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Exploring Kentucky: Riverside Retreat

Classic Southern mansion has been name one of the world’s most romantic inns

By Katherine Tandy Brown

After the Year of Shutdown and Stay Home, people are traveling in droves. If you’re one of them, are you seeking a romantic interlude? Looking for a friends getaway? Scouting an out-of-town spot for your corporate team to have fun as they grow together?

Believe it or not, a haven in Northern Kentucky can fill all of these bills beautifully.

Located directly on the Ohio River halfway between Louisville and Cincinnati, the Riverside Inn Bed and Breakfast, built in 1869, is a mansion full of pure Southern charm, complete with a gingerbread-style front porch, columns, elegant guestrooms, wide lawns, and plenty of rockers and swings where you can gaze at paddleboats and barges drifting by over daily afternoon wine and cheese. The inn’s 13,000 square feet of casual elegance features seven guest rooms—five king-sized suites and two queen-sized rooms—and offers Wi-Fi throughout, a library, conference room, billiards room, spa room and piano parlor.

A patio and a screened gazebo with a grill and full kitchen also command river views and are available for parties and special dinners.
Spring 2011 saw a million-dollar renovation on the grand home. Little wonder this property was selected by BedandBreakfast.com as one of its Top 10 Most Romantic Inns in the world.

As for the cuisine, just the photo of French toast on the inn’s website can start you salivating. Offerings can include egg casserole, quiche, blueberry pancakes, fruit or yogurt parfaits, fresh-baked sweets, bacon, ham, sausage or goetta (a dish similar to scrapple that was brought to the Cincinnati area by German immigrants).

“We try not to offer the same breakfast twice during any guest’s stay,” says owner Mandy Branscum. “Though we don’t do dinners, groups can bring steaks or hamburgers and grill a full meal themselves in the gazebo.”

Riverside Inn welcomes corporate retreats and can sleep up to 15. Meeting possibilities include its river-view meeting room and spacious gazebo. Both lend a think-outside-the-box atmosphere to any gathering. The inn will work with groups to provide food and beverages during a meeting.

Day rentals of the conference center, day/evening rentals of the gazebo for parties and special occasions, and/or whole-house guestroom buyouts are always an option. (Book the latter as far ahead as possible.) With advance notice, the inn will prepare a lunch by the river for you and your guest(s), i.e. a bottle of wine, fresh fruit, gourmet sandwiches and dessert.

After a meeting, the surrounding area is rife with things to do for groups and individuals alike.

Two wineries—Elk Creek Vineyards and The Ridge Winery—are close by. More than 20 varietals of award-winning wines line the shelves in the tasting room at Elk Creek in nearby Owenton, and free tours are offered twice daily. Wine and Paint and cooking classes are offered as teambuilding options. An on-site café serves gourmet soups, salads and sandwiches, with full dinner specials Thursday through Saturday and live entertainment on Friday and Saturday.

With nearly 30 acres in vines, Elk Creek bottles some 48,000 gallons of wine yearly.

Offering 18 varieties for taste and sale, the Ridge Winery and Tasting Room across the river in Indiana features several varieties of Kentucky bourbon barrel-aged wines and special themed dinner parties.

Folks who are more bourbon-inclined will want to explore the B-LINE (thebline.com), Northern Kentucky’s own bourbon craft distillery trail.

Also in Owenton, Elk Creek Hunt Club & Resort boasts world-class sporting clays facilities and hosts more than 150 corporate events for 10–250 shooters per year. Described as “golfing with a shotgun,” the sport of shooting clays has become a popular teambuilding activity. The club even has a Girls Night Out package that includes clays and a massage.

Eleven golf courses lie within a 19-mile radius of the inn. One of those is located on the grounds of Belterra Casino, only 10 miles away in Indiana and a free shuttle ride from the Riverside Inn. The casino’s 1,500-seat CenterStage Showroom hosts the region’s best lineup of live country music, classic rock and comedy. And plenty of games, of course.

Nearly half the inn’s guests visit the area to explore the Ark Encounter, which is just a short drive away in Williamstown. This life-sized re-creation of Noah’s Ark is 510 feet long, 51 feet high and 85 feet wide. Visitors meet Noah, his family and the Ark animals, and discover all aspects of the Christian Bible story of a global flood more than 4,300 years ago.

The attraction also offers concerts, daily programming, speakers and conferences.

Find out more about the Riverside Inn Bed and Breakfast at riversideinnbb.com or call (859) 567-1329.

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