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Two is Better Than One in the Cincy Region

In the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati region, groups can break out the walking shoes and explore two states in one visit.

The Ohio River splits the region and many of Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati’s top attractions are located near the riverfront. With green spaces, restaurants, nightlife and hotels for all budgets, it is easy to build an itinerary along both sides of the river.

Stingrays, Sharks, Penguins and More

At Newport on the Levee in Newport, Kentucky, the Newport Aquarium has welcomed visitors to explore the underwater world since 1999. It is home to hundreds of marine species, including penguins, stingrays and sharks. Among its highlights is the world’s first and only Shark Bridge, a rope bridge that challenges visitors to walk inches above tank where sharks, rays and more than 300 fish live.

For hands-on adventures, the Stingray Touch, Tide Pool and 5,000-gallon Shark Touch Tank let visitors feel underwater creatures and learn about their natural habitats. Nearby, 85 feet of tunnels walk through a 385,000-gallon tank amid schools of fish, sea turtles and plenty of sharks in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit. The aquarium’s Coral Reef Tunnel is home to over 50 species of fish and brightly colored coral.

At group dinners, biologists can give presentations or guests can dine alongside sharks. The popular Penguin and Shark Breakfast, a buffet for groups of 30 or more, is held before the aquarium opens to the public. Dinners in the aquarium’s Riverside Room come with views of the Cincinnati skyline.

Explore the Past and Present

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, located on the Ohio River, explores Cincinnati’s role in the Underground Railroad, when thousands of slaves crossed the Ohio River to seek freedom. The museum tells those stories as well as others of more modern-day efforts to free enslaved people.

The center’s largest and most significant artifact is a slave pen, built in the early 1800s and moved from a farm in Mason County, Kentucky, less than 60 miles from the Freedom Center. The structure held slaves waiting to be sold farther South. The center’s Harriet Tubman Theater shows “Suite for Freedom,” a visual experience set to music that tells the stories of the Underground Railroad and struggles to escape slavery.

“Here at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, we are more focused on the model of having docents located throughout the building, allowing guests to learn the stories and ask questions,” said Cody Hefner, vice president of marketing and communications for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Some may be surprised to see the museum in Cincinnati, but it is on the banks of our city where many had their first taste of freedom.”

Rolling on the River

A cruise along the Ohio River with BB Riverboats is a good way to see development along the Kentucky and Ohio sides of the river. The company has plied those waters since 1980 and has two boats in its fleet, the River Queen and the larger Belle of Cincinnati. A variety of sightseeing and dinner cruises depart from Riverboat Row in Newport.

Themed cruises range from: ice cream socials; history sightseeing tours; music and sunset sailings; a Dixieland Jazz brunch cruise; and more upscale voyages like the Captain’s Dinner Cruise, which includes a DJ for dancing the night away.

BB Riverboats offers group pricing for groups of 15 or more and customized experiences, with add-ons that include entertainment, flowers and décor onboard, souvenirs for guests, an event coordinator and special pricing for dining and bar packages.

“We were a restaurant family before we were a riverboat family,” said Nancy Willhoite, the company’s director of sales. “We understand the importance of good food. You’ll also find plenty of bus parking in Northern Kentucky and hotels for all price points here. We love welcoming groups aboard the riverboats.”

Hey Batter, Batter

Groups can root for the home team at the Great American Ballpark and the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

“Baseball and Cincinnati are synonymous,” said Rick Wall, executive director of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. “We are home to the largest team hall of fame with over 15,000 square feet and 7,000 artifacts on display. Word is getting out that we are the best hall of fame around.”

The hall of fame is adjacent to the ballpark, so there is access to the museum whether groups go to a game or not. Guided tours of the ballpark include complimentary admission to the hall of fame, where visitors can learn about the 1869 Red Stockings and explore exhibits like Pursuit of a Dream, which details the Negro Leagues and the integration of baseball. It includes stories told by Chuck Harmon, the first African American player in Reds history.

Groups of 15 or more have another option. On Sundays when the Reds have away games, there’s Brunch, Brews and Baseball at nearby Moerlein Lager House. The brunch includes a flight of beers and a tour of the brewing operation. Afterward, guests can tour the Reds Hall of Fame and the Great American Ball Park.