Some people love small towns, and others like bigger communities—but not too big. A mid-size city in Kentucky can offer the best of both worlds, a touch of small town charm with the amenities of a bigger city. The featured cities all have a population of more than 9,000, and less than 19,000 according to
City Data. People tend to stay in these towns for generations and grow with the community.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
The most charming city in Kentucky has a population of around 12,998, which allows for a perfect mix of country and city conveniences. It has some remarkable history, and is known all across the U.S. for My Old Kentucky Home State Park and bourbon manufacturing. Bardstown has literally been voted the most charming town in Kentucky at least three times, and once you visit, you will understand why.
The beautiful community of Campbellsville has a population of 11,282, and is twinned by the Republic of Ireland city, Buncrana, in County Donegal. It is home to the Campbellsville University, where people travel from all around to attend. The land itself is breathtaking, and borders the Green River Lake, making it ideal for fishing, camping and enjoying the ambiance of Mother Nature.
This historic community has a population of 16,620, and is located close to an hour's drive from Lexington. It holds one of Kentucky’s most renowned battlefields, the Perryville Battlefield. War re-enactments are held there annually and anyone can attend. It is a charming community with lots of historic architecture, such as Constitution Square, and rolling fields of green.
4. Fort Thomas
This area with a current population of around 16,329 has been desired long before white settlers arrived. They have found evidence that the Cherokee and Shawnee tribes battled in the sought after area, possibly due to its location along the Ohio River. The first military base built a water tower in the 1800s , which still stands. It has cannons from the 1768 Spanish American War as décor along its base. The community is quiet, and peaceful and has beautiful scenery, including shady magnolia trees.
This community of 14,339 came into existence with a strong Scottish heritage that is still celebrated today. The Glasgow Highland Games is a festive celebration of all things Scottish, especially games. The historic town is ranked by America’s Promise Alliance as one of the Best Communities for Young People.
This town of 11,093 was initially settled by German immigrant Jacob Kaufman, who deemed it Kaufman’s Station in the 1780s. In 1817, a post office was built and named for a popular local tavern owner named William Lawrence, Lawrenceburgh. Today the city is known for its beauty and its bourbon. The Four Roses Distillery was initially established in 1880, and thrives today as one of the most popular bourbons in the state.
With a population of 18,630, Murray ranks 4th on Health Outcomes, 11th on Health Factors and 7th on Health Behaviors out of 120 counties, according to Livability studies. The town of Murray became a reality sometime in the 1820s when a post office was built. It was initially called Williston, after an early settler named James Willis. Later it was changed to Pooltown, after a merchant named Robert Pool. It became Pleasant Springs for a while too, but finally, in 1844, Murray became the final name. It references Rep. John Murray from that time.
This peaceful, riverfront community of 15,426 was once the Sin City of the South. Back in the days of prohibition, this town along the Ohio River made a perfect spot for gangsters to continue benefitting from alcohol and gambling. Today, Newport on the Levee offers lots of legal entertainment, including the renowned Newport Aquarium and the famed boat tour, BB Riverboats.
Chris M Morris
The beautiful community of 9,747 was called Hopewell in 1789, after the founder’s hometown of Hopewell NJ. It was renamed to Paris in honor of its sister city in France after the American Revolution, in gratitude of the French aid during the war. Today, the Downtown Paris Artwalk and the historic renovation sections are a few local highlights. The area still has a lot of the same beauty as in the beginning, just a lot more civilized with the addition of pavement.
This beautiful town along the banks of the Ohio River has a population of 15,643, and has been a community since 1792. Due to location, the area could not escape the terrors of war, but built back up and continued to thrive. Today, it is a thriving farming community of lush farmlands, rolling hills and hard working people. It is also renowned in the equestrian community as the Saddlebred Capital of Kentucky.
This happy community of 11,422 residents has been around since 1798. The beautiful Lake Cumberland was created in 1950, turning the quiet community into a thriving spot for water recreation. Somerset is a perfect combination peaceful Mother Nature and city convenience. Having a conveniently located huge lake to cool down in during hot, humid months is a big plus.
Much like Shelbyville and Lexington, Versailles is a booming equestrian community of 9,054 residents. It was founded in 1792 by a child, Hezekiah Briscoe, and his guardian. They named the town in honor of General Lafayette after Versailles, France. It quickly became renowned for thoroughbred horses and livestock, and that reputation continues today. Some of the most famous horse farms in Kentucky are located here, including WinStar, Lane’s End Farm, Three Chimneys Farm, Ashford Stud and more. It is also home to the renowned Kentucky castle, Castlepost and the Woodford Reserve Distillery.
This charming country style city with a population of 18,443 introduced Kentuckians to Beer Cheese, a scrumptious dipping sauce, spread or soup. The city is located in the beautiful Bluegrass Region of Kentucky and was established in 1793. It is home to the Bluegrass Heritage Museum and some of the friendliest people in our state.
There are quite a few mid-size cities in Kentucky, all of which offer something special to residents and visitors. One thing they all have in common is the ability to create the perfect balance of small town and city convenience. How do you feel about the cities listed? What cities with a population between 7,000 and 19,000 would you like to see added?