A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Shop Local Spotlight: Plan ahead for fun in the sun — plan a visit to one of these outdoor experiences

Last of an occasional series

By Tabari McCoy
NKY Chamber of Commerce

Sunshine, lemonade, swimming, grills aplenty … These are among the things we think of when it comes to summer, especially when the cold, frozen tundra of winter leaves many of us longing for warmer weather. But with so many great places throughout the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky region where you can enjoy the great outdoors, there are plenty of places to enjoy the summer months.

The NKY Chamber encourages you to start dreaming of letting the sunshine in by making plans to visit one – or all – of the following venues in the new year.

(Note: Availability of certain  services may change in accordance with state mandates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The NKY Chamber encourages you to stay up-to-date with the latest mandates from the office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear by clicking here.)


When the weather gets warm (and it will, honest), there’s nothing quite like a dip in the pool to cool you off … Given that Coney Island is home to Sunlite Water Adventure, the biggest recirculating pool in North America, the perfect place to do that isn’t too far away.

Located right next to the Ohio River, Coney Island has been bringing smiles to people throughout the Greater Cincinnati region since 1886 – and for good reason. Coney Island’ star attraction, Sunlite’s 9-foot board at Cannonball Cove is perfect for diving while Typhoon Tower features 70+ interactive play stations and 130-foot waterslides. But don’t worry – if getting wet isn’t your thing, you can enjoy the water by cruising along on one of the Storybook paddle boats, go mini-golfing or simply lounge poolside soaking up the sun.

The park is currently open now through Jan. 9, 2021 for its 2-mile Christmas Nights of Lights drive thru event, so if you’re looking for a way to light up your holidays, feel free to consider a trip to Coney now and another next summer.

For more information, click here or call (513) 232-8230.


If you love rollercoasters, you likely know that Kings Island is the largest amusement park in the entire Midwest – what you won’t know until you go, however, is just how much big fun awaits you.

Unlimited visits, free parking and more are already on sale at Kings Island where 2021 Gold Passes (which pays for itself in just two visits) are already on sale. In addition to the aforementioned benefits, the pass also provides admission to Soak City Water Park (and its 36, yes 36, slides), special events, discounted Bring-A-Friend tickets are more. This of course means that you can enjoy signature attractions like Diamondback, Mystic Timbers, Banshee and longstanding favorite The Beast as well as plenty the Peanuts®-themed rides for younger (and young at heart) visitors. Add in numerous food options ranging from standard amusement park fair like pizza and funnel cakes to more sophisticated options like the Miami River Brewhouse and you’ve got the makings of a perfect summer adventure … Millions of visitors every year can’t be wrong.

For more information, click here or call (513) 754-5700.


Know anyone who’s constantly talking about wanting to learn how to play golf or just looking for a great place to practice? World of Golf could be the perfect place to help you get into the swing of things.

World of Golf is a community-based, family golf center that caters to all level of golfers from novice to pre-PGA Tour ready. In addition to a full 18-hole executive course, World of Golf also sports indoor and outdoor driving ranges, a full golf simulator, mini and foot golf, too. You can grab an affordable meal at Divots Grill before or after your outing, so feel free to make a day of it as you hit the links.

For more information, click here or call (859) 371-8255.


It’s got a short game facility, driving range, simulator and golf academy with a staff dedicated to helping you play the best golf of your life … Thus, if you’re looking for a way to center your game, the Stephens Golf Center might just be the place to play.

Stephens Golf Center is all about improving your game, which is why it has a staff of former collegiate athletes and PGA apprentices with the knowledge to help you reach your goals. You can also use the Foresight Sports golf simulator to practice or – if you’re looking for a bigger challenge – participate in global competitions at more than dozen championship courses using its FSX 2020 software. Then again, you might just have fun hanging out at the 19th hole in the facility’s bar area, where you can get enjoy rotating beer and hard seltzers seasonally during happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays.

For more information, click here or call (859) 282-1110.


The riverboat has a tradition and legacy as long and wide as the Ohio River itself. Make a trip along the waterway via BB Riverboats and you can experience the grand majesty and history of the experience, too.

Cincinnati’s official riverboat cruise line since 1979, BB Riverboats has daily cruises starting at just $24 with a variety of featuring music, historic sightseeing and family dinner options. If life on the open water isn’t your thing, don’t worry. You can now also hit the road with BB Riverboats Bus Tours to area attractions like the Ark Encounter and River Hop tour, where you’ll enjoy a four day, three night journey along the Ohio River. Just be sure to make your reservation quick as both cruises and tours are subject to sell outs … Unless you book a private one for you and your friends/family to enjoy, that is.

For more information, click here or call (800) 261-8586.


There definitely are plenty of fish in the sea … But with a million gallons of water flowing inside its facilities, there’s no place to see aquatic life in Northern Kentucky quite like the Newport Aquarium.

Newport Aquarium features thousands of animals from all around the globe, all on display in exhibits mirroring their natural habitats. Thus, whether it be the Amazon Tunnel, Gator Alley, Frog Bog or Penguin Palooza, you and yours can learn all about our oceanic friends in a fun, interactive environment. No visit to the Newport Aquarium is complete, however, without a trip to its famous Shark Bridge at the Shark Tank Overlook. This is where you can join others in crossing 75-foot rope bridge – the first of its kind in North America – above a dozen sharks and more in one of the biggest open air tank displays in the country (if you’re into that sort of thing).

For more information, click here or call (800) 406-3474.


It’s one of the most revered zoos in the country and home to the world’s most famous hippopotamus … And if you’re looking for a fun place to be one with the animals, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden can’t wait to see your smiling face.

From general exhibitions to specialized VIP animal experiences, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a wild wonderful animal and nature lovers of all ages have enjoyed for decades – and for good reason. While its annual Zoo Babies event showcases the latest additions to animal family while educating the public about conservation, the gardens provide plenty of opportunities for research and tours of some very pretty flowers. Thus, if you or someone you know has a love of nature, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens are a perennial favorite for a place to enjoy a perfect summer day.

For more information, click here or call (513) 281-4700.


Fancy yourself a fan of golf, bowling, swimming and all the perks that come with a members-only lifestyle? If the answer is yes, you may want to spend this summer relaxing in the Highlands.

Home of the Midwest’s oldest invitational golf tournament, Highlands Country Club is an established private country club in the hills of Northern Kentucky with scenic views and wide open spaces. Highlands also sports plenty of rooms for private events in its banquet facilities, providing plenty of opportunities to enjoy the company of friends and family in a relaxing, elegant environment.

For more information, click here or call (859) 441-8810.


Founded in 1929, Summit Hills Country Club is nearing its 100th birthday … But with fresh upgrades and plenty of amenities, it offers plenty of comfort and fun whether this summer regardless of its age – or yours.

Recently featured in Club+Resort Business Magazine, Summit Hills Country Club , Summit Hills has a huge pool, an outdoor bar and dining areas to complement its golf course. Children and non-golfers needn’t worry, though, as Summit Hills’ has grassy play areas, tennis courts, pickleball and cornhole sets on hand for everyone to be able to play and partake in the club’s luxury experience.

For more information, click here or call (859) 341-7076.

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