Making the decision to visit Kentucky is easy. Home to quaint towns and bustling cities with everything you could ever want, as well as stunning natural escapes like national parks and mountains, take your pick. The hard part is deciding which part of the state to explore! We’ll help you out. Here are 10 perfect Kentucky getaways.
Wander through the world’s longest cave system at Mammoth Cave National Park in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Numerous tours of the cave are available that provide entertainment for individuals looking to take a leisure cave tour as well as those looking for something more thrilling and aggressive. Visitors to the cave can camp in the park in either a tent or RV and hike on the park’s many trails. For people who don’t enjoy camping, many hotels are available in nearby Cave City.
Nicknamed “The Niagara of the South,” Cumberland Falls is a massive 125-foot wide waterfall found in Corbin, Kentucky. Visitors to Cumberland Falls can camp in a tent or RV, or they can stay in the park’s lodge or one of its cottages for a more modern experience. The park offers many hiking trails for recreation during your stay, and during full moons, the opportunity to see a moonbow—a rainbow created by the waterfall spray and the light of the moon—is a huge attraction for visitors.
Red River Gorge is a system of canyons in Slade, Kentucky, that is a popular destination for rock climbers. Within the park, visitors will discover dozens of sandstone arches, several natural bridges, and huge climbable—and unclimbable—cliffs. Hiking is another popular activity. The park offers more than 60 miles of trails. Visitors can camp in tents or RVs, backpack through the park, or rent a cabin within the park to enjoy both nature’s privacy and more modern accommodations.
Louisville offers everything you’d expect to find in a major U.S. city. Popular attractions include Churchill Downs and the Louisville Slugger Museum, but the city also offers dozens of museums and galleries, a zoo, a theme park, and several historical attractions that delight visitors. Louisville is well known as one of the best foodie cities in the world, and visitors will have a hard time deciding which of the city’s locally owned restaurants to try. Spend the night at the original 21c Museum Hotel located downtown.
If you’re a fan of bourbon and southern charm, then Bardstown is your perfect Kentucky getaway. In Bardstown, you can tour several bourbon distilleries, including Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Four Roses, and Heaven Hill. You can take a train ride through the state on the My Old Kentucky Dinner Train, or you can shop for unique gifts and marvel at the architecture in the Bardstown Historic District. Make sure to make a stop at the Abbey of Gethsemani—an active monastery—for a quiet stroll through the grounds.
Just across the river from Cincinnati, you’ll find Newport, Kentucky. Not only does a trip to Newport provide visitors with easy access to downtown Cincinnati attractions, it’s also home to the Newport Aquarium—rated by Zagat as one of the top aquariums in the U.S. During your stay, you’ll also want to make a trip into Covington, Kentucky, to explore the German businesses and architecture at MainStrasse Village. Make sure to pick up some souvenirs from the shops in Newport’s historic downtown.
A trip to Lexington offers both city entertainment and country charm. Visitors can shop, dine, and catch a concert downtown, watch a horse race at Keeneland, or take a tour of one of the many horse farms surrounding the city to enjoy the rolling bluegrass landscape. While Lexington has many hotels that visitors can stay in within the city limits, you can make your experience truly unique just outside of town in Versailles where you can stay the night in a castle and feel like royalty at Castle Post.
The damming of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers created two lakes in southern Kentucky—Lake Barkley and the Kentucky Lake. Between these two lakes you’ll find one of the largest inland peninsulas in the country—the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The Land Between the Lakes is a popular destination for water recreation, and visitors spend their time swimming, fishing, boating, and hiking. Camping, cabins, and modern lodges are available for overnight stays.
A stay at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, offers a historic and relaxing experience. Shaker Village was one of the largest Shaker communities in the 19th century, and visitors today can experience what it was like to live in that community back when it was thriving. Visitors can stroll through the peaceful grounds of the village, dine on food grown in the village’s gardens, and stay in the inn that has been restored and filled with reproduction Shaker furniture.
In the eastern part of the state, you’ll discover the Kentucky Appalachians—an expanse of breathtaking rolling green mountains. Visitors can stay in several cities and towns along the mountain stretch and drive the Country Music Highway—a 144-mile byway that takes drivers past the birthplaces of many country music stars, including Loretta Lynn, Wynonna Judd, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Patty Loveless. Hiking is extremely popular in this area, and visitors also enjoy wandering through its historic coal mining towns.