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The Roebling Bridge decorated in colorful lights in celebration of BLINK Festival in Covington, Kentucky
Ross Van Pelt
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Colorful communities await all over Northern Kentucky and the Cincy Region, where the Ohio River connects the South to the Midwest.

Ready to explore a unique locale steeped in history and brimming with rich culture? Northern Kentucky is the “top of the South,” where classic Southern charm meets metropolitan excitement in cities like Covington, Newport and nearby Cincinnati, Ohio. Get a taste of Kentucky’s world-famous bourbon scene, take in inspiring sights along the banks of the Ohio River and peek into the past on historical tours in this vibrant area, often referred to by locals as the Cincy Region.

Bourbon and Bites

Northern Kentucky’s food and drink is world-renowned for a reason – the Bluegrass State’s mild climate and limestone bedrock create the perfect conditions for balanced bourbon, and its unique blend of Southern staples and city innovation breeds cuisines that are just as hearty as they are exciting. Distilleries and restaurants around the Cincy Region offer impressive tours and tasting experiences for every palate.

Explore the distilleries, bars and restaurants that make up The B-Line®, Northern Kentucky’s craft bourbon trail. Watch boats float by on the Ohio River from the rooftop of New Riff Distilling in Newport, enjoy the charm of downtown Ludlow on your visit to Second Sight Spirits and catch live music acts on the sprawling grounds of Neeley Family Distillery in Sparta. The Old Pogue Distillery and Boone County Distilling Co. are also worthwhile stops for quality spirit tastings along the way.

When you’re ready for a bite with a view, the waterfront sights are just as delightful as the creative menus you’ll find in Northern Kentucky and the Cincy Region. The Standard in Covington offers Southern classics with a pub-food twist, while those craving a taste of the Midwest can’t miss the Cincinnati chili at Newport staple Dixie Chili.

Outdoor dining at The Standard in Covington

Outdoor dining at The Standard in Covington
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Colorful Culture where Southern Meets Midwestern

Due to its unique location as the “top of the South,” Northern Kentucky is a prime destination for those who’d like to experience the history and art of two distinct regions of the USA, the South and the Midwest.

If you’re a history buff, you’ll relish the opportunity to step into the past on informative walking tours of Northern Kentucky. Take the Newport Gangster Tour for an exciting look into how this Kentucky town shaped the modern gaming industry. Explore some of Covington’s spookier spots on The Covington Haunted & Historic Tour, which takes visitors on a unique jaunt through downtown.

For a dose of culture, two annual events in Newport, Oktoberfest and Glier’s Goettafest, celebrate the heritage of the German immigrants who settled in the Cincy Region, exciting festivalgoers with authentic food and live performances. Every two years, colorful projection-mapped art takes over the streets and buildings of Cincinnati and Covington as part of BLINK™, a massive public art show. See light sculptures shimmer and take part in interactive installations created by artists both local and world-renowned.

The biennial art festival BLINK™ lights up the streets of Cincinnati and Covington every other October

The biennial art festival BLINK™ lights up the streets of Cincinnati and Covington every other October
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Fun Along the River

The Ohio River is the jewel of the area, decorating the border of Kentucky and Ohio with its sparkling waters. Find plenty of opportunities to experience the waterfront, whether you’d like to get your body moving or relax and take in the sights.

The Ohio and Licking Rivers converge in Newport, making it an excellent launch point for a canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding excursion. Visit in August to join the hundreds of paddlers who congregate in the Cincy Region for the Ohio River Paddlefest.

Just down the riverbank at Newport on the Levee, a premier multi-story entertainment destination, you can shop, dine and play to your heart’s content. Stroll down the Shark Bridge at the Newport Aquarium, then enjoy boutique shopping and alfresco dining in premier establishments. In the summer months, live music performances and community yoga classes take full advantage of the stunning views from the levee.

If you’d prefer to sit back and take it easy, hop aboard the lavish Belle of Cincinnati riverboat to embark on a unique tour of the Ohio River with BB Riverboats. Enjoy lunch or dinner in the Victorian-style dining room and admire views of the nearby Cincinnati skyline in luxury. However you choose to enjoy it, the Northern Kentucky riverfront is a can’t-miss natural wonder.

Enjoying an early-morning paddle on the Licking River

Enjoying an early-morning paddle on the Licking River
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Visit Cincy

Cincinnati and Beyond

Take advantage of Northern Kentucky’s proximity to the Cincinnati metropolitan area. Six bridges, including the stunning John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge (the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge), connect Covington and Newport to downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, so it’s easy to walk or bike across the Ohio River to experience all this region has to offer.

Nestled between Paycor Stadium and Great American Ball Park, you’ll find the 18-hectare Smale Riverfront Park. Cool off in interactive fountains, play a tune on a massive foot piano and admire the view atop whimsical climbable statues in this urban oasis.

For indoor thrills, explore the family-friendly Cincinnati Museum Center, where you’ll find four museums, an OMNIMAX movie theater and a historical library, all housed in a historic former train station. Catch a show and take a tour at the historic Cincinnati Music Hall, which has been entertaining the Cincy Region since 1878. A short drive away, the galleries of the Cincinnati Art Museum beckon with masterpieces from the ancient world and beyond.

When you’re ready for a meal, stroll the stalls at Findlay Market, Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market, and shop for locally sourced and artisan foods. On the weekends, the colorful marketplace comes alive with live music and street performers.

View of the Cincinnati skyline from the banks of the Ohio River

View of the Cincinnati skyline from the banks of the Ohio River
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Getting There

Fly into Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and rent a car to enjoy all the region has to offer.