Located in North Central Kentucky’s Blue Grass Region, the city of Cynthiana takes you to sites full of fascinating history.
This home rule city is also the county seat of Harrison County, welcoming visitors with its small-town South American atmosphere.
Cynthiana’s early settlement was established through lands donated by Robert Harrison, located along the banks of Licking River’s South Fork.
It was established in 1793 and named after Harrison’s daughters, Cynthia and Anna.
The city was also the site of two Civil War encounters, with an initial Confederate raid in 1862 and the final defeat of the Union camp in 1864 by Confederate General John Hunt Morgan.
During the early 19th century, the city had a thriving farm community and became a major producer of Burley tobacco; it’s also home to 3M, the company famous for its “Post It” notepads.
Want to know more about Harrison County’s Maiden City?
Here are the best things to do in Cynthiana, Kentucky:
Go Fishing at Licking River
The Licking River’s South and Middle Fork offers you a perfect spot for water activities.
You can access the area from the Cynthiana Ramp to A. Keller, which takes about three miles.
Be sure to check the river’s water levels on their website if you’re planning to go there.
You’ll enjoy the surrounding quiet nature and lake view while fishing, boating, or canoeing.
The Licking River has abundant rock bass, smallmouth bass, and catfish, so you’re sure to get a good catch.
Revisit History at Cynthiana Harrison County Museum
The Cynthiana Harrison County Museum was opened to the public in 1994 to preserve and promote the community’s colorful history and culture.
The Cynthiana Harrison County Trust Inc. founded the museum and is housed at the Rohs Movie Theatre.
Step back in time with over 3,000 interesting displays that depict the history and development of Cynthiana’s Education, Military, and Agriculture.
You’ll find fascinating items that tell the tales of early Native Americans who settled in the area, as well as objects from the town’s police and fire departments, churches, and local industries.
Catch the amusing Walking Dead memorabilia donated by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, creators of the series who both hail from Harrison County.
Among the museum’s significant displays is the collection of letters from Harrison resident William Jones to his wife during the Civil War.
See an original Power's Cameragraph No. 6B Motion Picture Projector used during the silent movie era and antique tool collections used in early farming and industrial fields.
Take a peek at Cynthiana Harrison County Museum’s amazing toy collections, which include Roy Rogers and Davy Crockett’s early careers.
Read and Learn at the Cynthiana-Harrison County Public Library
Cynthiana-Harrison County Public Library is more than your local public library, with lists of activities you can do on your visit.
The institution serves to engage the community and provide access to learning and information through various resources.
Join scheduled events and classes like Adult Craft Classes.
Encourage little tots to participate in Story Time sessions with songs, stories, and fun activities.
Enjoy some time with the Flipping Pages book group that meets monthly.
Are you a certified bookworm?
Then you’ll be excited to meet other people at the Book Buzz.
If you want to know more facts about Harrison County, you can drop by the Christine Burgan Kentucky Room and browse the Log Cabin Newspaper collection, featuring microfilm copies dating back from the 1890s to the 1960s.
The Cynthiana-Harrison County Public Library also offers the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which gives free books to children.
Join Fun Events at the Harrison County Fair
Loads of fun and excitement await you at the annual Harrison County Fair.
This city event lets you enjoy the hospitality and welcoming community culture of local Cynthinians.
Get to see Livestock Shows featuring beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goat varieties, hog, rabbit, and poultry.
The fair has something for everyone to enjoy, like the Family Fun Night, Monster Truck Rides, Greased Pig Contest, and Donkey Racing.
Watch the mighty trucks and tractors at various pull and racing events.
Cheer on your favorite and enjoy the horse and rodeo shows, check the different 4-H and Open Exhibits, and drop by to see the locally grown flowers and produce.
And, of course, a local Southern celebration like the Harrison County Fair won’t be complete without a Barbecue Cookoff and a Country Ham Breakfast to enjoy.
Enjoy Family Time at Flat Run Veterans’ Park
Flat Run Veterans’ Park is a public city park where you can spend a relaxing afternoon with your family.
