The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra returns on Saturday evenings to its long-time summer home in Covington’s Devou Park and continues its Sunday evening repeat performances in Fort Thomas’ Tower Park. After a couple of odd summers, the KSO is looking to get back to its normal nostalgic, free, family-friendly regional gatherings with appreciative audiences, great musicians and music. This summer marks the orchestra’s 28th consecutive summer series of concerts in the parks. Though free to attend, these performances are not free to produce. Volunteers at donation boxes around the concert bowls will thankfully accept your contribution to continue this memory-making tradition. Audiences are encouraged to register at kyso.org for weather and information updates.
KSO 2022 Summer Series at Devou & Tower Parks
Marches Madness – (Marches from classics, opera, ballet & film) 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 9 (Devou Park) 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10 (Tower Park)
The KSO surveys universally known marches from the classics and cinema in its festive summer 2022 opener. Music associated with circus, weddings, graduation, opera, ballet, bands and symphonies comprise the concert’s first half, whereas award-winning marches from 20th century film scores close out an evening of pomp and pageantry.
Sunday in the Park with Steve – (A tribute to Stephen Sondheim) 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 6 (Devou Park) 7:30 p.m. Sunday, August 7 (Tower Park)
Broadway composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021) followed in the steps of his mentor Oscar Hammerstein to rank among the greatest in the history of American musical theater. Join the KSO for an evening of Sondheim hit songs from 11 shows including Company, Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, etc., with musings by actress, friend and Sondheim protégé Pamela Myers.
The Pack Is Back! – (Sinatra, Martin & Davis) 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 3 (Devou Park) 7:30 p.m. Sunday, September 4 (Tower Park)
The Rat Pack (Frank, Sammy & Dean) drop in for a Labor Day weekend of song and antics backed by the KSO. Sing along with ageless croon tunes like “Fly Me to the Moon” Volare” “Mr. Bojangles”and more. Dan Radank, Mickey James and Corey Tucker are backed by the KSO’s all-star big band with strings.
Expansion of the KSO Series
The KSO is thrilled to continue and expand its summer offerings to the NKY & Greater Cincinnati community. For those who wish to avoid outdoor crowds, the dress rehearsals on Saturday mornings (7/9 & 9/3) at 10 a.m. in Devou Park (Covington) are open to those who wish to attend. Each program will be livestreamed on Sunday evening at 7:30 from Tower Park (Ft. Thomas).
The KSO appreciates the generous support of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation, The Milburn Family, The Elsa Heisel-Sule, Wohlgemuth-Herschede, The Charles & Ruth Seligmann Family Foundations, Cincinnati Summerfair and Matinée Musicale Cincinnati, with following local corporate sponsors: St. Elizabeth Health Care, Fischer Homes, Duke Energy, Schneller Knochelmann Heating and Air, DBL Law, Regal Maid, Truist Bank and the Cities of Covington and Fort Thomas for hosting the KSO’s 2022 free series of family-friendly summer programs.
Join the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. — July 9, August 7 and September 3 at Devou Park (Covington) and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. — July 10, August 7 and September 4 at Tower Park (Ft. Thomas). Concessions and food trucks will be on-site at both Devou and Tower Parks. Bring blankets, picnics or lawn chairs.
For more information, registration (for weather updates) and directions, visit the KSO at kyso.org or call (859) 431-6216. $5 (per person) suggested donation. Free parking and TANK Shuttles are running from Cov Cath parking lot to the Devou band shell for $1 each way.
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Goettafest provides tasty fun for the whole family
Forget Christmas and your birthday, if you’re a fan of goetta, that Cincinnati specialty, this weekend is the best time of the year. It’s Goettafest!
When & where
Glier’s, the sponsor of the festival, is going all in to celebrate their signature product. The festival will be spread over two locations, Newport and Covington, and span two weekends, July 29-August 1 and August 5-8.
Grab a “shuttle boat”
Queen City Riverboats will shuttle folks from Festival Park to and from Covington Plaza. You can purchase a “ride all day” wristband for $5 and kids 12 and under can ride for free.
