Sitting on the confluence of Licking and Ohio River is a vibrant and charming city: Covington, Kentucky.
It's brimming with historical places, a storied past, as well as natural attractions that all come together to create a wonderful place for the whole family.
And while it may seem like an urbanized town sitting next to the metropolis of Cincinnati, it maintains a laid-back charm that makes it the perfect escape from bustling city lives.
It might fall under the radar of travelers because Cincinnati is much bigger and brighter, but if you are curious enough, you'd be surprised by the wonders hidden in this city.
From very old churches to panoramic parks, from art galleries to historic villages, there's something for everyone here.
So for your next weekend getaway, why not make this place your top choice?
Here are the 15 best things to do in Covington, KY:
Take in the Views of John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
One of the first structures that will catch your eye while at Devou Park would be the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.
This architectural wonder crosses the Ohio River and connects Covington to Cincinnati, and by extension, Kentucky to Ohio.
It has been around since 1866 and once was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
With its massive concrete towers and light blue trusses and wires, this engineering marvel offers the nicest riverside views on either side of the river.
Aside from car lanes, the bridge has paths for pedestrians that you can visit to see the Ohio river from another angle.
But the best way to appreciate the beauty of this destination is by staying at the many restaurants and parks along the banks.
You can dine or relax under beautiful spots and appreciate the views of the bridge, especially at night when its lights reflect from the shimmering surface of the Ohio River.
Learn the History of Covington at Behringer-Crawford Museum
For those who want to learn and immerse in the history of this region, then a visit to Behringer-Crawford Museum is a must.
The building itself is already a sight to behold.
The white facade and forested surroundings make it look like a stately house in the middle of a forest.
Inside, you will find galleries, collections, and exhibits that showcase the storied past of Northern Kentucky and Ohio Valley.
With the region’s rich natural and cultural heritage, you can expect a lot of artifacts related to agriculture and wildlife.
There are also exhibits that showcase the industrial and railroad history of the region, with some sections displaying small replicas of buildings and train tracks.
For those who are bringing kids, you can let them join in one of the educational programs where they can learn more about the region and try interactive activities.
There are also performance art events that you can catch, such as live music and art shows.
Escape From the City Noise at Pioneer Park
A little farther from the city center lies a quieter and more isolated outdoor destination, Pioneer Park.
Much like the other parks of the city, this one lies near a body of water, which adds to the overall beauty of the location.
The 43-acre attraction has paved walking trails, verdant grounds, and the beautiful Banklick Creek running along its western borders.
Pioneer Park is actually a great gateway for adventures along this creek, which has a lot of scenic segments and forested bends that make for a great kayaking or canoeing experience.
But for those who simply want to get away from the noisy streets of Covington’s downtown, then you can just stay and relax under the shady trees of the park.
There are also a lot of facilities for sports like baseball, baseball, volleyball, and tennis courts.
You're welcome to walk the paved trail that runs parallel to the creek, which offers nice views and sounds of rushing water.
Stay for a Few Hours at George Rogers Clark Park
George Rogers Clark Park is another waterside attraction located on the opposite end of Pioneer Park.
And while the latter offers peaceful experiences, George Rogers Clark Park is situated in a more boisterous neighborhood next to the Ohio River.
So you can expect bustling streets as well as the horns of boats as they travel along the nearby waterway.
But the sceneries are well worth the visit, as the park offers an interrupted view of the Cincinnati skyline and John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, which stands right next to the park.
There's also a thick canopy of trees that creates shady spots in large areas of the attraction, making it a favorite place for families and friends.
For history buffs, you can explore the various sections of the part that house statues of prominent figures from this region of the US.
It's a great way to learn history while staying in a gorgeous and relaxing location.
Dine Aboard a Ferry at Ohio River
Spanning six states, the Ohio River is one of the longest bodies of water in the country and is a major tributary to the Mississippi River.
It's the geographical feature that divides Kentucky and Ohio, cleaving in between the two states and creating a defined boundary.
Exploring this body of water is one of the favorite activities of both tourists and locals in Covington, with many businesses offering tours and boating trips along the length of the river.
Most of these are ferry rides that have lunch or dinner packages, and you get to visit some of the iconic points of interest and cultural destinations along the banks of the river.
So whether you want to travel in the middle of the day or during the sunset, you have many options to choose from.
For those feeling more adventurous, you can charter a fishing trip to one of the more isolated parts of the river with a seasoned local angler.
You can spend the whole day relaxing and trying to catch freshwater games, such as trouts, largemouth bass, and crappies.
Play a Few Rounds at Twin Oaks Golf & Magnolia Room
For beginners and professionals alike, the Twin Oaks Golf & Magnolia Room is a great destination to hone your golfing skills.
Much like Pioneer Park, it's set far from the busy downtown of Covington for peaceful and scenic gameplay.
The 18-hole course has Bermuda fairways, bent grass greens, well-maintained grounds, and a well-planned layout that has made it a premier course in the area.
On the other hand, the Magnolia Room is a wedding and events venue that exudes a Southern ambiance and charm.
Many people here come to celebrate special occasions because of the dainty interiors, scenic grounds, and overall great service of the employees.
Catch a Show at The Carnegie
The Carnegie was once a sprawling library that has been turned into an art and performance venue that attracts thousands of people in every show.
Before you watch one of these events, you have to pause and appreciate the grand architecture of this historical building.
It’s a piece of art in itself, with ornate staircases, intriguing paintings, elaborately decorated ceilings, and a stoic exterior with majestic columns.
