Kentucky is an interesting place to live Despite our calm, cool demeanor, we know how to have fun. We have an amazing array of festivals, concerts, sports events and overall entertaining gathering spots. We also happen to have some of the most breathtaking forests and naturesque settings in the US. Ironically, many of our own residents miss out on some of the unique things to do in our state because they are uninformed, so here are 18 must-do activities to try during 2016:
18. Go live for Thunder Over Louisville.
For those that like fireworks, this is the mother of all firework shows. It can be viewed all along the Ohio River in the Louisville area and kicks off the annual Kentucky Derby Festival. It is the absolute biggest firework display in the world with a unique design and theme each year. This is the fireworks show to watch if you love the flashing and colorful displays.
17. Attend the Lebowski Fest.
The 15th annual Lebowski Fest will take place mid July in Louisville Kentucky and consists of bowling, beer, the movie, costumes and all around fun. If you like any of the above, you will likely love the Lebowski Fest.
16. Watch the Blue Angels.
This amazing air show is done on a volunteer basis by the Blue Angels each year to kick start the Kentucky Derby Festival prior to Thunder Over Louisville. The planes arrive early and can be seen practicing from Louisville Metro to Jeffersonville Indiana. Once the show starts these skilled pilots do twists, turns, barrel rolls, hovers and death defying tricks. You will want to arrive early to get a good view as the riverfront on both sides of the Ohio get pretty packed.
15. Spend a day at Kentucky Kingdom.
This family fun park has a huge splash park, a barrage of roller coasters and every carnival ride you could want to ride. There is no shortage of entertainment at this theme park that has changed hands multiple times over the decades. It is also the location of the Kentucky State Fair each year. The cool thing is, at the park you get fair food all during the season, not just when the fair visits.
14. Dinner on a riverboat.
Enjoy dinner on the Belle of Louisville or one of BB Riverboats vessels and you will find yourself with a memorable experience. There is nothing like having a nice meal while floating with the river beneath you. It is like stepping back in time in some ways.
13. Pan for precious stones.
You will not find diamonds in the rough, but you will likely find stones like aquamarine, amethyst, moon stones, a variety of quartz and more at the Cumberland Falls Mining Company. It is located just past the gift shop and allows you to purchase bags of stones previously mined, or mine for your own. Most people opt to do their own mining and some get really lucky. If you find a prize, they might even try to buy it from you.
12. Celebrate the spirit of Bluegrass Music.
Bluegrass Music is the heartbeat of the Bluegrass State and we have an abundance of unique festivals to celebrate the heritage, the musicians, the music and the fun involved with the unique sound. There is no other music like it, but plenty of musicians were inspired by it. You will find a list of Bluegrass Music Festivals and their locations at
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11. Go fishing.
Fishing is one of the most relaxing past times in Kentucky. Most people have been at least once, but your never really to old to fish. We have a beautiful array of lakes, rivers, creeks and streams all across the state. Each one offers a variety of fish available to catch and cook up. Fishing is a relaxing afternoon or evening followed by a fresh fish dinner. It doesn’t get any better than that.
10. See the Kentucky Derby.
This renowned event is the most exciting 2 minutes in sports and worth attending at least once, just so your familiar with the chaos. It is the one event in Kentucky that sees as many celebrities as the red carpet in California. People come from all around the world just to watch a race that lasts less than 2 minutes… so locals should experience the hype.
9. Old fashioned homemade candy.
If you have never visited a candy store that actually “makes” candy, this should be the year to do it. Kentuckians are known for good southern cooking and candy making falls into that category. We have a variety of wonderful candy shops scattered across the state, many of which have been in business since the early 1900s. Places like Ruth Hunt in Mt Sterling, Rebecca Ruth in Frankfort, Andria’s Candies in Owensboro, Chaser’s in Cave City, Mary Janes in Bowling Green, Muth’s in Louisville, Sweet Tooth Candies in Newport, or Old Town Candy Kitchen in Berea can make you remember how you felt about candy in your youth.
8. Visit a B&B.
Take a weekend off, or a week day and spend the evening at a B&B. We have such an incredible variety to choose from. You can visit Castlepost in Versailles, and experience life like a royal, just as an example. There are an abundance of unique places to stay like Storybook Inn in Lexington or Springhill Winery in Bloomfield.
7. Visit historic Bardstown.
This is one of the most beautiful cities in Kentucky and filled with an abundance of history. Just strolling through the historic district can create an interesting memory and incite thoughts of eras long before we were born. The city of Bardstown has been making bourbon since 1776, and it has been deemed the bourbon capital of the world. If you need a definitive reason to visit, this historic town will be hosting the Kentucky Bourbon Festival September 13th through 18th in 2016.
6. Visit Berea.
Berea is the arts and crafts capital of Kentucky. There are a variety of things to do and see in this artsy little community with a fondness for the folk genre. The Kentucky Artisan Center is located at 200 Artisan Way, and it’s a eye opening place to visit. Some of the art work is incredibly detailed, despite being created with primitive materials or tools. There is just something special about simplicity.
5. Try different Barbecues.
Kentucky is proud of our barbecue. We have several different types and they are all done right. There is some disagreement over who has the best, as everyone has a unique twist to their sauce. Some of the most bragged about are Backwoods Barbecue in Bardwell, Bar-B-Que Inn in Bowling Green, Smokey Pig Bar-B-Que in Bowling Green, Moonlite Bar-B-Q in Owensboro, Old Hickory Bar-B-Q in Owensboro, R&S Bar-B-Q in Tompkinsville and Thompson’s Barbecue in Henderson. Just to name a few… some of which offer Burgoo.
4. Spend some time at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Or one of the farms that provide tours and activities. There are so many nice places to visit in the area, this is something that should be planned ahead. The Kentucky Horse Park offers trails, rides, and a real look at life with horses, but so do several of the local farms. If you like horses’, visiting this area gives a true opportunity to get in touch with your inner horse enthusiast.
3. Stay in a cabin.
Cumberland Falls, Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley, Cumberland Lake, Laurel Lake and Red River Gorge are just a few places you can rent a cabin for a few days or longer. Spending time out in Mother Nature in the warmth and comfort of a log cabin is a unique and memorable experience. You can go rustic or modern convenience, depending on your preference.
2. Visit one or more of our wineries.
Kentucky is known for bourbon, but little is said about the wineries we have. These lands are covered in rich soil that grows hearty fruits and vegetables, making it perfect for farm to table restaurants and wineries. It is nice to drive past or walk among the grapes and fruits used in the wine you happen to be sipping. It is a different feeling than knowing something got imported and the rich fruity tastes will make any Kentuckian proud. These are just a few of our wonderful wineries; Springhill in Bloomfield, which is also a B&B, Forest Edge in Shepherdsville, Lovers Leap Vineyards and Winery in Lawrenceburg, Whitemoon in Lebanon, Castle Hill in Versailles, or Purple Toad in Paducah.
1. Camp out or spend the day in Red River Gorge.
Spend a night under the stars at the Gorge and some people say it is a mind opening experience. The Gorge is a magical place, and that cannot be denied. It doesn’t matter if you spend an afternoon or a few days, you will find something special about being there. It is almost as if you can feel the earth itself breathing life into the area. There are other beautiful parks to visit as well, such as Lake Cumberland, Land Between the Lakes, Lake Barkley and more. We have no shortage of beautiful naturesque settings.
Some of these Kentucky activities are renowned, like the Derby, which everyone should attend once in their lifetime. A few are more obscure but no less worth the experience. Mind you, these are just a few things one can do for fun in the Bluegrass State. Is there anything new you plan on experiencing in 2016?