Our state has a lot to offer visitors all year round, but our summers are truly special. If you haven’t made a Kentucky summer bucket list, now is the time. We excel when it comes to memorable parks with breathtaking scenery, serene lakes and unique things to do. There is more to a Bluegrass summer than just serene beauty. Our beautiful Kentucky is complemented by things like Bluegrass Music, homemade BBQ and almost limitless activities.
15. Visit a unique festival.
Kentucky has some unusual festivals, including the world’s biggest fireworks display. For something different try Thunder Over Louisville in April, the GoettaFest in Newport, or the Chocolate Fest in Louisville during August. The Greek and The Louisville Art Festival happen in June, along with the Blueberry Festival in Edmonton. The Little Green Men Fest is interesting, but it happens during mid March in Kelly.
14. Visit a zoo.
These Pink Flamingos are not plastic. Take a trip to the zoo and you will see beautiful beings like these, and so much more. You can get lost in the abundance of exhibits or focus on specific areas. The Louisville Zoo has a train that circles a large portion of the area, giving you a moving view of the zoo. Petting Zoos are another alternative if a larger facility isn’t convenient.
13. Go to the State Fair.
There is something for everyone at the State Fair. You can enjoy rides like the roller coaster, or a carousel, if you prefer something calmer. There is an abundance of exhibits, ranging from livestock to textiles worth browsing. Plus, if you get a schedule you will find a variety of shows including musicals, concerts, magic, dance and more.
12. Take a Riverboat ride.
Take a boat ride down the Ohio on a classic riverboat like the Belle of Louisville on the Louisville Waterfront, or one of BB Riverboats in Newport. Both provide a memorable experience reminiscent of the old days.
11. Ride on a hot air balloon.
Float up in the air like you just don’t care. There are several places you can take a hot air balloon ride. One of which is Soaring Adventures in Louisville. Most people find it exhilarating or terrifying. There is really no in between.
10. Take a ride via horseback.
Visit one of our many visitor friendly horse farms in Shelbyville or Lexington. These touring farms usually offer visitors an equestrian experience of multiple levels. You can see how the horses are cared for and take a ride in predetermined areas.
9. Enjoy a barbecue festival.
Barbecue is one of our favored foods, so much so it is celebrated in festivals across the state. Moonlite BBQ even travels outside Kentucky. Every sauce chef in the state offers a unique perspective on the special secrets of creating a barbecue masterpiece. You can try a variety at the Blues and BBQ during July in Louisville. Visitors will find the meat and the sauce varies from region to region. You might get a tangy vinegar sauce or a rich smoky flavor on mutton, beef, pork or chicken. We honestly put barbecue on vegetables like corn too.
8. Dance at a music festival.
There are music festivals all summer long, all across Kentucky. If you want to get in touch with our roots, check out a one of the many Bluegrass Music fests. They will be picking and grinning.
7. Go somewhere with rooftop dining on a nice day.
There are some amazing restaurants that offer rooftop dining. You can enjoy a natural breeze with your meal. Louisville has the Monkey Wrench, 8UP, and a few others, Lexington has Skybar and Covington offers the 360 Revolving Restaurant at Radisson. Patio dining would definitely be a second choice for food in a structured environment outdoors.
6. Take a luxury river cruise.
Take a dinner cruise on the CQ Princess at 5700 Captain’s Quarters Road in Prospect. Dining at the restaurant dockside during the summer is great, but actually cruising down the river is perfection. Cruises are done daily during season.
5. Kentucky Artisan Center.
This unique facility at 200 Artisan Way in Berea offers a variety of galleries, exhibitions and places to shop. It gives visitors a look into folk and other art forms Kentucky people are known for. You will find a little bit of everything here and it all says Kentucky at heart.
4. Have a weekend cabin rendezvous.
Love nature but tents aren’t quite your thing? You will want to escape to a cabin getaway and enjoy nature from the comfort of a sturdy structure. You can have the same exact experiences in the outdoors with the convenience of being at home. Some even come with a bonus hot tub… Highly recommended.
3. Visit historic Bardstown.
The beautiful and historic town of Bardstown is home to the renowned Talbot Inn, Federal Hill and the Stephen Foster Story. Just walking through the downtown one can enjoy the timeless beauty of architectural craftsmanship. This small town has been voted the most charming small town in the US on several occasions.
2. Go hiking or camping.
Our state offers a variety of beautiful places to go camp and hike in the midst of nature. You can enjoy recreational camping and such as Daniel Boone National Forest, Red River Gorge, Jefferson National Forest, and more. Each has miles of trails and different levels of camping facilities.
1. Have a lake day or weekend.
Visit one of Kentucky’s beautiful lakes for a day of swimming, fishing, boating and whatever else you find entertaining at a lake. You can visit the Lake Cumberland, Nolin Lake, Green River Lake, Laurel Lake, Paintsville or any one of our renowned lakes for a day or watery serenity.
These are just a few things to add to your Kentucky summer bucket list, but there is no shortage of other entertaining things to do. What would you recommend for a summer bucket list in Kentucky?