So, you’ve booked a vacation to Kentucky or thinking about it? Let me tell you one thing, Kentucky is a hidden gem where you’ll be surprised by its hospitality, culture, history, and delicious cuisine.
But as a first-time traveler to Kentucky, you will most definitely miss a lot of great places that need to be seen. That’s why we decided to write a travel guide for the best locations to visit while in Kentucky.
From horse racing history to delicious food and bourbon, one thing is for sure, you’ll have a blast.
Make sure you pack your essentials and prepare for moody weather, and let’s explore the best place to visit in Kentucky.
1. Must-Visit Destinations
The horse capital of the world. Lexington is a horse lover’s heaven and has a lot to offer even for non-horse racing fans.
Discover equestrian culture at the Kentucky Horse Park, which combines a competition site with a real horse farm. If you’re feeling daring, don’t miss the excitement of a horse race at Keeneland Association Inc., a top thoroughbred racing complex and National Historic Landmark.
If you are in for some more horse racing magic, make sure to set your GPS to Louisville, the home of the Kentucky Derby. You cannot say that you’ve been to Kentucky without visiting the famous Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum.
Plus if you are there in May, you may be in for a threat since this year is the 150th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby and the festival would be epic!
Before you go, make sure to familiarize yourself with some Kentucky Derby history like the previous winners. You can check them on the link below: twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/winners/
Mammoth Cave National Park
Two words…subterranean wonderland! This park is home to the world’s biggest known cave system, with approximately 400 miles of caves ready for exploration. Fascinating structures like the Giant’s Coffin and Bridal Altar make this a must-see for nature lovers.
Bardstown, located in the Bluegrass Region, is more than simply the Bourbon Capital; it is also a historically significant town that hosts the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Explore the gorgeous downtown area and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Danville is a cultural treasure trove, including several museums, art galleries, and historic buildings. Don’t miss Constitution Square, which features several historical firsts, including the first post office west of the Alleghany Mountains.
Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Resort Park, located near Slade, is a natural wonder featuring cliffs, rock shelters, caverns, waterfalls, and more than 100 natural arches. Sky Bridge provides amazing vistas, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts.
2. Activities and Experiences
Embrace the spirit of Kentucky by embarking on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Visit renowned distilleries like James B. Beam and Maker’s Mark, and enjoy complimentary tours and tastings at the Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Arts and Culture
Louisville’s “Museum Row” in the West Main District is a popular destination for art and history enthusiasts. The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum transports visitors back to the Gilded Age, while the National Corvette Museum is a sports car fan’s dream.
Kentucky is abundant in natural beauty, providing several options for hiking, camping, and of course horseback riding. It’s time to go primal and get all the benefits from horseback riding. You’d be surprised to find out how relaxing this activity is.
The Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, with its diverse animals and gorgeous paths, is an excellent choice for nature lovers.
3. Where to Eat and Stay
Restaurants such as J. Graham’s Cafe in Louisville and Zen Sushi & Sake in Lexington serve local food to die for. And you cannot go to Kentucky without trying some of their signature flavors.
Try Kentucky Burgoo stew on a cold day. This stew is bursting with flavors and will warm up your soul. Consider staying at The Grady Hotel in Louisville or the unusual housing alternatives along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, such as Bourbon Manor B&B in Bardstown.
4. Planning Your Trip
Many historical and cultural institutions in Kentucky provide free tours, making it easy to find affordable choices.
The greatest accommodation prices are often found from November to March, but there are plenty of good, affordable street food alternatives accessible all year.
5. A Little Bit of Everything
Kentucky is more than just whiskey and horses (even though these two alone sound good enough); it’s a mix of history, culture, environment, and cuisine.
It is a warm state filled with good and friendly people, delicious food, and most importantly horse racing. Horse racing is more than just a sport in Kentucky. It is their way of life embedded into their history and tradition.
After all, there is a reason why most of the fastest horses in the world come from this place.
So, if you want to learn more about horse racing, stay at relatively cheap hotels, and taste some good food, Kentucky is your best bet!