Trip Ideas & Itineraries

Whether you’re bringing your family to the Ark Encounter or Newport Aquarium, attending a conference, organizing a bachelor weekend of bourbon sipping, or looking for a romantic weekend away, Northern Kentucky truly has something for everyone.

Incredible restaurants, a great selection of craft brews and bourbon, and entertainment options from low-key to extreme--Northern Kentucky has tons of options to keep you busy while you’re here.  And if you can’t find it in Northern Kentucky, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump across the river to some of the nation’s most incredible offerings.  From the Cincinnati Ballet, the Museum Center at Union Terminal, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Taft Theater and Aronoff Center for the Arts, Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati Zoo, Kings Island, and more--culture is exploding in Cincy. 

NKY and Cincy Trip Ideas

We’ve put together some suggestions below of key places you won’t want to miss when visiting the Northern Kentucky or Cincy Region, based on your interests or travel purposes.  We can’t wait to see you in town!

For Families

Ark Encounter and Creation Museum - At over 1.5 football fields long and reaching higher than a four-story house, Ark Encounter is one of the largest timber-frame structures in the world.  Explore three decks of cutting-edge exhibits, zip lines, and petting zoo area. Also enjoy dining in the themed restaurant or grab some ice cream, fudge, freshly smoked meats, and more throughout the grounds. If that’s not enough, head to the Creation Museum, a one-of-a-kind museum that brings the pages of the Bible to life with animatronic characters, a tranquil garden of Eden, life-size dinosaurs, a special effects theater, planetarium and more.

Newport Aquarium - Meet rare white alligators and dare to walk just inches above nearly two dozen sharks on the world's first suspended rope bridge at Newport Aquarium, which has been named one of the best aquariums in the country by Travel Channel.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Visit the world-famous hippo, Fiona, feed giraffes, and swing through Jungle Trails' interactive elements at the second-oldest zoo in the nation and the National Historic Landmark that is consistently ranked as one of the top zoos in the country.  The Zoo’s 75 acres house more than 580 animal species and 3,000 plant varieties making it one of the largest zoo collections in the U.S. 

DEFY Florence - Defy is a collection of extreme air sport parks across America that are rewriting the rules of sport.  The entire family will enjoy extreme play like the trapeze, Ninja Obstacle Course, foam pits, open jump, extreme dodgeball and more! 

Kings Island - With more than 100 rides and attractions, Kings Island offers the perfect combination of world-class fun and thrills for all ages. Guests can experience 15 roller coasters like the legendary Beast and Mystic Timbers, and family rides including Kings Mills Antique Autos. For families with young kids, the Planet Snoopy kids’ area is the perfect place to spend the day.

Covington Yard - Covington Yard is your place for family gatherings, baseball games, and more. Covington Yard brings together the area’s best independently owned restaurants to provide a wide variety of bites to enjoy. Even the pickiest of eaters will find their next favorite dish at one of our food container restaurants on site.  With tons of family-friendly entertainment in an

outdoor setting, Covington Yard is sure to please each member of the family.

For more ideas or a full itinerary, visit our Family Vacation page.

For Couples

Hotel Covington - Every detail was thought of in Hotel Covington, down to the magic eight balls and  Donna Salyers’ Faux Furs in every room.  Whether it’s a first date, an anniversary, or a getaway to reconnect, you’ll love and appreciate the attention to detail in this romantic, boutique hotel.

Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar - Award-winning Chef Stephen Williams opened Bouquet in Covington as one of the first restaurants in the area to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission.  In addition to their innovative and dynamic offerings of charcuterie, small plates, entrees, and desserts, they also feature an extensive bourbon collection.

BB Riverboats - If you’re looking to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights of the river while dining on a delicious meal, look no further than BB Riverboats.  Let the tour guide point out some of the area’s history while the sun sets over one of the area’s bridges and the lights of the skyline illuminate the air.  If that’s not romantic, we don’t know what is.

Second Sight Spirits - A distillery like no other, Second Sight Spirits will  share tales of the circus, Las Vegas, and Craigslist purchases that have morphed into the crafting of Oak Eye Kentucky Bourbon, fine rums, and many other unique spirits.  Survivors of the tour will be rewarded with samples of the spirits.  Relax at the lounge and see where your future takes you when you sip on finely crafted cocktails. They also offer traditional and creative coffee drinks using locally roasted Deeper Roots premium coffee beans.

Braxton Brewing Company - Enjoy an IPA on the rooftop of Braxton Brewing Company in the Renaissance District of Covington.  Don’t forget to snap a selfie in front of the beautiful living wall or as the overhead lights reflect the sparkle in your date’s eye.

