoo and art museum are both first rate. The zoo is also a botanical garden, but the Krohn Conservatory is also particularly good. If you have kids or just enjoy a very historical building, The Museum Center is a must. If you are looking for unique museums my favorites are the American Sign Museum, Tri-State Warbird Museum, Lucky Cat Museum, Cardboard Boat Museum, Grant Birthplace (those history folks like to talk), Vent Haven Museum (dummy museum), and the Ancient Sculpture Museum. There is a cool and most buried canal tunnel near Harrison’s tomb. You will have to do the army crawl if you want to go down that. The Newport Aquarium is nice, but a bit expensive for my taste.
The two amusement parks in town are quite different but both are worth while for a visit. Coney Island is more old school, and it hosts the yearly Paddle Fest for those human powered boaters. Kings Island has many world class coasters and even a few wooden coasters (bring some pain killer for the inevitable headache). These make for a good day trip.
The casinos are not my forte, but I have been to a few around here. JACK Cincinnati Casino has a wonderful buffet. The Rising Star Casino’s gambling floor is several decks that resembles a riverboat. Newport Racing & Games has horse racing, which can be a nice afternoon even without betting.
The music scene is solid in Cincinnati even though I generally do not partake. There are some small bars with local bands. The local venues are focused near the University of Cincinnati. There are three in the area named Bogarts, Mad Frog, and Ludlow Garage. The larger music venues are River Bend and a new competitor in the Banks downtown.
Two of my favorite unique merchandise stores are not directly in Cincinnati, but both are in areas that deserve a day trip. First is Mr. Grim’s Nostalgic Nook in New Richmond Ohio, you can find every collectible from your childhood in his store. The other is a small toy shop that is a pleasure to go into. The owner is fabulous to talk too and the store is fun for adults. It is called Stoney’s Gift and Toy Shoppe in the Mainstrasse Village in Kentucky. For a very unique world jewelry store that has an unusual open schedule, the D. Raphael on Ludlow Ave in Clifton. For a expansive selection of upscale modern artisan jewelry, OMBRE gallery has a wide selection of international artists. Also, in the Clifton area is Lentz and Company. They sell vintage home goods and local art that has all the pieces and are operate. Nick is an interesting man to talk with as well. If your looking for a good selection of costume jewelry, this is the place.
Ferry at Augusta, KY.
The historical and interesting activities in the area that are my favorite are plentiful in the area. The first is the mini–Brooklyn Bridge in the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge. A trip can be incorporated into a day downtown in the Banks and walking the parks. Carew Tower has wonderful architecture and the best view of the city from the sky deck. The river front parks have a fun play area for kids. Washington park and Music Hall is a must while in OTR. If you want to do a river cruise BB Riverboats will be the place to go. One of the most unique buildings in the area is the Loveland Castle. You can visit the place of knights and dreams. The last notable place is The Cincinnati Mall. This is one of the larger malls in the state and also a statement of the 90’s. Do not openly take pictures.
For sports, the two big names are worth going to, but there are other smaller teams in the area. My favorite is the Cincinnati Rollergirls, it is worth a trip. But if you like baseball that is more for the fun than the quality baseball, checkout Florence Freedom. The Cyclones hockey is a fun evening, if a bit long (it is on the train route).
For an old movie theater experience, the Esquire Theatre has both new releases and independent films (the back concession stand often has local products). They also play the Rocky Horror picture show every other Saturday very late. It is a worth while experience and you have a good laugh. The movie isn't that great but the extras are the experience.
There are several neighborhoods that deserve a special note no special order.
1. Hyde Park: Known for high end shopping, restaurants, and cafes (Awakenings Coffee & Wine know how to make good coffee)
2. Clifton Area: Known for food, music, late bar nights, and cafes.
3. OTR and downtown Cincy: Known for culture, food, events, local markets, breweries, music, museums, river walk, and architecture,
4. Mainstrasse Village, KY: Known for food, local shops, bars, and architecture.
5. Pendleton: Known for breweries, food, art, and architecture. Pendleton Art Center has final Friday every month when they open the floors of artist studios.
6. Mount Adams: Known for historical buildings (try the Mount Adams stairs walk if you want some exercise, an historical Easter walk), art, local shops, food bars, art walks, and history. If you like art and jewelry, check out Upper Eden.
7. Milford: Known for Small Shops and restaurants. An excellent independent outdoors store is there called Roads, Rivers, and Trails.
8. Marimont: Known for bars, shops, theater, breweries, and food. A unique little town.
9. Northside: Known for good vibes, good food, and good beer.
1. Waynesville, OH: Known for antiques and small shops. The nature park nearby is good for hiking and boating. Expression’s tea shop is a lovely place.
2. New Richmond, OH: An up-and-coming small river town with new development. Skipper’s is my favorite place to eat, and it has a river view (on a barge). Stop into the Cardboard Boat Museum. A friendly group of folks ready to have a beer and swap stories. Ask about the famous doctor’s office in the building.
