Kentucky: A Travel Guide to Exploring the Bluegrass State

Get to know Lake Cumberland

Kentucky boasts several stunning lakes, but the crowning jewel is Lake Cumberland. Located in the picturesque Appalachian foothills, Lake Cumberland is the largest artificial lake by volume in the United States east of the Mississippi River. Spanning over 100 miles in length and featuring more than 1,200 miles of shoreline, the lake offers an expansive and tranquil escape for nature enthusiasts and water lovers alike. With its clear blue waters, Lake Cumberland provides an ideal setting for recreational activities, including boating, fishing, and water sports. The lake is also home to numerous marinas, resorts, and charming lakeside communities that enhance the overall experience for visitors. Lake Cumberland truly stands as the best lake in Kentucky, inviting locals and tourists to immerse themselves in the natural wonders that this aquatic gem has to offer.


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Top 3 Facts about Kentucky


The Bluegrass State

Kentucky earned its nickname, the “Bluegrass State,” due to the prevalence of bluegrass, a species of grass with bluish-green tint, covering its rolling hills.


Cumberland Gap

The Cumberland Gap, a natural pass in the Appalachian Mountains, played a crucial role in westward expansion during the 18th and 19th centuries.


Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was born in a log cabin in Hardin County, now part of LaRue County, Kentucky.


Must See Attractions

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Lost River Cave

Nature & Parks

The Lost River Cave in Bowling Green, Kentucky, offers a unique underground boat tour through a subterranean river, allowing visitors to explore the fascinating geological formations and diverse ecosystems hidden beneath the surface.

Ark Encounter

Tourist Attractions

Located in Williamstown, Kentucky, is a massive, full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark, providing visitors with a captivating and educational experience about the biblical story of the Great Flood.

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

Nature & Parks

Located in the heart of Kentucky, it is renowned for its majestic Cumberland Falls, famously known as the “Niagara of the South,” where visitors can witness the sight of the moonbow, a rare lunar rainbow, on clear nights.

Where to Sleep

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Kentucky Lakes to Discover

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1. Green River Lake

88 Miles

Green River Lake is known for its pristine waters, excellent fishing, and a variety of recreational activities, making it a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts.

2. Lake Cumberland

106 Miles

With its vast expanse and over 1,200 miles of shoreline, Lake Cumberland is Kentucky’s largest lake, offering opportunities for boating, fishing, and lakeside recreation.

3. Nolin River Lake

119 Miles

Located near Mammoth Cave National Park, this reservoir provides a quiet escape for camping, bird-watching, and enjoying the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

4. Rough River Lake

130 Miles

Nestled in the scenic hills of western Kentucky, Rough River Lake is a popular destination for camping, hiking, and water-based activities for outdoor adventures.

5. Barren River Lake

145 Miles

Barren River Lake offers a peaceful retreat with ample opportunities for boating, fishing, and exploring the picturesque landscapes of south-central Kentucky.

6. Dale Hollow Lake

146 Miles

Famed for its clear, deep waters, this lake is a haven for water sports and fishing, hosting numerous bass fishing tournaments and boasting a scenic shoreline.

7. Lake Barkley

241 Miles

Lake Barkley is another gem, known for its picturesque landscapes, boating events, and the peaceful tranquility of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

8. Kentucky Lake

255 Miles

As one of the largest man made lakes in the eastern United States, this lake is a paradise for anglers and water enthusiasts, surrounded by rolling hills and wildlife.

Annual Events and Festivals

Thursday, April 18 – Saturday, April 20, 2024

Hillbilly Days

Hillbilly Days, an annual festival hosted in Pikeville, is a lively and spirited celebration that captures the essence of Appalachian culture with a unique blend of humor, music, and community camaraderie. This three-day event transforms downtown Pikeville into a vibrant spectacle, featuring a parade, street performances, and a plethora of food and craft vendors. The festival raises funds for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Attendees are treated to a delightful array of hillbilly-themed events, from the Hillbilly Run 5K to the renowned Hillbilly Jam musical performances.

