Kentucky offers balance

The northwest corner of Kentucky is a true gem. Composed of Covington, Newport and several communities in between, this cozy, revitalized section of the state gives Cincinnati, its sister city across the Ohio River, a run for its money. It's no wonder this part of Northern Kentucky has been dubbed "The Southern Cincinnati."

Like so many cities across America, Covington and Newport have spruced up their core downtowns. Museums, restaurants, lodging and green space mixed with a plethora of recreation and entertainment options pumped life back into these once-lackluster towns.

Longtime residents love Northern Kentucky because it provides a balance between modern civilization and Southern tranquility. "It's right across the river from Cincinnati," said Anna Langlinais, a TV producer and Northern Kentucky native. "So you still have access to a big city, but you have a small-town feel and the beauty of Kentucky."If you plan on visiting the area, it should be noted that a flight to Covington's airport is less than two hours while a drive clocks in at about eight.

Historic tours give a different perspective

Northern Kentucky is steeped in history. Take a sightseeing tour of Covington or Newport to discover a historic area and a district filled with homes dating back to when the country was in a time of war on its own soil. Mainstrasse Village, the historic German section in Covington, is home to the Carroll Chimes Bell Tower. This 43-bell Carillon house in a German Gothic tower is quite a spectacle. The tower, measuring in at 100 feet, is filled with music and animated figures that tell the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The chimes play every hour with small wooden figures that move around the clock. The tower emits songs from "The Sound Of Music."Another interesting point of interest in Mainstrasse Village is the Goose Girl Fountain. It is a bronze centerpiece that stands as a symbol to the German fairy tale about the "Goose Girl." The fountain was created by Greek sculptor Eleftherios Karkadoulias. It took him more than a year and a half to complete.The village evokes strong memories for those who spent time here. "I would always enjoy walking along the tree-lined sidewalks and (looking) at the architecture," recalled Langlinais, "and then I would pop into a local bar for a bratwurst and beer for lunch." Without a doubt, this area is stocked with great German food and beer in places including Wertheim's Gasthaus Zur Linde, the Strasse Haus and the Delta Haus. The Riverside Drive Historic District is home to scores of Civil War homes that are complete with carriage houses, life-size bronze statues and elegant gardens.

Gorgeous historic structures in this area are breathtaking, such as the Mimosa Mansion, which is the area's largest single family home. A jaunt over to Madison Avenue in Covington will bring you to the Cathedral Basilica Of The Assumption. This cathedral is reminiscent of Notre Dame in Paris with its French-Gothic architecture. With more than 80 stained glass windows, this cathedral draws more than 70,000 visitors per year.

An amazing aquarium

The concept of the Georgia Aquarium seems strange without a nearby body of water. While it ought to be interesting to see how the aquarium in Atlanta will turn out, the aquarium in Newport, Ky., has been thriving. Named the No. 1 aquarium in the Midwest, the Newport Aquarium is home to thousands of aquatic creatures in remarkable displays. Seamless tunnels give visitors a 360-degree view of sharks, stingrays, schooling fish, a moray eel and a loggerhead sea turtle.

The Newport Aquarium is the first and only location in the Western Hemisphere to display a shark ray. A 40-pound, 4-foot-long shark named Sweet Pea was recently and permanently added to the aquarium. Sweet Pea is a rare, prehistoric-looking creature that amazes crowds with her flat underside, dual fins and human-like eyes. "In some ways, people are always drawn to what they don't understand. And, in general, the public has an overall fear of sharks," said senior aquatic biologist Mark Dvornak. "This gives us at the Newport Aquarium the opportunity to shed some light on some misunderstandings that people have surrounding sharks."

Plenty to do in Kentucky

A brief overview of the Northern Kentucky Web site includes attractions from Cincinnati, Covington, Newport and many other towns. With that kind of public relations campaign tying all the cities together, it's easy to forget that Cincinnati is in fact in the state of Ohio.

Nevertheless, Northern Kentucky stands on its own with an overwhelming amount of choices for things to do. Newport on the Levee provides an excellent mix of dining, shopping and entertainment. Also in the area is the Hofbrauhaus Newport, which features a bevy of beer and delectable German and American food. In addition to all of the activities that are available here, riverboat cruises, racing, gaming and outdoor recreation are yours for the taking when you visit Northern Kentucky.


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