8 Top-Rated Kentucky Tourist Attractions
1 Kentucky Derby
Kentucky's most famous event and one of horse racing's most prestigious races is the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs outside of Louisville. It takes place the first Sunday in May and draws a huge crowd to the city. To learn more about this event visitors can stop by the Kentucky Derby Museum.
2 Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Southeastern Kentucky extends into the Cumberland Mountains. The most important passage through the hills is the Cumberland Gap, at 1663 ft. This 760 ft deep cut through the range that was used as a traffic route in Indian times and was discovered by pioneers moving west in the mid-18th century. After the legendary Daniel Boone had driven his Wilderness Trail into Kentucky in 1775, over 200,000 white settlers made their way through the Cumberland Mountains to the west. The Visitor Center is situated in Middleboro. From Pinnacle Overview (2460 ft) there are magnificent views of the hills and the Gap. A popular hike is to the Hensley Settlement, a well preserved old country township.
3 Daniel Boone National Forest
In Daniel Boone National Forest, southeast of Lexington, is the Natural Bridge measuring 65 ft high and 75 ft wide, created by the erosive forces of wind and water. In the surrounding area, now a state park, are other bizarre rock formations. A few miles north the Red River surges through a wild and romantic gorge. The forest has over 707,000 acres of mainly rugged terrain with over 3,400 miles of sandstone cliffs.
4 Kentucky Horse Park
The Kentucky Horse Park, located a short drive north of Lexington, allows visitors a chance to see a working horse farm and learn about horses. The park offers a chance to see a variety of horse breeds and get a better understanding of their traditional uses throughout history. On site is the International Museum of the Horse and the Hall of Champions.
5 Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
Shaker Village is an open air village with dozens of buildings showing the traditional lifestyle of Shakers. On display are handmade furniture and everyday items from the 1800s. Demonstrations on the various crafts are given throughout the day. The complex is located north of Harrodsburg.
6 Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
The Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is known as the "Niagara of the South". The 125-foot wide falls drops 68 feet into the Cumberland River and under a full moon, shows the only "moonbow" in the western hemisphere. There are several walking trails of short to medium length.
7 Mammoth Cave National Park
The Mammoth Cave lies in the "Land of 10,000 Sinks" or the Caveland Corridor, an area in southwestern Kentucky approximately 80 miles south of Louisville. This region is strongly marked by karstic features of all kinds. With over 400 miles of passages surveyed so far, the Mammoth Cave is one of the world's largest known cave systems, and was already known to the original Indian inhabitants of the region in the 1st millennium BC. A variety of tours are available. The high points of the tour are the Mammoth Dome (almost 200 ft high) and the Ruins of Karnak. Some runs past the Snowball Dining Room with the extraordinary rock formations (originally snow white) on its roof, the imposing Frozen Niagara with its magnificent stalactites and stalagmites and the beautiful Crystal Lake. The strenuous Wild Cave Tour is for experienced and properly equipped cave explorers only.
The cave is home to creatures who have adapted to the darkness including fish, cave crickets and eyeless crayfish.
8 Louisville Mega Cavern
Louisville Mega Cavern is a 17 mile attraction that lies beneath the city of Louisville. There are a variety of tours, some of these are conducted by jeep or tram. Visitors can also choose a tour with a series of underground ziplines. Some of the more interesting points of this attraction are related to the history. During the 1940's until the 1970's, Civil Defense had chosen this particular cavern to use in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States.