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OnSite in Kentucky

Thanks to an attraction of biblical proportions,as well as a deep religious heritage and a tradition of hospitality, Kentucky has surged to become the leading faith-based travel destination in the country.

That’s what 14 tour operators, travel agents and other readers of Going On Faith magazine discovered during a four-day familiarization tour throughout the state in June. Hosted by the Kentucky Department of Tourism, this tour visited Newport and northern Kentucky, as well as historic sites in the central Bluegrass region and charming Bardstown.

Follow along on this itinerary to enjoy the best of Kentucky’s faith-based attractions and other signature activities.

Day 1

Arrival in northern Kentucky

Newport Aquarium

Belle of Cincinnati Dixieland Jazz Dinner Cruise

Guests traveled from throughout the United States to Newport, a city that sits at the northernmost tip of Kentucky directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. After settling in at the hip new Aloft Newport on the Levee hotel, the group met to walk through the Newport on the Levee entertainment district to the Newport Aquarium. They got a guided tour of the 100,000-square-foot riverfront aquarium, where they experienced new features including the Shark Ray Bay theater and a touch tank at Stingray Bay Hideaway.

From the aquarium, the group proceeded to Newport Landing and boarded the Belle of Cincinnati. Operated by BB Riverboats, the Belle offers various sightseeing and dining cruises on the Ohio River. The group enjoyed the Dixieland Jazz Dinner Cruise, which features excellent live music, great food and beautiful sunset views of the Cincinnati and Newport skylines.

Day 2

Creation Museum

Ark Encounter and Lunch

Departure for Harrodsburg

Dinner and Overnight at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

The group left Newport for Petersburg, a northern Kentucky town that is home to the Creation Museum. Participants toured the 60,000-square-foot museum, which has a variety of immersive exhibits presenting biblical history. Along the way, they saw life-size dinosaur statues, animatronics, a planetarium, a special-effects theater and beautiful outdoor botanical gardens.

From there, the group took the short trip to Williamstown, also in northern Kentucky, which is home to the Ark Encounter. This massive attraction is built to the scale of Noah’s Ark as described in the Bible, spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high, and made headlines when it opened in 2016. Officials estimate that more than 1 million visitors have visited in its first year of operation.

After leaving the Ark Encounter, the group proceeded south through Lexington to Harrodsburg and Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, where they enjoyed dinner at the Trustees’ Table restaurant, an evening marshmallow roast and overnight accommodations in some of the historic structures on the property.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.