3. Augusta, KY: This is one of my favorite small river towns in the area. On the weekends, this place can get busy and there is a bed & breakfast in town by the river. The Small-Town Gift Shop is good for inexpensive often hand-crafted gifts. Nina’s has many small odds and ends. Her jewelry is highly creative. The Beehive Augusta Tavern and Augusta General Store both have great food. The Hillside Cemetery is unique and has a great view. The Baker-Bird Winery is an award wining winery and good whiskey. On the way stop by the California Marketplace for the yeast doughnuts. Across from the California Marketplace is a Marathon that has boiled peanuts, both regular and Cajun flavored. Ham is my personal favorite, but that is difficult to get this far north. They are not the quality you get in the south, but still good.
4. Dayton, OH: The art museum is a beautiful building with quality international art and a nice river walk. The Oregon Historical district is a must known for food, breweries, and fun! There is an independent theater call The Neon in the area. The 2nd Street Market is a European market and farmers market (see if it reopens after covid). A good breakfast joint is Legacy Pancake House for a local flavor of a Waffle House. They have some good authentic Hispanic food in town also (look for the small restaurants). For parks, the Wegerzyn Gardens Metroparks and Eastwood Metroparks. The low hanging fruit is the Airforce Museum, but is a must do! Go to the base tower where all the planes are parked outside. The guys manning them are interesting (and often bored) and the hut has an amazing bar. The Wright Brothers landmarks and the Parachute Museum (and the area) are worth visiting. There are many bike trails along the river also A bit of a drive from Dayton but nearish is the bicycle museum and the Airstream Factory tour (it was canceled for the construction but check the status).
5. Paris, KY: The town is around 1.5 hours from Cincinnati, but it is worth the drive. They are a small town with a lot to offer. First to address the food scene. For a nicer meal and drink Trackside Restaurant & Bourbon Bar located at the Paris Train Depot, brings the higher end eats to the area. For a highly rated meal by the locals and eat in the tallest 3 story building in the world, check out Paradise Café. I'm told that if your extra sweet you might be able to tour the building. La Esperanza is one of the best authentic Mexican restaurants I've been. The free appetizers are incomparable (checkout the picture below). The pork rinds are real, as are the chips. With a diced tomatoes and guacamole, you can fill up on the appetizers. When you order limes you get 2 quartered fresh limes! The tacos I ordered were filled to the brim with perfectly flavored meat, but the corn tortillas are from a bag. The gals who operate this restaurant and store know how to cook authentic food! If your looking for a local distillery, the Hartfield & Company Distillery is highly rated. One of the most pressing questions is a good cup of coffee. Happy People Coffee Company will you happy with the conversation and the coffee. There is plenty of seating and you can watch the roosting process if your there in the mornings.
For activities, there are several historical buildings, architecture, museums, and a peaceful garden/house tour. For a visit to a tavern Daniel Boone frequented, go to Duncan Tavern. It is now a museum and a headquarters, but you can recreate a bit of history. To add an extension to Henry Clay's Ashland estate in Lexington, visit The Wallis House. It is the headquarters of The Garden Club of Kentucky and those folks live up to what you expect from a garden at it's headquarters. The house is open on a volunteer basis, but if you find them working, you might be able to convince the wonderful gal who lives there to give you a tour. For a local gem, the Hopewell Museum has fixed and rotating exhibits (there are visiting exhibits from Smithsonian). A small town museum, with big flavor! While walking around the downtown area, make sure you pay attention to the architecture. For a unique experience back in history, go to the Bourbon Drive-In Theatre that has new releases on the weekends. Since most have shut-down, this is a rare treat in a town with much to offer.
Appetizers at La Esperanza
6. Madison, IN: The town is a good weekend trip destination about an hour and a half west of Cincy along the Ohio River. The interstate is the faster method, but the Versailles method goes by a few tasty stops. The Amish store Country Creations is always recommended. With amazing doughnuts and unique fry pies (just so you know the taste matches just how unhealthy they are) along with Amish shopping staples, this is a good side trip and it is on the way. Try there deli sandwiches! Save some room, because just down the road is the Honey Jug. A restaurant housed in a log cabin in the middle of no where, so you know it is good. The servers are sweet and the prices are sweeter. This place has the cheapest, quality steak meals around (generally $20 or less). All the sides are good, but those grilled vegetables and fried okra is very good. Madison has numerous wineries and breweries to satisfy every taste. If you want to do the full rounds, you will need a weekend. My personal favorite is Thomas Family Winery for their mead. They also have wine, if you are not a fan of mead. The small coffee shops are all excellent, but for doing work my proffered place is Attic Coffee Mill Café on the corner of Mill Street. This is also a foodie town, but there are a few standouts. For original sliders at a Madison classic, Hinkle's Sandwich Shop is a must. For an amazing salad bar (yes I said that, but try it and you probably will agree) and sea food, go to Key West Shrimp House. For good and low cost Asian, the Hong Kong Kitchen is a must. For those who like to cook, Galena Garlic has unique seasonings and wonderful olive oils.
The town has music festivals, a river walk, and Cliffy Falls State Park. The river walk is good anytime, but my favorite time is at sunset or at night. Cliffy Falls State Park has a resort and very good restaurant in house. The park has many nice trails that are well shaded. There is a small fee to enter the park. Maybe a bit of nature might make a dent in the gastro pleasantries, but indulge this wonderful town