15 Top-Rated Things to Do in Elizabethtown, KY

Written by Bryan Dearsley
Updated Mar 23, 2023

Author Bryan Dearsley visited Elizabethtown on behalf of PlanetWare in the fall of 2022.

Known affectionately by locals as "Etown," Elizabethtown is well worth including on your list of places to visit in Kentucky. Just 45 minutes' drive south of Louisville, Elizabethtown is famous for its connections to Abraham Lincoln, who was born in nearby Hodgenville in 1809.

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home, Knob Creek Farm | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

In addition to Lincoln's boyhood home at Knob Creek Farm, other things to do in Elizabethtown include exploring the city's historic downtown district. You can also enjoy a variety of fun outdoor activities on or around picturesque Freeman Lake, or learn more about the nation's history in the military museums of Fort Knox.

Whatever your preferred pastimes, you'll find no end of fun things to do in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

1. Explore Historic Downtown Elizabethtown

Downtown Elizabethtown | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

Like many other smaller cities in Kentucky, Elizabethtown's downtown core is dominated by its old courthouse. Perched on a public square that dissects its Main Street, it's a picturesque spot that lends itself well to a selfie or two.

From here, it's a pleasant stroll to a number of Etown's most important tourist attractions. These include the famous Civil War Cannonball embedded in one of the downtown buildings, the culturally significant Brown-Pusey House, as well as Hardin County History Museum.

Pause for a snack or hot beverage at the excellent Vibe Coffeeshop before checking out the boutique shops and art galleries along Main Street and Dixie Avenue.

If you're traveling with teens, plan on visiting the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame for a chance to test their hoop skills. It's located directly opposite another "Etown" landmark, The Historic State Theater Complex.

Location: Public Square, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

2. See the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home, Knob Creek Farm

Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home, Knob Creek Farm | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

Few Americans will argue against the fact that Abraham Lincoln is undoubtedly the country's most revered President. And "Etowners" are justifiably proud of their connection to the USA's 16th president.

An easy 25-minute drive from Elizabethtown between the small Kentucky towns of Hodgenville and New Haven, the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home, Knob Creek Farm, is a must visit. Here, you'll find the modest log homestead in which the Lincoln family lived and farmed in the early 1800s, and where a young "Abe" claimed to have spent some of the happiest days of his life.

Now a national park, the cabin itself is available to visit as part of an informative guided tour (check the website for availability). Visitors are also free to wander the grounds, including the creek where Lincoln once fished.

Also of interest, the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park is an easy 15-minute drive away. The Lincoln Museum in Hodgenville is also fun and informative to visit.

Address: 7120 Bardstown Road, Hodgenville, Kentucky

3. Have Some Outdoor Fun at Freeman Lake Park

Freeman Lake Park | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

Outdoor enthusiasts will want to include a visit to Freeman Lake Park on their list of fun things to do in Elizabethtown. While some 93 acres of green space is available for picnics and leisure activities, the real star here is the lake itself.

Covering an area of 170 acres, it has proven to be an immensely popular spot for a variety of water sports activities, including kayaking; paddleboating; and fishing for trout, bass, and catfish.

In addition to the five miles of walking trails that circumnavigate the lake, the park also features tennis courts, kids' playgrounds, volleyball courts, a disc golf course, and areas set aside for your four-legged friends.

There's also a heritage home connected to President Lincoln, a historic log cabin, and the town's famous One Room School House.

Address: 212 Freeman Lake Park Road, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

4. Tour the General George Patton Museum of Leadership in Fort Knox

Bradley Fighting Vehicle at the General George Patton Museum of Leadership in Fort Knox

Commemorating the life of one of America's greatest war time commanders, the General George Patton Museum of Leadership in Fort Knox, just north of Elizabethtown, is a must-visit for military enthusiasts. In addition to fascinating displays and artifacts relating to Patton's personal life, exhibits also deal with the various campaigns for which he's best-known during WW2.

A number of vintage military vehicles are on display, including some tanks. You'll also see Patton's original staff car, a 1938 Cadillac, which he used while in Europe.

One of the top free things to do in Elizabethtown, a visit to the museum includes a chance to tour original army barracks from the same period.

Address: 4554 Fayette Avenue, Fort Knox, Kentucky

5. Take a Stroll in Elizabethtown Nature Park

Elizabethtown Nature Park | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

Another green space to include on your Kentucky travel itinerary is the Elizabethtown Nature Park. Set on 104 acres and just a few minutes' walk from the north end of Freeman Lake via a handy pedestrian tunnel, it's an ideal space to get out and stretch your legs.

A variety of walking trails are available, some of them paved, enabling those of any fitness level a chance to enjoy a stroll through pleasant meadows. A pavilion is available for picnickers to enjoy, along with public washrooms.

Be sure to pay a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which pays tribute to those who served in the conflict.

Address: 1900 Ring Road, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

6. Enjoy a Show at the Historic State Theater Complex

Historic State Theater in Elizabethtown | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

A pet project of Elizabethtown's downtown revitalization, the Historic State Theater was built in Art Deco style in 1942 and continues to fulfill a variety of entertainment and cultural functions. Fully restored and renovated in 2009, the complex features event spaces used to host local festivals, as well as a stage capable of holding music concerts and theatrical performances.

Fun seasonal movie programming is also offered, with the Christmas-themed and sing-along films often selling out to enthusiastic crowds.

Address: 209 W Dixie Avenue, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

7. Explore Etown's Past at Hardin County History Museum

Hardin County History Museum | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

Located in downtown Elizabethtown and just steps away from the State Theater, the Hardin County History Museum is well worth spending an hour or two exploring. Opened in 2009, this very modern facility offers a fascinating glimpse into the rich history of Etown and its surrounds.

