Timed ticketing is still a pandemic reality at some entertainment and activity venues, and that can present a challenge for out-of-towners.
To celebrate my husband's birthday a few weeks ago, we agreed on a weekend trip to Cincinnati. I'm generally a planner and quickly began looking online to get a feel for ticket pricing and logistics.
Trip planning also involves considering the weather. And although it's easy to find a 10-day or 14-day forecast, it's pure optimism to expect it to hold.
The Newport Aquarium – on the Kentucky side of the riverfront Cincinnati is known for – seemed a good choice for our first stop on the Saturday we would arrive. We could even finish that before hotel check-in time, based on our 1:15 p.m. timed ticket slot.
The advantage: It would be indoors, so we wouldn't have to worry about weather. The same two advantages held for the National Underground Railroad Museum Center, so I bought timed tickets for late Sunday morning – day two.
Along with Black history, my husband enjoys zoos, but buying timed tickets in advance for that would require hoping the weather would cooperate. The zoo website indicated walk-up ticket purchases were an option, but betting on that would be a gamble without knowing if impromptu demand could push the venue to capacity.
Plus, I didn't want to overbook and leave no time to just explore and enjoy. I explained the situation to my husband. He was OK with whatever would be planned.
So we did the aquarium that, other than walking across a suspended rope bridge over a large area that housed sharks, seemed far more interesting for kids than adults our age.
We opted for some downtime not long after leaving the aquarium because I was fortunate enough to snag two of the few remaining tickets for a Saturday evening riverboat cruise that included dinner. I'm calling that fortunate because, despite my travel-planning tendencies, I made those reservations by phone the morning we were heading to Cincinnati.
Turns out the weather was nearly perfect the weekend we were there; upper 70s the first day and low 80s the second. So without a cloud in the sky, maybe we could have squeezed a zoo visit in, too, as we did a few other attractions by the time we got back to Indiana that Sunday night.
But Cincinnati is just a few hours away. It's certainly conceivable we could visit the city's zoo almost any time in the near future, hopefully when timed ticketing isn't strongly encouraged – or required because of a global health pandemic.