Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Newport, KY

  • Published 2023/03/03

Located on the banks of the Licking River, Newport is a former “sin city” known for its gambling, speakeasies and a massive flood in the 17th century.

However, it has managed to retain the beauty of its rough history while reinventing itself.

As a border community between Kentucky and Ohio, Newport, Kentucky, offers a wide range of activities for locals and tourists alike.

With its proximity to Cincinnati’s busy metropolis, a wide selection of budget-friendly attractions and amenities is just a short drive or walk across the Purple People Bridge.

Today, Newport is bursting with fantastic cuisine, entertainment options, and some of the best food in the state.

Thinking of the best things to do in Newport, KY?

Regardless of your interests, the city always offers something for every kind of adventure!

Check out the activities you can do in these top destinations in Newport:

Newport Southbank Bridge

Newport Southbank Bridge in Newport, KY

Anne Kitzman /

Also known as Purple People Bridge, Newport Southbank Bridge spans across the Ohio River.

This 2,670-feet long pedestrian-only bridge connects Cincinnati, Ohio, and Newport, Kentucky.

It draws many visitors with its distinctive purple hue and its surrounding landscape and the river.

As you take a stroll across the bridge, your eyes will be greeted by the breathtaking views of the Cincinnati and Newport, Kentucky skyline.

Here, you may also rent bikes and spot flocks of geese.

Walkway of Newport Southbank Bridge

mhgstan /

You can also take pictures with the Ohio-Kentucky state line marker!

The bridge provides access to riverside paths in both states along the Ohio River.

There is easy access to downtown Cincinnati and Newport on the Levee from this bridge.

In 2006, modifications were made to the Newport Southbank Bridge to allow pedestrians to traverse the bridge’s superstructure while wearing safety gear.

Daytime view of Newport Southbank Bridge

Rosamar /

Sweet Tooth

Established in 1972, any Newport local would instantly recognize Sweet Tooth.

Located at 125 W 11th Street, its dessert recipes have been developed with generations of experiences to ensure you get a delicious chocolate treat at a great price.

After its former owners announced retirement, this dessert shop was bought by Pompilio’s Italian restaurant owners in 2020 to continue its legacy.

Sweet Tooth offers a variety of handmade chocolates and confections as well as ice cream.

If you’re visiting in summer, you can order ice balls with or without ice cream in it.

In fall, you can try its best-selling caramel apple.

World Peace Bell

Close view of the World Peace Bell in KY

Absoblogginlutely at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The World Peace Bell in 425 York Street holds the record of the world’s biggest free-swinging bell.

The twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot bell, dedicated to the city in 1999, weighs sixty-six thousand pounds.

Meanwhile, its yoke weighs 16,512 pounds, and its clapper, 6,878 pounds.

The World Peace Bell, one of more than 20 Peace Bells across the world, rings at noon every day.

Its deep and powerful tone as a symbol of peace and freedom.

On this site, you can also find a remnant of the Twin Towers, a memorial for 9/11.

Monday through Friday, between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, visitors can enjoy a guided tour for a very modest charge.

Falcon Theatre

Located at 636 Monmouth Street, intimacy is Falcon Theater’s greatest asset.

The Theater boasts its reputation as the area’s only “genuine storefront theatre.”

The Falcon Theatre wants everyone to feel welcome when they enter through its doors.

Every time a guest comes to attend a performance, they are greeted personally at the Falcon Theatre.

It was founded in 1989 by Artistic Director Ted Weil and Dave Radtke to enhance the Greater Cincinnati area’s theatrical possibilities, with a focus on delivering a variety of theatrical experiences.

The Theater offers a range of dramatic genres and styles performed by local artists.

Just take note that the venue does not serve food and drinks, but there are a variety of dining options in the area.

We suggest dining at the nearby La Mexicana, Cincinnati’s greatest Mexican restaurant, before catching a show at the Theatre.

Finally, a nightcap at the Prohibition Bar rounds off your fantastic evening.

Newport on the Levee

Newport on the Levee in KY.

w_lemay, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Newport on the Levee is not just considered a shopping center but also a tourist attraction.

Located on the south bank of the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky, it has a wide range of entertainment, eating, and retail opportunities to offer its visitors.

A big arcade GameWorks, the world-famous Toro restaurant, and the Art on the Levee Gallery are available to visitors.

Other attractions included AMC Theatres, Rotolo Bowling & Bocce Eatery, and several national restaurants and retailers, including Brio Tuscan Grille and Cold Stone Creamery.

Entrance arch of Newport on the Levee

Rosamar /

You will also find in this mall the award-winning Newport Aquarium.

Trade, a rotating artisan market curated with local merchants and seven new retail shops, is now open in the Gallery Building.

After acquiring Newport on the Levee in December 2018, North American Properties completed its major redevelopment operations in May 2021.

AMC theatre at Newport on the Levee

Rosamar /

The Southgate House Revival

Located at 111 E 6th Street, The Southgate House Revival celebrates the local musicians of Newport.

This venue looks like a church outside, but it is, in fact, a renovated house previously owned by the inventor of the Tommy gun.

