During our many years of traveling across the United States together, my husband, Dan, and I have encountered several routes more than once. Interstate 65 through Louisville, Kentucky, is one such route. In fact, we typically see the “Derby City” every spring and fall, while making our seasonal trek between northern Michigan and New Orleans. Depending on our schedule, we've even been known to make side trips along this rather lengthy route, though there's one city that we've never had the chance to visit – Cincinnati, Ohio  – which, like Louisville, sits alongside the serpentine Ohio River.
It's definitely on our wish list, though, and luckily, I've just discovered a handy mobile app (available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices) that could help guide us on our first visit to Cincinnati. Produced by Sutro Media  and created by fellow Society of American Travel Writers  member and Cincinnati resident Betsa Marsh, Cincinnati Essentials  ($2.99) is chock-full of photos and recommendations, plus a citywide map.
For several decades, Betsa has explored and written about all aspects of Cincinnati for periodicals like The Cincinnati Enquirer (for which she was a staff writer), National Geographic Traveler, Hemispheres, and Midwest Living, among others. Although she frequently travels the globe, chronicling her adventures as well as her finds on Globespinners  and Britain on the Cheap , she always loves returning home to “The Queen City.” Given her longtime exposure to Cincinnati, I thought she'd be an ideal expert to help me (and, of course, you!) learn more about one of the country's oldest cities. Her passion for Cincinnati is, after all, infectious, and not surprisingly, she has so much to share about the town's best facets, attractions, and diversions that I've decided to present my conversation with her in three parts.
Here, then, is the first part:
American Nomad: Based on the author bio that's included in your Cincinnati app, I know that you've extensively covered the city in various periodicals, from The Cincinnati Enquirer to National Geographic Traveler. So, I'm just wondering... what do you love most about Cincinnati?
Betsa Marsh: Cincinnati will never be confused with Portland, of course, but it's a charming old river town that goes back to the very earliest days of the Republic. It's a comfortable place to live, and I find it very supportive of the community and the arts – we do have a great tradition of parks, museums, theaters, musical groups, and orchestras. There's something fun and fascinating to do every day. And we really don't take ourselves all that seriously – we still answer to “Porkopolis,” our mid-1800s nickname when Cincinnati was the pork packer to the world. And we shake our tail feathers in the world's largest chicken dance at Oktoberfest  – there's nothing dignified about that, trust me.
AN: I also discovered that you trained as a volunteer history docent at the Cincinnati Museum Center , which sounds fascinating to me. So, how long did you lead such tours, and what did you love most about that experience?
BM: I was an active history docent for nine years, after completing the 12-month training program. I worked with other docents to develop tours of Greater Cincinnati and the region, and we could follow our bliss. I created a program around the 100th anniversary of Alice Roosevelt's marriage to Cincinnatian Nicholas Longworth, and that was a fun way to dive into presidential history. I also led a tour into Cincinnati's Jewish heritage – many people don't realize that Cincinnati is the birthplace of Reform Judaism in America.
AN: What made you decide to create a mobile app for visitors to Cincinnati?
BM: I've been researching and writing about this region for decades, then leading history tours. I wanted to try out the new app platform and see how it worked – it's a funny sort of combo of writing and tour guiding. It's always good to try a new medium.
AN: Which activities would you most recommend for outdoor enthusiasts?
BM: The Segway tour through Eden Park is a great start: You'll overlook the Ohio River, roll past the Presidential Grove, and learn a bit about the city's past. East of town, the Little Miami Bike Trail  wanders through towns along the Little Miami Scenic River – great for cycling, Rollerblading, walking, and picnicking. The Ozone Zipline  whips through the trees near Kings Island , and in winter, you can ski Indiana at Perfect North Slopes .
If you're still curious about Cincinnati, stay tuned for the second part  of my interview with Betsa. In the meantime, you can explore other destinations in the region with the help of Douglas Trattner's Moon Cleveland , Theresa Dowell Blackinton's Moon Kentucky , and my own Moon Michigan  guide.
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below, contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com, or connect with me on Facebook  and Twitter .
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Cover of Cincinnati Essentials  app courtesy of Betsa Marsh / Text © 2012 Laura Martone