Fun for everyone
The festival will be very family-friendly, with live music, bounce houses, carnival games, face painting, slot cars, axe throwing and more.
If you want to prove your dedication to all things goetta, you can even participate in the Goetta Spirit Contest.
Beyond the patty
Expand your taste horizons with the inventive dishes created by participating chefs. For example, you can try:
Donut sandwiches with goetta and egg
Curry goetta over fries
and a goetta brownie—do you dare??
If you love goetta or are curious about it, satisfy your cravings and curiosity at Northern Kentucky’s Goettafest.
Jill Morenz is the Director of Community Initiatives and Communications for the Catalytic Fund and also runs the NKY Public Arts Network. She is an enthusiastic evangelist for all things NKY.
One of Cincinnati’s historic theaters is now the home to a monthly themed costume dance party in Northside! Liberty Exhibition Hall is a non-profit social organization that supports positive artistic opportunities in a collaborative environment and they have a lot of exciting things to get involved in like the “Full Moon Masquerade Dance Party”!
The party is hosted by Locus Night Club – Cincy, a DIY collective that aims to connect people in new and profound ways! This event isn’t just a dance with a mystical theme but it’s also a lively celebration of the creative community and a one of a kind party to immersive yourself in! It’s a movement to experience pure enjoyment, while transcending to enlightenment and you don’t want to miss a second of it!
“This Midsummer Night’s Eve, the Buck Moon beacons the release of the wild side in a Magical Forest just north of the city. Beasts and fairies frolic together throughout the night, stirring up trouble and delight.
At this Masquerade, beasts and fairies of all kinds are welcome. Find a Costume and Dress to Express. Themed Make-up design? No mask required.”
The event promotes self-expression through costume design, set decoration, dance, music, performances, and so much more while providing a space for liberation and acceptance that is approachable in welcoming ways for everyone to participate in.
The theme comes to life as your imagination runs wild in this incredible place that is transformed into a magical realm full of whimsical enchantment and playfulness!
As if you’re a character in an interactive play to engage in as you choose.
Everything you need to have a memorable and pleasant time will be there! You can expect two bars for drinks, a local food truck, plenty of seating with tables and a lounge area to vibe out in. There will be DJs, live performances, tarot card readings, face painting, and art all around you!
This festival extravaganza will be held on Saturday, Jul 24, 2021 from 7:30 PM – 2:am Sun, Jul 25, 2021, 2:00 AM at Liberty Exhibition Hall, 3938 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45223. Tickets are between $10-$40 and can be purchased online or at the door. You can find out more about the event and even get tips on where to purchase your costume on their Eventbrite Link! And don’t forget that costumes and good energy are required!
You’ve seen our lists of best tacos in Newport and Florence, but when in Covington, the delicious taco options are endless! Whether you’re at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center for an event, or just in town staying at one of the Covington hotels, you’ll want to include tacos for at least one meal.
Agave & Rye
Agave & Rye seems like it’s boomed lately, with a total of nine locations, but Covington was the original, the OG, the epicenter of epic-ness.
Start with the incredible dips–from the guacamole to the queso, you can’t just try one. They’re all delicious. And the chips are house-made. Expert tip: If you like a softer/fluffier chip, or just want to try it once, ask your server if you can have the flour tortilla chips. They typically come with the pimento cheese dip, but man, they’re delicious with the queso!
The elote is also incredible, and those margaritas are where it’s at! They use premium tequila and you can definitely taste the difference. During happy hour (MWRF 3 p.m.-6 p.m.) and all day on Taco Tuesday, the OG margaritas are $6… and worth every penny.
Speaking of Taco Tuesday, the specials at Agave & Rye are incredible. In addition to the margarita special, they also feature $3 chips and queso, and taco specials running from $2.50 to $4. And these tacos aren’t just your typical tacos… They’re double-shelled (a crunchy wrapped in a soft–so it holds the crumbles) and the flavor combinations are amazing. My personal favorite is the Bees Knees, but there are still a few on the menu I want to try–Kangaroo, anyone?!