It holds a series of events featuring a wide range of live music artists.

The Southgate House Revival has three separate sections for musicians.

With walls adorned with stained glass windows, you can clearly see the room’s religious influences in its construction and design.

The main bar is open to the public and includes a live musician on a regular basis.

Aside from lots of seats at the bar and tables, it also has a good soundproofing system to prevent sound from overlapping from several performers playing simultaneously.

If you want to catch a show or two, you can book tickets on their website.

You can also buy tickets in person in the lounge bar any time they open for a show, which is usually Wednesday to Saturday, from 5 pm to 2 am.

Newport Aquarium

Exterior of the Newport Aquarium in KY.

Rosamar /

Anyone who wants to view one of the best aquariums in the country should visit Newport Aquarium.

It is part of the 380,000-square feet facility of Newport on the Levee.

Readers’ Choice Travel Awards named Newport Aquarium the best aquarium in the United States, while Zagat ranked it the best aquarium in the Midwest.

Here, you’ll be able to see a wide variety of aquatic life, such as fishes, penguins, sharks, rays, and alligators.

People in Newport Aquarium in KY.

Jeff Kubina from the milky way galaxy, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want something more extreme, Shark Bridge, a narrow V-shaped bridge suspended on a large shark tank, will get your adrenaline pumping.

You may also interact with thousands of aquatic species in dozens of exhibits.

Hold a baby penguin, pet a shark, listen to divers speak to the audience during feeding time, play games in Frog Bog, have lunch at Sharkey’s Cafe, and much more!

Sandbar shark in Newport Aquarium

Jeff Kubina from Columbia, Maryland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wooden Cask Brewery Company

Located at 629 York Street, Wooden Cask Brewery Company is not your average neighborhood bar.

This family-owned and operated pub has been serving locals and visitors since 1998.

Wooden Cask Brewing Company is a contemporary microbrewery that pays homage to old English pubs.

A normal menu of 18 Wooden Cask beers and a changing menu of small-batch brews are available in its 4000 square-foot taprooms.

The Wooden Cask’s atmosphere meets your exquisite taste as you sample its beers, try the delectable dishes, and relax with your friends.

The brewery may be known for its craft beers, but it also makes and serves wines and offer a comprehensive whiskey selection.

Hofbrauhaus Newport

Outside view of Hofbrauhaus Newport.

CiEll /

If you want to relish the taste of Germany without leaving the State, Hofbrauhaus Newport is the place to be.

Hofbrauhaus Newport, located at 200 3rd Street, is modeled after Munich’s original Hofbräuhaus, which is over 400 years old.

It is the first Hofbrauhaus to be licensed as a franchisee by the state-owned brewery.

Biergarten at Hofbrauhaus Newport

CiEll /

This distinctive Newport restaurant delivers a fantastic dining experience for all guests, from the excellent American and German food to the superb beer and the classically furnished rooms.

Aside from traditional German cuisine, the menu offers American fare and seasonal and specialty beers produced on-site based on German beer purity laws.

You can also grab Pretzels in the main room or bier garden!

Newport Dog Park

If you have your furry friends traveling with you, it pays to visit Newport Dog Park.

This is an off-leash park, meaning your fur babies can roam freely around the area.

Located initially at Linden Avenue, the Newport Dog Park is now located behind the Campbell County Library at 901 E. 6th Street.

The new one is walled in and twice the size of the previous off-leash park.

Other improvements include pavement paths, better car access and designated parking spots, walking trails, and stunning landscaping.

Its benches are pet-friendly, and there is a separate area for smaller dogs.

The admin also installed water fountains and plumbing to ensure your dogs can drink and cool themselves during warmer days.

In case you forget your litter bags, they’ve got you covered!

New Riff Distillery

Outside view of New Riff Distillery.

w_lemay, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 2014, New Riff Distillery offers a comprehensive tour of the facility and unique whiskey experiences, a cocktail bar, and an exclusive Distillery Shop.

A Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour member, this family-owned and managed distillery is the brainchild of visionary liquor store entrepreneur Ken Lewis.

New Riff produces a variety of whiskeys, including Bourbon and Malted Rye, as well as Kentucky Wild Gin.

As a small distillery, its goal is to one day be considered among the world’s best.

Many visitors love the experience of touring the distillery with New Riff’s enthusiastic resident tour guide, Grover.

General James Taylor Park

General James Taylor Park is a two-level park situated at the west end of Newport’s Riverboat Row.

This historic park was once a Newport Barracks military installation that welcomed prominent figures such as President William Henry Harrison, President Zachary Taylor, and General William Tecumseh Sherman.

This former military post supplied men and materials during the War of 1812, the Mexican American War, as well as U.S. westward expansion.

Newport Barracks served as a vital supply route between the eastern coast and the emerging western frontier during the era of Manifest Destiny.

Today, the park features different amenities a gorgeous landscape for a relaxing picnic.

These include a shelter with picnic tables and grills, a historical monument, a bicentennial reading wall, a fishing spot, a paved parking space, and an exquisite view of the Cincinnati skyline.