The 120-acre park has picnic sheds and walking trails, perfect spots to unwind and enjoy the city sights.
For some activities, you can head to the skating area or jog on the tracks.
Take your kids on the lower walking trail area for a Story Walk.
The trail features a new story every three months that you and your family can read and enjoy.
This permanent park display is available all year round and funded by The National Endowment for the Humanities, Kentucky Humanities, and the Wm. Frank Lebus Jr. Library Fund.
Head off to Flat Run Veterans’ Park!
Get Entertained at the Rohs Opera House
The Rohs Opera House is one of Cynthiana’s iconic structures and is hailed as the state’s oldest running theater.
Built in 1871, it was formerly known as the Aeolian Hall Music Association, with the original opera house located on the current building’s second floor.
It was acquired by H.A. Ross in 1873 and was renamed the Rohs Opera House.
The start of the local movie experience came to a reality when a silent movie projector was added in 1941.
Today, you can catch movies, concerts, plays, and live shows at reasonable rates at this entertainment venue.
The non-profit Rohs Theatre Company also presents live theatre productions throughout the year.
More than a historic theater, the production venue is also known to be one of the most haunted buildings in Kentucky.
It offers Ghost Tours and has become a favorite spot for paranormal groups and anyone curious about experiencing haunted and unexplained events.
Whether it’s for entertainment or wanting a unique experience, the Rohs Opera House is an attraction you must visit.
Grab Local Beers at Maiden City Brewing Company
For a taste of locally crafted beers and a great local place to hang out, Maiden City Brewing Company lets you enjoy both.
This local business was started in 2016 by owners Alex, Austin, and Jaime, who dreamed of sharing Southern hospitality and serving good beers.
Choose from their tap beers like Maiden City Bluegrass Blonde, a pure American Blonde Ale flavor, or the German beer called Maiden City Pilsner, that’s light-bodied, gold-colored, and bottom-fermented.
Try the Country Boy–Orange Cream Cider made with a mix of orange and vanilla, complimenting the juicy cider flavor.
Their Hall and Oats flavor offers a dark, smooth flavor that’s slightly sweet and gives the right bitter taste, balancing it with the nutty roasted malt and creamy oatmeal flakes.
You’ll enjoy every brew on the menu at Maiden City Brewing Company.
Stroll the Historic Cynthiana Main Street
Cynthiana Main Street is the city’s highlight, which hosts Kentucky’s second-largest mid-19th century collection of cast iron buildings.
The non-profit Cynthiana Main Street, Inc. aims to uplift downtown businesses and preserve the district’s historical charm and aesthetic features.
You’ll admire the outstanding Victorian and Federal-style structural designs that are well-kept and restored to reflect the city’s earliest years.
Downtown Cynthiana is listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
You’ll spot the classic Biancke's Restaurant operating since 1894.
Tour the streets of Main, Walnut, Pike, and Bridge and visit the local retail shops and restaurants.
Walking along Cynthiana Main Street will surely give you a nostalgic feel.
Get Creative at Abstract Distractions
If you’re looking for something creative to do, you can drop by Abstract Distractions.
This family-owned and operated business offers handmade products from local artists to support various community endeavors.
You’ll find nice home items and decorative pieces you can keep or gift to someone.
You can also book a Paint Palooza event for a unique get-together with friends and family.
This instructional painting session lets you express your creativity through activities, like canvass painting, wine glass and wine bottle painting, door hanging painting, and more.
You can also purchase do-it-yourself paint kits, painted spoon decors, and door hangers at Abstract Distractions.
Enjoy Delectable Meals at Biancke’s Restaurant
Biancke’s Restaurant is more than a local restaurant but very much a part of the city’s history.
Italian native Guido Biancke came to Kentucky in 1890 and opened his own restaurant and fruit stand after marrying Clementina Poppini.
Since then, it has become a local institution and has maintained its tradition of serving home-cooked meals and offering a friendly dining experience.