Exhibits and displays include artifacts and memorabilia from the 1700s, before the arrival of the first European settlers, right up to the present day. A number of displays also deal specifically with President Abraham Lincoln, who was born and raised in Hardin County.

Address: 201 W Dixie Ave, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

8. Pay Your Respects at Etown's Replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

Located within the Elizabethtown Nature Park, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall offers a sobering reminder of the scale of US losses during the Vietnam War. Constructed in 2018, it's an impressive sight, and was built as a slightly smaller version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC.

Standing eight feet tall and measuring 360 feet in length, it's engraved with the names of 58,000 men and women from the USA who served and died in Vietnam.

Address: 1900 Ring Road East, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

9. Take a Tour of Brown-Pusey House

Brown-Pusey House | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

Built in Georgian style in 1825 and located just a block from Elizabethtown's Public Square, Brown-Pusey House is one of the most photographed old homes in the city. Although originally constructed as a stately home for a local businessman, it later served as a boarding house.

Among the most famous guests at Hill House, as it was known then, were none other than George Armstrong Custer. Staying with his wife, Elizabeth, the general was tasked with the role of putting an end to the local Ku Klux Klan, as well as the then illegal bourbon distilleries.

The historic home now serves as a community center and houses a small museum and a genealogical library.

Address: 128 N Main, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

10. Elizabethtown City Cemetery

Elizabethtown City Cemetery | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

Established in 1807, the park-like setting of Elizabethtown City Cemetery is a delight to explore. Notable among the many deceased who've been interred here are a large number of Confederate Soldiers who died during the Civil War.

A memorial to those who fell in the conflict is easy to spot for the two cannons placed there. Interestingly, they stand close to the spot where Confederate troops fired onto Union troops defending the town below.

A handy kiosk located at the cemetery entrance serves as a useful tool to find specific gravesites.

Address: E Dixie Ave, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

11. Take the Kids to the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame Museum

Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

Within an easy walk of the other main Elizabethtown attractions in the downtown core, the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame opened in 2017 and does a great job telling the story of one of the nation's most popular sports.

Highlights of a visit include numerous interactive displays related to over 100 years of high school basketball, as well as artifacts and mementos. Photos and awards presented to inductees are also on display. Guided tours are available.

Address: 212 W Dixie Ave, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

12. Hunt for Etown's Famous Cannonball

Civil War Cannonball in Elizabethtown | Photo Copyright: Bryan Dearsley

A fun thing to do for young and old alike when visiting downtown Elizabethtown is to hunt for the city's famous Civil War Cannonball. The scene of fierce fighting in 1862, Elizabethtown was a key target for the Confederates who were hoping to prevent its being used as a rail and transportation hub.

During one barrage fired from atop the hill in the city cemetery, a Confederate cannonball wound up embedding itself in a building just off Public Square in the heart of the downtown area. There it remained until a fire eventually destroyed the building in 1887.

Fast forward to 1932, and the original cannonball, kept safe for decades, was "replanted" in the newer building as a reminder of the battle. To find it, stroll a few yards down West Dixie Avenue from the courthouse and look up to see the large black arrow that points up at the cannonball.

Location: 40 Public Square, Elizabethtown, Kentucky — look up!

13. Make a Stop at Elizabethtown Tourism & Convention Bureau

Located just off the I-65 as you enter the city, the Elizabethtown Tourism & Convention Bureau makes for a great place to begin your sightseeing tour of Etown. This modern facility features displays relating to the town's top attractions, including handy maps and guides geared to help you get the most out of your visit.

There's a souvenir shop, too, along with washrooms, vending machines, and free treats for those traveling with their four-legged companion.

Address: 1030 N Mulberry Street, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

14. Take a Hike along the Greenspace Trails

Freeman Lake Trail

Elizabethtown prides itself on its parks and green spaces. To help visitors make the most of the countless trails that crisscross the city, Elizabethtown has developed an extensive network of paths and trails guaranteed to keep hikers and bikers busy.

Among the most popular routes are the Banam Shaw Trail, a one-mile shaded trail that's popular with the geocachers; and the pretty Buffalo Lake Trail, a two-mile route that passes by Buffalo Lake and through a wildlife preserve.

Those seeking a longer route should check out the Freeman Lake Trail. This five-mile-long level trail circles Freeman Lake in Freeman Lake Park, one of Elizabethtown's most popular green spaces.

15. Swope Cars of Yesteryear Museum

Owned by one of the region's top car sales companies, Swope Cars of Yesteryear Museum is a must visit for enthusiasts of classic roadsters. One of the top things to do in Kentucky for car buffs, this private collection features numerous classics from the early 1900s to the 1960s, with models from all North American car manufacturers.

Highlights of the collection include a 1921 Dodge touring car, the Bradesh; two Model T Fords from 1914; a stylish pink 1956 Thunderbird; and a number of 1960s muscle cars. Guided tours are available.

Address: 1080 N Dixie Hwy, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Best Time to Visit Elizabethtown, KY - Historical Climate Averages

Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Elizabethtown, KY in °C
4 -6 8 -4 13 1 18 6 23 11 28 16 30 18 30 18 27 14 21 6 13 1 7 -3
Average monthly precipitation totals for Elizabethtown, KY in mm.
106 88 130 91 131 113 103 86 73 107 103 121
Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Elizabethtown, KY in °F
40 21 46 25 55 33 65 42 74 51 82 61 86 65 86 64 81 57 69 43 56 34 45 26
Average monthly precipitation totals for Elizabethtown, KY in inches.
4.2 3.5 5.1 3.6 5.2 4.4 4.1 3.4 2.9 4.2 4.0 4.8
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