When looking for things to do in Kentucky, you’ll want them to be unique to the state and great for the whole family.
Thankfully, we’ve put together a list ranging from the best playground and park in the world to a sinkhole filled with muscle cars. Whether you want to explore the vast natural playgrounds that Kentucky has to offer or want to sip some of the state’s best brandy, we have it all. If Lexington, Kentucky is your destination, make sure to fit at least one of these things to do in Kentucky into your travel. But, if you’re road tripping across the US, we think you could fit all six into your itinerary. So, read on and let us know what your favorite things to do in Kentucky are!
1. Explore the Depths of Mammoth Cave National Park
In the midst of south central Kentucky lies a cave over four hundred miles long. Aptly named Mammoth Cave, there is obviously vast amounts of this natural wonder to explore. Mammoth Cave is a National Park, so if you have a pass then this is a no-brainer for you to put on your list of things to do in Kentucky. There is ample camping here, as well as plenty of hiking above ground for those not fond of tight or dark spaces. There are a myriad of sites to see in the park. Some highlights are the Engine No. 4, the old workhorse of the Mammoth Rail Road. Exploring the Green River will let you catch a glimpse of Cave Island and the River Styx Spring.
While there is a myriad of things to explore, make sure to see the most famous parts of the park. These include Mammoth’s most famous formation: Frozen Niagara. You will need a ticket to enter the cave, but a tour including this will be easy for anyone from young to old. If you’re into history, you can take a specific history tour too. However, if you’re up for the highest adventure, hop on a Grand Avenue tour. This four hour tour will show you the true expanse of Mammoth Cave. It will be strenuous and there are tight spaces, so know that ahead of time. But, whatever tour you end up on, Mammoth Cave is easily one of the best things to do in Kentucky for explorers.
2. Climb at the Red River Gorge
Moving further east, the Red River Gorge is a natural playground that is well worth a visit. It is a canyon system located within the Daniel Boone National Forest. There are ample waterfalls, sandstone rock formations, canyons, and hiking trails all around here, each giving you a spectacular and unique view. The Natural Bridge State Park is also right next door if you’re looking to tag on another outdoor adventure easily while checking things off your list of things to do in Kentucky.
If you’re ready to play, rock climbing is a fantastic option in the Red River Gorge. Affectionately called ‘the Red’ by climbers, there is an abundance of traditional and sport climbing routes here. Climbing can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, so please hire a guide service if you haven’t climbed before or are just learning. But, if you have some ropes and experience, there are a multitude of guide books to help you navigate this majestic park to find some of the best routes in the nation.
3. Play Around at Smothers Park
Families, don’t fret. There is an abundance of things to do in Kentucky for you too, even if you’re not the intensely outdoor type. Kentucky is home to the top playground in the world. Located in Owensboro and previously called Riverfront Park, Smothers Park will delight everyone, young and old. The grandparents can sit on the porch-like swings overlooking the river, watching the waters flow. The kiddos can be playing nearby on the spectacular Lazy Dayz Playground, which is open daily. If they’re up for getting wet, head over to the Ronald Lee Logsdon SprayPark. The stunning fountains, waterfalls, and cleanliness of this park will easily welcome you and beg you to come back.
In addition, the park has free WiFi for all, an open air pavilion, and the Charles Shelton Memorial. This memorial is dedicated to POW’s and MIA’s from all wars and is on the east end of the park. Overall, this spectacular park can easily be made a day trip that is well worth your time. From the river front to the playground and the history around, each person in your party can find something to do. So, if you’re looking for things to do in Kentucky for the whole family, look no further than Smothers Park in Owensboro.