If you’re not into tacos, there are many other options on the menu, including egg rolls, burger and chicken sandwich, sticky cauliflower bites, Brussel sprouts, Irish Nachos, corn fritters, Lo Mein, and more! You won’t regret a meal here. And don’t miss their sister restaurant next door, Papi Jocho’s, serving up Mexican street dogs!
First and foremost, Gutierrez Deli is a small family-owned and operated Hispanic store located in Covington, near Mainstrasse Village on Lee Street.
First open in 2012, Gutierrez Deli quickly became a gathering place for Covington’s growing Latino population. The deli features a huge selection of imported products from Central America and Mexico… and they happen to also sell incredible tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tamales, and more on a carryout basis (there are some sidewalk picnic tables out front).
The tacos are incredible. The ingredients are so fresh and authentic… and can be “Americanized” with cheese added.
On the weekends, the menu at Gutierrez has additional offerings… Sergio (the son of owner Claudio Gutierrez) suggests trying the mole poblano that is his grandmother’s recipe. We can’t wait to try it!
When you don’t want anything fancy, just incredibly good food, head to Gutierrez Deli.
Speaking of Sergio, he branched out from his father’s deli and opened his own restaurant earlier this summer, Olla Cov.
Unlike Gutierrez Deli, which is carryout only, Olla features some indoor dining space, as well as an outdoor patio. Not unlike Gutierrez Deli, the food is incredible.
From Birria tacos, chicken tacos, quesadillas, elote, and nachos, everything we ate was delicious. I must say, I didn’t order any rice, but tried my friend’s and it was some of the best rice I’ve ever had. Definitely going to order it next time!
These nachos, though, stole the show. All three of us were digging in and admiring all the fresh ingredients. I usually don’t like beans or guacamole on my nachos, but with these, you can’t go wrong! Our server told us to try the Guti Fries, which are similar to the nachos, except with a bed of French fries… sounds delicious!
Located on Madison Avenue in Covington, Zapata Cantina opened in the midst of the pandemic in the fall of 2020. They serve a traditional handmade Mexican experience in a modern, industrial space.
The interior is beautiful. And so is the food…
Don’t leave without ordering the queso fundido appetizer. At $12, some may wonder if it’s really worth it. Trust me, it is. The chips accompanying the queso are equally delicious, so start every meal here with this app.
Our waiter told us the lime juice for the traditional margarita is fresh-squeezed in-house daily and wow–you can definitely tell the difference! The margarita was delicious… we couldn’t wait to get to the food!
My coworker ordered the chicken sopes, served on handmade corn disks. The portion was great and everything was so fresh. But man, those handmade corn disks steal the show.
I ordered the del mar (tempura shrimp, spiced candied pecans, cilantro, cabbage, honey chipotle) and al pastor (pork, cilantro, onions, and pineapple) tacos. Wow–each was so different from the other and other tacos I’ve had, making me confident that Covington can support the several taco restaurant options out there.
A neat note about Zapata is that their seafood is flown in fresh daily–our waiter said they don’t even have a freezer! The shrimp on my del mar taco was delicious and the taco itself could’ve served as a dessert with the spiced candied pecans. Definitely an A+!
Located in Mainstrasse Village, Frida 602 features a tequila & mezcal bar and Latin street food. Owned by the same people as Otto’s and The Standard, it’s no surprise that Frida is top-notch.
In addition to the beautiful art throughout, Frida features some cool hangout spots like picnic tables and foosball on the sidewalks.
And speaking of incredible queso, this one gives Zapata a run for their money as my personal favorite in the city. Both are amazing–this one adds corn. I will gladly eat either. 😉
The above tacos are delectable, and you can get chicken tacos for $2 on Tuesdays.
I personally have not had their margarita (yet), but have heard it’s incredible.
