A few months ago I received my email invite to this years event and immediately started making plans to go. It’s one of the two big Kentucky events that I have wanted to do but had been unable to attend to date. But unlike in previous years, I knew I actually had the time off work this year because of my eyes and if Mom was game, we could make the 6.5 hour drive up on Saturday. I even had hotel reservations at the ready if I could convince her to take the weekend off.
Fast forward to June 10th and starting out on our little road trip.
I somehow even managed to run into my friend Jersey, who currently lives in Memphis, at the rest stop outside Nashville. She was headed to cover the music festival and just so happened to be stopped at the same time we were. She walked in front of the car while I was looking out the window and it was almost comical because we both just froze and stared at each other for a good 30 seconds before busting out laughing. Small world 😜
We had packed snacks and drinks in the car but decided to have lunch at a restaurant in rural Kentucky since we needed to stop for gas anyway.
Once we made it to the hotel and checked in, we unpacked the vehicle, changed clothes (read: I needed sneakers for playing tourist and for all that walking around) and left for the aquarium. Unfortunately they had already stopped selling tickets by the time we got there since it was later on in the day.
We decided to go shopping and grab dinner since we were already at the Levee.
We also took the free time as the perfect opportunity to walk across the semi-famous Purple People Bridge. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a pedestrian-only bridge that stretches half a mile across the Ohio River, connecting Newport, Kentucky to downtown Cincinnati.
It looks almost white or light gray in the photo but in the right light (or in person) it’s actually more like this…
…hence the name.
On Sunday, after a breakfast at IHOP (with a waitress named Rita of all things), we made sure to get back to the aquarium first thing since we weren’t sure how long a full tour usually took and we had a schedule to keep.
Just a few favorite highlights…
Of course I’m all about the turtles, sharks and rays. (My gator photos didn’t turn out very well because the lightning was horrible.)
The big draw at this particular aquarium is their Shark Bridge, a one of a kind 75-foot-long, V-shaped rope bridge suspended over the water. I went across it and thought it was a bit over-rated.
Overall, for the $23 entry fee, I was expecting a bigger, better aquarium than what I saw, something more in line with the Georgia aquarium maybe. But they do get some props for their exterior.
From downtown Cincinnati, viewers will recognize some of Newport Aquarium’s most popular animals.
The new Shark Wall mural spans the north and river facing exterior wall of the aquarium. Newport on the Levee pedestrians can find some hidden treasures under closer examination if they have the time and inclination to look.
Since there was still some time to kill, we hit up the fish market for lunch. (Authentic London-style fish and chips is hard to come by in my neck of the woods and it’s been awhile since I’ve been back to my favorite Irish pub in New York so I wasn’t passing them up.)
After our relaxing (and somewhat posh) lunch, we started to make our way down to the waterfront and over to BB Riverboats.
We checked in, saw a few old friends, and joined the other surviving families onboard.
1000 people and 500 Gold Star Families from 12 states were on board for the riverboat ride down the Ohio River.
Even food and live entertainment were included at no cost to the families.
Now, after seeing everything firsthand, I can’t stop bragging on BB Riverboats for all they do for the surviving families every year. We had a great time onboard and would gladly do it again.
After deboarding and making our way back to the car, we left for home.