10 Things To Do Your First Year in Northern Kentucky
New to the Bluegrass State? The list of things to do in Northern Kentucky is endless. Here are ten things you must do.
Welcome to your new Northern Kentucky home. You may be starting a new job, unpacking your new digs and getting the kids launched in a new school, but take a break every now and then to enjoy these experiences that tell the story of your new community.
In This Article
1. Newport Aquarium
Something fishy is going on in Newport. As one of the area’s favorite family destinations, Newport Aquarium invites you to swap stares with white crocodiles, enjoy some (manta) rays and brave a rope bridge across a tank full of sharks. Just don’t think about “Jaws.”
2. Home Games
Be a fan. There’s no shortage of professional sports excitement here. Baseball lovers flock to the Great American Ball Park for Cincinnati Reds games. Also iconic is the Cincinnati Bengals football team, which will play its 56th season in 2023. Ask anyone what “Who Dey?” signifies. In addition, FC Cincinnati has brought the “Beautiful Game,” soccer, to town. And don’t miss the Florence Y’alls, who play in the Frontier League and whose home park is Thomas More Stadium.
3. Riverfront Events
Festivals abound in Newport. Riverfest draws some 230,000 people to a single-day September celebration of food, music and community, culminating in world-class fireworks. Become a local food insider at annual events like Italianfest or Glier’s Goettafest (pictured left), highlighting the unique local culinary concoction of oats, sausage and spices. And then there’s the Great Inland Seafood Festival in August and Light Up the Levee in November. Party on!
4. Horse Racing
Place your bets at the newly renovated Turfway Park Racing & Gaming in Florence, where the tradition of horse racing becomes an all-day experience of dining and entertainment.
5. Outdoor Adventures
Head to Pioneer Park in Covington for family fun. The 43-acre park boasts playgrounds, sports fields and picnic shelters. Most fun at this very popular park is its location along Banklick Creek, excellent for floating in a kayak or paddleboard.
6. The Ark Encounter
Kings Island. C’mon — you know you want to go. So go, and when you’ve done the rides, the food and the wetness, you can also do the Ark Encounter. Yes, that Ark. This life-sized replica of the biblical ark is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet tall (Big, really big). The Ark is full of fascinating exhibits, and the park around it contains a giant dining area, zip line, zoo, gift shop and other wonders Noah never knew.
7. Local History
History buff or not, plan a visit to one of several museums in the region. The name Big Bone refers to the many skeletal remains of large prehistoric animals, such as mastodons, discovered here. At the Cincinnati Museum Center, in the historic Union Terminal, more than 1 million people each year come to explore the Cincinnati History Museum, the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, The Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science and the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater. Also in Cincinnati, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center offers permanent and traveling exhibits that spark conversations about inclusive freedom — locally, nationally and globally.
8. Family-Friendly Farmers Markets
Carrots and lettuce and corn, oh my! Enjoy veggies and more from local growers at farmers markets, among them the Boone County Farmers Market, the Covington Farmers Market and markets in Fort Thomas, Erlanger and Independence. Or get the whole-farm experience at historic farms, organic farms, horse farms and even an alpaca farm during the annual Boone County Farm Tour.
9. The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
Stroll across the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge and picnic at the Smale Riverfront Park. This National Historic Landmark is named for its creator, who also built the Brooklyn Bridge. When it opened in 1866, the elegant structure was the longest suspension bridge in the world — until it was surpassed by Roebling’s New York City bridge.
10. Bourbon & Bluegrass
Sample the spirits born right here in Kentucky via a tour of bourbon destinations. The B-Line® is a self-guided itinerary that includes distilleries, bourbon bars and even bourbon-centric restaurants with live music. You’re in the Bluegrass State, so tune in to the music named for it.
Want to learn more about living and working in the Northern Kentucky region? Check out the latest edition of Livability Northern Kentucky.