Kentucky, which is nicknamed the Bluegrass State of the United States, offers an abundance of kid-friendly activities for families, including a day at the zoo, exploring the great outdoors, and learning activities at a children’s museum. Perhaps its most famous attraction is Mammoth Cave, which is touted as the longest-known cave network in the world.
- What free things can you do in Kentucky?
- Final Thoughts
What free things can you do in Kentucky?
Like most if not all states, however, Kentucky also offers the best things and it is the perfect place that is filled with fun activities and plenty of opportunities to simply have fun.
World’s Longest Known Cave System
Mammoth Cave, which stretches through the Green River valley and the hill country of south-central Kentucky, is recognized as the most extensive cave system in the world. More than 400 miles have been explored. Operating hours of cave tours change by season, but they roughly coincide with daylight hours. Special features for children include a “Trog Tour” (no parents allowed); a “Nature Track” of fun-centred discovery; and the Junior Ranger Program.
Kentucky Zoos – Outdoor Activities
The Louisville Zoo, along the north-central border of Kentucky, sits on 134 acres of land and features more than 1,500 animals. Exhibits include Gorilla Forest, Islands, Lorikeet Landing, and Glacier Run. Attractions include zoo trains, the Conservation Carousel, a splash park, a petting zoo, a playground, and rope adventure courses.
The Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo, 80 miles south of Louisville in Horse Cave, is home to miniature horses, kangaroos, draft horses, bison, fallow deer, and dingoes. While there, take a self-guided bird tour, feed some lorikeets and go mining for gems. At the Kentucky Reptile Zoo in Slade, 54 miles southeast of Lexington, you’ll see rattlesnakes, vipers, cobras, and an 18-foot python. Twice each day, guests have an opportunity to get an up-close look at alligators and snakes while learning more about them during a live reptile show.
Kentucky is all things horse and it maintains active tourism due to this booming industry. Horses are entrenched in Kentucky’s colourful history and the people of the state are widely known for their love of the animal. As if that were not enough to attract you to its bluegrass and rolling hills, maybe these horseback riding vacation spots will.
Riding Themed Attraction
Located outside Lexington, Kentucky Horse Park is a themed destination for horse lovers of all ages. Park activities include shows, live music, museums, films, sculpture, horseback rides, horse racing and a variety of tours. Located on the grounds of the park is the International Museum of the Horse which offers a look at the history of the horse and its relationship with a man. Campers are able to rent primitive and improved sites for around $20 a night.
Kentucky Museums and Science Centers
At the Explorium of Lexington, children can participate in hands-on workshops on the weekends, with activities that change from week to week, such as sports, fitness, art, music, and culture. Exhibits include “Let’s Move,” “Hold Your Horses,” “The Bubble Zone,” “Wonder Woods” and “Homes Around the World.” At the Kentucky Science Center in Louisville, your kids will get the chance to play and learn with interactive exhibits, such as “World We Create,” “The World Around Us” and “Science in Play.”
Programs include playdates, youth camps, family workshops, and overnight adventures. The East Kentucky Science Center is located on the campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonburg, 117 miles southeast of Lexington. This facility features a planetarium, laser light shows, and an exhibit hall with children’s learning activities.
Kentucky Water Activities – A great way to pass the time
During the summer, take your kids to a great place – the Kentucky Splash Water Theme Park, one of their favourite things, 103 miles south of Lexington in Williamsburg. Water attractions include a lazy river, multiple slides, a wave pool, and a 6,000-square-foot children’s water play area, with slides, water cannons, a dump bucket, and interactive spray features. Additional activities include miniature golf, a driving range, and go-karts.
Venture River Family Water Park, 180 miles southwest of Louisville in Eddyville, is also open during the summer months. At this water park, your kids can enjoy a wave pool, sand volleyball, speed slides, a water ropes course, and a children’s play area. The Clear Creek Family Activity Center Aquatic Center, in Shelbyville, is open year-round. This indoor water park features a children’s pool, a frog slide, and a water basketball. An outdoor water park is open in the summer filled with picnic tables and picnic areas.
Canoeing and Rafting
Sheltowee Trace Outfitters, located in Corbin, KY, offers a variety of canoeing and rafting trips. They have trips for family/beginners on the Cumberland River as well as trips on the Big South Fork and Russell Fork rivers for those who are looking for a little more adventure.
Trips range from half a day to multiple days! They also offer riverboat cruises, a climbing rock wall, and, other accommodations for your enjoyment. Thaxton’s Licking River Canoe Rental is Kentucky’s oldest family-owned canoe rental service. You can canoe, kayak, raft, or even tube down the Licking River. After a long day of having fun, you can rent one of their riverside cabins or camping sites.
Kentucky Parks and Nature Preserves
The state of Kentucky is home to a large number of nature preserves and state parks, each with its own visitor centre. Just 40 miles south of Lexington, near Berea, is the John B. Stephenson Memorial Forest State Nature Preserve, which covers 123 acres. You can hike the trails, visit a waterfall and do some bird watching.
The Vernon-Douglas State Nature Preserve sits on 730 acres, 45 miles south of Louisville near Elizabethtown, and it is one of the best places to visit for free that features wildflowers in the spring, bird-watching opportunities, and over 4 miles of hiking trails. At Carter Caves Trails, a state park 84 miles east of Lexington, you can mine for gems, go canoeing, enjoy a horseback ride, or camp.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, located in Corbin, is in the Daniel Boone National Forest. It is known as the “Niagra of the South” because of the 125-foot wide, 60-foot curtain of water that ends in a rocky gorge. Make sure to visit on a night in which there will be a full moon. You definitely don’t want to miss out on something that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere!
The mist from the falls creates a moonbow when there is a full moon. It truly is amazing! Located in Nicholasville, the Kentucky River is known for having record muskie, bass, and, catfish (as well as others) to have been fished out of the waters. Not to mention, the Dix River, which is a noted trout stream, drains into the KY River. Maybe you want to see what you can go catch?
Barren River Lake State Resort Park offers 99 campsites that you can call home. Utility hookups are available and for your convenience, there are dump stations. There are also two central service buildings that have restrooms and showers. If you want to bring the family pet along on the trip, that will be okay. Just make sure that they are restrained!
Most importantly, they are open for business from April 1st to October 31st. It is located in Lucas, KY. Beech Bend Park offers campgrounds (open year-round) as well as an amusement park (open April 21 to Sept. 30), a drag strip (open from March to November), and, an oval track (open from March to Sept.). All these activities are at the same complex in Bowling Green.
Diamond Caverns Resort & Campground is located only 7 miles away from Mammoth Cave National Park, in case you want to visit while you are close. They offer full hook-ups for RVs as well as traditional campsites for tents that have electricity and water. They have showers, restrooms, and, laundry facilities on sight. Activities include fishing, paddle boats, swimming at the pool or lake, and, eating at the snack bar.
There are many, many, many more top things to do and places to visit to enjoy the outdoors in Kentucky. You can request your very own visitor’s guide to help you plan where you want to visit and what you want to do. I hope this gives you information that you can use to have a wonderful time outdoors with your family!
A visit to Kentucky can be filled with fun things. A splash of local history mixed with a little bit of bluegrass music and a few country roads makes visiting this state one of the most popular things to do.
In the beautiful Bluegrass State, there is something for everybody. Especially when it comes to the great outdoors. No matter if you just want to get away to relax, spend time with your family, hiking, and take in the beauty there is an activity waiting for you.