To some, a trip to the northern part of Kentucky is sort of like visiting another state. The culture, history, and even the dialect reveal a strong influence of German heritage. Even though the “y’alls” might not be as prevalent here, it doesn’t mean this is not a friendly destination. In fact, the huge water tower just off I-75/I-71—its sign reads “Florence Y’all”—might be the biggest “y’all” you’ll see in the country.
All it does is further point out Kentucky’s diversity.
The communities of Covington, Newport, and Florence offer perhaps a bit faster pace than so-called “down state.” But they still offer plenty of charm.
To support an increasingly cosmopolitan citizenry, this part of northern Kentucky serves up a rich tapestry of arts and culture. They have been formulating for almost two centuries, but nowadays, these communities have dressed themselves up, put a smile on their historic faces, and turned their welcome lights on.
If you go to northern Kentucky, by all means don’t be in a rush to leave. There’s so much to see and do.
Covington’s renowned Main-Strasse Village features numerous restaurants, pubs, shops, and festivals. It seems as if something is always going on at MainStrasse. Plenty of hotels are conveniently located nearby, within easy walking distance of the shops and restaurants, and many have a view of the Ohio River and the Cincinnati skyline.
Newport on the Levee is a huge retail, shopping, dining, and entertainment attraction that also features the Newport Aquarium, which showcases thousands of sea animals in a million gallons of water.
Riverboat cruises, the 70,000-square-foot Creation Museum, Basilica of the Assumption Cathedral, which features the world’s second-largest stained glass church window, the 18 Robert Dafford floodwall murals, the World Peace Bell, and all of those beautiful homes overlooking the river ensure that you are as busy as you want to be.
Of course, northern Kentucky is much more than just the metropolitan area and all of those city things to do.
There are four state parks in the area: General Butler, Big Bone Lick, Kincaid Lake, and Blue Licks Battlefield. There are nine covered bridges spread out over several counties. There’s the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, and Dry Ridge offers one of the best quilt shops in the nation. It’s appropriately called The Quilt Box.
Maysville is an old river town and its earliest houses were built on a hillside somewhat removed from the river, but with a view to die for. Commercial and passenger steamboats created lots of excitement. Today, that river activity has given way to barges, tug boats, and a few pleasure crafts. Maysville is what it is because of the river.
There you’ll find the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center, home to the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniature Collection, a world-class collection of 1/12 miniatures handcrafted by some of the world’s finest artisans and displayed in a 3,200-square-foot gallery. Maysville also boasts its own Dafford floodwall murals, as well as the Underground Railroad Museum, which features artifacts related to the period of slavery.
The Clooney name is big in Maysville and nearby Augusta, where you’ll find The Rosemary Clooney House museum. Visitors can see costumes and memorabilia from the singer’s 1954 film White Christmas and more, and memorabilia on the life and work of her nephew, George Clooney.
While in Augusta, don’t pass up an opportunity to eat at the Beehive Tavern. It’s owned and operated by chef Luciano “Sean” Moral, a world-class tenor, and if you’re lucky, on a Friday or Saturday night, he just might wrap up the evening with a song or two.
Carrollton is a river town midway between Louisville and Cincinnati. Visitors can relax at Welch’s Riverside Restaurant, which offers a view of the Ohio River for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Afterward, you may want to tour the Old Stone Jail, built in 1880 and used until 1969. For sure, your visit will be much more enjoyable than those experienced by law breakers years ago.
FRONTIER LIFE SURVIVES IN OLD WASHINGTON
On the outskirts of Maysville is a village more than 200 years old, known today as the historic district Old Washington. Founded in 1786, its original flagstone sidewalks, 18th-century log cabin, frame, and brick buildings give visitors a glimpse of what the Kentucky frontier was like.
Start at the visitor’s center in Paxton House, next door to the Paxton Inn. Built by lawyer and abolitionist James Paxton, the inn was a popular gathering place for travelers and locals to discuss the issues of the day. Here you can begin a self-guided walking tour, or a guide is available seven days a week, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Albert Sidney Johnston House, the childhood home of the Civil War general who died in the Battle of Shiloh, is a popular site in the village, as is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Slavery to Freedom Museum.
Old Washington has several interesting shops that sell antiques and gifts.
Cathedral of Basilica of the Assumption
1140 Madison Ave., Covington
Open daily year-round Monday-Saturday,
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission.
2800 Bullittsburg Church Road, Petersburg
Open Sunday-Saturday; $21.95 adults.
Call or see Web site for times and
other ticket prices.
Kentucky Gateway Museum Center
215 Sutton Street, Maysville
Open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.,
Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, 1-4 p.m.;
museum only, $10; library, $5; students, $2.
406 W. Sixth St., Covington
Maysville-Mason County Convention & Visitors Bureau
216 Bridge St., Maysville
National Underground Railroad Museum
38 W. Fourth Street, Maysville
Open February through October only;
Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.,
or by appointment; $4 ages 13 and up, $2 ages 12 and under.
Northern Kentucky Convention
& Visitors Bureau
50 E. RiverCenter Blvd. Suite 200, Covington
1 Aquarium Way, Newport
Open 365 days, winter hours 10 a.m.-6 p.m. until
Memorial Day, then 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily for summer.
Adults $22; ages 2-12, $15; under 2, free.
The Rosemary Clooney House
106 E. Riverside Drive, Augusta
Open Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday,
11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.; $5 admission.