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The Best Places to Visit in Kentucky

Travelers Today       By    Ernest Hamilton

Updated: Mar 18, 2021 09:30 AM EDT

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Kentucky, Bowling Green, United States.
Photographer took this photo early morning while on a hot air balloon in Kentucky.
(Photo: by David Barajas on Unsplash)

A lot of people, because of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, are looking for more domestic travel options. This might mean flying somewhere in the U.S. or taking a road trip. Kentucky is a beautiful option with some great cities and also an abundance of natural beauty. 

If you are taking a Kentucky road trip, while they tend to be less crowded than a lot of other roadways, you do have to remain vigilant. There are around 160,000 car accidents on Kentucky roadways and highways each year. 

Beyond that, where should you go in Kentucky? The following are some of the best places for visitors, whether you're coming from out of state or you're a resident who wants to get to know their home a little better. 

Louisville

Louisville is a charming city with a lot to do. It has a thriving restaurant scene and attractions like the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. 

The Louisville Slugger Museum features a 120-foot tall replica of Babe Ruth's Louisville Slugger. 

You can take a tour, and there are batting cages. 

Also notable for visitors to Louisville are the Muhammad Ali Center and the Kentucky Derby Museum & Churchill Downs. 

The Derby is the well-known horse race held at the Downs, but there are regular races held at the track throughout the summer season. 

Louisville has museums and festivals and a number of historic hotels. It has the third-largest National Preservation District in the country and the largest Victorian district in the U.S. If you love history and architecture, Louisville may be worth a visit. 

Lexington

Lexington is the horse capital of the world, and you can learn more about the history of Thoroughbred horse racing. The Kentucky Horse Park has demonstrations and museums. There's the Keenland Race Course where you can watch Thoroughbreds as they're being exercised. 

If you're in Lexington, you can also do the Bluegrass Country Driving Tour through the countryside, or you can take a downtown walking tour. 

There are restaurants, shops, and art galleries to enjoy in downtown Lexington. 

The University of Kentucky is located in Lexington, and you can visit the homes of Mary Todd Lincoln and Henry Clay while you're there. 

Cumberland Gap

The Cumberland Gap is one of the most well-known places for visitors to Kentucky. It's close to Middlesboro, and it features more than 85 miles of trails, including backcountry trails. 

You can visit the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park to learn more about the early settlers in the area, and there's also the Hensley Settlement located in the park, which is a living history village. 

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park is near Brownsville, which is in central Kentucky. It's the longest-known cave system in the world, and there are more than 400 miles of paths throughout. Many of the pathways and chambers are available to visitors. 

Along with seeing the caves themselves, the area is popular for hikers, and you can fish or kayak on the Green and Nolin Rivers. 

Red River Gorge

Stanton is home to the Red River Gorge wilderness area, and it's appealing to adventure seekers, including rock climbers.

The Red River Gorge is surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest, and it's a designated geological area. 

The Red River Gorge is also home to the Natural Bridge, and there are sandstone cliffs and distinctive rock formations throughout. 

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

The Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area includes the largest publicly owned bison herd to the east of the Mississippi. It's also home to the second-biggest inland peninsula in the country. 

Activities popular at Land Between the Lakes including boating, swimming, and water skiing. 

You can also view wildlife, including not just the elk and bison but eagles, deer, and osprey. 

Paducah

Paducah is dubbed Quilt City U.S.A. It's a town with a lot of emphasis on fiber-based artists. It's on the banks of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, and you can go during the annual QuiltWeek Festival. 

In 2013, Paducah was designated as a UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art. 

Twenty blocks of the downtown district are on the National Register of Historic Places, boasting 19th-century architecture. 

Lower Town is the oldest neighborhood in Paducah and it's a haven for artisans, with art galleries, boutiques, and antique stores. 

Harrodsburg

Harrodsburg is the oldest city in Kentucky, going back to 1774. You'll find the largest restored Shaker settlement in the U.S., and Dedman Drugstore, which first opened in 1865. The Dedman Drugstore still has its original soda fountain. 

You can ride the Dixie Belle paddle stammer to see the Kentucky River Palisades, and there are craft and antique shops in downtown Harrodsburg. 

Danville

Danville is one of the six certified Kentucky Cultural Districts in the state. There are galleries and museums, as well as great restaurants. 

Constitution Square features the site of the first post office ever constructed west of the Allegheny Mountains. 

Greenville

If you want a taste of traditional Americana, there's Greenville, which is in western Kentucky. The historic town square is a must-see, and the downtown area often hosts Saturday events like the Squash & Gobble Arts Bazaar and Fall Festival. 

Bowling Green 

Bowling Green is home to the Lost River Cave, with underground cave boat tours. You can also do ziplining and hiking at the Lost River Cave. 

Bowling Green is home to the National Corvette Museum and Aviation Heritage Park. 

While you're in Bowling Green, don't forget to visit Downtown Fountain Square and Chaney's Dairy Barn. 

There's so much to see and do in Kentucky, but it often flies under the radar as far as travel destinations. It's an especially good state to visit if you like history, architecture or the outdoors. 

There's a lot of natural beauty in Kentucky, as well as many notable historical sites and even some bustling cities like Louisville. 

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Hotels.com Loved By Guests Awards 2018

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