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Cincinnati Rising

NIGHTLIFE At the eastern edge of Over-the-Rhine, Club Clau (1133 Sycamore St.; 513/352-0352) is Cincinnati's answer to Crobar in New York, with bottle service and VIP-only lounges. Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson, and Snoop Dogg hang at the Clau, but it's also a scene with a mission: the minimalist white bar doubles as a gallery, showcasing the latest work by city artists. • The tempo is more relaxed at the Bar at Palm Court (35 W. Fifth St.; 513/421-9100), in the restored former lobby of the Hilton Netherland Plaza, where a young crowd gathers to dust off its fan kicks and shimmies to live jazz. • On the Kentucky side of the river is the area's premier concert hall, the Southgate House (24 E. Third St., Newport, Ky.; 859/431-2201), in a former 1814 mansion that makes an intimate venue for catching indie rock bands like the Strokes. • A DJ spins dance-club hits while runway fashion shows play on plasma-screen TV's at Beluga (3520 Edward Rd.; 513/533-4444), a high-energy sushi-and-cocktails bar in Hyde Park. Themed parties on weekends attract the martini-and-Manolos crowd.

WHERE TO SHOP A design district has blossomed in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which is clustered around Main Street just a few blocks north of downtown. On the last Friday of each month, stores and galleries open their doors for a neighborhood-wide vernissage. Furniture dealers from Los Angeles and New York flock to Mainly Art (1417 Main St.; 513/378-8261) for Mark Fisk's tightly edited collection of Mid-Century Modern furniture in a lofty storefront. (Locals lounging on the Paul McCobb sofas will offer great touring tips.) • St. Theresa Textile Trove (1329 Main St.; 513/333-0399) is stacked floor to ceiling with bolts of cloth from around the world: Japanese silks, hand-dyed Balinese cottons, and African mud cloths in riotous colors. • Lifeesthetics (16 E. 12th St.; 513/723-1901), Leah Sweeney Spurrier's home-furnishings boutique, has one-of-a-kind retro furniture, candles by Red Flower, and exquisite stationery. • Dean & DeLuca meets South of the Border at Jungle Jim's (5440 Dixie Hwy., Fairfield; 513/674-6000). Among the 1,000 varieties of hot sauce and soft drinks from India are larger-than-life animatronic dioramas of, say, Elvis as a dancing bear.

MATT LEE and TED LEE are contributing editors for Travel + Leisure.

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