The Bluegrass State is also a commonwealth. Kentucky is one of only four states to use this designation. In 1792, when Kentucky became the 15th state – the first on the western frontier – both commonwealth and state were used. Kentucky chose commonwealth, meaning government based on the common consent of the people and dating to the time of Oliver Cromwell’s England in the mid-1600s. With six national areas, 50 state parks, and hundreds of recreational, natural, historic, and cultural attractions, Kentucky abounds in travel opportunities. Tourism and travel is Kentucky is important.
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Sites to See
When traveling in Kentucky don’t miss one or more of the Must Sees listed below.
Museum of the American Quilter’s Society
The world’s largest quilt museum exhibits more than 150 quilts in frequently changing exhibits. From modern art quilts to traditional and antique quilts, each visit is a new and exciting experience!
International Bluegrass Music Museum
State of the art, interactive museum dedicated to preserving and encouraging the growth of, Kentucky’s native sound, bluegrass music. See the changing exhibits, hear examples of the music from its root to today’s newest acts, take a guided tour with instrument demonstrations and try creating your own bluegrass mix.
Cherokee Trail of Tears
Hopkinsville, Princeton & Marion
Kentucky sites mark the route of the infamous forced march of the eastern Cherokee nation.
Kentucky Horse Park
The only park of its kind in the world, the Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/educational theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. Set on more than 1,200 acres in the heart of Kentucky’s famous Bluegrass region, the park features nearly 50 different breeds of horses at work and at play.
A water wonderland awaits you with thousands of aquatic creatures from around the world. Visit sharks, penguins, otters, birds, turtles and more, all in breathtaking exhibits. The state-of-the-art facility is open 365 days/year and only two minutes from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.
Churchill Downs & Kentucky Derby Museum
Located at Gate 1 of historic Churchill Downs, the Museum presents the traditions and excitement of the “greatest two minutes in sports.” Highlights include 2 floors of interactive, horse racing-related exhibits, a 360-degree high-definition video presentation and a walking tour of Churchill Downs. On the first Saturday in May, the sports world’s spotlight shines on Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, known as the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.”
Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace National Historic Site
Built at the location of Lincoln’s birth the solid marble, neoclassical monument houses the symbolic cabin of Lincoln’s birth. Be sure to see the audiovisual presentation in the Visitor Center and the Sinking Spring where the Lincoln’s drew their water. Site now includes Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek.
National Corvette Museum
This showcase to America’s sports car features more than 75 Corvettes. You’ll see classics in mint condition, one-of-a-kind prototypes that never went into production, racetrack champions, and modern-day wonders of engineering and design. Located 1/4 mile from the world’s only Corvette Assembly Plant on I-65 exit 28.
Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The Hall of Fame & Museum honors Kentucky performers, songwriters, publishers, promoters, managers, broadcasters, comedians and other music professionals who have made significant contributions to the music industry in Kentucky and around the world. Located near the Renfro Valley Entertainment Complex.
Museum Row- Louisville
Louisville Slugger Museum
Experience history-in-the-making as you stroll through the factory where world famous Louisville Slugger baseball bats, the official bats of Major League baseball, are made. Home of the World’s Biggest Baseball Bat.
Louisville Science Center
Experience three floors of engaging hands-on exhibits that the whole family will enjoy or see an incredible film in our four-story IMAX Theatre. Come see our permanent exhibits, THE WORLD AROUND US, which explores natural and earth sciences; THE WORLD WITHIN US, which explores the incredible body that’s yours for life; and THE WORLD WE CREATE, which explores scientific advancements.
Frazier International History Museum
Take an unforgettable journey through 1,000 years and see two world-class collections, Britain’s Royal Armouries (which includes the Tower of London) and The Frazier Collection, in this state-of-the-art museum.
Muhammad Ali Center
Featuring two-and-a-half levels of interactive exhibits and captivating multimedia presentations, the Ali Center carries on Muhammad’s legacy and inspires the exploration of the greatness within ourselves. Includes an amazing five-screen orientation theater film, historical Civil Rights era media footage, an interactive timeline of Ali’s life, video-on-demand of Ali’s fights, hands-on boxing fun, Howard L. Bingham and LeRoy Neiman exhibit galleries.
Recommended by Duncan Hines
The Kentucky Museum collects and exhibits a wide range of artifacts; objects, documents, manuscripts, photographs, and rare books to enhance your understanding of Kentucky. The library includes a large section on genealogy, and the largest collection of Civil War documents in the south. The permanent exhibit “Recommended by Duncan Hines” includes 11 sections featuring the life and work of the Bowling Green native.
Butcher Hollow Loretta Lynn’s Birthplace
Home of country music divas Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle. Tourists are asked to stop at the #5 store for directions and availability of guide.
Spanning the western portion of Tennessee and southwest Kentucky, the lake is 184 miles long, has 2,380 miles of shoreline, and 160,300 surface acres of water at summer water levels. Because the lake is located along a major waterfowl migration route, it supports a wintering population of more than 450,000 waterfowl. Cities along the lake include Aurrora, Benton, Gilbertsville, Grand Rivers, Murray and New Concord.
Bordering TVA’s Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in the rolling hills of southwest Kentucky and north central Tennessee, this lake offers waterfowl hunting, fishing, nature trails, a national battlefield, and a national waterfowl refuge. Cities along Lake Barkley include Cadiz, Eddyville, Grand Rivers and Kuttawa.
Land Between the Lakes
Located in Western Kentucky and Tennessee, LBL offers 170,000 acres of wildlife, history and outdoor recreation opportunities, wrapped by 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline. There’s so much to do, it’s no wonder LBL is called the heartland’s outdoor playground!
Known as the “Niagara of the South,” the waterfall forms a 125-foot wide curtain that plunges 60 feet into the boulder-strewn gorge below. The mist of Cumberland Falls creates the magic of the moonbow, only visible on a clear night during a full moon. This unique phenomenon appears nowhere else in the Western Hemisphere.
Cumberland Gap National Historic Park
At Cumberland Gap, the first great gateway to the west, follow the buffalo, the Native American, the longhunter, the pioneer… all traveled this route through the mountains into the wilderness of Kentucky. Modern day explorers and travelers stand in awe at this great gateway and the many miles of trails and scenic features found in the park.
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Encompassing 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, this pristine natural setting offers, panoramic views, hiking, fishing and white water rafting.
Red River Gorge
A great destination for remote back-country camping, hiking, world-class climbing or just taking in nature’s splendid scenery. More than 80 natural arches, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, a 36-mile looping driving tour, and the Red River (Kentucky’s only National Wild and Scenic River) are in store.
Mammoth Cave National Park
This is the longest recorded cave system in the world with more than 367 miles explored and mapped. The park preserves the cave system, including Mammoth Cave, the scenic river valleys of the Green and Nolin rivers, and a section of the hilly country of south central Kentucky. Admission to the national park is free. A fee is charged for camping and cave tours.
The lake provides varied outdoor recreation opportunities for millions of visitors each year. Because of the temperate climate and relatively long recreation season, visitors have numerous activities to choose from including fishing, hunting, camping, picnicking, boating, canoeing, hiking, and many others. Towns in the area are Albany, Burnside, Jamestown, Russell Springs, and Somerset.
Cave Run Lake
8,300 acres surface area located in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The lake is known as the “Muskie Fishing Capitol of the South.” Towns in the area are Frenchburg and Morehead.
Breaks Interstate Park
One of two interstate parks in America, the park encompasses 4,500 acres of woodland and is home of the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi River, commonly called the Grand Canyon of the South.