Kentucky is an incredible tourism destination; on that, its residents all agree. But for those of us who have been here a while, it can be easy to forget what a wealth of experiences await in our own backyard.
While it makes sense that if you’re planning a week-long vacation, you might head for a coast, what about your weekends? A day or two is all it takes to savor a quick sip of all that Kentucky does best...
There are definitely areas in your own city that you’ve never explored. It’s easy to think there’s “nothing to do” in town, but you’re certainly wrong. From historic homes to bustling tourist destinations, we’d be willing to bet that you’ve missed something great.
Attend an event that’s outside of your comfort zone. Head to the tourism office and ask them what you’ve been missing. Take a guided walking or driving tour so you can see things from a different perspective. Stay in a local hotel. Eat someplace you’ve always meant to check out, but never gotten around to.
Speaking of Food…
Why not gear your adventure toward trying some of Kentucky’s best bites and sweetest sips? There are so many amazing bars, distilleries, restaurants and eateries in our state… and yes, many are absolutely worth the drive!
Get Down on the Farm
Agritourism is thriving in Kentucky. There is so much to see and experience. Not only will you learn more about the products produced there, you will also be supporting Kentucky farmers. From picking your own pumpkins to petting some adorable sheep, your whole family will love these unique destinations. Visit kyproud.com to learn more and find out why it’s fun on the farm.
Kentucky’s foliage is absolutely breathtaking once it takes on its full fall color. Unfortunately, that glorious moment is a very short window. So get out and see it! Make plans to take long drives to take in all that beauty.
Festivals and Fairs
Fall means lots of fun local events are happening across the state. Why not plan on attending one of these fabulous, festive celebrations? You’ll be treated to live music, local treats, awesome crafts and even some silly local traditions.
Let your interests be your guide. Whether you’re a fan of country music or a golf aficionado, an equine enthusiast or Civil War history buff, there is something in our state for you to discover.
Been there, done that? I bet not! Many of Kentucky’s parks, attractions and towns have grown, changed and improved over the last couple of decades. If it’s been a while since you’ve traveled to a point of interest, consider revisiting it!
“Where’s your people from?” Old Timers love to ask that question… and it could be the start of an exciting journey. Explore the places your family settled in our state. Whether they’ve been here for generations or they’re recent arrivals, look at our state through their eyes. What brought them here? What dreams did they have for themselves and you, their ancestor? Why did they choose the spot they landed?
Not sure about your family’s history in Kentucky? If you’re curious, start with the Kentucky Genealogical Society, kygs.org.
Shop to It
Sometimes, you just need a little R&R: Retail and Restaurants. If you want to make your weekend about shopping, we salute your mission. Why not discover some charming little local boutiques? Extensively Google the area you’re headed to find little hidden retail gems and antique shops. Don’t forget about local maker’s markets to find great gifts for loved ones; after all, we’re quickly approaching the holiday shopping season! Cap the day of supporting small businesses off by dining locally, as well.
Look, we know you’re either a devoted bourbon lover… or you’re sorta maybe sick to death of hearing about the stuff. But can we make the case for bourbon tourism? Even if you feel like an expert on Kentucky’s spirit, we suspect that you might’ve missed some of the upgrades many of Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries have made to their facilities. World-class dining, guided tasting experiences, immersive exhibits and more await. And even if you simply can’t stand the stuff, many of the distilleries now produce other goods and spirits that may be more to your taste.
Arts and Crafts
Kentucky has countless artisans, makers and creators, as well as a deep appreciation for the arts. Make our many museums, galleries, artists’ studios, art fairs and maker’s markets a destination. Or, take classes from the pros!
Use Time Off Wisely
You may be hoarding your vacation days for surf and sand, but taking off a half-day can get your weekend trip started with enough time to grab an incredible dinner and take in a few sights before you settle in for the night. Butting that up to a holiday or day when the office will be closed can offer you even more enjoyment.
It’s important to know that some destinations may be closed on Sundays or Mondays. Be sure to call ahead to be certain that you’re not headed for disappointment.
Do Your Research
Before you go, look up a few points of interest. Definitely find where you’re likely to stay, eat and visit at your chosen destination. But also search for things you might stop and see along the way.
If you’re really not sure where to point your car, kentuckytourism.com is an invaluable resource. They have plenty of itineraries and guides to inspire you. Don’t forget to look at brochures in rest stops and park lodges; it’s a great way to discover some local flavor!
Like the wacky and weird? Visit roadsideamerica.com to find quirky, kitschy and off-the-beaten-path attractions. Want to leave it all to chance? AI-generated travel guides from roamaround.io can inspire you wherever you go!
Pack Like a Boy Scout
A simple change of clothes is all that you need for a weekend getaway, but that shouldn’t be all that you pack. Bring along shoes appropriate for hiking, fancy dress clothes in case you discover a great place for dinner, rain gear in case the weather turns and, of course, some sunscreen to protect your neck (yes, even in the autumn). We also recommend keeping a cooler in case you buy any perishable goods, a ball cap to keep your scalp sunburn-free and a jacket, just in case.
Go All In
It won’t do you any good if you’re holding back any enthusiasm. Dive into the experience! Take silly selfies, join in group activities, ask questions and generally act like a kid again. You’ll enjoy yourself so much more than keeping a stiff upper lip the whole time.
Think Outside the Box
Being flexible and thinking creatively about your staycation can really open you up to a world of possibility. What if you went to a town and let a local tell you how to spend the day? What if you made a plan to visit each of Kentucky’s counties within the next three years? What if you made an alphabetical bucket list of Kentucky destinations to travel through? What if you just got in your car and drove until something piqued your interest? Being a tourist in your own state means you’re always close to something exciting. •