Our state is beautiful in its entirety, but our Kentucky river towns hold their own unique kind of charm. There is something about being near the flowing waters that is just so relaxing in most cases. Springtime along the river fronts is a special time. We get to see new life in the form of budding plants, trees, baby ducks, geese, deer and all sorts of other baby animals. The visual blessings that arrive with spring in a river town are plentiful.
What is left of this small community sits right along the Ohio River, providing a breathtaking view of the big rolling river. There is not a lot going on, but Mother Nature still has plenty to see. The town was once featured on the old television series Route 66, but this is what it has become today:
10. High Bridge
This is home to the renowned High Bridge of Kentucky, mimicked after the famed Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge was originally built in 1851 and is 275’ wide by 308’ tall and 1,125 long. It crosses over the Kentucky River to connect Jessamine and Mercer counties. This is the only cantilever bridge built in North America. High Bridge the community is also home to the Kentucky Dam and all the beauty that surrounds it. The views and serenity you will find in this quiet little community make for a perfect getaway.
Louisville is the biggest city in the state with the largest river front. Our Waterfront Park and Big Four Bridge both offer a scenic view of the area and a relaxing atmosphere. There are an abundance of restaurants in the area, along with the renowned Belle of Louisville, which participates in the Great Steamboat Race during the Kentucky Derby Festivities. The world’s largest fireworks display is held over the Ohio River in Louisville to kick off the annual Kentucky Derby Festival on April 23rd.
8. Cave City
The Green River Ferry can be caught in Cave City for a peaceful float down the river. You will enjoy the serenity of the rolling river and see quite a few Kentucky beaches and small islands. Cave City is also home to the renowned Mammoth Cave, one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the U.S. There are plenty of places to camp and hike along this section of Green River as well.
This gorgeous river community is listed as the #7 City of Crafts and Folk Art in the world according to UNESCO Creative Cities Network. It is home to the National Quilt Museum and the beautifully painted flood wall murals. The Lowertown Arts District has been revitalized and the creative architecture in the historic downtown area offers a pleasant look at the rich heritage of the community. The serenity of the rivers just make this artsy Kentucky town even better.
Newport on the Levee is the place to be for a scenic view and things to do. This is where you will find a nice selection of restaurants such as Greek Burrito, Dick’s Last Resort or Brio, along with the renowned Newport Aquarium. Bar Louie is also close by if you just want to relax with drinks and a pleasant view. There are other little spots one can sit along the banks of the Ohio River in a more naturesque setting.
5. Grand Rivers
This little community is situated right in between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, which means you can get a real taste of nature from just about anywhere along the borders. With less than 350 residents, this tiny town still offers a lot of nature for residents and visitors to appreciate. You will find some of the best fishing and water activities available in the state right here in Grand Rivers.
4. Cumberland City
This beautiful city is bordered by Lake Cumberland and the Cumberland River. There is no shortage of amazing views and things to do in the area. You can rent a boat, go canoeing, kayaking, fishing, camping, or even rent a cabin for a weekend getaway. The gorgeous surroundings are so inviting you may never want to leave. Travel the short distance to Cumberland Falls, aka the Niagara of the South, and maybe you will even glimpse the renowned moonbow.
This town runs along Little River, which is a favored spot for kayakers in the Land Between the Lakes area. This historic town saw some of the first settlers in Kentucky pass through. Visitors can check out the 1890 Victorian home, the Fairholme, see the Janice Mason Art Museum or listen to some real Bluegrass Music at the Lakeland Jamboree or Jim’s Music Store. Cadiz has a lot to offer anyone who wants to absorb some river town charm.
Travelers have been through this area since long before the Mumfordville Inn was built in 1810. This is a beautiful place to visit and find serenity. The Civil War left its mark on this spot along Green River during the battles. Today’s visitors get to experience the beauty of the area and a big piece of Kentucky’s history.
This little river town is so serene that part of the film adaption of Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” was filmed there during 1986. Augusta is home to a Ferry service that has been in operation since 1798. This charming ride across the Ohio River takes visitors to beautiful Brown County in Ohio. If you don’t want to ride, you will find the O’Neill Landing to offer a perfectly serene river front view. If that isn’t enough, Augusta was also home to Rosemary Clooney.
Our Kentucky river towns were once the primary trade routes for merchants. Today, some trade is done, but our rivers are used mostly for recreation and fishing. The charm of these towns, or specific spots therein, offer a memorable experience. What is your favorite river town in Kentucky?