We know Kentucky well, and want to share some of our favorite places. Some are well known, others not so much. We add to this list frequently, so be sure to check back to see the latest reasons we think Kentucky is so special.
Most Recent Additions to Favorite Places:
July 9, 2015
What park is dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the Kentucky River Palisades as well as early Kentucky history?
Located a mere 30 minutes outside downtown Lexington, Raven Run is a 734-acre nature sanctuary with over 10 miles of hiking trails with access to streams, meadows, and woodlands characteristic of the area. As one of Lexington’s city parks, admission to Raven Run is free of charge.
The Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund (KHLCF), which provides funding for preserving and conserving natural areas with unique features, acquired part of the property to maintain Raven Run’s more than 600 species of plants and over 200 species of birds. Another unique feature, the trails within the park contain numerous 19th century remnants of early settlers.
There are seven trails within the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. One trail in particular, the Red Trail, is a highlight, as it leads you to a breathtaking overlook of the Kentucky River. The park personnel encourage everyone to park and visit the Nature Center prior to their hike. The center includes unique displays as well as pamphlets about birds, mammals, ferns, history and other park features. Also, every patron who visits Raven Run is required to sign in and sign out at the property’s Nature Center (located approximately 1\8 of a mile from the parking lot) for the safety of the visitors and the park’s staff.
To learn more about Raven Run, visit: http://www.lexingtonky.gov/index.aspx?page=276.
Feburary 13, 2015
This unique museum shows a timeline of United States history using miniature buildings, room boxes, and tiny people. Where am I?
Located in the Bluegrass Region is The Great American Dollhouse Museum, which features 200 dollhouses, small buildings, room boxes and tiny people that show our history from Native American, Colonial, Old West, early Southwest and modern times. It is located in Danville, Kentucky. Gary P. West, an acclaimed travel writer, emphasizes that the museum is one of Kentucky’s most important destinations in his book 101 Must Places to Visit in Kentucky Before you Die. The Great American Dollhouse Museum is unlike traditional museums. The exhibits tell a story and each display illustrates a chapter in American history. This historical building is located in downtown Danville. It was built in 1939 under the Works Progress Administration. The high ceilings and massive skylights play a key role in the museums’ atmosphere.
October 2, 2014
What 1880’s jail in Northern Kentucky was used for almost 90 years?
Old Stone Jail, located in downtown Carrolton, was built in 1880. At its time, it was considered the best prison in Northern Kentucky, where it was in use for almost ninety years. This two-story building housed male inmates on the first floor and women and children on the second. Each floor was very similar in structure. They had four cells and small openings in the windows without screen or glass. During the winter, shutters were placed over the openings to serve as windows. In 1984, the jail was renovated and now has offices located on the second floor.
September 25, 2014
This hotel in Western Kentucky accommodated many legendary African American musicians during segregation. What city and hotel am I talking about?
Located in the heart of Paducah’s historic district, the Hotel Metropolitan housed many legendary African American musicians during segregation, a time where many were refused several services. It was started by Maggie Steed, who wanted to open a “colored” hotel. During the jazz age, some of the many musicians that played in Paducah were Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald, all very famous musicians. In later years, Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ray Charles, and many others took on the stage during their stay at the Metropolitan. Thurgood Marshall, the first African American on the U.S. Supreme Court visited the Metropolitan Hotel when he came to Paducah to resolve some issues when Vice President Alben Barkley passed away. The restored Hotel Metropolitan now serves as a reminder of the difficult times that African Americans suffered through.
September 12, 2014
This nature preserve was Central Kentucky’s first industrial park and one of the largest manufacturing districts west of the Allegheny Mountains. Where am I?
