Come One, Come All to Northern Kentucky

From bourbon to our nearby trails to a giant ark, there are heaps of reasons to take a trip just south of the Queen City.
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Illustration by Zachary Ghaderi

Pilgrims of all kinds flock to Northern Kentucky each year—those seeking all kinds of spirits: the holy ones, the spirit of nature, and spirits that go well over ice.

Coming off a record year for travel as pandemic restrictions lifted, Julie Kirkpatrick, president of Northern Kentucky’s tourism org meetNKY, says much of that traffic comes from the Bourbon Trail. With the rise of New Riff, Boone County, Second Sight, Pensive, and other local distilleries on the Bourbon Line (B-Line, for short), bourbon lovers have more reason than ever to start their journey up north, where Kirkpatrick says the trail truly starts. “You see a lot of women-owned bars and restaurants, and we are so excited about new unique bourbon experiences opening like Wenzel Whiskey in Covington, which is an experience where you can basically play with bourbon. You can fuse your own bourbon and have something unique from our region to take home with you,” she says.

Religious tourism draws visitors to sites like the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Ark Encounter, and the Creation Museum, too. “A good proportion of that are visitors coming in for the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum,” says Kirkpatrick.

Those seeking outdoor adventure have plenty of trails to visit, as well, including the Riverfront Commons. “We have a phenomenal trail system on both sides of the river. Obviously, the river itself is a gem,” she says, adding that meetNKY is working with destinations up and down the Ohio River Way to get a national trail designation.

National and international media are taking notice of NKY, too. Condé Nast Traveler named the region one of its 23 best spots to visit this year. Kirkpatrick says a big reason for that increased attention is Northern Kentucky’s gateway to the world, CVG. The airport recently announced British Airways will fly direct into foggy London. “It is not well known that Northern Kentucky is the No. 2 tourism area in the state of Kentucky. A lot of that has to do, of course, with being close to Cincinnati and being part of the region, but a big part has to do with CVG,” Kirkpatrick says.

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