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Thursday, September 19 – Sunday, September 22, 2024

Bourbon & Beyond

This annual extravaganza held in Louisville celebrates the state’s iconic bourbon culture and rich musical heritage. This unique festival seamlessly blends the art of whiskey-making with a diverse lineup of musical performances across various genres. Attendees can indulge in an array of bourbon tastings, guided by master distillers, immersing themselves in the nuanced flavors and traditions that define Kentucky’s signature spirit. The music is equally impressive, showcasing rock, blues, folk, and other genres on multiple stages, creating an eclectic atmosphere that resonates with the diverse tastes of the audience.

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October 2024

Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen Fall Fair

The fair is held annually in the charming town of Berea and showcases the exceptional talents of local artists and craftsmen, drawing visitors with an array of handmade creations that span a diverse range of mediums. Attendees can explore booths filled with exquisite pottery, intricate jewelry, paintings, textiles, and other unique pieces, all crafted with meticulous skill and a deep connection to Appalachian heritage.

Top Hiking Trails

Double Arch, Courthouse Rock and Auxier Ridge Loop

Double Arch Trailhead, Rosslyn, KENTUCKY 40380

This hiking trail is in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Renowned for its stunning rock formations and expansive vistas, this loop encompasses the iconic Double Arch and Courthouse Rock, both geological wonders. Auxier Ridge offers hikers views along the edge of the gorge. The 6 mile trail takes about 2 hours to complete.

Visit their website for more information

Rock Bridge Trail

Rock Bridge Rd, Gillmore, KentuckY 41301

The 1.4 miles trail takes hikers through towering trees, moss covered rocks, and the natural wonder that gives the trail its name—the Rock Bridge. The Rock Bridge, an impressive sandstone arch that spans 65 feet and stands as a testament to the forces of erosion that have sculpted this remarkable landscape over the ages. It takes about an hour to complete.

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 Copperas Falls

Copperas Creek Unofficial Trailhead, KY-715, Wellington, Kentucky 40387

Accessible through a moderate 3.1 mile hiking trail that takes an hour to complete, this waterfall unveils itself amidst the dense forest, cascading gracefully over rugged rock formations. The journey to Copperas Falls is as rewarding as the destination, with the trail winding through the forest and offering glimpses of the surrounding gorge. Whether it’s the vibrant hues of autumn leaves or the verdant greenery of summer, the falls stand as a testament to the timeless allure of nature’s wonders in the heart of the Bluegrass State.

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Best Golf Courses

Heritage Hill Golf Course

1046 Valley View Dr, Shepherdsville, KentuckY 40165

This course seamlessly blends challenging play with the picturesque beauty of the Bluegrass State. This meticulously designed course sprawls across undulating terrain, offering golf enthusiasts a captivating experience that incorporates the natural landscape into its layout. Known for its well-manicured fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and rolling greens, Heritage Hill provides a test of skill for golfers of all levels. The course’s signature feature is the stunning view of the surrounding hills and woodlands that serves as a backdrop to each round.

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Miller Memorial Golf Course

2814 Pottertown Rd, Murray, KentuckY 42071

Named in honor of R. H. “Si” Miller, a prominent figure in local golf history, the course offers golf enthusiasts a splendid blend of traditional design and modern amenities. Miller Memorial provides an engaging and rewarding experience for golfers of all skill levels. The course’s layout showcases the natural beauty of western Kentucky, with rolling hills and mature trees lining the fairways.

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Kentucky Dam Golf Course

185 Village Green Circle, Gilbertsville, KentuckY 42044

The Kentucky Dam Golf Course in Gilbertsville is as a premier golfing destination, blending an exceptional course with views of the expansive lake and surrounding woodlands. Boasting an 18 hole, par 72 layout, this course challenges golfers of all skill levels with its well-designed fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and meticulous greens. The course’s signature holes are complemented by the serene backdrop of Kentucky Lake, creating a tranquil and visually stunning atmosphere.

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Water Sports

Lake Cumberland State Dock Marina


Boating on Lake Cumberland provides the perfect playground for enthusiasts. As the largest reservoir in the state, Lake Cumberland offers over 1,200 miles of shoreline, making it a haven for boaters. Whether it’s sailing, powerboating, or kayaking, the expansive waters of Lake Cumberland cater to a variety of preferences. Boaters can explore secluded coves, enjoy the stunning scenery of the surrounding hills, and even dock at lakeside marinas for a taste of local hospitality.