The Clark County Fiscal Court dedicated 228 acres of Lower Howard’s Creek in Clark County in 2001. It is a tributary of the Kentucky River, with deep, twisting gorges. Forests cover the slopes and there is an array of wildflowers along the valley. Lower Howard’s Creek was an industrial center for water-powered stone milling in the 18th and 19th centuries. Five of the stone buildings that remain are on the National Register of Historic Places. This nature preserve was Central Kentucky’s first industrial park and one of the largest manufacturing districts west of the Allegheny Mountains. November 1, 2013 Often we’re asked “why Kentucky?” or “why Central Kentucky?” In addition to the beauty, and despite the many misconceptions that still exist, this is a great place to live, work and play. For evidence, here are several recent third-party rankings that show we’ve got a lot of good things going on. Lexington #3 Among Money Magazine’s 10 Best Places to Retire: Money Magazine announced its list of the Top Places to Retire last week on CBS News, with the actual rankings list released this week. Lexington came in at #3 on this list, and has been among the top retirement lists off and on for a number of years. Of course, a lower cost of living and taxes are almost always listed as advantages for retirees. The Atlantic Cities Lists Lexington #17 Among its Top 25 High-Tech Hotspots: This particular ranking “reflects the rise of college towns like Ann Arbor (Washtenaw County) Michigan; Madison (Dane County) Wisconsin; and Lexington (Fayette County) Kentucky,” said The Atlantic Cities. Its index measured the number of new jobs in the tech sector created between 2007 and 2012, calculated as a share of total private sector employment in 2007. It’s interesting that Fayette County came out ahead of areas like a portion of the Washington, D.C. MSA, Boston, Fort Collins (CO), and Charlotte (NC) – which is the site of the 2014 Leadership Visit. Lexington #5 on Movoto’s List of the 10 Best Cities for Home Buyers: Movoto’s Blog said, “The Bluegrass State’s second-largest city was propelled halfway up our ranking in part by its school quality and number of available homes per person.” Lexington was also called the “house capital of Kentucky.” Livability.com Ranked Lexington #27 on its List of the Top 100 Best Places to Live: Livability.com stated, “Lexington, the Horse Capital of the World, garners recognition for its stable economy and cultural appeal. The city includes the University of Kentucky, which helps make it one of Livability’s Top 10 College Towns, as well as historical attractions, several shops and boutiques, a portion of the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and the Kentucky Horse Park.”
July 31, 2012
What Kentucky recreational facility has 63,000 acres?
Lake Cumberland in South-Central Kentucky is the destination of choice for millions of people every year for its rugged beauty and 1,255 acres of wooded shoreline. It’s ideal for houseboating, fishing and other water sports and is near Russell Springs, Cumberland City, Monticello, Mill Springs, Somerset and Jamestown. Its original purpose was to provide flood control and generate power, which it still does today.
December 4, 2012
They’re not reindeer, but close: Kentucky is home to the largest elk herd east of the Rockies. Can you guess what region they’re in?
Eastern Kentucky is home to more than 11,000 elk. Wildlife tours and many other outdoor activities are available in the region. Visit Kentucky Tourism for details.
November 28, 2012
If you were here, you might be able to see a special interaction between the mist from the base of the waterfall and the light from the full moon. Where am I and what would I see?
In special south-central Kentucky spot you might see a phenomenon that goes by several monikers: Moonbow, Lunar Rainbow, white rainbow or lunar bow. On nights of a full moon, Cumberland Falls is one of the very few places in the world you can witness a moonbow. Located in the Daniel Boone Forest close to Corbin, Cumberland Falls may be the second largest falls in the Eastern US. Amateur photographers may have trouble getting the perfect picture of a moonbow as it requires a tripod and very fast film, but seeing this amazing sight is an unforgettable experience that you can remember without a picture.
November 12, 2012
This obelisk commemorates Jefferson Davis in the Kentucky town of his birth. Where it?
Born on June 3, 1808, Jefferson Davis has a 351 foot obelisk that marks his birth site in the town of Fairview in western Kentucky. The Monument is the tallest concrete obelisk in the world and the 5th tallest monument in the US. Once inside the tower includes an elevator that rides you to the top to an observation platform . This State Historic Site sits on a 20 acre park with picnic sites, a playground, a Museum and shops. The museum has a video about Davis’s life and the construction of the monument. While the monument is open daily from May-October, the museum stays open all year as does the Kentucky Handcrafters Shop.
