Traveler: Covington, Kentucky

The Cool Side: An Ohio River town long in Cincinnati’s shadow has its own swank allure.

During Cincinnati Reds baseball season, it is not uncommon for Great American Ball Park after-partiers to cross the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, into another state, for a nightcap among the colorful shotgun-style businesses of Covington, Kentucky. The Cov is happy to oblige. You don’t need a big foam finger to point you toward the town’s fun, up-and-coming neighborhoods, like the blocks surrounding the grand, 114-room Hotel Covington, a stunner with 20-foot ceilings and velvet-on–white leather decor. Brunch in its own restaurant, Coppin’s, includes craft cocktails and eggs Benedict made with Glier’s goetta—a local sausage of pork and pin oats known as “Cincinnati caviar.”

In nearby MainStrasse Village, one of many nods to Covington’s German-immigrant heritage, it’s an easy barhop along Main Street, from the New Orleans–inspired Dee Felice Café to the foosball table outside artsy taqueria Frida 602 to celebrity barkeep Molly Wellmann’s Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar. At the spiffy Commonwealth Bistro,you can sit at the bar and eat tomato pie from a family recipe or pan-seared Japanese dumplings while the bartender mixes bonded bourbon with lemon, ginger, and housemade cherry cordial for your darkly fizzy Commonwealth Daisy. Comfort gourmet in the form of BLFGT sandwiches (with fried green tomatoes subbing for the standard tomato) is on the menu at cozy Otto’s. But the restaurant that best represents the Cov’s rolled-sleeves, know-no-stranger attitude is The Main St. Tavern, an old dive recently spiffed up by a new chef-owner who traded the dart room for a restaurant-grade kitchen without losing any of the joint’s tin-ceiling charm. You can order biscuit-and-bologna sliders or a burger on a “Sunday Go To Meeting Bun,” and the bartender will pour you a glass of some trending local craft beer purely on spec and say, all neighbor-like, “If you don’t drink it, I will.”

Burly-chic Cutman Barbershop looks like the kind of place where Chris Hemsworth might get his beard trimmed.

Wood-centric decor from salvaged barn siding is done right at Grainwell Market.

There’s still time to visit the Cov’s Goebel Goats, a flock of hoofed cuties in Goebel Park, before they head to their winter home.