Travel to the Moon in Cincinnati

January 9, 2020

We’ve loved every visit to Cincinnati, and specifically to the Cincinnati Museum Center. The grand Art Deco structure, still active as Union Terminal, houses multiple museums, exhibitions, Omnimax movies, and special events. In the past we’ve seen everything from Lego sculptures to Star Wars costumes to Egyptian artifacts.

The latest exhibition, which appeals to our space-obsessed 8-year-old Owen, is Destination Moon. It’s a special traveling show – only on view through February 17, 2020 – all about the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The folks from CincyUSA invited us to see the show, so we turned it into a full day trip!

Our guiding principle when we travel is Food, Park, Drink, Art. We like to experience all four of those things, so we started first with a visit to the Findlay Market.

Since it was the first Saturday in January, we caught the market at a quiet time. The usual farmers market vendors weren’t present, but we popped into the market building for waffles from Taste of Belgium (now that the Columbus tall closed!), croissants from Blue Oven Bakery, cheese from Silverglades Deli.

We strolled across the street to one of Deeper Roots Coffee‘s retail shops. The long, narrow space was humming with activity.

We snuck out with an iced pour over and a honey latte, both excellent.

But let’s get the astronaut to the launch pad! We drove up to the magnificent Union Terminal building, originally built as the train station (and still operating as one) but now serving to house multiple museums.

Destination Moon features artifacts from the Apollo 11 mission, including the actual Columbia command module itself! It’s incredible to stand there just few away from the actual vehicle that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon and back.

They’ve popped out the hatch so you can see both sides of it.

There are interactive pieces, videos, photos, and other pieces of equipment, like one of the fuel injector pads, Buzz Aldrin’s EVA helmet and gloves, and samples of thermal insulation tiles.

My favorite piece was a little swatch of fabric (near the upper left) from the wing of the Wright brothers’ 1903 flyer. Neil Armstrong took the fabric on the Apollo 11. I love the connection between these two pioneers – both from Ohio! – and how Armstrong honored the Wright brothers’ contributions to flight that eventually led the space program.

Running in conjunction with Destination Moon is an exhibition titled A New Moon Rises, featuring photography from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a satellite taking beautiful, high-res photos of the lunar surface. It gives you a sense of the scope and shape of the moon’s features.

And while Destination Moon moves on after February 17, the Cincinnati Museum Center has a permanent Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery. (Armstrong once sat on the board of the directors for the museum.) The gallery includes more interactive exhibitions and artifacts, like a piece of moon rock and parts of Armstrong’s suit from Apollo 11.

It might seem a little mean to include this, since the exhibition has closed, but while at the Museum Center we visited the annual Holiday Junction show, featuring trains of all sizes, including a huge Lego display. It’s done for this season, but look for it again later this year!

And there’s much to do throughout the whole Museum building, including the History Museum, the Children’s Museum, and much more. Be sure to visit Tower A, the control tower that overlooks the active Union Terminal railyard.

You can buy Discovery Passes that give you access to almost everything in the museum, except for special exhibitions and Omnimax movies.

If you’re a space enthusiastic, or you have one in the family, we recommend seeing Destination Moon through February 17!

We spent more than four hours in the museum, so we were famished. We drove back to Over-the-Rhine for lunch at Quan Hapa. It’s long been on my list to try.

Quan Hapa serves a mix of Asian cuisines, from ramen to Korean fried wings to Filipino barbecue to okonomiyaki. We dug in heartily, enjoying the quiet and cozy confines on a cold January day.

And then we walked across the street to family-favorite Holtman’s Donuts.

On the way out of town, we visited Madtree Brewing‘s giant taproom and brewery in Oakley, just off I-71. They moved to the new facility in 2017.

The expansive taproom features multiple bars and taprooms. There’s also wood-fired pizza shop inside, Catch-a-Fire. And you can see some the production brewery from a small viewing platform.

Another great day in the Queen City! We’re looking forward to our next visit already.

Disclaimer: passes to the Cincinnati Museum Center were provided by CincyUSA. All photos, other activities, and opinions are our own.

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I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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