The theater itself is a spacious room with excellent acoustics and lighting, allowing audiences to see and hear every detail of the plays, dance recitals, and musical concerts held on stage.
On the other hand, the halls serve as galleries where works from local and national artists are displayed for everyone to marvel at.
The level of sophistication and refinement is really at its peak here at The Carnegie.
Cruise the Gentle Streams of Licking River
Along the eastern borders of Covington runs Licking River, a 303-mile long body of water that also serves as a major tributary to the Ohio River.
Parts of it are navigable by bigger boats, making a moderately trafficked waterway, especially near Cincinnati.
However, there are many less crowded segments for those who want to explore its hidden wonders.
Many businesses in Covington offer tours to the river, mostly on smaller boats for fishing and kayaks or canoes for sightseeing.
You’ll visit forested fishing spots, scenic bends, rock formations, and the occasional rapids.
Some of the games you can catch include Channel catfish, rock bass, and rare muskies.
Marvel at the Stained-Glass Windows of Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption
You don't have to be religious to appreciate the beauty of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption.
Outside, the intricate and immaculate facade offers stunning views that make the whole structure stand out from the brick and gray walls of nearby buildings.
It's already a marvel to behold, but inside is what's makes this attraction a famous destination.
The spacious interiors give off an ambiance comparable to that of the basilicas in the Vatican, with flowing architecture, majestic columns, and lighting that emphasizes the details of every corner.
On the northern window, a stunning stained glass artwork lets in light with hundreds of colors changed by the tinted panes.
It depicts the coronation of Mary, with intricate and breathtaking designs that are as heavenly as the rest of the church.
It's actually the largest handmade stained-glass church window in the world, crafted by an established glass company in Germany.
Immerse in the German Ambiance of MainStrasse Village
Visiting MainStrasse Village is like being transported to a traditional German village without having to leave the continent.
This destination is listed under the National Register of Historic Places and receives thousands of visitors every day.
That's because this historic district is a 19th-century German neighborhood that still retains the original architecture and heritage, making it stand out in an otherwise urban city.
Aside from visiting the many establishments and businesses that offer authentic German experiences, you're welcome to join the many events held in the district.
Some of these include Oktoberfest, Northern Kentucky Wine Festival, and antique shows.
The district is also the home of the Carroll Chimes Bell Tower, a German Gothic clock tower that chimes a sonorous sound every hour.
So if you're looking for a unique and out-of-the-country experience while in the middle of the US, then make this a top destination in your itinerary.
Check Out Old Trains at Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati
As mentioned, this region of the US has an extensive railroad history since many tracks were installed around Cincinnati and neighboring cities.
And while Behringer-Crawford Museum has some small replicas of these trains, the real ones are at the Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati.
It’s a four-acre park designed to preserve the remaining Amtrak passenger cars that once thundered through the Ohio Valley.
There are 80 pieces of railroad equipment displayed here, including switchers, coaches, troop sleepers.
You're welcome to go on a self-guided tour every Saturday to see these various hunks of metal and learn how they became an integral part of US transportation.
Visit the Panoramic Devou Park
Most people say that the Cincinnati skyline is best viewed from this stunning park.
Devou Park is a 700-acre outdoor destination whose most prominent feature is the elevated and rolling grounds that give an excellent view of the surrounding.
The park is the highest hill in the city, and it attracts throngs of people who need a quick escape from their urban lives and a breath of fresh air amongst the tall trees.
Unsurprisingly, the favorite activity here is sightseeing the skyline of Cincinnati and the Ohio River.
There is also a lot of green space for various activities, and you're welcome to explore the trails, relax under shady trees, and play with your loved ones on the grassy grounds.
If you have the equipment, you can also try landscape photography, especially at night when Cincinnati lights up and creates stunning views.
Or you could try golfing, as some parts of the park have been turned into a beautiful course ideal for both beginners and professionals.
Other Things to Do Nearby
After your tour of Covington, visit these other famous destinations in the area.
See Creatures of the Deep at Newport Aquarium
Newport Aquarium lies on the other side of the Licking River, near enough that you can walk to this famous destination from George Rogers Clark Park.
It’s the home of thousands of aquatic animals, with more than 70 exhibits and five acrylic underwater tunnels.
As you walk through these paths, sharks, fishes, and other marine creatures swim overhead, creating a magical experience that’s well worth the trip.
Make a Splash at Coney Island Park
For all-around family fun and exciting water-related activities, make a stopover at Coney Island Park!
This water park may be small, but it has many inflatable rides, towering slides, and clear pools perfect for hot summer days.
So after your tour of Covington, it’s a good idea to come here, relax, and take a dip with the whole family.
It’s the perfect alternative for those who find Ohio or Licking River too turbulent or muddy for swimming.
Tour the Habitats of Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The world-famous Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is known as one of the leaders in animal conservation and protection.
It’s also the second oldest zoo in the country, having been around since 1875.
Here, you’ll meet more than 300 species of animals, including the famous Fiona the Hippo.
The botanical garden houses 3000 plant species, with flowers, trees, ferns, and many other types of flora flourishing under the care of dedicated experts.
The curious traveler will be rewarded when they choose the laid-back city of Covington over the busier and more famous destinations nearby.
From German villages to grand churches, from elevated parks to majestic theaters, there is something for every preference here.
Plan your itinerary by referencing this list so you won’t miss the top spots of this charming town!