Nestled along the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky, the city of Newport offers a number of entertainment venues, attractions and dining options in a more subdued setting than that of its neighbor to the north: Cincinnati.
In stark contrast to the views across the river, Newport has no skyscrapers, large sporting venues or massive office buildings. It does have a mix of historic structures and a small-town feel, along with a modern riverfront development packed with fun for families.
Newport on the Levee is a combination mall/entertainment complex/riverwalk. Shopping includes a 26,000-square-foot Barnes & Noble store, clothing and accessories shops and the Sweet Dreams Candy Co. A 20-screen AMC theatre seats 4,000 and has a 3D experience and and IMAX experience. Visitors also can enjoy arcade games at Gameworks, bowl at Axis Alley or take a ride on the Newport Express, a fun trackless train that is perfect size for the little ones. For lodging, the chic Aloft Hotel is situated on Newport on the Levee just steps away from all of the excitement.
Dining ranges from casual bites to upscale Italian and seafood eateries. Grab a bite at Five Guys, Dewey’s Pizza or the Greek Burrito, enjoy a pint or a cocktail at Brothers Bar and Grill or Bar Louie or settle in for a fine meal at Mitchell’s Fish Market, the region’s premier fresh seafood restaurant, or at Brio Tuscan Grille. You can also get a taste of regional favorites Tom + Chee, where you can nosh on a grilled cheese donut, or Skyline Chili in the cafe at the Newport Aquarium.
The Newport Aquarium is not to be missed on a trip to Northern Kentucky. It’s the place to be if you are a fan of underwater creatures — and sharks, in particular. The Surrounded by Sharks exhibit features 385,000 gallons of salt water and 85 feet of clear acrylic tunnels. As you walk through, you can see sharks of many varieties in every direction. The residents of the exhibit include four rare shark rays that swim alongside nurse sharks, sandbar sharks, zebra sharks and sand tiger sharks, stingrays, various fish and a loggerhead sea turtle named Dover. In Shark Central you can reach into a tank to touch various species of rays and sharks. And the aquarium’s Shark Bridge is the only rope suspension bridge in North America that gives guests the opportunity to walk over open waters just inches above about two dozen sharks on a 75-foot-long V-shaped bridge.
Aside from sharks, you can see five different species of penguins, the Gator Alley with eight species from four continents, an exhibit featuring nearly 20 species of exotic frogs and a tide touch pool where you can pet sea stars, horseshoe crabs and anemones. The fish you’ll see along the tour come from all over the world and kids will recognize characters from favorite movies and shows like "Finding Nemo" and "SpongeBob Squarepants."
Opening in May, a new exhibit called Stingray Hideaway will give families an opportunity to be immersed into a tropical paradise where they can interact with stingrays.
Throughout the day, you can take in different schedule activities, including the Penguin Feed, Animal Encounter and Penguin Meet and Greet. Beyond the regular admission, you can add on a backstage animal experience or an encounter backstage with African penguins.
Just across the street from the Levee, you can try traditional German beers brewed in the same manner as they were centuries ago. The lively authentic Hofbrauhaus beer hall was the first to open in the U.S. in 2003. Live entertainment and keg tappings make you feel as if you’ve been transported to Bavaria. On the menu are German classics like schnitzel and sausages and pretzels that are imported from Germany and served with a rich beer cheese and spicy mustard.
Wear your walking shoes on your visit to Newport, where you’ll want to explore the Riverwalk and take a jaunt across the Purple People Bridge, a pedestrian-only bridge connecting Newport to Cincinnati. You also can board the Belle of the Cincinnati or the River Queen at Newport Landing for a sightseeing cruise.