The best way to really get to know an area is to find out where the locals go. Whether it’s a restaurant, store, or natural wonder, if a local recommended it, chances are it’s pretty awesome. These 11 places in Kentucky are pretty well-known among locals, but out-of-towners may not be very familiar.
1. Carter Caves State Resort Park, Olive Hill
When outsiders think of hiking in Kentucky, they might first think of Red River Gorge or Mammoth Cave National Park. However, even though Carter Caves State Resort Park is lesser known, it is still home to some amazing geological wonders that need to be seen to be believed. There are natural sandstone arches to admire, and more than 20 caverns to explore.
2. Chained Rock, Pineville
Another lesser known area to hike and camp is Pine Mountain State Resort Park, near the town of Pineville. Local folklore calmed children by saying huge boulders couldn't tumble down and crush Pineville because the rocks were chained. However, the chain wasn't actually there until 1932. The hike to Chained Rock is short, but you will have stunning views of Pineville.
3. Eagle Falls, Corbin
The massive Cumberland Falls attracts most of the tourists to Corbin and the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park area. However, there are other, less popular waterfalls tucked away in the surrounding forests that are quieter, but just as majestic. Eagle Falls is one of those waterfalls. There is only one trail that leads to Eagle Falls, and it's about 2 miles long. It follows a cliff line for much of the way, and you'll get a unique and gorgeous view of Cumberland Falls from the trail that normal visitors will not get to experience.
4. The Berea Pinnacles, Berea
Berea is best known for being an arts and crafts community, and for Berea College. If you're not from the area, you may not know that you can hike to overlooks that have breathtaking views. Expect to hike about 5 or 6 miles on this journey, and be sure to soak in the beauty at the top. The East Pinnacle has especially open views.
5. Falling Rock Park, La Grange
Falling Rock Park is known to locals as simply "The Quarry." For an awesome summer trip, visit this swimming hole in an old rock quarry. You must be at least 18 years old to visit, and you must have a flotation device with you.
6. Fort Nelson, Louisville
If you're walking down Main Street in downtown Louisville, you might walk right past this little park, not knowing its historical significance. An actual fort did used to stand at this spot. It was constructed during the Revolutionary War, when Kentucky was still part of Virginia.
7. Rabbit Hash General Store, Rabbit Hash
As many locals know, the Rabbit Hash General Store sadly burnt down in 2016. However, it is currently being restored to its former glory, and will open again in 2017. This general store is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (like many other buildings in the northern Kentucky community of Rabbit Hash), and is the oldest operating general store in the state.
8. McConnell Springs, Lexington
Like Fort Nelson, McConnell Springs in Lexington is a hidden historic site. The 26-acre natural area is where the city of Lexington was named. You can hike through McConnell Springs and see the sinking springs the park is known for. There is also evidence of early life, such as old stone fences and the foundation of a barn.
9. Lost River Cave, Bowling Green
Mammoth Cave is a must-visit in western Kentucky, but there are several other magnificent caves in the region that may not garner as much attention, such as Lost River Cave. The Lost River flows through the cave, and it's the only place in Kentucky that offers underground boat tours.
10. Lighthouse Landing, Grand Rivers
This picture might look like something from New England, but it is actually in Grand Rivers. Kentucky isn't known for its lighthouses. In fact, the one in Grand Rivers is the only one listed in Kentucky. The lighthouse is located on the eastern side of Kentucky Lake.
11. Dairy Kastle, Louisville
If you ask a Louisvillian where to get ice cream, chances are they will mention Dairy Kastle. They open for the season in March, so be sure to stop and get soft-serve ice cream or a chili dog once the weather warms up.