Over the weekend, I posted two installments of a three-part conversation with Betsa Marsh – Cincinnati  resident, longtime travel writer, and author of Cincinnati Essentials  ($2.99), a handy app available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Filled with colorful photos, useful maps, and detailed content about various museums, attractions, hotels, restaurants, and shops throughout Cincinnati, this interactive app also allows travelers to peruse relevant web pages, mark and sort entries, and leave comments or ask questions of the author.
Given Betsa's extensive knowledge of – and enthusiasm for – Cincinnati, it's no wonder that she felt inspired to create a mobile app for those interested in exploring her hometown – and that she was so willing to chat about the region with a fellow traveler like me. In the first  and second parts  of my interview with Betsa, she shared her favorite aspects of “The Queen City,” described her experience as a history docent for the Cincinnati Museum Center , and provided a few recommendations for outdoor and indoor activities. Additionally, she offered suggestions regarding the best places to find local goods and artwork, catch the city's best views, relish a little romance, and enjoy some time with the kids.
So, if you're still curious about Cincinnati, here's the third – and final – part of my interview with Betsa:
American Nomad: Which lodging, dining, shopping, and sightseeing options would appeal to those on a budget?
Betsa Marsh: Cincinnati has a reputation as a frugal town – maybe it's all those Germans who founded savings and loans on every street corner. We love a bargain, so we zero in on free admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum , free Sundays at the Taft Museum , and free Monday evenings at the Contemporary Arts Center .
Cincinnati is one of the few cities remaining with free public parks, and they pop up all over the region – you're never far from one. The Krohn Conservatory , a glorious conservatory from 1933, and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum  are free, but welcome donations, of course. The birthplace of President William Howard Taft , a national historic site, welcomes everyone for free, as does the magnificent St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica  in Covington, Kentucky. If you visit in the fall, Riverfest  and Oktoberfest  have free admission downtown.
AN: Since summer has now given way to fall, I wonder... what are some of the highlights of visiting Cincinnati in each season?
BM: Spring is a great time to get out into the parks – Cincinnati has one of the largest urban park systems in the country. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden  plants thousands of spring bulbs, as does Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum : Their displays draw people from all over the country. Spring Grove even has its own patented dogwood tree, which shows off in spring.
Summer is Reds season, with families heading to Great American Ball Park  and the Reds Hall of Fame . Again, the city parks are ready for picnics, and the Cincinnati Pops  perform in neighborhoods throughout the summer. We always say goodbye to summer with a giant bang – Riverfest Fireworks on Labor Day weekend. It's a tradition that families have kept for generations, and the good thing now is that it's alcohol-free, so it really is a family affair. Fall is also the start of the new theater, symphony, and ballet seasons.
Each winter, Fountain Square  is the spot for ice skating, with a rink nearly as big as Rockefeller Center's. Santa rappels down the side of Macy's, and you can bundle up and take the carriage ride around Fountain Square. Then pop into any of the restaurants ringing the Fountain, which glows with thousands of lights. North of the city, Sharon Woods Village  brings our ancestors' holidays to life in a collection of original vintage buildings.
AN: Are there any special annual events in and around Cincinnati that visitors should be sure not to miss?
BM: Each September, we go nuts for our German heritage with Oktoberfest – the second-largest next to Munich's. The English and Scots settled Cincinnati first, but two huge waves of German immigration followed, and the Teutonic streak runs deep. So, definitely come downtown, drink some local Moerlein beer, eat some wurst, and shake your tail feathers in the chicken dance.
AN: What are some of your favorite excursions beyond Cincinnati?
BM: We are so blessed to be in the heart of a fascinating tristate area: Kentucky and Southern hospitality are just a bridge away over the Ohio, and Indiana is just a few miles west. Lexington and Louisville are great city escapes, but I especially love Shakertown at Pleasant Hill in Kentucky, with the largest collection of original Shaker buildings – book a little house and spend the night. In Indiana, Indianapolis is the city for sports, shopping, and nightlife. On the other side of the spectrum, Madison is a great old Ohio River town frozen in time, great for antiquing and snuggling under the covers in a grand old antebellum B&B.
In the meantime, do you have any cherished memories or helpful tips to share about Cincinnati? If so, I'm all ears – and so is Betsa!
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.
Photo of the costumed woman courtesy of Eric Ward / Screen shot of the Cincinnati Essentials  app courtesy of Betsa Marsh / Text © 2012 Laura Martone