Cincy Arts Scene - In Northern Kentucky we’re only a bridge away from all of the artistic delights of a metropolitan city.  Enjoy performances from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops and Cincinnati Opera at historic Music Hall; marvel at the passion and prowess of the Cincinnati Ballet; view masterpieces at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Taft Museum of Art and
Contemporary Arts Center; or enjoy dinner and a show at Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theatre and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. 

Professional Sports - From baseball (Cincinnati Reds) and soccer (FC Cincinnati) in the spring and summer, to football (Cincinnati Bengals) in the fall, to hockey (Cincinnati Cyclones) in the winter – the Cincinnati region is full of entertainment for sports fans. 

For more ideas or a full itinerary, visit our Romantic Getaway page.

LGBTQ Spots

The Cellar – in Covington, Ky., at the south end of National Historic District Mainstrasse Village. A fun nightclub offering different themed entertainment almost every night of the week. 

Bar 32 – in the heart of Mainstrasse Village in Covington, another local favorite bar to unwind with a refreshing drink

Rosie’s Tavern – across the rainbow-colored crosswalk from Bar 32, another great bar hangout, with an outdoor seating area. 

The Crazy Fox – located in Newport, Ky. and owned by one of the people who founded NKY Pridefest, this neighborhood bar reputedly has the best Bloody Marys in town.

New Riff Distilling is a new riff on the storied tradition of bourbon making. This unique urban distillery ensures their focus is on making a new and edgier tradition on America’s Native Spirit. Meet Hannah Lowen, the only gay Vice President of Operations of a major bourbon distillery and learn more about how New Riff is making strides to stand out among its bourbon brothers and sisters. New Riff is a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® and the Northern Kentucky bourbon tour, The B-Line. The B-Line is a unique bourbon tour focused on five of the northern Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® distilleries, eight bourbon bars and six bourbon focused restaurants.

Lil’s Bagels - This LGBTQ-owned Covington favorite serves up the best bagels west of New York City in a special courtyard setting. Take your bagels to go to the Covington waterfront and Riverside Drive to admire the homes of former steamship barons and the best view from the edge of the South. 

For more ideas or a full itinerary, visit our LGBTQ page.

For Groups of Friends

Flying Axes Covington - What could be more fun than throwing axes while enjoying a cold beer with friends?!  Flying Axes is Covington’s axe throwing experience, located inside a historic firehouse.  

Full Throttle Indoor Karting - Speaking of axe throwing, you can also try your hand at Full Throttle in Florence.  The main attraction, though, is indoor go karting.  That’s right--you don’t have to leave the state or even the area to enjoy some friendly go-kart competition!  Whether it’s kids, adults, or kids at heart, everyone gets pride out of seeing his or her name on the leaderboard!

The B-Line - The B-Line is Northern Kentucky’s bourbon experience.  Featuring bourbon-centric restaurants, bars, and distilleries, an experience on The B-Line will leave you knowing a little more bourbon history and appreciating a lot more of the tastes of bourbon from Northern Kentucky.  Use a digital pass or grab a paper line guide, then collect stamps from at least two participating distilleries, two bars, and two restaurants to earn some awesome B-Line swag.

New Riff Distilling - New Riff brings a new riff on an old tradition with their unique urban bourbon distilling.  Founded in 2014, New Riff is led by a team of corporate refugees ranging from craft beer to politics and more. New Riff crafts a range of whiskeys—Bourbon, Rye, and eventually Malted Rye and a host of specialty recipes—as well as Kentucky Wild Gin.  Your group is sure to love the tour and tastings, and be sure to visit the Party Source next door to take some of your favorites home.

Bircus Brewing Company - What do you get when you combine craft beer with circus performers?  Bircus Brewing!  In 2018, they poured their first beer for sale in their parking lot then opened an adjacent 25-seat tasting room that November.  The next year, the Historical Ludlow Theatre reopened with the Bircus Brewing Co. serving craft beer and Circus Mojo providing circus acts. In late 2020, Bircus began serving wood fired pizzas.  The combination makes for a great experience!

NKY Backroads Wine Trail - Call your friends, book some transportation, and set out to enjoy a day on the Backroad Wine Trail.   You’ll truly enjoy the backroads as you wind your way through the beautiful Northern Kentucky countryside, featuring historic stone houses in Campbell County and the scenic drive along the Ohio River to the quaint town of Augusta. Each winery has its own distinct style and personality, which you’ll discover as you sample award-winning wines produced from vinifera and French-American varieties: Chardonnay,Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Traminette, Vidal Blanc and exceptional fruit wines. 

