For a fantastic adventure that is off the beaten path, head to Northern Kentucky and enjoy the sights and sounds of Bourbon Country. With a thriving dining and cocktails scene, along with plenty of family-friendly attractions, Northern Kentucky is fast becoming a top destination for travelers looking to enjoy an authentic, down-to-earth good time. From the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to the charming river town of Newport, there is so much to explore here in Kentucky.
So get out your bucket list and get ready to add Northern Kentucky to it, because we’ve put together the ten best reasons to plan a visit here.
10/10 Kentucky Bourbon Trail
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® is a fantastic jaunt through the history and culture of Kentucky and a great way to appreciate and experience the Bourbon whiskey industry. Established by the Kentucky Distillers Association in 1999, the “trail”–really a road trip throughout Kentucky to the 42 participating distilleries–has seen millions of visitors since it started. Adventurous travelers can make their way through the Bluegrass State’s many unique distilleries, enjoying the taste and flavors unique to this region. Northern Kentucky features The B-Line, a collection of 5 craft distilleries along the trail, seven renowned bourbon bars, and six bourbon-centric restaurants. For those looking to experience the wonder and delights of Kentucky, this is a great place to start.
9/10 Northern Kentucky: A Short Walk To Cincinnati
Visitors will enjoy the historic towns of Newport and Covington, with their quaint charm and thriving restaurant scene. There is Goebel Park, with its incredibly unique clock tower, which is always worth a visit. It features a public pool, picnic tables, a playground, and spots to grill and picnic shelters. Folks can enjoy a quiet picnic here and enjoy the beautifully designed layout of the trees and paths. Whether taking in the Cincinnati skyline or stopping in a tavern for a bite to eat, this is a great area to feel the hustle and bustle of the city with the friendliness of a small town.
8/10 Family Friendly Fun
Northern Kentucky is home to a wide array of activities, and many of those are enjoyable for all ages. There is the faith-based Ark Encounter, a seven-story 500-foot-long replica of Noah’s Ark. It features a fun petting zoo, engaging exhibits, and even zip lines. For folks looking to connect with local history and culture, a visit to the Mainstrasse Village is worth it. This charming 19th-century German neighborhood is on the National Historic Registry. There are plenty of delightful shops and restaurants here to spend the day exploring, and it’s all just minutes from downtown Cincinnati.
7/10 Newport, Kentucky: Nearly Las Vegas
It’s a long way from Las Vegas, but this charming downtown has more in common with Sin City than most people realize. With a history filled with gambling wars and mafia rivalries that battled for control, it is worth taking the popular Newport Gangster tour to discover the fascinating and unexpected history that nearly became reality here. In fact, many iconic Las Vegas casinos got their original start in the town of Newport–and the name Sin City was originally used to describe this lovely, unassuming town. So take a tour through its wild history–it will be impossible to look at this charming place the same again.
6/10 When In Northern Kentucky: Try Goetta
Travelers in Northern Kentucky will surely need a break from visiting the many sights in the area, and what better way to relax than to dine on the local cuisine? Goetta, a traditional breakfast sausage made by combining steel-cut oats and various spices and ground pork or beef, is a popular delicatessen created by the German American working-class families that settled here a century ago. It’s now a favorite regional dish that is hard to find anywhere else. This dish is a Northern Kentucky staple, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy it: biscuits and goetta gravy; a GLT–goetta, lettuce, and tomato; and even vegan goetta casserole.
5/10 Newport Aquarium
Families and marine life enthusiasts should head to the famous Newport Aquarium located in Newport and just across the river from Cincinnati. Set aside plenty of time to explore this popular attraction, which features over 70 exhibits and 14 galleries that are engaging and interactive. From penguins to rare white alligators, creatures abound and delight kids of all ages here. And for a truly thrilling experience, visitors can walk across the Shark Bridge, touted as the “first in the world,” where guests cross a rope bridge perched precariously inches above the swiftly moving fins of sharks.
4/10 Roebling Murals
For a truly stunning sight, head to the Roebling Bridge and take a stroll past the stunning Roebling Murals. Painted on the floodwall at the foot of the bridge, these eighteen brilliant murals painted by artist Robert Dafford and his team of artists depict the history of Covington, Northern Kentucky, and the bridge itself. Incredibly detailed and lovingly maintained by the city, these huge murals transport the visitor to another time and place altogether. Visitors can take a guided tour or stroll along and observe at their own pace. It’s easy to feel like one is in an outdoor museum here, just with a breeze and a view of the Cincinnati skyline as the backdrop.
3/10 St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica Of The Assumption
Recognized as a minor basilica in the United States, this stunning cathedral located in Covington, Kentucky is a wonder to behold. Thousands of visitors walk quietly inside this church every year and sit in the pews for quiet reflection. Featuring absolutely stunning stained-glass windows throughout, lending a mystery and beauty to the interior that affects everyone who makes their way inside. With its gothic architecture and imposing arches, this cathedral is the destination to be seen and experienced.
2/10 Behringer-Crawford Museum: Eclectic Fun
Take a detour through history at the Behringer-Crawford Museum. This offbeat museum features an eclectic mix of local artifacts, inspiring artwork and dioramas, and the downright odd (specifically, a two-headed calf). Guests can explore in this often hands-on museum, where kids can hold a prehistoric mammoth fossil or pretend to ride in an old-fashioned streetcar. The model train display here is a particular delight. For a jaunt through the people and places that make up the delights of Northern Kentucky, the Behringer-Crawford Museum is a must-see.
1/10 Devou Park
Finally, head to the expansive Devou Park. With over 700 acres to explore, this is the city’s largest park. Visitors can enjoy the hilltop park’s fantastic views of the Cincinnati skyline. Folks can also enjoy the Ohio River valley views and the instantly recognizable John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge (built in the 1800s!), which leads to Ohio. Given its size, it’s hard to see the entire park in one day, so why not stay for several days here in Northern Kentucky? With museums, a small-town charm that belies a wild history, and regional dishes and that famous Kentucky Bourbon to enjoy, this is bound to be a memorable trip.