A girl peers at a scuba diver inside a tank with fish at the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky

Rivers & Race Cars

Northern Kentucky River Region Family Itinerary

There’s plenty of aquatic life and riverfront charm to enjoy in Northern Kentucky, but the area offers so much more. German culture, biblical history and a big-time racetrack rev up the action as well.


Day 1: Newport Fun 

A father and son peer into a shark tank at Newport Aquarium in KentuckyBegin your Northern Kentucky adventure exploring the state-of-the-art Newport Aquarium at Newport on the Levee on the banks of the Ohio River. This popular family attraction features 70 exhibits and 14 themed galleries, including five seamless acrylic tunnels giving you an up-close view of thousands of aquatic creatures – from African penguins to rare white alligators. Dare to cross the Shark Bridge, a rope bridge suspended just inches above shark-filled waters!

Afterward, stop by the World Peace Bell and Exhibit Center in Newport to see one of only 30 peace bells in the world. The one here features an inscription commemorating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and additional engravings marking important events from the past 1,000 years. Time your visit around noon, when the bell rings daily. While in the area, be sure to visit St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, a 100-year-old French-Gothic cathedral that features the world’s largest hand-blown stained-glass window. A shot of the elaborate stained glass inside St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Newport, KY

Ready for a unique dinner experience? If you’re in the mood for authentic Italian cuisine with a side of movie history, head to Pompilio’s, a filming location of the movie Rainman starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. If you’re craving authentic German food and entertainment, opt for the Newport HofBrauhaus, the first in America modeled after the legendary beer hall in Munich, Germany. 

After a great meal and a pint, settle into a riverfront hotel offering views of the dazzling Cincinnati skyline, located just across the Ohio River.

Day 2: Biblical Wonders

An exhibit about the building of Noah's Ark at the Creation Museum in KentuckyAfter breakfast, make your way to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, where you can take a walk through biblical history complete with a high-tech special effects theater and planetarium that is sure to impress everyone in the family. After touring the museum, head outside to the Screaming Raptor Zip Line and Canopy Adventure Tour, featuring more than two miles of ziplines and sky bridges, with a petting zoo and botanical gardens also on site. If you want to stick with the Bible theme, an easy 45-minute drive to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown takes you to a life-sized Noah's Ark built to biblical specifications. After taking some time to tour the ark, you can visit exotic animals at the Ararat Ridge Zoo.

Ready for a little outdoor play? Head to Kincaid Lake State Park in Falmouth, where you can rent a boat at the marina to enjoy top-notch fishing. The park also offers a wide variety of sports and recreational opportunities for the entire family, including two walking trails, a nine-hole golf course, miniature golf and both volleyball and basketball courts. When you’re ready to call it a night, relax in one of several lodging options in Maysville.

Day 3: Stories & Speedways

Car zoom around the track at Kentucky SpeedwayBegin the final day of your Northern Kentucky getaway at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center in beautiful downtown Maysville, where you’ll discover one of the most impressive collections of miniatures in the country. Then explore a truly fascinating piece of U.S. history at the National Underground Railroad Museum, which displays artifacts that chronicle the Underground Railroad and provide your family with a greater understanding of how the nearby Ohio River was once an obstacle to freedom. 

After lunch, pick up the pace with a visit to the Kentucky Speedway near Sparta, where you can schedule a track tour to get an inside view of areas that are off limits to fans during race weekends. Or check ahead and plan your trip around a driving school so you can learn to handle a race car like a pro. 

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