Recreation is Booming in Northern Kentucky
From strolling through the park to cheering on your favorite sports team, there's plenty to do here.
Whether you want to enjoy the big game or a long walk, Northern Kentucky is the place to be. From the (Cincinnati) Reds to the green (spaces), the region offers a multihued mixture of recreational offerings, allowing residents to maintain an active and entertaining lifestyle.
Located just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky is ideally situated to provide a combination of big-city bustle, suburban simplicity and rural relaxation. This makes it easy to travel from the quiet calm of a neighborhood park to the exuberant crowd at a football, baseball, basketball or soccer game.
“One of the great things about living in Northern Kentucky is having the suburban aspect with all these parks and places to take your kids, but with the benefit of being 20 minutes from downtown Cincinnati,” says Patrick Keal, an employee at Duke Energy who moved to Northern Kentucky in 2017. “There are just a ton of different things you can do around here.”
Strolling on the River
Parks and trails populate the region. Some of the more popular spots include the 15-acre Florence Nature Park, with paved walking trails; 13-acre Lincoln Woods Park, with tennis and basketball courts and baseball and softball fields; 11-acre Orleans Park, with a lake stocked for fishing; 42-acre South Fork Park, with volleyball and basketball courts and bike paths; and Stringtown Park, with a popular Camelot-themed playground.
And there is the beauty of the Ohio River, along with the smaller Licking River, which flows between the cities of Newport and Covington. A project, Riverfront Commons, is in the works to create walking, running and biking paths alongside the rivers to keep residents on the move.
Northern Kentucky's Neighborhoods Offer Something for Everyone
Once completed, it will link six Northern Kentucky cities through an 11.5-mile trail, offering picturesque views of the Ohio River and downtown Cincinnati. The path, which is 20 feet wide in certain spots, includes a series of access points to both the river, where people can launch kayaks and canoes, as well as businesses, entertainment and historic districts, and residential neighborhoods. It also connects to Cincinnati via the Purple People Bridge, a half-mile, pedestrian-only walkway spanning the Ohio River.
In addition, work is being done on the Licking River Greenway and Trails, which will stretch along both sides of the river. While still an urban trail, this pathway focuses a bit more on the natural plants and wildlife in the area, says Eric Summe, president and CEO of meetNKY, the regional convention and visitor organization.
“In both cases, we’re really taking advantage of our proximity to major rivers,” Summe says. “This gives people the ability to walk and bike consistently along the river.”
A Sports Center
For those who prefer a little competition, there are several golf courses and tennis facilities in the area, including Fox Run, one of the most challenging courses in Kentucky; The Pioneer, one of the oldest courses in the area; Meadowood, a nine-hole course near the Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky International Airport; and Devou Park Golf and Tennis Club, which is part of a 704-acre park.
But for many people, sports are most enjoyed as a spectator. The region has a long history of rooting for the home team, dating back to the creation of the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869 as baseball’s first all-professional team. Today, fans continue to cheer for the Reds, along with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, the FC Cincinnati soccer club, the Florence Freedom baseball team, and top Division I college athletics at Northern Kentucky University, the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University.
“There is every aspect of sports in the region, from high school to college to semi-pro to pro,” Keal says. “And when there’s a big game, everybody wants to be watching it somewhere, so there’s certainly a strong community following around here.”