And a drumroll for one of the best things to come out of Covid…….. The Frida taco window! Grab them to go or hang out in the village–can’t go wrong with a meal from Frida 602.
Taqueria San Miguel
An unassuming storefront on Madison Avenue, Taqueria San Miguel offers authentic food at great prices.
If you miss Taco Tuesday, be sure to catch Taco Wednesday here–$1.99 tacos and Modelo or Corona for $2.99.
The tacos are delicious–and choices include carne asada, chicken, tongue, chorizo, barbacoa, carnitas, or al pastor. Yum!
They also have a great selection of tortas, huarache, fajitas, quesadillas, burritos, soups, and Mexican plates.
El Valle Verde Taqueria
Located in Mainstrasse Village next door to Piper’s, El Valle Verde is a perfect spot to satisfy your taco cravings.
From top to bottom, barbacoa, shrimp, chicken, and fish–all incredibly delicious and fresh!
The location is close to my office, so I’ve dined here multiple times and they always serves up fresh food with quick service.
To me, one of their best assets is their outdoor dining space. It’s just like eating on the front porch at grandma’s house, plus you get to participate in one of my favorite pastimes–people watching! Mainstrasse is a great place for people watching and the front-porch patio at El Valle Verde is a great spot for it!
Django at Covington Yard
If you haven’t made your way to Covington Yard yet, what are you waiting for!? It’s dog-friendly & family-friendly, has plenty of outdoor TVs and a stage for DJs and bands, and also has some excellent people-watching.
Comprised of a former fire hall and group of shipping-container restaurants with a nice view of the Roebling Bridge area, Covington Yard is a popular local hotspot.
They also feature a full bar, serving up some delicious slushy drinks in addition to all the regulars. Slushy drink flavors include froze, bourbon sangria, bourbon slush, or a frozen margarita.
The food at The Yard includes Mr. Bulgogi, Yard Bird, Hangry Omar’s, and Django Western Taco number three, which cranks out delicious tacos. The first Django opened in Northside in 2012 and the second inside Kroger Downtown OTR Food Hall.
Django’s menu includes carnitas, carne asada, fried chicken, shrimp, and Brussel sprout taco options as well as chips, salsa, queso, guacamole, and churros. And it’s all mouth-watering!
As you can see, Covington has a strong taco scene. Eat your favorite before or after the Reds or Bengals game, during your next business meeting, for date night, or for a weekend people-watching session with your besties. You can’t go wrong with this list!
The Queen City is known for its impressive architecture throughout the city and in its surrounding neighborhoods. Just about everywhere you turn you can find historic buildings and homes that have elaborate characteristics and artistic features that add to Cincinnati’s unique appeal. Venture to the East Side of Cincinnati to find two of our favorite locations to admire some of the best funky architecture in the area. First on the list is the famous “Mushroom House” of Hyde Park and second is the colorful “Painted Ladies” houses in Columbia Tusculum. They aren’t far from each other and you can make a day trip out of viewing them and vising local businesses and parks nearby!
The Mushroom House of Hyde Park
This whimsical house is something right out of a fairytale and is a must see in Cincinnati! The quirky house has incredible details from the rocks that lay at its foundation to the decorative stain glass windows that make your imagination run wild! Creativity comes to life through this one-bedroom home that is artistic expression from the floor to the ceiling! In the front of the house is a mushroom cap balcony that overlooks Erie Avenue and is hard to miss! The “Mushroom House” is also known as the, “Treehouse” and was built between 1992 and 2006 by architect Terry Brown. This house was Browns studio where he taught the tools of architecture to students and also served as his secondary residence. It has beautiful features like its orange spiral staircase, copper roof, and warped shingles that add to the look of fungi. The inspiration of this home was to create a space that humans could relate to nature with and connect to the adventure of wonderment. A nice local place to stop in after to think about the structure is Coffee Emporium right across the street!
