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Northern Kentucky cities offer history, arts and aquarium

While a certain derby and rolling hills of bluegrass might be the first things that come to mind when Kentucky is mentioned, the state offers much more. The area near the Ohio state line, on the south side of Cincinnati, is surprisingly diverse.

We surfed the Web to find five things worth exploring when you're in the area.

Rabbit Hash General Store

Open since 1831, this store offers a glimpse of small-town life in the past. The store is located in Rabbit Hash, a little town on the Ohio River in northern Kentucky. According to local legend, the town's name comes from the flood of the 1847, which drove the area's rabbits to higher ground, where they became the main ingredient in a dish called hash.

The town also flooded in 1884, 1913 and 1937. Though the store was completely submerged during the 1937 flood, the building, which is anchored to the ground with iron rods, survived the rising waters, though other nearby structures were washed away.

Today, the general store stocks groceries and other staples for local residents, as well as merchandise aimed at the many tourists who visit. Items include Bybee pottery, antiques, brooms made at Berea College in Kentucky, handmade soaps, T-shirts, hats and postcards.

The store, which is open daily, is located at 10021 Lower River Road in Rabbit Hash, Ky. Call 859-586-7744 or visit www.rabbithash.com.

Newport Aquarium

Each day at the aquarium begins with a penguin parade at 9:15 a.m. In addition to being home to the black-and-white birds, the attraction houses 11,000 other marine animals, from sharks to otters.

Through Sept. 1, the aquarium will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. It is open 365 days a year.

Admission is $17.95 and $10.95 for ages 2 to 12. Children under 2 are admitted free.

The aquarium is located at 1 Aquarium Way in Newport, Ky. Call 859-261-7444 or visit www.newportaquarium.com.

The Stained Glass Theater

Once a church, this theater still features a number of impressive stained-glass windows. A variety of shows, from musicals to dramas, are performed here by its resident company, The Footlighters Inc.

The performance schedule and ticket prices vary. The theater is located at 802 York St. in Newport, Ky. Call 859-291-7464 or visit www.footlighter.com.

A German village

The cobblestone streets of MainStrasse Old World Village in Covington are lined with shops, restaurants and taverns. The five-block area is a restored 19th-century German neighborhood. Landmarks include the Goose Girl statue and The Carroll Chimes Bell Tower.

The MainStrasse Village Association is located at 406 W. 6th St. in Covington, Ky. Call 859-491-0458 or visit www.mainstrasse.org.

Northern

Kentucky Riverwalk Statue Tour

Seven life-sized bronze figures stand in this historic area, located where the Ohio and Licking rivers meet. The statues depict notable personalities from the past.

Captain Mary B. Greene (1868-1949), who was one of first women to become a licensed boat master and river pilot, was known for her adventures. She survived an explosion, steered through a tornado and gave birth while her boat was stuck in an ice gorge.

James Bradley was brought to the United States by slave traders when he was a baby. At age 18, he was running a plantation in Arkansas for his master and after five years, he was able to buy his freedom. As a free man, he crossed the Ohio River at Covington. Bradley attended seminary in Cincinnati.

John James Audubon (1785-1851) became famous for his paintings of birds and his work "The Birds of North America." He came to northern Kentucky in 1819 and made many drawings in the area.

The statues are located along Riverside Drive in Covington, Ky. Visit www.stayky.com for a guide to the statue tour.