Sitting in the shadow of Cincinnati, its more familiar neighbor across the Ohio River, Northern Kentucky offers its own compelling package of amenities and attractions for meeting planners. Diverse dining, entertainment, and special events venues hug both sides of the river. Covington, site of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, is home to dozens of charming independent restaurants and boutiques in the MainStrasse Village historic neighborhood.
The nearby Newport on the Levee entertainment complex includes the stunning Newport Aquarium (available for private bookings) and more than a dozen restaurants and clubs. A major addition, the first U.S. outpost of the Munich Hofbrauhaus (www.hofbrauhausnewport.com), opened in mid-2003 and has quickly become a popular hangout for locals and tourists alike in this German-influenced community. The 13,315-square-foot microbrewery/restaurant complex includes a festive 268-seat beer hall, a 108-seat dining area, and an outdoor beer garden (recently expanded to accommodate 450 guests) overlooking the river.
The newest visitor attraction in the Cincinnati area is the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (www.freedomcenter.org), which recognizes the area's crucial role in helping slaves escape to freedom. The dramatic space set on the river is available for group events and can hold up to 300 guests sit-down style.
The 110,000-square-foot Northern Kentucky Convention Center (www.nkycc.com), opened in 1999, has a 47,000-square-foot exhibit space and a 22,800-square-foot ballroom. The center features fiber-optic cable, ISDN Internet access, and wireless and high-tech AV capabilities. It is connected to a 326-room Marriott and a 226-room Embassy Suites.
The Northern Kentucky University Metropolitan Education and Training Services Center for Corporate Learning (www.usemets.org) in Erlanger, close to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, houses a high-tech “smart” auditorium that can seat up to 150 classroom-style, an 18-seat executive boardroom, a number of breakout and banquet rooms and a handful of more intimate and informal spaces. The center's catering facilities can handle up to 360 meals. A bonus for METS clients: Price includes all the technology — state-of-the-art AV equipment, computers, videoconferencing gear, and more — as well as a complimentary business center.