Columbia-Tusculum’s Victorian Patented Houses
The “Painted Ladies”, are gorgeous historic homes on both sides of Tusculum Ave. and are a sheer delight to see! Take your time walking down this stunning street to see the colorful homes that complement each other in the most charming ways. The brightly painted houses are in Cincinnati’s oldest neighborhood that was founded in 1788 and make you feel like you are going back in time with a contemporary twist! These Victorian homes are so much fun to look at and the purpose of painting them in vibrant colors was to embellish and enhance their architectural details. Houses like this are historically found in San Francisco, California where the name “Painted Ladies” originated from a book about Victorian houses. When walking down the hill of Tusculum Ave. you even start to feel like you’re in San Francisco! You can find these glorious homes throughout the neighborhood and each have their own one of a kind element to them. The area includes lots of lovely shops, bars with live music, restaurants with local food, and wonderful green spaces like, Alms Park that overlooks the Ohio River. Be sure to explore every inch of what Columbia-Tusculum has to offer while checking out the “Painted Ladies”!
Stories, letters, nature & sensory play appeal to young kids
Northern Kentucky has a wealth of fun learning opportunities for young children. They love to spot letters and identify colors. They can be completely still as they squat down to observe a passing snail or spend hours running, jumping and climbing.
We’ve pulled together many of the ways that our region integrates teachable moments into our environments and encourages curiosity.
Imagine reading the first page of a story with your child while standing under a shady tree in a park. For the second page of the story, you walk together along a path to a sunny flower bed. The third page is located near a playground. As you read the story, you stroll from page to page through the park until the story ends. This experience is called a Story Walk and there are quite a few to be found this summer in Northern Kentucky. Find the entire list here.
Hopping, pointing and laughing are rewarded when kids do the fun activities provided by Read Ready Covington. The organization created large stickers that have been placed in Covington parks, at playgrounds and even inside a laundromat. The stickers are printed with objects and ideas for playful learning. Find them at places like Randolph Park, Devou Park and Leo Foster Ballfield. The stickers don’t last forever, so some of the locations may change as they are removed and replaced.
As part of its goal to increase the number of kids who start kindergarten ready to read, the City of Covington has installed complete alphabets, in the form of pink and yellow signs, throughout five of its neighborhoods. Each sign has a word (apple, volcano, yarn), an image and the encouragement, “You found a word. Now find another!” Some of the signs have Spanish words, as well.
Families can pick up a free map and passport-style checklist at the city building to start their hunt. When the passport is completed and turned in, the child will receive a free Tshirt.
Little kids love to learn about the plants and animals they see in their neighborhood. Two of the top nature educators in the area take it several notches up, providing immersive fun for families.
In Covington, Behringer-Crawford Museum’s NaturePlay is a self-contained, accessible outdoor area that offers kid-sized log cabins and caves, a climbable wooden flatboat, a spot to dig for fossils and gardens planted with native flowers and shrubs.
AJ Jolly Park’s Environmental Education Center in Alexandria is filled with wonders. Kids can get up close and personal with fish and turtles, watch birds flit around nearby branches and even examine the poop from various animals (an exhibit that always leads to giggles). After they’ve learned everything they wanted to know, they can walk the trails outside. The center is open all year and there is always something to see in the surrounding landscape.
Northern Kentucky residents are fortunate to have such robust early childhood programming and resources available at our local libraries. From story time and science for tots to the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, families can rely on the friendly librarians to engage their children with fun, educational activities. Check out the programs at Boone County, Campbell County and Kenton County.
If you’ve got young kids and you live in NKY, you’re in a good place!
Jill Morenz is the Director of Community Initiatives and Communications for the Catalytic Fund and also runs the NKY Public Arts Network. She is an enthusiastic evangelist for all things NKY.
One of the best things about the Queen City is that it’s a strong supporter of live music! We have lots of venues that feature local musicians and touring bands from all around. Most of the parks in Cincinnati have live music every week and some bars have performances every night!