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The Gorge Underground Kayak and SUP Tours


The Red River Gorge, known for its landscapes and towering cliffs, is a haven for kayaking enthusiasts seeking an adrenaline-pumping adventure. The Red River and its tributaries carve through the rugged terrain, offering thrilling rapids and serene stretches for kayakers of different skill levels. Paddling through the gorge provides a unique perspective on the natural beauty of Kentucky, with the towering rock formations and lush vegetation creating an immersive and unforgettable kayaking experience.

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Fishing in Kentucky Lake


Kentucky Lake, one of the largest man-made lakes in the eastern United States, is the place for fishing enthusiasts. With an abundance of species like bass, crappie, and catfish, the lake attracts anglers year-round. Whether casting from the shoreline, hiring a fishing guide, or enjoying a day on a boat, Kentucky Lake provides ample opportunities for both novice and experienced fishermen.

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01 / Skiing & Snowboarding

Perfect North Slopes, located in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, is a popular winter sports destination offering skiing and snowboarding opportunities. With a range of slopes catering to various skill levels, from beginners to advanced, Perfect North Slopes provides a snowy haven for winter enthusiasts. The resort’s well-groomed trails, modern amenities, and snowmaking capabilities ensure a reliable winter sports experience, making it a go-to destination for those seeking alpine thrills in Kentucky.

young active snowboarder in bright sportswear jumping up on a mountain slope 1 1

02 / Snow Tubing

Paoli Peaks near Louisville draws crowds for its exhilarating snow tubing adventures. The park features multiple tubing lanes, each offering an exciting descent down the snow-covered slopes. Families and thrill-seekers alike flock to Paoli Peaks to enjoy the simplicity and pure joy of hurtling down the hillside in a snow tube, making it a favorite winter pastime in Kentucky.

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03 / Ice Skating

In the heart of Lexington, Triangle Park transforms into a winter oasis with the introduction of an ice skating rink during the colder months. This temporary outdoor rink provides an enchanting setting for individuals and families to lace up their skates and glide across the ice. Surrounded by the city’s lights and the festive atmosphere, ice skating at Triangle Park offers a charming and seasonal way to embrace the winter spirit in Kentucky.

young active snowboarder in bright sportswear jumping up on a mountain slope 1 1
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Resorts to Explore

Lake Barkley State Resort Park

Family friendly, Recreational
3500 State Park Rd, Cadiz, Kentucky 42211

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

Family friendly, Recreational
7351 KY-90, Corbin, Kentucky 40701

Natural Bridge State Resort Park

Ecotourism, Recreational
2135 Natural Bridge Rd, Slade, Kentucky 40376

Tips on Traveling to Kentucky

Kentucky Cuisine

Kentucky is famous for its comfort food. Try local delicacies such as Hot Brown, burgoo, and Derby Pie. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to savor some Southern hospitality at local eateries.

Plan for the Weather

Kentucky experiences varied weather conditions. Be prepared for temperature fluctuations and occasional rain. Pack layers, a rain jacket, and comfortable walking shoes.

Outdoor Excursions

Kentucky boasts beautiful natural attractions like the Red River Gorge and Mammoth Cave. Pack accordingly for hiking, camping, or exploring the scenic landscapes. Check the weather and trail conditions before embarking on outdoor adventures.

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Jet Skiing

Kentucky offers a wide range of vacation rentals suitable for various types of travelers. 

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family reunion, or a trip with friends, you’ll find plenty of options. With stunning destinations such as Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and Red River Gorge, you can explore natural wonders and lively cities while enjoying the comforts of home. 

Booking your ideal vacation rental has always been challenging with Lake, where you can find highly rated properties with desirable amenities. Once you choose your ideal Kentucky vacation rental, you can focus on planning activities that best suit your interests. 

From scenic hikes and horseback riding to exploring local cuisine and culture, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful state.

Key Takeaways

– Kentucky vacation rentals offer travelers diverse lodging options, from chalets to modern homes.
– Kentucky’s unique destinations create enjoyable experiences for all types of vacations.
– Book your ideal vacation rental is easy with online services like Lake, Vrbo, and Airbnb.

Overview of Kentucky Vacation Rentals

In Kentucky, vacation rentals come in all shapes and sizes. From charming log cabins in the woods to spacious houses with enough room for the whole family, there’s something for everyone. Why not try a cozy bed & breakfast like Sisters on Sycamore or experience the rustic charm of a cabin near Red River Gorge or Lake Barkley? Many rentals offer popular amenities, such as fishing access or beautiful lake views.