The Park also features running routes and a playground area for your active kids.

BB Riverboats

BB Riverboats in Newport, KY.

Rosamar /

A riverboat cruise is definitely a must-try here in Newport as a city bordered by the Ohio River.

Sailing from Newport Landing, unwind on a day or evening trip aboard one of BB’s majestic riverboats and discover Cincinnati and the Ohio Valley like never before.

All its cruises include a well-stocked bar and great cuisine from the buffet.

Enjoy date night with your significant other on its Stonebrook Winery Sunset Cruise, lunch with friends on the Captains’ Lunch Cruise, or family fun on its Sunday Family Dinner Cruise.

A BB Riverboat on a cruise

Rosamar /

Looking for a venue for your intimate event?

Whether it’s a wedding, a corporate dinner, or any social gathering, the cruise delivers a once-in-a-lifetime experience that all your guests will remember for the rest of their lives.

These cruises are available daily all season long.

Mansion Hill Tavern

Outside view of Mansion Hill Tavern.

w_lemay, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located at 502 Washington Avenue Newport, Mansion Hill Tavern took its name from the neighborhood where it is located.

Mansion Hill Tavern has some of the area’s greatest blues.

For this reason, you’ll find the Greater Cincinnati Blues Society playing live blues on Friday and Saturday nights at the tavern.

Front view of Mansion Hill Tavern

w_lemay, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also jam here with its open mic-Sundays from 8 pm to midnight.

Every day from 4 to 6 pm, there’s happy hour with a broad variety of food to select from, such as beef loaf and fried fish.

This pleasant, cash-only pub lies in a historically significant section of Newport and has a welcoming atmosphere.

Enjoy a Cozy Afternoon at York Street Cafe

York Street Cafe is a popular restaurant located in the heart of Newport’s historic district.

The restaurant is housed in a century-old building with a vintage look and appeal, with exposed brick walls and wooden floors.

The interior features plenty of local artwork and a small stage for live music performances.

The diverse menu at York Street Cafe offers a variety of American and International dishes—items on their menu include salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, vegetarian options, and gluten-free items.

The cafe is also known for its selection of craft beers and cocktails.

The cafe’s exterior has a charming patio area with string lights, perfect for enjoying an outdoor meal or drink any time of the day.

York Street Cafe offers a unique and inviting atmosphere focusing on good food and live music—make sure to drop by while you’re in town.

Learn an Importance Piece of Local History at Newport Gangster Tour

The Newport Gangster Tour is a walking tour that covers Newport’s notorious past as a hotbed of organized crime.

Expert guides will lead you through the historic streets, sharing stories of infamous gangsters, mob bosses, hitmen, and bootleggers.

You’ll also see sites of infamous crimes and learn about the colorful characters who once called Newport home.

Old artifacts and vintage photos will also shed some light on some significant events in Newport’s history of gang violence.

The knowledgeable guides are always ready to answer any questions you may have.

The Newport Gangster tour is a must-see attraction for history buffs and true crime fans.

Wander Around Monmouth Street Historic District

Shops at Monmouth Street Historic District

w_lemay, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Monmouth Street Historic District is a historic neighborhood in downtown Newport.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, it boasts well-preserved 19th-century buildings of various architectural styles, such as Queen Anne, Colonial Revival Italianate, and Second Empire.

Monmouth Street is lined with buildings that have retained their historic character.

Antique store at Monmouth Street Historic District

w_lemay, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The district also features shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

It is an ideal destination for those who appreciate history and architecture and explore a vibrant neighborhood that has stood the test of time.

Buildings along Monmouth Street Historic District

w_lemay, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

See a Performance from the Footlighters Inc.

The Footlighters Inc. is Newport’s premier community theater group.

They’ve been in operation since 1963 and have produced various memorable plays and musicals over the years.

The group comprises volunteer musicians and performers passionate about theater and dedicated to bringing quality productions to the community.

The Footlighters’ theater is located in a historic Newport church building on York Street.

The building has since been renovated into a charming, intimate performance space.

The theater features comfortable seating and excellent acoustics, making it an ideal venue for theatrical performances.

If you’re in Newport, make sure to drop by and witness a performance from the Footlighters Inc.

Get Spooked at USS Nightmare

View of the docked USS Nightmare

Rosamar /

If you’re looking for something more thrilling, head over to the USS Nightmare.

The USS Nightmare is a haunted attraction located in an authentic steamboat on the Newport waterfront.

The steamboat, which was once used to transport coal, has been transformed into a terrifying ghost ship that visitors can explore.

The attraction is known for its high-quality special effects, immersive environments, and animatronics that bring the spooky atmosphere to life.

Visitors can expect creepy characters, well-timed jump scares, and a realistic spine-tingling atmosphere as they navigate the ship’s haunted halls.

The USS Nightmare is a must-visit for thrill-seekers looking for a frightful experience.

Final Thoughts

Let Newport’s quaint city life carry you away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world.

With its humble but unique attractions, your options are limitless, and so are the experiences that lie ahead for you.

© All rights reserved.