Kentucky’s Attractions Await Your Discovery
It could be argued that Daniel Boone was the first to appreciate the tourism potential of the Bluegrass State. When he crossed Cumberland Gap from Virginia into Kentucky in 1767, he was impressed by what he saw – towering peaks of the Appalachians, vast stands of virgin forest, shimmering lakes and waterways and a wealth of resources. Boone knew that where he went, others would follow.
Today Boone’s foresight is borne out in the thousands of visitors who come to Kentucky each year for vacations, meetings, sporting events, and many other reasons. From metropolitan areas to rural landscapes and rugged wilderness, Kentucky has a bounty of attractions to discover.
Eastern Kentucky will set your heart pounding with outdoor adventure. Head to Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest to climb a rock cliff. Outfitters will provide training for the novice or a new experience for the seasoned climber. The Gorge is known world-wide as one of the premier climbing areas in the eastern United States. Have you ever strapped yourself into a harness and zipped through the tree tops? Zip lines are coming to the area this year. Looking for a place to stay? Natural Bridge State Resort Park is nestled in the forest and offers lodge rooms, dining, swimming and camping.
Head further south and you can climb trails in a different manner – ATVs. Reclaimed coal mines have become the hang out for riders of all terrain vehicles and the vistas you will discover are breathtaking. Hit the trails, but don’t expect to come home clean – dust, dirt and mud are all part of the excitement.
Don’t forget the water! The Cumberland River, the Russell Fork and the Big South Fork offer rafting, kayaking and canoeing to get you close to nature. Sign on for a guided raft trip and have the time of your life in one of the most scenic and rustic areas of the Commonwealth.
Kentucky’s Music Heritage
Is it in the water or just the family genes? U.S. Highway 23, which winds down the eastern coast of the state from Ashland to the Virginia border, was dedicated as the Country Music Highway in 1994. This was to honor the stars that were born in this region. Top stars include Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, Billy Ray Cyrus, Wynonna & Naomi Judd, Ricky Skaggs, Gary Stewart, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam, and Hylo Brown. Many still come home to perform at the Paramount Arts Center (a restored Paramount movie house) in Ashland and the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg. Both facilities offer entertainment in state-of-the-art facilities.
September 13, 2011, marks the centennial of the birth of Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass. Monroe was born just south of Owensboro in Rosine, and the family home has been restored and is open for tours. It is also the location of one of the biggest Bluegrass Celebrations every fall, Jerusalem Ridge -- four days of live performances by Bluegrass bands and individuals from across the country, many of whom played with or knew Bill Monroe personally. Monroe is buried with his family in the Rosine cemetery.
Kentucky is Famous for Horses!
Be it a Thoroughbred, Saddlebred or another breed, if you love horses, you will find them in Kentucky.
Secretariat, the winner of the Triple Crown of racing, ran the first leg at Churchill Downs in Louisville and is buried at Claiborne Farm in Paris (near Lexington). Lexington horse farms are also the resting places for the last two Triple Crown winners, Seattle Slew and Affirmed.
The premier location in Kentucky to learn everything you always wanted to know about horses is the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Covering over 1200 acres, this working horse farm is open to the public with daily horse shows during the summer season, the International Museum of the Horse, the Saddlebred Museum and events booked almost every weekend of the year. The end of April brings the Rolex Three Day Event to the park. Here world-class competitors compete for top spots in the Olympic Games. In 2010 the Kentucky Horse Park had the honor of hosting the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games – the first time it has been held outside of Europe.
Shelbyville, Ky., is know as the Saddlebred Capital of the World and rightly so with over 80 registered Saddlebred farms in the county. The Shelbyville Horse Show is the precursor to The World Championship Horse Show at the Kentucky State Fair in August. This exciting and prestigious event, held annually in conjunction with the State Fair, crowns world champion Saddlebreds in different divisions. The show attracts people from all across the country and the world including more than 2,000 horses competing for over $1 million in awards. Horse farm tours are available through the Shelbyville/Shelby Country Tourism Office.
North central Kentucky proudly showcases a product that was invented in Kentucky – bourbon. With eight distilleries hosting tours, plan on seeing them all over a three-day stay. Each distillery has its own distinct trademark, so even though the general process is the same; you will find unique differences at each distillery. Louisville is the home of the Urban Bourbon Trail. Stop at one of the restaurants or bars on the trail and you will have the opportunity of choosing from at least 50 bourbons in stock and dining on dishes created to accent the rich bourbon flavor.
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Kentucky is home to many unique places and attractions that can’t be found anywhere else. Among these are:
- Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
- Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville
- Mammoth Cave, world’s longest charted cave system
- Moonbow at Cumberland Falls
- Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area
- National Quilt Museum in Paducah
- Birthplaces of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, presidents of both sides in the Civil War
- Seventeen state resort parks with lodges, most of any state in the nation
Follow Daniel Boone’s lead and discover Kentucky’s diverse attractions. You won’t be disappointed!