The Getaway
15 Charming Small Town Experiences in Kentucky

Kentucky is a spectacular state brimming with natural beauty, history, and culture. There is no shortage of fun things to do and see in the Bluegrass State, from rolling hills and horse farms to bourbon distilleries and heritage sites. Kentucky absolutely begs for a thorough exploration of its many picturesque small towns, intricate cave systems, and restaurants serving delicious local dishes. Whether you're a foodie, adventurer, or just looking to relax and soak in the local culture, these towns are guaranteed to leave you with unforgettable memories.

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01 Get sporty in Louisville

Louisville is widely known for its Kentucky Derby, a popular horse race that draws thousands of attendees every first Saturday of May. Yet the city has more sports to offer than horse racing. Louisville also features legendary sites like The Muhammad Ali Center and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, where you can explore the history of baseball and even craft your own baseball bat.

02 Go equestrian in Lexington

Lexington, the center of Kentucky's horse country, is home to the Kentucky Horse Park. Here you can watch some of the most stunning horses in the world and uncover the backstory of the thoroughbred industry. The town is also home to a range of bourbon distilleries like the Woodford Reserve Distillery and the Town Branch Distillery.

03 Sip bourbon in Bardstown

Located in the center of Kentucky's bourbon region, Bardstown is quite the charmer. It is frequently referred to as the "Bourbon Capital of the World," as it's said to be where bourbon whiskey was first produced. Some prominent spots include the Heaven Hill Distillery, the Maker's Mark Distillery, and the Willett Distillery. Bourbon isn't all that exists in Bardstown. The town's numerous historical landmarks and museums have preserved the wealth of its past. My Old Kentucky Home State Park houses the Federal-style mansion that inspired American songwriter Stephen Foster.

04 Check out quilts in Paducah

Seated at the intersection of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, Paducah is a river town rich in culture and history. Paducah features the National Quilt Museum, which houses some of the most exquisite and detailed quilts ever sewn. Several galleries and studios are also situated in the historic downtown section of Paducah, which is known for its thriving arts scene.

05 Go caving in Bowling Green

You wouldn't be done with Kentucky without checking out the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. Bowling Green is also home to Mammoth Cave National Park, which boasts the longest-known cave system in the world. The Lost River Cave also makes a great day trip, with underground cave boat tours that are perfect for families. Above ground, there are exciting activities such as ziplining, hiking trails, and a beautiful butterfly habitat.

06 Have a capital time in Frankfort

Kentucky's capital city, Frankfort, is home to a number of significant landmarks, including the Governor's Mansion and the Kentucky State Capitol. When you're done touring, kick back at the Buffalo Trace or Wild Turkey, two of the town's well-known bourbon distilleries. If you have a sweet tooth, check out the Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory. This candy paradise has been running since the 1920s and is famous for inventing the bourbon ball, a chocolate candy filled with Kentucky bourbon. Tour the factory to see how the candies are made, or stop by the gift shop to try some of their delicious treats.

07 See architecture in Covington

The bustling town of Covington, located just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, is packed with an array of art galleries and museums, as well as the Roebling Suspension Bridge, built by the genius behind the Brooklyn Bridge. Covington's architecture is also one of its most outstanding aspects. Sample several historic neighborhoods, such as MainStrasse Village, which comprises a collection of nineteenth-century structures exquisitely restored and transformed into stores, restaurants, and galleries.

08 Browse handicrafts in Berea

Berea is a little hamlet in the Appalachian Mountains, famous for its arts and crafts. It's the location of the Kentucky Artisan Center, where you can browse and buy locally crafted items. The small town is also home to Berea College, one of the few universities in the nation that offers free tuition to all students. You can also hike the nearby Pinnacles in Berea College Forest or explore the Berea Arts and Crafts Festival, held annually in the summer.

09 Get quaint in Harrodsburg

One of Kentucky's oldest towns, Harrodsburg, is renowned for its elaborate architecture. It features a number of historic residences and sites, including the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and the Old Fort Harrod State Park. You'll also find the Big Red Stables in Baile Mam Farm in Jackson Pike. A stunning piece of land, the Baile Mam Farm features undulating hills, clear streams, and flowering meadows. Here people of all ages and skill levels can enjoy horseback riding, hayrides, and wagon rides.

10 Explore bluegrass history in Danville

The picturesque town of Danville is situated in the bluegrass region of Kentucky. For a look at local history, don't miss the Constitution Square State Historic Site and the McDowell House Museum. The Perryville Battlefield State Historic Park, one of the best-preserved Civil War battlefields in the nation, is another Danville favorite. With its numerous horse farms and rolling hills, the town is an ideal vacation hub for equestrians and outdoor enthusiasts.

11 Enjoy the outdoors in Murray

Murray is famous for its proximity to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and its appealing small-town vibe. Here you can enjoy many outdoor activities, such as hiking, picnicking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Chestnut Park also features a playground, picnic area, walking trail, and amphitheater. The park hosts a number of events throughout the year, including concerts and festivals. For a fun night out with friends or family, go bowling at Corvette Lanes. This impressive bowling alley has several lanes and a snack bar, and you can also enjoy arcade games and billiards for a full night out.

12 Tap into Maysville's Bourbon Trail

On the banks of the Ohio River stands the historic river town of Maysville, which is renowned for its bourbon tradition as well, with numerous distilleries dotting the landscape. One of the oldest and most recognizable bourbon distilleries all over Kentucky is Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. Maysville is also the site of the John Rankin House, a historic residence that served as an Underground Railroad stop.

13 Get wild in Newport

Newport sits just across the river from Cincinnati and is home to the Newport Aquarium and the Newport Southbank Bridge, popularly called the Purple People Bridge. This pedestrian-only bridge spans the Ohio River and offers stunning views of the city skyline. Additionally, Newport has a lively entertainment district called "Newport on the Levee," which features restaurants, bars, a movie theater, and shopping. Many clubs, eateries, and music venues, such as Thompson House and the Megacorp Pavilion, contribute to Newport's thriving entertainment scene.

14 Savor barbecue in Owensboro

Owensboro is notable for its lively atmosphere and scrumptious barbeque. Excellent smoked meats are served at a couple of local eateries that have since become landmarks in the community. One of the most well-known is the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, which has been providing mouthwatering meals since about 1950. Owensboro is also the heart of Kentucky's bluegrass region, known for its rich musical heritage. The city hosts the annual ROMP Festival, which celebrates bluegrass music and draws performers and fans from around the world.

15 Go classic in Elizabethtown

Located in the heart of central Kentucky, Elizabethtown features various historical sites, including the Brown Pusey House, a gem of Federal and Georgian architecture. Elizabethtown is also close to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park. The Swope's Cars of Yesteryear Museum, which holds a collection of over 70 vintage and classic cars, is another popular attraction.

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