Top 12 Breathtaking and Unique Kentucky Vacation Spots

What is the first thing you think of when the state of Kentucky comes to mind? Maybe the famous annual Derby, or the Lousiville Slugger museum, or maybe even the beautiful sunsets, but what you don’t know about the Bluegrass State, is that it inhabits so much more for its locals and visitors! 

Whether it’s a couple’s getaway, family vacation, friends weekend, or even just time for you alone to get away, this adventurous state caters to them all.  

Top 12 Kentucky Vacation Spots 

1. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area 

Cumberland River at Big South Fork National River
The Cumberland River at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, KY.

The Big South Fork National River located in the southeastern area of Kentucky shares its borders with the northern parts of Tennessee, protecting the Cumberland River. Whether your preferred activity of the trip is hiking, sight-seeing, horseback riding, or white-water rafting, Big South Fork has everything an outdoorsy person like yourself could think of.

The biggest highlight from this breathtaking recreational area is the Bear Creek Horse Camp which allows you to camp out outdoors with the horses after riding along a trail ride of your choosing. The campgrounds offer water, electricity, tables grills, ties for horses, hot showers and much more to make your stay enjoyable.

2. Mammoth Cave

The world’s longest cave with over 400 miles available to explore, the Mammoth Cave National Park is one for all ages. The immense amount of tours available can vary in specifications with the Frozen Niagara section, Domes, and Historic Tours, which are all sites you won’t want to miss.

Apart from the aesthetically pleasing views of Mammoth Cave, the recreation site offers over 100 different areas to camp out with family and friends alongside a riverbank, maple springs, or even the backcountry roots. 

3. Churchill Downs  

Churchill Downs
The Legendary Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY

Ah. The most memorable, and arguably the most uproaring and exciting event of the year for lovers of betting, intense racing, and very large hats. The Kentucky Derby!

Held within the large city of Louisville, the two-week festival is one full of thrilling horse races along with lifetime memories. Between Derby days, Down at the Dawns, and Champions Day, you’ll have your pick for a jaw-dropping fun experience.  

4. Land Between the Lakes 

Hosting a whopping 170,000 acres of land for camping, water activities, hiking, and more, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is a must-do for all the outdoors lovers.

Whether you’d like to visit historic military ruins with cannons to show for its prominence, the site sees the Elk and Bison Prairie, or take a trip down to the Venture River Water Park, this rainbow sufficient spot in Golden Pond is the stairway to Kentucky heaven. 

5. Covington 

Covington bridge

Arguably the coziest and family-friendly town, Covington is full of rich architecture and mouth-watering restaurants. Sharing its bridge overtop the river that flows towards Ohio, the hover gives travelers a perfect birds-eye view of the Huge Devou Park where golfers can be seen finishing their rounds or joy riding on the golf carts.

Once arriving into town with an empty stomach, one of the locals’ favorites is a small American Bistro best known for its brunch and most importantly, its fried green tomatoes.  

6. Lexington

Top Kentucky Vacation Spots
Horses in the fields on a farm in Lexington, Kentucky

It’s no surprise that Kentucky is known for its horses and their loving demeanor, so you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky, the Kentucky Horse Park is one of the most visited attractions in the state!

Tickets can be purchased for the International Museum of Horses and you and your vacationers can take a tour of the fairgrounds of the thoroughbreds. This pet-friendly environment is an amusement park in itself with covered picnic areas and Drawn-Horse carriage tours taking place throughout the warm months of the summer.

If you’ve gotten your dose of horses already filled within your trip, the Festival of the Bluegrass is something to always look forward to in the early month of June. Jam out with some live Bluegrass music and swing dancing that’s fun for everyone, because you can’t get more Kentucky than that. 

7. Bowling Green 

As the prior confederate capital of Kentucky from Civil War days, Bowling Green is one of the most historic towns you can visit on your road map. With the Kentucky Museum and the Riverview at Hobson Grove, any inquiries regarding the war-like times will be fulfilled with displays and tours.

Despite the mesmerizing historic displays, Bowling Green is also home to a car-lovers favorite spot, the National Corvette Museum where they host classic and prototypes to be advertised. On the outskirts of the town, you can find drag races held at Beech Bend Raceway to achieve any competitive rushes you may desire.   

8. London

KFC

You may be thinking, besides Bluegrass and horses, what else does Kentucky have to offer? Well, look no further because the annual World Chicken Festival takes place right in London, Kentucky, home for the famous Kentucky Fried Chicken!

The 31st annual festival will be happening September 24th-27th this year celebrating Colonel Harland Sanders and co-founder of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, Lee Cummings. After establishing their first opening of KFC in the 1940s, the uncle and nephew duo will be honoring over a half a century of Kentucky Fried Chicken served to the American people. 

9. Fairmont Falls

The seven-acre open natural area of Fairmont Falls is home to Kentucky’s tallest waterfall in the metro area, surrounded by its peaceful and forested cliffs for sightseeing. After walking the mile-long trail to reach the waterfall, you’ll be stunned by the shiny rock-based water flow that streams its way out towards the Louisville area.  

10. Castle Post 

A medieval-themed castle in the outskirts of Versailles, Kentucky, Castle Post, has been home to the local town since the 1960s, before completely finishing its reconstructions and improvements for its current owner to host as an event location and bed and breakfast.

For families on a thrilling vacation, or couples searching for a romantic getaway, Castle Post’s ballroom, libraries, and gardens will fill all of your expectations. 

11. Williamstown 

Noah's Ark replica
View of the Arc Encounter replica boat depicting the Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky opened as a scientific and religious museum and theme park

Home to a small 4,000 people, Williamstown is one of those places you can pass through in minutes, yet you won’t want to leave. The settling town is in better terms “adorable”, but its most visited tourist spot is the Ark Encounter.

The Ark Encounter is an exact replica built amusement park of Noah’s Ark from the Bible. 510 feet long, 51 feet high, and 85 feet wide, the ark contains three decks with sculptures of animals, many of which are now extinct, with plaques describing the Biblical view of each creature. Outside of the ark, the park has zip-lines, a petting zoo, and a cafe for all ages to enjoy. 

12. Bardstown

Jim Beam distillery
CLERMONT, KY – OCTOBER 13: Jim Beam Distillery at Clermont, KY on October 13, 2012. Jim Beam is a brand of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, one of seven distilleries along Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

As the bourbon capital of this nation, Bardstown, Kentucky inhabits two of the world’s most famous distilleries, Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark who both specialize in the making of small-batch bourbons.

Besides the distilleries, you can fill your mind with true whiskey history at the Oscar Getz Museum which was opened in the 1960s in honor of a well-profound whiskey lover, Oscar Getz. Filled with rare whiskey bottles and the rich history of the liquor, you can even find George Washington’s still and Lincoln’s liquor license on display.  

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