Sawyer Point’s Summer Concert Series
This park is a majestic place to go see live music outdoors at one of the most beautiful settings in the city. The park highlights a variety musical acts all summer long and is a cool place to relax in the grass or dance around! A lot of their concerts are free and are predominantly on the weekends! Make a day out of going to see music in the park by enjoying all the recreation the park has to offer then head over to their large stage that has in incredible background behind it of the bridge going over the Ohio River.
In the heart of downtown is a fun filled venue that brings music and culture to the community in engaging ways! On Wednesdays they have Reggae, other nights they have free Salsa Dancing Lessons, and rotating music on Friday and Saturday nights. There are excellent restaurants to choose from surrounding the square with a glorious water fountain that adds to the atmosphere of the space. https://myfountainsquare.com/events/
Riverbend Music Center
This awesome concert venue is back in action with a full summer schedule of rocking bands and stellar solo artists! Riverbend is a Cincinnati locals favorite being along the riverside and being attached to the historic Coney Island. This venue is a great place to make lasting memories and enjoy some of the biggest names in music from around the country!
This arena is another popular venue to go see famous musicians from near and far preform! This indoor venue showcases just about everything and has consistent new shows available for the whole family to check out. Their outdoor deck is attached to the Reds Stadium and has incredible views of the river on one side and the city on the other!
This new and impressive venue is located in The Banks and is a must to go check out! Their lineup is outstanding and even the architecture of the building is a sight to see! This is another venue near the Ohio River and is an area that offers a lot of bars and restaurants to visit before or after an act!
Cincinnati is definitely known for putting on a good show and no matter what style or genre of music you like, you’re sure to find it here! Each venue has its own unique way of captivating the audience with rhythmic energy throughout the different performances that leave you wanting more!
The Cincinnati area has many markets scattered throughout almost every neighborhood and they all offer a variety of different things for everyone to enjoy! Most of them are outdoors and have plenty of things to engage in for the whole family! A lot of them have local food and support small businesses, while highlighting community involvement! There are a ton of opportunities for artist to sell their work and meet with the public at these markets and we know just the ones to check out this summer!
The City Flea
This urban flea market is a crowd pleaser and is in one of the most beautiful parts of Cincinnati! This market is located in the historic Washington Park right in front of the mesmerizing Music Hall. The market is head once a month and they have dozens of vendors from craft makers to community organizations, and startup businesses. They have anything from vintage wears to contemporary art, and much, much more! Make an entire day out of visiting the City Flea! There is so much to do in the park for kids and adults! The water feature is a perfect way to cool off from the heat and the patio bar is an excellent place to grab a drink and relax!
In the art district of Over-the- Rhine you can experience a lively and fun celebration of creativity down Main street on every second Sunday of the month at this stellar market! This market has a wide range of artists and local businesses to support and meet with! The Art Academy of Cincinnati is usually there with their artists, instructing workshops for people to join in on. There are performances, live music, and lots of food trucks to choose from! This market gives off a block party vibe for people of all ages to have a fun time at!
Art on Vine
This market started as a class project and evolved into a popular market that showcases artists, craft makers, and many local businesses that we love! The market is at different locations and always keeps you excited for the next one! Some of the locations include Fountain Square and Rhinegeist Brewery.
CampSite Sculpture Park is one of our favorite places that hosts community driven events and there markets on Saturdays are absolutely lovely! Explore the park while shopping for local art and supporting small businesses! For more information on how to be a vendor visit their website! http://campsitesculpturepark.com/
When COVID-19 prevented the Catalytic Fund from hosting their in-person Beyond the Curb tours, they instead produced a series of video home tours, featuring a variety of homes in NKY’s urban river cities. Season 2 of the series has kicked off with an episode about a 1920’s house on a ridge in Bellevue.
The ten episodes of this season will give viewers an exclusive peek inside some noteworthy properties, including a landmark building in Covington, an urban gardener’s cottage in Dayton, an “upleveled loft” apartment built inside a former Newport department store and a Ludlow condo with big personality.
Watch the series here. New episodes come out on Fridays. Stay tuned for an in-person tour planned for the fall.