What are some "Must See" attractions in Kentucky?

Well, we are about to go explore Kentucky for a week. As many know, my wife & I are looking to acquire some land in this area as a future retirement location. This year, we are going to go do some exploring.

We were planning to go see Mammoth Caves & we will be spending some time around Louisville & Lexington. Anyone have some suggestions of things one should really go see while in Kentucky?

We are taking our daughters, one is 14 and the other is 9, so anything appealing to that age group is especially good, too.

Blue People

Seriously, if you’re going to be around Lexington and Louisville, it will be easy to see some Blue Grass country with lots of horses. There’s the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg (a charming town just a half hour out of Lexington). There’s distilleries, if you’re into that.

Churchill Downs, of course. Though, I’m not sure the horses are running right now.


Nope. The fall meet doesn’t start till October 28th.

I like the Louisville Zoo. It’s not the biggest in the world, but they have gorillas.

I remember taking a ride on the Belle of Louisville when I was a kid. That was nice.

Dining at the Brown Hotel would be cool. It might be a bit pricey, though.

For me, vacations involve sampling local cuisine. I implore you to get yourself a piece of Derby Pie.

Agreed. In which case, you should also try burgoo and benedictine (found at local grocery stores sometimes).

It may sound creepy, but you might enjoy going to Cave Hill Cemetery. It’s a beautiful spot.

Tour the Lexington horse farms for sure: link

Churchill isn’t open, but the Derby Museum has been expanded.


[ahem. Just a bit biased, I am]

I second the Horse Park. I’ve been there many times for the Rolex Three Day Event, and it’s just wonderful. It’s even better if they have some sort of event or show you can attend alond with the museum and stables.


Lake Cumberland is as beautiful as any lake you’ll find. Rent a boat and have fun.

Bardstown. Damn, the whole city smells like bourbon. Nice tours at Heaven Hill and (a bit further south) Maker’s Mark. There’s a brochure available on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, which covers the distilleries that give tours.


Berea, KY. Lots of local artisans.


Mammoth Cave is a good start.

Labrot and Graham (between Frankfort and Versailles) has a very nice distillery tour.

Lots of history in Frankfort and the Kentucky History Center is very nice.

If you’re interested in hiking, Red River Gorge is terrific.

Not this year. Due to problems with the Wolf Creek Dam the water level in Lake Cumberland is about 10 feet lower than usual. Not to worry though – Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley and the LBL area are even nicer.

The Jefferson Davis Memorial outside of Hopkinsville is one of the odder things you’re likely to pass.

Along I-65 and not far from the Mammoth Cave area are the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green and a very good Coca-Cola memorobelia museum in Elizabethtown.

The Louisville Slugger factory is a fun tour.

The “Now leaving Kentucky” interstate signs?

I’m in the very early stages of planning a visit to the Creation Museum. How can you resist? Something about it just makes me want to see it for myself.

It’s actually down about 40 feet, not 10. I was just there this past weekend (we own a cottage) and there was still plenty of water to boat and jet ski. Weekdays would be even better.

I’ve always wanted to motor across Kentucky doing a grand Floyd Collins Tour.

Even though you can’t view his mummified body any more, or even ogle the stone that trapped his ankle and led to his agonizing yet well-reported-upon death, you can at least stop by Sand Cave and enjoy a picnic. Floyd was partial to chicken sandwiches on white bread with plenty of mayo.

If you are interested in historical stuff Lexington has the Mary Todd Lincoln house and the Henry Clay estate.


Plus there’s also a lot of cool looking old houses that didn’t belong to famous people.

If you’re looking for lakes check out Cave Run lake near Morehead and Salt Lick. It’s great for boating and fishing and other activities (I saw some streakers there back in the 70’s.) Don’t miss the Frosty Freeze restaurant in Salt Lick (it’s not famous but I’m partial to it. Fond childhood memories.)

Pine Mountain is also fairly interesting–great scenery and some civil war stuff. Closer to Lexington and Louisville is Fort Boonesborough, which has a lot of pioneer crafts and activities. When I was a kid I loved that place.


It’s WAY down behind my parents’ place, on a little outcropping of the lake that’s pretty much not there now. But you’re right–there’s still plenty there for anything you’d like to do.

I’d definitely recommend some bourbon tours, particularly Maker’s Mark (near Bardstown) and Labrot and Graham (home of Woodford Reserve, near Versailles). I’d also considering waiting until October, when the leaves are turning, Keeneland is running, and it isn’t hotter than the devil’s balls.

The Corvette plant in Bowling Green has a nice tour (and one lucky person in the group…usually a kid, gets to start one fresh off the assembly line) http://www.corvettemuseum.com/
Dale Hollow Lake on the Tennessee state line is beautiful and good fishing (the water is down quite a bit right now due to the drought) http://www.dalehollowlake.org/
I second (third?) the Mammoth Cave area. There are also some fun things to see in the area if you like campy attractions (thinking Golgotha Golf, where the Red Sea is the water hazard, etc. , a concrete wigwam motel near Cave City dating from the fifties, and Guntown Mountain amusement park).

If your looking for some shorter hikes say an hour or two with good views try Natural Bridge State Park near Lexington. It’s very dramatic and doesn’t require a lot of work.

Louisville is also just a nice city to walk around in, especially over looking the river. If you’re going to be in Northern KY you might as well check out Cincinnati as well. Plenty to do there.