I grew up in Northern Kentucky but I had no idea that the city of Newport had a lot of gangster activity back in the day. The Newport Gangster Tour has been on my list for quite a while and I was really excited to learn more about Newport’s shady past.
The award winning tour begins at the former site of a casino located at The Syndicate in Newport, Kentucky.
Our tour began with a presentation that shared several stories given by our tour guides that included characters of interest and photos of Newport over the years.
Our guides were great storytellers who also really got into character as well.
The city of Newport was formerly know as the “Sin City of the South.” There were tales of illegal casinos, crime, bootleggers, scandals and crime rings.
After our guides laid the foundation for what Newport used to be like, we took to the streets to learn about nearby buildings that had a lot of history.
There used to be 34 adult entertainment clubs within a 2 mile radius in Newport.
During the tour, you will hear about horrendous crimes that took place in broad daylight with witnesses present.
There was a lot of corruption with the police as well during that time. Several officers developed the “Newport Eye” when they would come in contact with large amounts of money. Symptoms included temporary blindness and total loss of memory which worked out well for the criminals.
Our tour talked about a murder outside of this building. If you go on the Ultimate Gangster Tour, you will also go inside the Gambling Museum which is someone’s personal collection of gambling memorabilia.
The tour talks about attempts over the years to clean up the city and the multiple uses of several of the buildings. I would recommend a tour audience of a teenager and up for the tour because of the nature of the crimes and activities that are shared about on the tour.
During our tour, we witnessed a deer running in a panic down Monmouth Street. That is definitely something you don’t see everyday!
We learned that so many people were employed by casino’s in Newport that 33% of the population moved to Las Vegas to start new endeavors when they shut down gambling.
After spending time in Vegas, the former Newport residents started missing their Cincinnati style chili. Cincinnati style chili is a big part of the local food culture here. After receiving so many requests from the former Newport residents that moved to Vegas, Dixie Chili began canning and shipping their chili to Las Vegas where you can still purchase it today at several grocers.
The York Street Cafe also used to also have a lot of activity. The 2nd floor held a tasting bar from Wiedemann’s Brewery which was formally the largest and oldest brewery in Kentucky. There is also a speakeasy door located on the 3rd floor. (They also have great food and were voted best place for a first date.)
The tour takes you to former casino sites and shares stories of legendary entertainers who walked the same streets.
The tour also points out the location of the former Wiedemann’s Brewery which took up 5 acres in Newport!
This bakery was formerly the Yorkshire which at one time had 150 phone lines at its peak for questionable business transactions that were brought down by the feds.
The tour ends where it started, in the “Gold Room” at The Syndicate with a few final stories. You can also share the love by tipping the guides at the end of the tour. They definitely earned our tip!
The Newport Gangster Tour lasts around 2.5 hours and is a great tour for tourists and locals alike. What makes this tour great is the combination of storytelling in front of the actual buildings.
The tour guides have also shared about how locals who lived in the area during that time have also given interesting information afterwards about different buildings or notorious criminals.
*Admission for the Gangster Tour is $20.
If you want an even more intense Gangster Tour experience, you can sign up for the Ultimate Gangster Tour for $30, which is a special extended tour where you hear even more stories and get to go inside a few buildings.
You can purchase your tours online here.
The Newport Gangster Tour by American Legacy Tours begins at Gangsters Dueling Piano Bar 18 East Fifth Street Newport KY 41071
Disclosure: I was given complimentary admissions for review purposes. All opinions are my own.