Kentucky, a southeastern state, backed by the Ohio River in the north and the Appalachian Mountain east is one of the less traveled US states in terms of tourism. However, visitors in large numbers flock to the state’s largest city Lourisville for the Kentucky Derby, a popular horse race. However, apart from checking out the horse race, there are plenty of things to do in Kentucky.
Furthermore, this Bluegrass state has a diverse geography and cultural history. Although for many tourists in the US, Kentucky associates with bourbon, horse racing, and county music. However, when you book a flight to Kentucky, go beyond and explore its natural wonders and quirky museums.
When to Visit
The Bluegrass state has a mild and moderate climate, with warm and humid summers and cold and wet winters. Spring (April to May) and Fall (October to November) are considered the best seasons of the year to visit the state. People also book a flight to Louisville during its annual Kentucky Derby race.
Things to Do in Kentucky
Kentucky is not just about the annual horse race. It has numerous parks, which are home to countless natural springs, caves, and several other attractions. Even if you are on a romantic weekend getaway, renting a cabin in the Appalachians is enough to make your visit worthwhile. Here are some of the best things to do in Kentucky.
Daniel Boone National Forest
Reconnect with nature in Kentucky by visiting this national forest, which occupies a massive 708,000 acres of land and covers 21 counties. The diverse terrain of the park includes 3,400 miles of sandstone cliffs, ravines cut by rivers and streams, and gorges. There is also a natural bridge, which is 65 feet high and 75 feet wide.
While strolling around the forest, visitors come across bizarre rock formations, which were created by the erosive force of water and winds. There are a few trails inside the forest. Among them, the most popular are the Barren Folk Accessible Heritage Trail and Sheltowee Trace Trail, which is the largest, extending for 273 miles.
Cumberland Gap National Historic Park
Southern Kentucky boasts some of the most dramatic views of the Cumberland Mountains. Hikers make their way through the Cumberland Gap near Middlesboro as it offers 85 miles of trail. This 760-foot deep cut passage was once a route used by the Native Americans, who used the route to move buffalo to the west.
To uncover the century old history, visit the Hensley Settlement in the park, a well-preserved county township. This living historic village represents the early settlers of Appalachia. Apart from hiking and learning history, visitors can also enroll themselves to various workshops.
Mammoth Cave National Park
The massive Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in existence in the world. It is located near Brownsville in central Kentucky and is one of the best places to visit in Kentucky. It features more than 400 miles of pathways and cave chambers. However, only a few of them are open to the public. The tours available for visitors showcase dripstone formations and other natural elements inside the cave system.
This ancient cave system is home to a rich diversity of plant and animal life, including thousands of years of human history. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve was established to preserve the native flora and fauna. It also offers camping for those who want to spend the night here. The other activities include- canoeing, kayaking, biking, riding, fishing, and hiking.
Frankfurt, the capital city of Kentucky, is rich with American history. Located on the banks of river Kentucky, Frankfurt is home to the Frankfurt Cemetery, the burial site of American frontiersman Daniel Boone. The cemetery is also the final resting place of other notable figures of the state. The Salato Wildlife Education Center is another must-visit attraction in the city. Here visitors can learn a lot about the wildlife, including bison, bobcats, bald eagle, snakes, etc. It also features several indoor and outdoor activities.
Those who want a natural escape, Frankfurt has several hiking trails and lakes for fishing. Visitors to the capital city also make a stop at the iconic Rebecca Ruth Candy Museum, which is serving the community the best confectioneries since 1919. Visit the museum and sample the delicious pieces.
Red River Gorge
Kentucky is home to a great wilderness, where thrill-seekers can have an unforgettable wild experience. Red River Gorge is one such wild destination for hardore adventurous souls, who like rock climbing, hiking along the canyons, and walking over the natural bridge. The entire area is blessed with stunning natural wonders, including sandstone cliffs and unique rock formations. Furthermore, this designated geological area is surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest, which is home to a rich biodiversity.
If you are looking for something wildly adventurous, rock climbing in Red River Gorge can give you an ultimate thrill. Hiking the many trails, and ziplining over the gorge are some other popular things to do in Kentucky. Visitors can also take a kayaking tour along the underground rivers and check out the various geological elements here.
The Berea Pinnacles
Hiking the Pinnacles in Berea College Forest is the must to do activity while exploring the wilderness of Kentucky. The entire area is surrounded by breathtaking views of the hilly terrain, and the unique rock shelters and cliffs make the area even more enthralling. Each trail leads you to the Pinnacle from where you can get the most breathtaking views of this 9000 acres of forest.
Whether you are a novice or an experienced hiker, all trails here vary in difficulty. The Each Pinnacle trail is however less difficult and can be hiked by any one. The West Pinnacle trail and the trails to Indian Fort and Eagles Nest is slightly challenging and is hiked by the thrill seekers. The longer hike here is the trail that connects the West Pinnacle Trail to the East Pinnacle Trail.
Although there’s plenty to do here, horse racing in the Kentucky Derby is a must. Visit the state in May to be a part of this heart-thumping race in the entire country. This prestigious event held at Churchills Down outside Louisville takes place on the first Sunday of May and draws a huge crowd to the city. This American Grade I stakes rack is run by three year old Thoroughbreds.
Kentucky being one of the most popular tourist destinations has several attractions to explore. Although many come here to attend the legendary horse racing, they forget to check out the many history and wilderness it has to offer. There are plenty of things to do in Kentucky and hence you should check out all of them while visiting the state.