Nestled in the heart of the Upper South, Kentucky is famous for its rolling hills of bluegrass, vibrant culture, and fabulous food – just to name a few of the state’s highlights. Kentucky has something to offer everybody and is home to a thriving population that has been steadily growing since the beginning of its statehood.
Whether you’re considering relocating to Kentucky or simply planning a visit, you’ll find no shortage of amazing things to do, see, and experience. From breathtaking scenery and notable historic sites to sports, arts and culture, and dining, the Bluegrass State truly has it all.
For first-time visitors and longtime locals alike, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Kentucky – so get ready to explore!
What to Do in Kentucky
It’s nearly impossible to capture the best of Kentucky in a single list, but we’ll do our best. Here are some of the top Kentucky attractions you won’t want to miss, including natural parks, historical highlights, and so much more.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Even if you aren’t a devoted baseball fan, odds are good that you’ve heard of the iconic Louisville Slugger. So, it should come as no surprise to hear that Kentucky has a rich baseball history – one that you can experience at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.
Snap a photo with the 120-foot-tall replica of Babe Ruth’s trusty Louisville Slugger bat, then head inside to browse dozens of fascinating exhibits detailing many of baseball’s biggest moments. You can even visit the factory where the world-famous bats are made and try out your swing in the on-site batting cages.
Churchill Downs is the site of one of Kentucky’s most prestigious events, the Kentucky Derby. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area on the first Sunday of May, you could experience the Kentucky Derby for yourself! If not, you can still tour the legendary grounds during the off-season.
On-site, you’ll also find the Kentucky Derby Museum. The museum takes you on a journey back to 1875, when the Kentucky Derby first started. You can learn all about how racing horses are bred and trained and see a wide variety of interesting artifacts.
Cumberland Falls State Park
With more than 1,650 acres, 50 campsites, a riverside restaurant, and a lodge, Cumberland Falls State Park is a natural wonder that’s sure to impress. Tucked in the Daniel Boone National Forest, the state park features two of Kentucky’s most famous waterfalls: Cumberland Falls and Eagle Falls.
Enjoy a leisurely hike through the scenic surroundings, explore the area on horseback, or experience the thrill of white-water rafting. The park is also host to a number of major Kentucky events, including the Kentucky Hills Craft Festival.
Harland Sanders Café and Museum
When you think of fried chicken, it’s nearly impossible not to think about Kentucky. Kentucky Fried Chicken, better known as KFC, has achieved worldwide fame. And, of course, most of us are familiar with Colonel Sanders, the man behind the delicious and secret recipe that’s earned so many fans.
At the Harland Sanders Café and Museum, you can visit the first restaurant that Colonel Sanders ever opened. Inside, there’s a replica of the 1940s kitchen where Sanders worked and a number of exhibits that are sure to inspire a hearty appetite.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Not many people know Kentucky has the world’s longest cave system, but there’s a good reason that a portion of the state is often called the “Land of 10,000 Sinks.” Mammoth Cave National Park is located in Kentucky’s Caveland Corridor and has been a U.S. national park since the 1940s.
Boasting over 420 miles of surveyed passageways, Mammoth Cave is a wondrous sight to see. You can take your pick from several cave tours, ranging from a short, one-hour tour to a six-hour tour that’s far more in-depth (no pun intended!). Can’t-miss sites include Mammoth Dome, Crystal Lake, Frozen Niagara, and the Ruins of Karnak.
Big Four Bridge
The Big Four Bridge is one of the most popular things to do at night in Kentucky, largely because it is the site of an awe-inspiring light show set against the beautiful Ohio River. The bridge is open to pedestrians and bicyclists and lets you visit Kentucky and Indiana with just a short walk.
Just off the bridge is the Louisville Waterfront Park, spanning 85 acres of waterfront land and providing the perfect place for picnics, walking, and cycling. There’s a children’s play area at the amphitheater, and you can often find various concerts, events, and fairs taking place throughout the year.
Kentucky State Capitol
Often named one of the most beautiful capitols in the U.S., the Kentucky State Capitol is located in Frankfort. Designed by architect Frank Mills Andrews, the grand structure will command your attention from first glance.
One of the most famous features of the Capitol building is its massive marble staircase, which is a great spot for a photo opp. Guided tours are offered, and a fantastic way to discover all of the wonderous design elements inside and out.
Red River Gorge
The Red River Gorge is the second location on our list in the Daniel Boone National Forest and one of the best scenic locations in the entire state. Unusual rock formations and sandstone cliffs attract tourists and rock-climbing enthusiasts, and you’ll have the opportunity to see stone arches that will take your breath away.
Hiking, canoeing, and picnicking are popular activities in the Red River Gorge. Hunting and trapping are also permitted, as long as you follow state regulations.
The Mary Todd Lincoln House
Mary Todd Lincoln is among the most beloved and famous First Ladies, and you can witness a piece of history when you visit her former residence in Lexington, Kentucky. The historic home was originally a tavern and inn bought by the Todd family in 1832.
Now, the property is open to visitors, with tours available from April to November. Stroll through the home’s 14 rooms and see period furniture, décor, and many personal belongings owned by the Lincoln and Todd families.
Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
In Bardstown, KY, you’ll find a whiskey lover’s dream: the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. The museum is located in a city that is often called the bourbon capital of the world.
It chronicles the history of American whiskey, spanning from the Colonial Era into the 1960s. The museum is considered a notable spot on the American Whiskey Trail and displays an expansive collection of historic artifacts and memorabilia.
Admission is free of charge, making this museum one of the best free things to do in Kentucky.
Discover the Best Places to Live in Kentucky
Searching for homes for sale in Kentucky? Or, perhaps you’re on the hunt for a fabulous rental in one of the state’s big cities or suburban communities. No matter what you’re looking for, Anderson Communities can help you find homes in Louisville, Frankfort, and countless other Kentucky communities.
With the help of Anderson Communities, you can find new family neighborhoods in Kentucky, great options for young professionals, and communities that are perfect for retirees. Our team is here to support you in your search for rentals and homes for sale, and we can work together to help you find a wonderful place to call your own.
Learn more about what you can look forward to as a resident of Kentucky and browse currently-available properties when you contact Anderson Communities today!
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