The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau has given Downton Abbey fans a reason to visit the Ohio city. Lady Cora Grantham, one of the British show’s major characters, comes from a line of wealthy Cincinnatians that inherited their money during the city’s first economic boom. As such, the CVB created a guided walking or bus tour itinerary for groups to explore “Cora’s Cincinnati,” which highlights several historical sites that existed during Cora’s childhood from 1868 to 1888.
“[The timeframe of Cora’s childhood] was a real boom-time for Cincinnati, and so many of the treasures of the city that a young woman would have enjoyed are still what gives our city character and appeal today,” says Randie Adam, director of marketing for the CVB. “This is a great tour for a meeting planner to really let their attendees get to know Cincinnati as their host city and imagine walking in the footsteps of one of their favorite characters.”
The Cincinnati Redstockings (now the Cincinnati Reds) were established in 1881 as the first major league baseball team in the U.S. Groups can visit the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame where they can experience the Place of the Fans Theater — a 90-seat movie theater themed as an old ball park — or participate in interactive fielding and pitching zones or take the microphone and call plays in the recreated broadcast booth. Groups of 15 or more can also go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Great American Ball Park and see the press box, dugout and FOX Sports Ohio Champions Club.
Another stop on the Downton Abbey tour includes Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, which began producing craft beers in 1853. Shut down during prohibition, the company didn’t resurface until 2004 when Cincinnatian Greg Hardman opened the Moerlein Lager House situated along the Ohio River. Groups can schedule a Cincinnati Beer Heritage and Brewery Tour with the onsite brewmaster. It includes a lesson in Cincinnati’s German beer history and a beer tasting.
Graeter’s ice cream, founded in 1870, serves up French Pot Ice Cream — a delicious stop along the tour. Adam says, “Graeter’s ice cream is a Cincinnati experience no group should miss and one of my personal favorites. They haven’t changed their methods for making their ice cream since Cora’s time because they perfected it then.”
Other stops along the tour include the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, which opened in 1875 as the second zoo in the U.S.; the Cincinnati Observatory, established in 1842 as the first observatory in the U.S. with a high-powered telescope; and Cincinnati’s Music Hall, opened in 1878 housing the largest collection of Italianate architecture in the U.S. The Roebling Suspension Bridge — the longest of its kind in the world — The Cincinnatian Hotel and the city’s famous Fountain Square are other historic highlights.
“This tour would be a fascinating way for history lovers to experience how much Cincinnati’s history has been preserved and cherished throughout all of the city’s remarkable progress,” says Adam. “To see Music Hall, a structure that has been around since the time of Cora’s family and horse-drawn carriages, as the historic and beloved building that it still is today, truly tells the story of Cincinnati’s rich heritage.”