Kentucky : Safety by City
- Bowling Green
- Cave City
- Cumberland Falls
- La Grange
- St. Matthews
Covington, Kentucky, sits just across the Ohio river from downtown Cincinnati, blending a mix of urban atmosphere with Southern hospitality.
This isn’t just a suburb to stay in; this is a city that could be a destination all its own before you even walk across the suspension bridge to Cincy.
Commonly known as “The Cov,” this city is the first step on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, with nine locations before you even leave town.
The Cov includes dozens of attractions you can research, and a bunch of those considered “hidden secrets” highlighted in the book Secret Cincinnati: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.
One really spectacular thing about Covington is that you can stand in one place surrounded by wilderness, with dynamic skyline views of a major city, while getting ready to tour a historic building.
As the tourism website for Northern Kentucky said, “If Cincinnati was New York City, then Covington would be Brooklyn.”
There are distinct districts in The Cov, including:
- Mainstrasse Village: The historic downtown area with a strong German heritage.
- Madison District: A popular shopping, dining, and entertainment neighborhood anchored by the Madison Theatre.
- Riverside District: Along the Ohio River and a stone’s throw from downtown Cincinnati.
- Robling Point: Also on the river with a more artistic flair and creative mural walls.
You have plenty of national hotel brands here and a good mix of bed and breakfast inns and home rentals.
There are campsites and RV parks if you like roughing it.
Warnings & Dangers in Covington
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, mostly because crimes are more likely to target strangers/tourists than in many other cities I've researched (and I've done hundreds!). Not only are crime levels above the state and national averages, but strangers were also violent crime victims 43% of the time, according to 2020 crime data.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) is the bus service in Covington. You have routes that take you around the city, specific routes to go to and from the airport, and express routes into Cincinnati, where you can connect with Cincinnati Metro, the public transportation across the river. Taxis and rideshares are going to be easily available. I once had 50 minutes to get to the airport from downtown, and I hadn't signed up for rideshare service at the time. In 10 minutes, I was signed up for Uber and in a car, racing to the airport in rush hour traffic. There's a low risk and plenty of speedy options here.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk of getting your purse snatched. While the city averages about five purse snatchings each year dating back to 2018, there's also a higher risk of being a robbery victim.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Kentucky can get some weather as wild as Wild Turkey. (That's a bourbon reference, in case it fell flat.) Winter can bring crippling snow storms and warmer months bring a risk of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, large hail, and dangerous lightning. Flooding is a risk throughout the year as well.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate is twice the national average, and 47% of robberies were in public places. It's important to remember you should never fight back against a robber. It's not worth risking your life. Minimize the risk by only carrying what you need, and especially during winter, hiding personal belongings inside jacket pockets.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
As part of the Cincinnati metro area with a population of 2.2 million, there's a medium risk here. Ohio and Kentucky work together on Homeland Security risks and add an extra layer of safety. You can report suspicious activity by calling 1-866-EYE-ON-KY (1-866-393-6659).
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
The most common scam is someone posing as law enforcement via call, text message, or email and demanding payment for a warrant or ticket. Police will never approach you this way to get a payment, and you can't buy your way out of a warrant anyway. There was also a rental scam where a woman lost $1700 buying pre-paid gift cards to get into her dream home. She lost money and the home. While there aren't tourist-specific scams, we're giving this a medium risk because there are just a lot of scammers here always thinking of new ways to get your money.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
44% of violent crimes were against women in 2020, and the sexual assault rate is just slightly above the national average. With a medium risk due to high crime rates, this is a place where common sense and basic personal safety go a long way. Don't walk around at night; stay and park in well-lit areas, and try to travel in groups if you can. There's also a trending catchphrase you can use in bars to secretly warn the bartender of a suspicious or aggressive patron. All you do is go to the bar and order an Angel Shot. The bartender should ask you "Who?" as soon as you order. You can describe the person, such as " black shirt, orange tie." The bartender will get security to handle the situation and keep an eye on you for the rest of the night.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Annual Water Quality Report has a lot of good information about the risks and safety precautions used in Covington's water. While no violations occurred, there is great information about how the water is treated, the contaminants that leak into the water supply, and what extra steps are taken to keep the water safe for consumption. There's a low risk, but you should check with the water district before your visit to confirm there aren't any water quality concerns at that time. A specific hotline is set up for water quality questions, which is (859) 441-0482.
Safest Places to Visit in Covington
You can enjoy Mainstrasse Village during the day or night, but daytime is probably better if you visit with children, since there are a lot of bars in this part of town.
If you hear the clock tower chimes, you know you’re in the right place.
The story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin plays out from the 100-foot-tall German Gothic tower.
A great photo op is at the Goose Girl fountain if you visit during a warmer month when the fountain is on.
Hop on the B-Line, which is a self-guided tour of the Bourbon Trail.
There are five locations, and each one will give you a little different history and perspective of bourbon.
You can download the B-Line Line Guide (not a typo) from the app stores to keep track of your stops.
Please don’t drink and drive if you are going to locations that aren’t walkable.
A walk in the Riverside Drive Historic District will give sweeping views of the Ohio River while seeing historical places, from carriage homes to Civil War buildings.
Wear comfortable shoes because this area alone is 13 blocks.
The Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati is a walk through a railway boneyard.
Check for hours because, as of this publication, it’s only open on the first Saturday of each month.
You can’t get enough of the views from Devou Park.
The sweeping views of Cincinnati, the river, and Covington will keep your Instagram full of pictures.
The Behringer-Crawford Museum is on the park’s 700 acres, with lessons in the history, geology, and industries of Covington.
Bike and hiking trails are there for every skill level, and you can rent a bike at the park.
There’s a lake and golf course here, too, rounding out a great day of outdoor activities.
This is just a slice of the fun and safe activities in Covington.
To learn more, visit meetnky.com (Meet Northern Kentucky) and search through the dozens of activities here.
Places to Avoid in Covington
The highest crime rates are found in the neighborhoods immediately south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The good news is, at least for tourists, that most of the places to visit mentioned above are north of that street.
Since you’d rather spend more time planning activities than researching street-by-street dangers, it’s best to stay on the main roads and avoid driving through neighborhoods.
One travel note for Covington – there’s an attraction called Celebration Riverboats.
It looked at first like there were regular riverboat tours, but this is more for personal events or company group tours.
There are some events, like fireworks views, where tickets can be purchased, but there aren’t scheduled tours regularly.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Covington
- Covington Police Department has an interactive crime map on its website. You can search for different locations and types of crime to see what trends are happening closer to your visit.
- To contact the police department’s main line, the number is (859)292-2222. To reach dispatch for non-emergency situations that require a police officer, call (859)356-3191.
- You can contact a police liaison representing the LGBTQ+ community at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
- Sign up for emergency alerts using CodeRED provided by the Kenton County Emergency Management Agency. You’ll get developing weather, terrorism, active shooters, and hazmat text messages.
- Kenton County gets a lot of extreme weather. While it’s never guaranteed that severe weather will happen during your visit, you should prepare for everything. There’s a “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” PSA to inform people they should never drive along a street that is underwater, even if it’s just a few inches. Even if you see other people doing it, it’s not worth the risk.
- When winter storms hit, there are three levels of snow emergencies. Level 1 is the lowest, and Level 3 is the highest. If more than two inches of snow are predicted, don’t park on a public street. This is to allow the snow plows to get through. You can be fined up to $100 if you are parked on the street during a snow event.
- To go fishing in Kentucky, you need a fishing license from the Department of Fish & Game. There are certain permits and stamps you’ll need, depending on where you fish and what type of fish you want to catch. There’s also an option for a dual hunting and fishing license. Thoroughly review all options before you purchase.
- In mid-2022, Covington Police reported a trend in catalytic converter thefts. This is especially important if you rent a car while you’re here. Avoid renting a Hyundai Santa Fe, KIA Sportage, or compact Hondas, as those have been the most likely targets.
- Kentucky has a “Move Over” law that requires vehicles to safely move to the left lane if there is an emergency responder on the side of the road. This helps prevent first responders from getting hit by passing cars or being knocked over by the rush of wind that comes with vehicles traveling at high speeds.
- The Roebling Suspension Bridge is an icon of this region. For what it’s worth, the bulk of it is in Kentucky. You can walk across this bridge. If you have concerns about walking on a bridge that’s more than 150 years old, you should know a renovation project just wrapped up in April 2022 to make the bridge safer for cars and pedestrians. Head up, however, if you are as scared of bridges as the writer of this article – the pedestrian section has nothing more than a waist-high (at best) railing keeping you safe. There are lights on the bridge at night, so you can use it any time of day.
So... How Safe Is Covington Really?
Covington just has some higher than average crime rates, but that’s not unique when it’s part of such a large metro area, especially when neighboring Cincinnati has an even higher crime rate overall.
While 43% of violent crimes were against strangers, another 43% happened in private homes.
Overall, that means there’s about half the average rate that a stranger would be a victim.
Here is how the risks break down in Covington:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 227
- Robbery: 1 in 620
- Theft: 1 in 51
30% of those thefts are car break-ins, so lock your doors, roll up the windows, and take all personal belongings out when you park – especially overnight.
The highly-traveled tourist areas are among the safest in the city, but that doesn’t mean letting your guard down.
You can enjoy many unique experiences in Covington, but don’t drink too much bourbon and lose your common sense.
Pre-program the police department’s phone numbers so you can have them on speed dial – just in case.
How Does Covington Compare?
- Visas - A U.S. Travel Visa will cost $160, and a Work Visa is $190. You'll need to go through several steps to get your visa if you're visiting from outside the country. That does include an in-person interview. You'll need your visa at the airports, but not to travel between Ohio and Kentucky or any of the cities in the region.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, and there's no need to carry cash. Credit cards are better options as you have more fraud prevention and support should someone get your card information.
- Weather - Winters are going to be cold, and summers are going to be hot, and in between, you'll get a fluctuation of temperatures. Pack layers of shirts and bottoms to accommodate changing temperatures, but bring winter outerwear from November through March.
- Airports - The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is actually on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. It's about 12 miles from Covington, and the drive should take you 20 minutes.
- Travel Insurance - You should consider travel insurance for your trip, rental car, and health while traveling to Covington. It takes away worry when you've got other safety concerns to focus on.
Covington Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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