Notable options for your stay:

– Airbnb listings with a variety of price points and styles
– Bed & Breakfast Sisters on Sycamore (from $130 per night with 5.0 star reviews)
– Kentucky cabins and lake house rentals are listed on

With over 5,000 vacation rentals available in Kentucky, choosing the right one might seem overwhelming. But don’t worry. Picking the right one is a breeze with some planning. Be sure to consider the location of your rental and its proximity to the attractions you want to visit – a Kentucky State Park, a scenic lake, or a charming small town.

Types of Vacation Rentals in Kentucky

Cabins and Cottages
Cabins and Cottages are two fantastic options. These rustic lodgings offer a cozy atmosphere, blending comfort and charm for your vacation. Cabins are perfect when planning a hiking trip, while cottages may provide a more romantic setting. With over 863 cabins and 232 cottages available, you’ll be spoiled for choice!

Houses and Luxury Accommodations
If you’re traveling with a bigger group or looking for a more upscale experience, Kentucky offers excellent houses and luxury accommodations. Enjoy the privacy and plenty of space that these rentals provide. With over 3,888 houses and 1,859 luxury estates available, finding the ideal accommodations for you and your loved ones shouldn’t be a problem.

Log Cabins with Lake View
Imagine waking up in a beautiful log cabin with a stunning lake view outside your window. Kentucky is home to these picture-perfect accommodations. Indulge yourself in these serene surroundings, ideal for a relaxing retreat. Plan a day of fishing or kayaking, or simply soak in the gorgeous lake views while sipping your morning coffee.

Pet-Friendly Rentals
Don’t want to leave your furry friend behind? Worry not! Kentucky offers numerous pet-friendly rentals for travelers who wish to bring their pets along for the adventure. The state has plenty of pet-friendly accommodations, ensuring you and your four-legged companion have a fantastic and unforgettable vacation together.

Key Destinations in Kentucky

Vacation Rentals at Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge is a top destination for those seeking an adventurous Kentucky vacation. When you stay at a rental in this area, you can access great hiking trails, rock climbing, and breathtaking views. Choose from a variety of accommodations like cozy cabins or spacious family homes. You’ll have your private retreat to enjoy the natural beauty of the Gorge while still being close to attractions like Kentucky State Parks and other outdoor adventures.

Rentals Near Mammoth Cave National Park

Opt for a rental near Mammoth Cave National Park for a vacation filled with natural wonders. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts the world’s most extended cave system. Staying nearby will give you plenty of time to explore the caves, hike along beautiful trails, or enjoy wildlife watching. Rental options include charming cottages, traditional family homes, and even luxurious lodges that cater to every taste and budget.

Stays in Berea

Berea is a hidden gem in Kentucky, known for its thriving art scene and craft heritage. When you choose a vacation rental in this charming town, you’ll have the chance to explore local art galleries, shops, and cultural events. You’ll find a variety of beautiful, well-furnished stays that cater to all needs, from couples seeking romantic hideaways to families looking for spacious homes with modern amenities.

Lake Barkley Cabin Rentals

If a lakeside getaway is more your style, look no further than Lake Barkley. With cabin rentals dotting the shoreline, you’ll have an idyllic spot to enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, and relaxing by the water. Many cabins offer modern amenities like air conditioning, balconies or terraces, and fully equipped kitchens.

Rentals by Green River

The Green River is another fantastic Kentucky vacation destination offering various rental options. From charming cottages to spacious family homes, you’ll find stays perfect for solo adventurers, couples, and families alike. While in the area, you can enjoy outdoor activities like canoeing, kayaking, and fishing and explore local parks and nature reserves. A rental by Green River provides the perfect balance of outdoor adventure and comfortable accommodations.

The Comfort and Amenities of Vacation Homes

Vacation homes in Kentucky offer various options, from rustic cabins to stylish accommodations. Are you looking for a quaint cabin to unwind in after a long day of hiking? Or a spacious house to accommodate your family? Whatever your needs, vacation rentals in Kentucky cater to different styles and preferences.

Now, let’s talk amenities. When booking a vacation home, it’s essential to have the basics covered. You can expect most vacation rentals to come equipped with air conditioning, TV, and parking. Plus, many places are pet-friendly, so you won’t have to leave your furry companion behind.