Rotollo Bowling - Located at Newport on the Levee, Rotollo is an excellent spot for groups of friends to gather.  This boutique bowling alley features two full-service bars and a 68-seat restaurant, 16 state-of-the-art bowling lanes, a full bocce court, billiards, foosball, life-size checkers, and plenty of lounging and patio spaces to kick back, relax and enjoy.

Pedal Wagon - Want to explore Covington and sample the many incredible bars along the way? Go on a Pedal Wagon cruise around town! Pedaling with friends as you share drinks and explore the city is the way to go!

Hofbrauhaus Newport - The first Hofbrauhaus outside of Munich, Germany, Hofbrauhaus Newport is sure to be a fun time for any group of friends.  Come thirsty, hungry, and ready to do your best chicken dance!

Covington Yard - Covington Yard uses shipping containers to bring together a wide variety of bites to enjoy. The “yard” inside the shipping container collection is a fun, happening place to sip your favorite drink, catch up with friends, and watch the game on one of several tvs.  Check their website for an event schedule, including live entertainment, trivia, and more.

Bridgeview Box Park at Newport on the Levee -  Similar to the concept of Covington Yard, the Bridgeview Box Park at Newport on the Levee features local food and drinks served from shipping containers.  Grab your pick then hang out on the Levee for incredible views of the skyline, beautiful sunsets, fireworks from the Reds game across the river, or just to watch the boats pass by.

Mainstrasse Village - A great choice for groups of friends, Mainstrasse Village is a quaint German village with a plethora of food and dining options.  Offering everything from giant slices of New York style pizza at Goodfella’s to upscale steaks at Lisse Steakhuis, you’ll find a dinner option to suit the whole group.  There are also abundant choices for pre- and post- dinner cocktails from some local favorite watering holes including Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, Bourbon Haus 1841, Wiseguy Lounge, and more.

For Business Travelers

Mainstrasse Village - Get a taste of Northern Kentucky’s German influence without traveling far from the RiverCenter/Convention Center.  A great one-stop place for an entire evening, Mainstrasse Village is a quaint German village with a plethora of food and dining options.  Offering everything from giant slices of New York style pizza at Goodfella’s to tacos at Frida 601 to upscale farm-to-table dining at Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar, you’ll find a dinner option to satisfy your craving.  There are also abundant choices for pre- and post- dinner cocktails from some local favorite watering holes including Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, Bourbon Haus 1841, Wiseguy Lounge, and more.  Sample your favorites, then come back the next night to try the rest.

Coppin’s at Hotel Covington - You have to try some local dishes while in town and the Coppin’s menu offers them all.  Goetta for breakfast or a hot brown for dinner--check these culinary delights off your list at a local favorite restaurant.

Cincinnati Chili - Some say it’s an acquired taste, but when in Cincy, you have to have chili.  Ordering a three- (or four- or five-) way doesn’t have a negative connotation here--it’s all in whether you like beans or onions on your chili!  And yes, it’s served atop of spaghetti and seasoned like no other place you’ll ever eat chili, but that’s the way we like it.

Bircus Brewing Company - If you want dinner and a show, check out the circus performances happening at Bircus Brewing Co. That’s right--we have circus acts at a brewery and yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds.

Braxton Rooftop - If you’re looking for somewhere relaxed to enjoy an IPA on an outdoor patio, we suggest heading to the Braxton Rooftop.  We’ll see ya there.

Libby’s Southern Comfort - With their motto of, “put a little South in your mouth,” Libby’s is the quintessential Covington comfort food restaurant.  Fried chicken, shrimp ‘n grits, and oatmeal cream pies are our top picks, but don’t forget their incredible bourbon selection or the Cheerwine bourbon slush.

BB Riverboats - If you want to leave the navigating to someone else, hop aboard a BB Riverboats cruise and let the tour guide give you a little history of the area as you enjoy dinner on the river.

Hofbrauhaus Newport - The first Hofbrauhaus outside of Munich, Germany, Hofbrauhaus is a fun addition to any business trip.  Raise a stein, do the chicken dance, and grab some souvenirs to take home.

For Art Lovers

NKY Art Tours - Featuring self-guided tours of stunning public art in Northern Kentucky’s river cities, NKY Art Tours is a great resource to use when you’re ready to do some exploring.  From black history, architecture, murals, statues, and more, NKY Art Tours will help you map out your intended route, then add a few more to your list.

Cincinnati Art Museum - A historic building, picturesque location and remarkable artwork, Cincinnati Art Museum is a must-visit venue for art lovers.

