With 10 national championships to their name and another 76 conference titles to boot, the Cincinnati Bearcats boast more than century of athletic tradition. Though the student athletes thrive in many different sports, the basketball program?which won back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1961 and 1962?is the school's crown jewel. Before embarking on a professional career that earned him a spot among the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, The Big O cut his hard-court skills for the Bearcats, averaging a staggering 33.8 points per game in his three years at UC. In more recent years, the Bearcats football team has enjoyed its own run as a true contender, earning bowl berths in 2009, 2011, and 2012. In both 2011 and 2012, the squad pounced on their postseason opponents, taking home glittering trophies to use as tackling dummies in training camp.
Founded in 1963 at a local YMCA, the Cincinnati Ballet grew into a major regional company by adhering to its mission to express the human experience through dance. Today, it continues upholding that vision by housing resident artists who entertain audiences with dance performances of both classic and original work. Beyond supporting local audiences and their right to clap, the Cincinnati Ballet also seeks to nurture artists through the Otto M. Budig Academy. There, a professional faculty trains aspiring performers at all skill levels. These training opportunities are supplemented by outreach programs such as CincyDance!, which provides free training and dance attire to children.
Among the city's best bars and nightclubs according to CityBeat's Best of Cincinnati poll, The Comet draws crowds with live music, a menu of classic Mexican favorites, and a massive selection of suds. Start a salutatory mouth soiree with a plate of nachos crowned by cheese, sour cream, black beans, and jalapeños ($7.50), or begin with a salsa sampler featuring a quartet of house-made salsas, one for each of your taste buds ($5). Like savory, soft piñatas, chicken, beef, or tofu burritos come stuffed with black and/or pinto beans, rice, cheese, and salsa ($6), and chile con queso gives tortilla chips a refreshing dairy bath in white-cheese dip ($4). A Sunday brunch starting at 11 a.m. helps give the weekend a flavorful hybrid-meal finish.
A lot of Cincinnati history lies within the brick walls of Cincinnati Gardens. Its construction alone was a major feat for the city; when it opened in 1949, only six arenas in the country were larger, and its first hockey game drew the largest ever crowd in the city under one roof. Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge set another attendance record there on a campaign stop in 1960, and daredevil Delilah Wallenda performed a netless high-wire walk there twice, 70 feet above sheer ice. Gardens visitors can explore many of the arena's past thrills in the Legends Museum, a huge collection of sports and entertainment memorabilia that's free to the public before and during events.
The Cincinnati Film Festival showcases moving pictures from all over the globe from October 8 to October 16. Your all-day pass (a $20 value) gets you access to a full day of screenings and workshops. Start your cineday with the Shorts Block 9, a collection of short films playing at the Esquire Theater, and then hop over to Main St. Cinema to catch "Runaways: Producing In Ohio," as a panel of local industry insiders discuss the past, present, and future of Ohio film production. Locavores can cheer on hometown heroes at the Esquire during 48 Hour Film Project: Take 2, a mash-up of mini-movies produced by Cincinnati filmmakers, before indulging in behind-the-scenes voyeurism with a screening of Saturday Night, a 90-minute Saturday Night Live documentary directed by actor James Franco. The weeklong film fest's Awards Gala will be held on Friday, October 15 at Memorial Hall, where a special award will be presented to musician/TV personality/producer Nick Lachey for his contributions to the local production community. A ticket to the gala (a $25 value) gives formal-loving filmophiles an excuse to break out tuxes and ball gowns, as this gala is black-tie optional with a required tweed-based business-dress minimum. Check the program guide for a complete list of screenings. Organizers recommend you arrive at all events 30 minutes ahead of time to procure the best seats in the house, away from the permanent front-row installations of 10-gallon hats and actual honey-filled beehives.