How about some extra amenities for added enjoyment? You’re in luck! Many rentals in Kentucky boast additional features such as:

– Balconies or terraces with picturesque views
– Full kitchens, perfect for whipping up your favorite meals
– Access to outdoor activities like fishing or golfing
– Hot tubs for relaxing

Booking and Availability

Lake offers various rental homes and cabins, catering to different group sizes and preferences.

Are you organizing a large family reunion or gathering a group of your closest friends? You’ll find several options to accommodate larger groups. On the other hand, if you’re seeking a romantic getaway with your special someone, intimate, cozy cabins are available to create the perfect atmosphere.

Booking early to secure the best deals is always a good idea. Kentucky’s more popular months for vacation rentals may experience a higher demand, so planning early can help you find the best options.

Now let’s talk prices. The cost for vacation rentals in Kentucky can vary based on location, size, and amenities offered. For example, options start from $44/night, with more upscale choices in the hundreds. If budget concerns you, you can always watch for deals or discounts during the less popular months.

Here are some quick tips for a smoother booking experience:

– Always check multiple websites for the best deals
– Read reviews to get a sense of what others experienced
– Pay attention to the rental’s rules and restrictions
– Consider rental insurance for extra peace of mind

Planning Activities During Your Vacation

Now that you’ve booked your vacation, you can plan an adventure that will undoubtedly create unforgettable memories.

Hiking in Red River Gorge
This area offers several hiking trails for all levels of experience. The landscapes are stunning; you might even encounter some natural arches along your hike. Don’t forget to bring your camera – the picturesque views will not be missed!

Swimming and Sunbathing
Who doesn’t love a good day of swimming and sunbathing? Kentucky has many lakes and waterways, perfect for a refreshing dip. Lake Barkley, Cumberland Falls, and many other spots provide excellent opportunities for swimming and lounging by the water. So grab your swimsuit, towel, and sunscreen – it’s time to enjoy Kentucky’s incredible waterscapes!

Feeling adventurous? Boating is a popular activity in Kentucky, with many lakes and rivers. Rent a kayak, canoe, or even a houseboat, and explore the water at your own pace. Remember to pack a life jacket and some snacks for the ride!

Bourbon Tours and Horse Farm Visits
For a more guided experience, why not embark on a tour? Kentucky offers various tours, ranging from bourbon distilleries to horse farm visits. These tours provide an insightful look into the state’s culture and history. You might pick up a new favorite drink or find some fascinating stories to share!

Remember to plan, pack well, and enjoy your adventures in the Bluegrass State!

Frequently Asked Questions about Kentucky

he spring and fall seasons are ideal for pleasant weather and outdoor activities. The Kentucky Derby in early May is a major attraction, but each season offers unique experiences.

The Bluegrass Country Driving Tour takes you through picturesque horse farms and rolling hills. The Natchez Trace Parkway, which starts in Nashville and goes through Kentucky, offers stunning scenery.

Kentucky offers numerous unique locations to rent a cabin for your vacation. Some popular spots include Beattyville, which features a range of luxury lakeside cabins such as Cabin Boo Bear. East End Louisville is also known for its cozy houses in peaceful neighborhoods. If you are a golf enthusiast and prefer a resort atmosphere, Lexington Griffin Gate Marriott Golf Resort & Spa is an excellent choice.

To find affordable vacation rental options in Kentucky, you can access websites like Lake, which provides listing details and prices for various rental options. Comparing prices between different properties and locations will help you make a decision based on your budget.

Standard amenities include air conditioning, TV, a balcony or terrace, and access to a hot tub in some cases. Depending on the property, cabins may also offer parking, wheelchair accessibility, and child-friendly facilities.

Yes, waterfront vacation rentals are available in Kentucky. Lake showcases properties such as Family Home with Deck on Kentucky Lake in Paducah Gilbertsville and Hickory Hill Resort Kentucky Lake in Paducah Benton. These options provide beautiful lake views and easy access to water activities for your vacation.

When renting a vacation property in Kentucky, you can access various attractions. For instance, travelers near the Ark Encounter or Creation Museum can visit Lake Kentucky Vacation Rentals. Other attractions may include local parks, outdoor activities like hiking trails, recreational lakes, and cultural sites. Remember to research nearby attractions to ensure you make the most out of your Kentucky vacation!

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