Roebling bridge in Covington at sunset

Northern Kentucky River Region

Riverfront communities thrive in this region perched on the northern tip of Kentucky and bordered by the Ohio River. Stroll through cities and towns – large and small – bursting with charm to find family attractions, historical locations, craft distilleries, wineries and natural attractions. Below we’ve highlighted a few of the many towns and attractions in the region to help you plan your next road trip!

Must-See Attractions

Exterior view of the Ark Encounter

Life-size Ark

Visit The Ark Encounter in Williamstown/Grant County to see the massive, 510-feet-long, seven stories high ship that’s an exact replica of Noah’s Ark according to the book of Genesis. This modern engineering marvel is full of interactive exhibits on Noah’s family, the flood and animals. Outside, the Ararat Ridge Zoo features animals large and small, a petting zoo area, kangaroo walkabout, camel rides and animal shows. Catch a thrill at Screaming Eagle Zip Lines with a zip line course, an aerial challenge and free fall jump!

Exterior view of Rabbit Hash General Store

Roadside Attractions

Take a drive and find several unique roadside attractions throughout this region. Travel back in time in Rabbit Hash, a small town in Boone County that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Step into nostalgia at the Rabbit Hash General Store that’s been in business since 1831. The store has antiques, hand-made soaps, old-fashioned candy, collectible Bybee pottery and Appalachian crafts, as well as souvenir items such as hats, shirts and postcards. In Flemingsburg, the county seat of Fleming County, visit the Covered Bridge Museum, then explore the “Covered Bridge Capital of Kentucky” to find the Goddard Covered Bridge, the Grange City Covered Bridge and Ringo’s Mill Covered Bridge

Bartender fixing bourbon drink on the rocks

Bourbon & Brews

Bourbon distilleries and breweries abound in this northern Kentucky region! Explore The B-Line, an experience centered around five Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® distilleries: New Riff Distilling, Second Sight Spirits, Boone County Distilling Co., The Old Pogue Distillery and the Neeley Family Distillery, as well as bourbon-centric bars and restaurants. There’s also the new Augusta Distillery, housed in a historic 35,000-square-foot brick building and the nearby restaurant and tasting center, the Beehive Augusta Tavern, plus Baker-Bird Winery & Distillery. Relax and enjoy a brew or two at Covington Yard, Braxton Brewing Company, Wooden Cask Brewing Company, Bircus Brewing Company or Maysville Brewing Company

Charles Young Birthplace Cabin

Black Heritage Sites

Maysville and the surrounding area are home to several black heritage sites. Check out the Harriet Beecher Stowe Slavery to Freedom Museum, located in the historic Marshall Key House – tours can be arranged through the Old Washington Visitor Center, and the nearby National Underground Railroad Museum. Outside of town near Mays Lick you’ll find Old May’s Lick Negro School, the only surviving Rosenwald School of its type in northern Kentucky, as well as Colonel Charles Young’s Birthplace. He was born into slavery, overcame racial inequality to become one of the first African American graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West point, went on to become the first African American superintendent of a National Park and was a colonel in the U.S. Army. He was also posthumously promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in Kentucky. 

Girl looking at sea turtle at Newport Aquarium

Riverside Town Museums

There’s several cool museums in this region, from quirky to historical! See creatures of the ocean at the Newport Aquarium, open year-round with a daily penguin parade, dive shows, and more. Near Covington and Newport in northern Kentucky, visit the Vent Haven Museum, the world’s only museum dedicated to ventriloquism; the Behringer-Crawford Museum showcasing regional history; the Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati featuring a number of historic rail artifacts; and the free James A. Ramage Civil War Museum. Boone County is home to the Creation Museum, a 75,000-square-foot facility where the pages of the Bible dramatically come to life, the Big Bone State Historic Site, complete with museum exhibits on paleontology and Ice Age mammals, a Diorama pit, and a bison herd and the Dinsmore Homestead, a living history site. In Augusta, browse military and sports memorabilia at the Haley House Museum operated by the Bracken County Historical Society. 

Close-up of horse during race at Turfway Park
Coady Photography

Racing & Riding

Here they come, rounding the final turn in the race…In this region, that phrase could mean motorsports racing or horseracing, with the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta/Gallatin County and Turfway Park in Florence! Take in a live race at either on select dates throughout the year. Nearby, you can take a trail ride at First Farm Inn, a bed and breakfast that also offers horse lessons and rides, or farther south near Augusta, schedule a horseback ride or lesson with Wildfire Equestrian at Sabbath Song Farm. If you have your own horse, you can also explore the horseback riding and hiking trails off Gillespie Road. 

Wine and food at a table at Baker-Bird Winery & Distillery

Taste Local Wines

Visit wineries and vineyards to enjoy local wines. Try the Northern Kentucky Back Roads Wine Trail, with Atwood Hill Winery & Vineyard, Camp Springs Vineyard, Seven Wells Winery, StoneBrook Winery, and Baker-Bird Winery & Distillery, home to the oldest commercial estate winery in the nation. In Owen County, stop in Elk Creek Vineyards, one of the largest wineries in the state. Enjoy a little piece of Italy in Grant County at Brianza Gardens and Winery and book a winery or vineyard tour and a tasting. In Rabbit Hash/Boone County, stop in Gunpowder Creek Vineyards LLC for a wine tasting, and nearby in Verona, sip wine and enjoy the historical settings at Verona Vineyards and Schoolyard Winery

Scenic overlook at General Butler State Resort Park near Carrolltton

Arboretums, Parks & Natural Spaces

Breathe in the fresh air at outdoor parks and other nature retreats. Visit General Butler State Resort Park in Carroll County and hike to a beautiful overlook of the area, and fish, canoe, kayak or pedal boat on the lake. Around Covington and Newport in northern Kentucky, stroll through the Historic Linden Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Devou Park, the Garden of Hope and Goebel Park. Or if you’re looking for a bit more of an outdoor adventure, check out EarthJoy Treehouse Adventures with guided tree climbs, primitive skills workshops, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, running and more. After climbing the trees, explore the extensive trails, play in a creek, rest in a hammock and find the 10 hobbit houses on a special hobbit trail. 

Mural in Covington

Arts & Music

Explore the arts and music by visiting murals and museums and enjoying local performances. Learn about the life and legacy of local singer and actress Rosemary Clooney at The Rosemary Clooney Museum in Augusta. Nearby, view scenes of early river history in the Maysville Flood Wall Murals, created by artist Robert Dafford and then attend a live performance at the restored Washington Opera House. The building is the fifth oldest theatre still in use and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. Catch a local performance by the Stage Right Musical Theatre Company in Williamstown. Take a free self-guided tour to see riverfront flood murals, statues and other public art in the northern Kentucky area with NKY Art Tours, then enjoy a performance at The Carnegie or with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra

Pretzel and other German foods at Hofbrauhaus in Newport

Food & Tours

Who doesn’t love yummy food? Taste local favorites like goetta and authentic German fare at Hofbräuhaus Newport, or take a guided tour with Riverside Food Tours, combining local food, history and walking. The popular Mainstrasse Village Food Tour features delicious fare including German pretzels with beer cheese, charcuterie, handcrafted specialty pizza, authentic Kentucky dishes, coffee and homemade desserts. In between bites, you’ll explore the historic MainStrasse Village’s pretty streets, tree-lined plaza and 100-foot-tall Glockenspiel to learn more about the German immigrants who settled here. In Maysville, don’t miss Hutchison’s Grocery, started in 1850 by the Hutchison family and operated continuously since then, building a reputation for delicious country ham

Child presses hand to glass of exhibit at Newport Aquarium

More information about the region