4. Visit the Louisville’s Copper and Kings Distillery and the Kentucky Derby Museum
If you snagged tickets to the Kentucky Derby, then, by all means, make that the top priority on your list of things to do in Kentucky. However, for most of us, that won’t be an affordable or easy option. So, instead, buy a combo pass for the Copper and Kings Distillery and the Kentucky Derby Museum. Copper and Kings is an All American Brandy Distillery that has unparalleled goodness flowing from it. Their brandy is made in American copper pot stills and matured in bourbon barrels. While you can take a mini distillery tour, we would highly recommend the main tour. It’s one hour long and includes three half-ounce tastings per person. In addition, you’ll walk away with a souvenir tasting glass. If you’re military personnel, your tour is free. But, for civilians, see if you can ride your bike there. You’ll get fifty percent off your tour!
If you grabbed a dual pass, head on over to the Kentucky Derby Museum next. First off, simply being at the Churchill Downs Racetrack is like living within history. You can tour the racetrack itself, as well as the Jockey’s Quarters, Millionaires Row, private members-only Turf Club. Once you’ve seen the grounds, head inside to learn everything about a racehorse’s life from birth to race day. The interactive and family friendly exhibits will keep the whole clan engaged from start to finish. For the kids, make sure to hop on the Riders Up exhibit to race against your friends to the finish! Whatever ends up catching your eye while here, we can assure you it will be one of your favorite things to do in Kentucky by the time you’re done.
5. Take a Trip to the Creation Museum & Ark Encounter
As far as museums go, the Creation Museum is an incredibly high tech one with an abundance of exhibits. The museum will walk you through biblical history, from the garden of Eden to what we know about Lucy the Ape. You can learn about the different dragon folklore and walk through Dr. Crowley’s Insectorium. In there, you will see how each bug has been specifically designed with unique features and needs in mind. You can also meet Ebenezer, a stunning full-size Allosaurus, among others in the dinosaur den. Walking through the museum you will also find more information on the great flood, as well as how the Bible was put together. Overall, the Creation Museum is an incredible walk through of biblical history.
Just forty-five minutes from the Creation Museum is the Ark Encounter. A life-size boat built to the dimensions laid out in the biblical text, it is quite a sight to behold. Whether you believe it was used on a worldwide flood or not, it’s still our most thought provoking item on the list of things to do in Kentucky. The Ark spans 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high. While it even looks like a modern marvel, imagining it being built thousands of years ago is even more mind blowing. So, make sure to put the Ark Encounter on your list of things to do in Kentucky for some maximum-sized fun.
6. Be in Awe at the National Corvette Museum & Sinkhole
If cars get you going, then the National Corvette Museum, and it’s sinkhole, should be an easy choice as far as things to do in Kentucky go. With interactive exhibits and over eighty mint classics, one of a kind prototypes, and modern day wonders, this museum will keep you entertained. You can sit in your own 2015 Stingray to see if a Corvette is the next car in your life. Look up the dates ahead of time to see if there are any special events when you want to go. If you’re lucky enough to be going during the Corvette Caravan, you will see hundreds of unique cars all in one place.
But, for those of you more interest in natural things than muscle cars, don’t worry. In 2014, the National Corvette Museum had a sinkhole consume eight historical corvettes. Thankfully, it happened during the early morning hours and no one was injured. Now, they have a specific sinkhole exhibit which is quite fascinating on its own. The fact that there are eight priceless cars at the bottom of it is pretty exciting as well. So, for a great mixture of muscle and natural phenomenon, put the National Corvette Museum on your list of things to do in Kentucky.
Each of these things to do in Kentucky will bring you on an intriguing adventure or at least be a thought-provoking excursion.
Traveling across the Bluegrass state will give you a sense of awe in the springtime with its hued hills. Heading to the Red will give you more color and adrenaline filled adventure. For an incredibly interactive museum that will challenge you and show you a different perspective on the world, check out the Creation Museum. This state is filled with both family friendly attractions as well as great manly destinations like the Corvette Museum. We didn’t even begin to mention the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory either. So, whether you’re in for hiking in nature or exploring the cities, Kentucky has something waiting for you.
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