They have Kid’s Menu you can order for your little ones like Chicken Strip Basket, Catfish Basket, or Grilled Cheese Basket, all served with fries or chips, juice or soft drinks, and a cookie or ice cream for dessert.
Enjoy servings of Italian Spaghetti made with homemade meat sauce, or try the Baked Italian Spaghetti generously smothered in cheese, both served with salad and garlic toast.
Take bites of their seafood bestseller: the Catfish Plate served fried or grilled with tartar sauce and hushpuppies.
Try other specialties on the menu, like the Grill selections, burgers, sandwiches, salads, omelets, and breakfast sandwiches.
Biancke’s Restaurant also serves mouth-watering Daily Breakfast meals, like the Big Boy Breakfast and Country Boy’s Favorite.
Buy Local Products at the Harrison County Farmer’s Market
Harrison County Farmer’s Market hosts vendors from the county and surrounding areas.
The market opens from May to October every Saturday at the Flat Run Veterans’ Park and every Wednesday at the Courthouse Square, which starts in June.
Choose from a variety of Kentucky’s locally grown produce and fresh items.
You’ll find farm-fresh eggs, vegetables, fruits, herbs, honey, and more.
Check out the bread varieties, baked goods, jams, and spreads like Apple Butter and Pear Butter.
You can also catch the yearly Harvest Festival at the park with live music, crafts stalls, food trucks, and activities for kids like face painting and bounce houses.
Come and shop at Harrison County Farmer’s Market.
Tour the Old Log Cabin House
The Old Cabin House is the oldest house in the city, built in 1790.
In his younger years, Henry Clay practiced at the cabin in 1806.
It was also in this location that Cynthiana’s first newspaper, the Guardian of Liberty, was printed in 1817.
Adam Keenan printed the publication with the assistance of H. H. Kavanaugh, who later became a Bishop, and Dudley Mann, who became a French diplomat.
Guthrie’s first published copy of the Arithmetic was also printed here at the Old Log Cabin House.
See Awesome Vintage Cars at the Cynthiana Rod Run
The Cynthiana Rod Run is one of Kentucky’s largest car, truck, and motorcycle shows.
The annual event features fairs, contests, truck competitions, and lines of merchandise and vendors to choose from.
Car enthusiasts welcome seeing classic vintage car models at the much-awaited car show.
Join the celebrations with your family with live music performances, kids’ activities, and food to enjoy.
Have fun at the Cynthiana Rod Run!
View the Wildlife at Quiet Trails State Nature Preserve
The Quiet Trails State Nature Preserve is a 165-acre land area at the borders of Licking River.
The property was donated by Mr. and Mrs. W.G. Wiglesworth, Jr. to the Commonwealth.
Dedicated in 1992, the nature preserve features ridges and ravine areas that are home to diverse flora and fauna.
You can enjoy birdwatching and exploring trees and wildflowers unique to the Bluegrass region.
This preserve is recognized as a Watchable Wildlife Site and managed by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission.
Get connected with nature at the Quiet Trails State Nature Preserve.
Visit Landmarks at the Harrison County Court House
One of the historical landmarks you can visit in the city is the Harrison County Court House, located on the old public square.
You’ll see this Greek Revival-style Courthouse built between 1851 and 1853.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
If you’re keen on architectural structures, you’ll admire the details of the building.
It was said that the sills, lintels, and rock-hewn courthouse door was made out of dirt hauled from the roads of Cincinnati.
You’ll also see the four-sided town clock installed in 1856, which remains a local landmark.
Surrounding the Harrison County Court House are other significant landmarks, including war memorials of the Korean War, World War I, Destroyers-USS Cassin, the Old Log Court House, 1st and 2nd Battles of Cynthiana, and the city’s Old Cemetery.
Cynthiana is among Kentucky’s Bluegrass cities, filled with a colorful history and thriving community.
The downtown district area reflects much of its notable historic character.
City celebrations like the Cynthiana Rod Run and the annual County Fair are highlights of this Southern city.
Whether it’s the great sights or fun events, you’ll enjoy your time with your family here.
So pack your bags and get to do the best things in Cynthiana, Kentucky!