Going to Taste of Cincinnati? These tips will help you have a great time

It's Taste of Cincinnati time! Restaurants from around the Tri-State take over Downtown's Fifth Street to show off their best bites for you to sample.

Taste is big and can be overwhelming, so you need to have a game plan. Here are a few tips to make the festival even more enjoyable.

1. Read this FAQ: We've rounded up answers to frequently asked questions about Taste. Take a look before you go -- it'll help, trust. 

2. Leave your car at home: If you're in Ohio, check Metro for bus schedules, and if you're in Northern Kentucky, you can take either TANK from the NKY suburbs or ride the Southbank Shuttle between Cincinnati, Covington and Newport. There are stops for all public transit near Taste, and you won't have the hassle and expense of paying to park -- and that means more money for food! 

3. Plan ahead: Don't just eat the first thing you see. Invariably, you'll end up walking the length of Taste and see something you want to eat, but have no room for! Take a look at the map, circle your favorites and then do a quick lap around Taste to see what else looks good. Then, you can figure out a strategy for tackling your favorites.

4. Dress for success: This is not the place to rock high heels or dress shoes -- be casual, but comfortable. It's almost always hot, so cotton layers are essential, as are flat, comfortable shoes (You'll be doing a lot of walking). Big purses and backpacks become a drag, so I usually carry a cross-body with some sunscreen and a few bandages. (This event often brings out the blisters.) Drawstring knapsacks work well, too.

5. Try something new: There are always lines for Cincinnati favorites -- but you can get a slice of pizza any day, right? Pick at least one thing to try that isn't on your classics list -- hit a food truck, try some Asian food, pick up a new beer -- and taste how much Cincinnati has changed over the years.  

6. Bring the kids: Yes, the event is kid-friendly, with rides, games and plenty of child-friendly food. The sidewalks behind the tents are a fast way to navigate with strollers.

7. Stay hydrated: And I don't mean with beer. Slip a bottle or two of water into your bag, and make sure to drink it -- at Taste, finding a shady spot can be challenging. Alternatively, go in the evening, when temperatures are cooler.

8. Bring a friend: Or two, or three. There is nothing more fun than sharing bites with a friend, and that also allows you to try more food! Most portions are big enough that everyone can have a bite (or two), so expand your tasting capacity with a group.

9. Take a break: If you get a little too hot or have walked a little too much, there are plenty of great places to take a break from Taste and still enjoy great food and drinks -- and they're right by Taste itself.

Corkopolis: This wine bar and retail shop is just up the street from Taste. Stop in and enjoy a glass of wine -- or a flight, we won't judge. The knowledgeable, friendly staff is happy to make recommendations. 640 Main St., Downtown  

21c Museum Hotel: Whether you are inside at the bar or lounge, or on its rooftop bar, 21c can add a little culture to your Taste weekend. Tour the open-to-the-public art exhibit, then pop upstairs for a Poptail, a popsicle-cocktail combination, and special rooftop bar snacks. 609 Walnut St., Downtown

Renaissance Hotel: The Renaissance Hotel's mod-meets-classic interior has plenty of space to relax with a drink or a bite while sitting near their street-level windows, watching the world (and other Taste-goers) go by. 36 E. Fourth St., Downtown

Top of the Park: Wander down Fourth Street and into the Residence Inn for Top of the Park, a rooftop spot with an excellent view of the river and city. Try a Queen City Mary, a bloody mary topped with a burger, cheese, olives, bacon, onion rings ... it's a meal and a drink! Or go a little simpler with a Top of the Punch or a Rooftop Lemonade. 506 E. Fourth St., Downtown

The Upper Deck: Make your way a few blocks south on Main Street from Fifth Street and take a break at one of the newest rooftop bars in the Queen City. The Upper Deck at AC Hotel Cincinnati at the Banks offers a great view of the Ohio River, along with a nice selection of craft cocktails and beers. 135 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown

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