November 2, 2012
What special Kentucky byway has great vistas and puts Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives to shame?
Kentucky’s southern and eastern regions, known for country cooking and great hospitality, are home to four scenic byways that lead to unique restaurants, dishes and treats. Locals have compiled a list of dishes they consider must-eat “Byway Bites” and a map of the area. For example, while on the Cumberland Cultural Highway, you can stop in Columbia and try Sand Pie at OK Country Cooking. Or, from the Wilderness Road Heritage Highway, stop in London and get the Chicken Philly at the Hanger Restaurant at the London-Corbin Airport. To get the Byway Bites, visit http://www.tourseky.com, then take your appetite on a drive.
A Compilation of Favorite Places by Region:
Many people think of barbecue in conjunction with W. Kentucky, and there’s good reason for that. But, many others (us included), think of Patti’s 1880 Settlement restaurant in Grand Rivers, KY. On the northern most tip of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area, Grand Rivers is the jumping off point for a lot of seasonal fun and some great food. This popular tourism spot was eclectic in décor before that became widely popular. It’s “flower pot bread” and other unique offerings, as well as its generous portions keep people coming back. Don’t forget to leave room for, or plan to take home, a dessert or two—truly amazing.
Native Americans called Kentucky “happy hunting grounds,” and one reason for that is the attraction salt licks had to the wildlife. A significant lick in the northern part of the state lured Pleistocene mammals, whose bones provide evidence of their presence many years later. Explorers Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton were quite familiar the area we know Big Bone Lick State Park. Literature about the park sates, “It was the origin of the greatest escape-from-Indian-captivity epic which ever took place.” If you’d like to know more, visit the park or read “The Frontiersmen,” which chronicles Simon Kenton’s life. Newport, Ky. had its share of high rollers and low-lifers. With a foundation in bootlegging, Newport became the premier gaming destination in the US. Today walking tours take curious visitors past the buildings that housed casinos, brothels, and speakeasies. Newport has become a family destination with riverside shopping and dining, and the only sharks that can be found are in the Newport Aquarium. Opened in 1999, the aquarium has 70 exhibits and 14 galleries, including five seamless acrylic tunnels totaling over 200 feet (61 m) in length.
Located near Gravel Switch, Ky., Penn’s Store is the oldest country store in America run continuously by the same family. The Penn clan has operated it since 1850. It’s hidden away on a back road in the central region of Kentucky, known as the Knobs Region on the southern end of the outer Bluegrass. Penn’s Store has not been restored, so it shows its age, with the shelves around the single room looking much as they have for more than 160 years.
If you were to conjure up an image of people being escorted onto an island by law enforcement, you might think of a prison, such as Alcatraz Island. Things are a little different on Kentucky’s special island—it’s a summer camp for disadvantaged kids. Trooper Island Camp was developed by the Kentucky State Police as part of a long range program of public service to the youth of Kentucky: a place where the tensions and turmoil of everyday life can be forgotten; and for one week young people can be given a touch of hope and desire of a better tomorrow. It’s held in a secluded corner of Dale Hollow Lake near the Cumberland and Clinton County line, where an island was leased from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a non-profit charitable corporation was formed. Railroad and food buffs may enjoy a stop in Glendale, KY. The most famous restaurant in town, The Whistle Stop, is located on the main street and next to the railroad. The restaurant began as a hardware store with 20 seats for lunch.
In far southeastern Kentucky, not far from Pikeville, is a wonderful park that shared with West Virginia, Breaks Interstate Park. We have to admit we’d like to rebrand the park because I always think of an interstate highway running through the hills rather than the wilderness that’s actually there. The park encompasses 4,600 acres, a 5-mile gorge that plunges 1,650 feet and is sometimes called the “Grand Canyon of the South.” The views are amazing. http://www.breakspark.com/