Editors' Picks: 20 of the Best Things to Do in Kentucky!

Kentucky is known for its horse-racing, its bourbon - and of course, the finger-lickin' food choice of late-night runs nationwide. Abe Lincoln was born in the Bluegrass State, as were Muhammad Ali, George Clooney, Johnny Depp and Jennifer Lawrence.

Kentucky was where the nation's first cheeseburger was served, is home to Fort Knox, where billions in the nation's gold is stored.

Hmmm…cheeseburgers and gold: if those two things aren't enough to intrigue you, here are 20 other cool things to check out about the state.

1. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

"Take me out to the ballgame…" Or the next best thing. Tour the place where one of the most iconic tools of America's pasttime has been manufactured for 125 years. (Louisville)

2. The Kentucky Horse Park

Get up close to horses of all ages at this lovely facility that combines racing history, horse shows and many other equine-related activities in a beautiful setting. (Lexington)

3. Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park

It's actually two separate farm sites where Lincoln lived in his early life. You get a real taste of the hardscrabble influences that shaped the character of our 16th president. (Hodgenville)

4. Take in the Kentucky Derby

It's called "the most exciting two minutes in sports" and takes place on the first Saturday in May. Whether you place a bet or not on this first leg of the Triple Crown, you'll enjoy the festivities - including ladies in crazy hats and those mint juleps. (Louisville)

5. Visit the Cumberland Gap

This narrow pass that touches on parts of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee is considered an early gateway to the West for adventurous explorers - including Daniel Boone.

6. Muhammad Ali Center

"The Greatest" was a son of Kentucky, and this center showcases his amazing life, career and legacy. There are terrific interviews with him, not to mention, videos of his legendary bouts and more. (Louisville)

7. Mammoth Cave National Park

It's the longest-known cave system in the world, and there are tours that give you a glimpse into its massive tunnels and rooms. Above ground, there are fantastic trails perfect for hiking or biking.

8. Ride the Belle of Louisville

It's the last authentic steamboat plying the waters of the Mississippi, and a National Historic Landmark. Since its launch in 1914, millions of people have enjoyed the old-timey charm on its cruises up and down the river. (Louisville)

9. Harland Sanders Café and Museum

It honors the site of Colonel Sanders' first restaurant, where "KFC" was originally created back in the 1940s (the franchises came later). Technically, it's a restaurant - but the vintage touches evoke a simpler (and tastier) time - and provide some fun photo ops. (Corbin)

10. Take the "Maker's Mark" Tour

"Kentucky" and "bourbon" are joined at the hip, so tour the distillery for this top-shelf spirit. It combines history, production of the bourbon and lots of interactivity. Naturally, there's a tasting involved, too. (Loretto)

11. Mary Todd Lincoln House

No doubt about it - Abe traded up when he wooed and won this society gal. Her family home has been wonderfully restored, with terrific memorabilia and a tour that shows how she laid the groundwork for becoming a First Lady. (Lexington)

12. Kentucky Railway Museum

Who doesn't love a train? This cool museum showcases many vintage engines, but the real fun comes with their "specialty" excursions, like "Mystery Train" or "Dinner Train." There's even one that lets you experience a "Train Robbery." (New Haven)

13. The Brewgrass Trail

Whlle Kentucky is famous for bourbon, it's becoming a hot destination for craft beer. In just a few years, well over a dozen well-regarded breweries have opened in the Bluegrass State. (Lexington area)

14. Lost River Cave

One of the coolest ways to explore this seven-mile cave system is via underground boat. It's pretty surreal, and a real crowd-pleaser, no even for the most jaded teenager or adult. Yeah - a boat. On a river. Under the ground. Cool! (Bowling Green)

15. Waveland

This fascinating antebellum plantation incorporates both a glorious home and restored out-buildings, like an icehouse. It's a great way to glimpse life during a much different time. You can even enjoy a High Tea in one of the mansion's elegant sitting rooms. (Lexington)

16. National Corvette Museum

This "concept" sports car has been a fixture on American roads since 1953. Get a closer look through this popular museum that showcases how they're made, rare versions of the car and much more. (Bowling Green)

17. Elk Viewing

In parts of the state, elk have come back in a big way; some areas are as rich with these magnificent creatures as you'd find in the Rockies. Guided tours give you an excellent chance at spotting them.

18. Kentucky Science Center

As far back as the 1870s, it was known as "the cabinet of curiosities" - and this acclaimed center has lost none of its ability to inspire. There are plenty of hands-on exhibits, movies and more to engage curious minds of all ages. (Louisville)

19. Newport Aquarium

Spend some time with an amazing variety of aquatic critters, from sharks and jellyfish, to otters, turtles and much more. The displays are pretty impressive, and they offer some fun specialty events, too, like a "Mermaid Ball." (Newport)

20. The National Quilt Museum

Nothing says "cozy" like a quilt - but beyond warmth, this incredible place showcases the intricate art that goes into making one. Displays feature quilts from around the world and more. You'll never look at one the same way again. (Paducah)

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Best Things To Do Near You


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