Behringer Crawford Museum - Featuring 450 million years of Northern Kentucky history and culture, Behringer-Crawford Museum offers visitors 20,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and activities.  BCM is also home to definitive collections of artwork by Mary Bruce Sharon, Harlan Hubbard and Wolfgang Ritschel and presents a broad range of ongoing creative exhibits.

Contemporary Arts Center - The Contemporary Arts Center is a museum that showcases "art of the last five minutes" in a building that has gained international acclaim for its extraordinary architecture.  Nestled in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, the CAC has served as a beacon for progressive thought in the community and offers daily free admission.

Taft Museum of Art -  Known as one of the finest small art museums in America, this National Historic Landmark was built in the early 1800s and is home to nearly 700 works of art.

Vent Haven - Vent Haven Museum is the world's only museum dedicated to ventriloquism, ventriloquial figures, and memorabilia.  The museum features more than 500 figures from more than 20 countries.

Faith-Friendly Attractions

Ark Encounter - At over 1.5 football fields long and reaching higher than a four-story house, Ark Encounter is one of the largest timber-frame structures in the world.  Explore three decks of cutting-edge exhibits and see the biblical account of Noah come to life!  Your ticket includes admission to the ark and all exhibits, including the Ararat Ridge Zoo and petting zoo area. Add to your experience by riding a camel, hunting for fossils, soaring down thousands of feet of zip lines, testing your skills on a ropes course, or free falling from 50 feet in the air. Also enjoy dining in the themed restaurant or grab some ice cream, fudge, freshly smoked meats, and more throughout the grounds.

Creation Museum - Creation Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum that brings the pages of the Bible to life with animatronic characters, a tranquil garden of Eden, life-size dinosaurs, a special effects theater, planetarium and more.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center - Located on the bank of the Ohio River overlooking Northern Kentucky, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center celebrates freedom's heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, with inspiring stories and hands-on activities.
For more ideas or a full itinerary, visit our faith-friendly itinerary page.

For Wine Lovers

NKY Backroads Wine Trail - You’ll truly enjoy the backroads as you wind your way through the beautiful Northern Kentucky countryside, featuring historic stone houses in Campbell County and the scenic drive along the Ohio River to the quaint town of Augusta. Each winery has its own distinct style and personality, which you’ll discover as you sample award-winning wines produced from vinifera and French-American varieties: Chardonnay,Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Traminette, Vidal Blanc and exceptional fruit wines. 

Pet Friendly

Covington Yard - Covington Yard Bar and Food Container Park is dog friendly! No need to leave your furry friend behind when the family heads to Covington Yard – artificial turf lays as the foundation for good times with the whole family! Pet stations throughout provide a quick drink & easy clean up so the whole family can enjoy the Yard. Bring Fido to see friends and make new ones!

Hotel Covington - Hotel Covington’s lobby is a perfect hangout place--and you don’t have to hangout without your four-legged friend!  

Braxton - Braxton Barrel house gives visitors the chance to sample unique selections of barrel-aged beers with 20 beers on draft.  Your four legged friend can accompany you in the tap room or patio as long as he/she is leashed and up to date on shots.

Keystone Bar & Grill - While you’re chowing down on your favorite quesadilla or mac and cheese on the patio, your dog’s tail will be wagging as the server brings him his own dog bowl of water.

Three Spirits Tavern - Enjoy some incredible drinks, flatbread, and outdoor games in the dog-friendly side yard in Bellevue. If you dare, channel the spirits that lurk around the house or order the Funken Old Fashioned, complete with coal ice cube, a tribute to Nicholas Funken, a local coal broker who built the building that houses the tavern.

Darkness Brewing - Enjoy some quality time with your furry friends while you sip on some local brews at Darkness Brewing in Bellevue.

Grassroots & Vine - Head to Ft. Thomas, grab some food and enjoy some sunshine on the patio with your pup by your side.

The Hannaford - The Hannaford has a living room feel featuring a broad selection of bourbon and rye, rounded out by craft cocktails, rotating drafts, wine and events like trivia. Dogs are welcome to hang with mom and dad while they sip spirits in the historic Mutual Building.

Other local restaurants that welcome dogs on their patio:  The Gruff, Libby’s Southern Comfort, Bouquet Restaurant, Blinker’s Tavern, Cock & Bull, O’Bryon’s Bar & Grill, Unataza Coffee.
 

With so much to see & do in the NKY and Cincy region – from stunning golf courses, professional sports and water & amusement parks to world-renowned museums, historic sites and a…

With so much to see & do in the NKY and Cincy region – from stunning golf courses, professional sports and water & amusement parks to…

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itineraries