As someone who was born and raised in the Bluegrass State, I have always loved my home here. As much as I love it, I've come to realize how underrated this region is, and how much there is to do here that is relatively unknown. You could spend forever adventuring around Kentucky and never run out of activities. I might be a little biased, but this state is one of the best places around.
Want to know where to begin on your travels through Kentucky? This list is a good place to start.
One | The Kentucky Derby
Ah, the Kentucky Derby. It's a Kentucky classic, and our legacy of horse racing is normally what people think of when they think of this state. The Derby happens the first Saturday in May, and most Kentuckians either view it, whether that be from home or at the track itself. If you can't make it to the Derby, that's okay, too. As an alternative, visit Churchill Downs, home of the Derby, for another race. Or, if you're feeling a different city, you could visit Keeneland, a horse racing venue located in Lexington and home to the most gorgeous racetrack & surrounding areas. You can't go wrong with a good Saturday full of horse racing & cocktails!
Two | The Bourbon Trail
If you don't know the Bluegrass State for its horses, you probably know it for its bourbon. There are distilleries located all over the state, especially in Central Kentucky, where I'm proud to call home. My all-time favorite distillery to visit is Maker's Mark (I did a post specifically on Maker's over here) with Jim Beam coming in at a close second. If you start the tour in Louisville and take an actual guided tour, you should be able to visit both of these locations as well as some other great distilleries, most of which offer free samples! Check out more on the Bourbon Trail here.
Three | Red River Gorge
This is one of my favorite locations in the entire state. With scenic hills, hiking trails, lookouts, rivers, and wildlife, Red River Gorge is simply stunning. I loved to go hiking here when I was in college; it was a quick one hour drive from campus. Now that I live farther away, it's about a three hour drive so I don't get to make the trip quite as often. The Gorge is the perfect place for a weekend getaway with your friends, significant other, or family. If you visit, be sure to visit the quaint & delicious Miguel's Pizza.
Four | Louisville
This city deserves a point to itself. There is a ton to do here from minor league baseball games, delicious & cozy restaurants and bars, the Louisville Slugger Museum, the Frazier History Museum, Churchill Downs & the Kentucky Derby Museum, the Muhammad Ali Center, Speed Art Museum... the list could go on forever. Louisville just jives with people who love city life & has all of the perks of city living. Get more information on visiting Louisville here.
Five | Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
Shaker Village, also known as Shakertown, is located in Harrodsburg. Taking a visit is like taking a step into the past, as according to its website, Shaker Village is the site of a Shaker religious community that was active from 1805 to 1910. The area was restored and transformed into a historical site that is visited by many tourists each year. Located on more than 3,000 acres, the property has trails, exhibitions, crafts, historical buildings, an inn, and a restaurant. It's the perfect place to slow down & take in a bit of history all while enjoying some great food & country scenery. It's relatively inexpensive and fun for all walks of life & ages.
Six | Mammoth Cave
Mammoth Cave is the world's largest cave system and it's located right in KY! I've been several times throughout my childhood (it's one of my dad's favorite places that's close to home) and we go almost every year. There are tons of guided trail tours you can take and each trail has its own story, & its own path. I recently found out that they offer adventure caving - think head lamps and tight squeezes - and I can't wait to sign up!
Seven | The Stephen Foster Story
I know I've said a lot of places here are my favorite, but this is pretty close to the top, too. The Stephen Foster Story is a live musical play that takes place in Bardstown every summer. Growing up only fifteen minutes from Bardstown, this was a staple in my childhood. I still like to go back with my family and watch, listen to the music, and take in the atmosphere that is so quintessentially Kentucky. The play is based upon the life of Stephen Foster who wrote many songs about Kentucky and had a fondness for the area. He wrote our state song so we're pretty fond of him, too.
If you've never visited, frankly, you're missing out. There is so much to do & see in the Bluegrass State that you could spend a lifetime exploring its wonders, which is exactly what I plan to do. Where are your favorite places to visit in Kentucky?
Hi, I'm Madeline
Blogger, teacher, writer, traveler, reader. Welcome to Mad's Muses!
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