14 Top-Rated Things to Do in Frankfort, KY
Author Bryan Dearsley visited Frankfort as part of an extensive trip through Kentucky in the fall of 2022.
Although it's the capital of Kentucky, Frankfort has a charming small-town feel. Home to only around 29,000 inhabitants, it's located between Lexington and Louisville and offers no end of fun things to do for travelers to the Bluegrass State.
The city's most important places to visit are steeped in a rich history that reflects its political and economic significance.
Enjoy a stroll along the pedestrian-friendly, redbrick St. Clair Street in the historic downtown core, and you'll find yourself in the heart of the city's original commercial district, which is still thriving after centuries as the city's hub. From here, you can easily explore other tourist attractions, such as the Grand Theatre, Liberty Hall, and the Kentucky Old State Capitol Building.
To learn more about this leading travel destination in Kentucky, be sure to read and bookmark our list of the top things to do in Frankfort.
1. Kentucky State Capitol: The New Capitol Building
Opened in 1910 to replace the state's previous official offices in Frankfort's downtown area, Kentucky's New Capitol is widely considered to be the most attractive such building in the entire USA. Located in the south of the city, its setting in a tranquil, leafy neighborhood overlooking the Kentucky River is certainly picturesque.
For the best views of this impressive building, take Capital Avenue, which leads up to the Capitol over War Mother's Memorial Bridge from downtown Frankfort. There's ample street parking as you approach, so park the car and cover the remaining distance on foot. You'll pass attractive flowerbeds as you approach, with some of the best angles for a photo available from the steps leading up from the small roundabout at the end of Capital Avenue.
If you're able to join one of the informative guided tours of the building, you'll enjoy a close-up look at interior highlights, including the attractive main entrances to both government chambers. Look out for the paintings depicting the exploits of famed Kentucky frontiersman Daniel Boone, who's buried in Frankfort Cemetery.
Address: 700 Capital Ave., Frankfort, Kentucky
2. Take the Kids to Salato Wildlife Education Center
Located five miles west of downtown Frankfort, Salato Wildlife Education Center makes for a fun outing for those looking for things to do with kids in Kentucky. This state-run facility includes fascinating exhibits relating to local flora and fauna, including a diorama that features live turtles, snakes, frogs, and other critters.
The real stars are the larger species kept here. These include everything from black bears to bison and bobcats, along with a number of bald eagles, all of which can be viewed from the center's accessible trail network.
On-site facilities include a picnic area and shelters, as well as well-stocked lakes for fishing. The center is open seasonally from March to mid-November.
Address: 1 Sportsman's Lane, Frankfort, Kentucky
3. Take a Hike through Cove Springs Park
A short drive north of Frankfort's downtown core, and you'll find yourself at Cove Springs Park. Set amid 240 acres of stunning Kentucky countryside, this nature reserve boasts a diversity of interesting natural attractions, including waterfalls and streams, wetlands, and densely forested ravines.
With six miles of easy-to-follow nature trails, the park is especially popular among casual hikers and bikers. Popular trails include the 3.5-mile-long Wetlands Trail, with its bountiful wildlife and useful interpretive signage, and. the nearly one-mile-long Sky Trail, which features superb views over the city.
On-site facilities include washrooms, picnic tables, shelters, and an archery range.
Address: 100 Cove Spring Road, Frankfort, Kentucky
4. Visit the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History
The Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History offers a fascinating glimpse into the state's rich past. Highlights of a visit include "A Kentucky Journey," with its exhibits relating to the state's 12,000-year history and featuring artifacts from before the first settlers arrived to the modern day.
Another must-see exhibit is the Hall of Governors, with displays focusing on those who've occupied the Capitol's offices over the centuries.
On-site facilities include a research library that's open to the public and a gift shop. Guided tours are available.
Address: 100 W Broadway Street, Frankfort, Kentucky
5. Daniel Boone Burial Site and Frankfort Cemetery
A visit to Frankfort Cemetery is a must-do for those interested in Americana. Established in the 1840s, this picturesque burial ground is the final resting place of a number of famous Americans.
Most notable among them are frontiersman Daniel Boone and his wife. Although both were originally buried in Missouri in the 1820s, they were reburied with honors in Frankfort Cemetery in 1845. Numerous state governors and politicians are also buried here.
The cemetery also offers superb views over the city and the Kentucky River.
Address: 215 E Main Street, Frankfort, Kentucky
6. Tour Liberty Hall Historic Site
In a city that's chock-full of remarkably well-preserved historic buildings, Liberty Hall stands out as one of the best places to visit in Frankfort for those wanting to learn more of the city's importance in the state's history. The former home of one of the state's leading political dynasties, the site actually consists of two historic homes: Orlando Brown House (1835) and Liberty Hall (1796) itself.
Both feature remarkably well-preserved collections of original furnishings and artifacts from the period, along with many of the family's original artworks.
Guided tours of both homes and their grounds are available
Address: 202-218 Wilkinson Street, Frankfort, Kentucky
7. Kentucky Old State Capitol Building
Set looking directly down St. Clair Street in the heart of Frankfort, Kentucky's Old State Capitol is one of the most photographed of the city's downtown attractions.
Known also as the "Old Statehouse," this was, in fact, the state's third Capitol Building and was built in 1830 after its predecessors proved inadequate for the task of housing Kentucky's government offices. The building was recently fully restored to look as it would have in the 1850s.
Highlights of the 30-minute-long guided tours of this Greek Revival-style building include a close-up look at interior features such as its fine staircase and artworks.
Address: 300 W Broadway Street, Frankfort, Kentucky
8. Pay Your Respects at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial
One of the "newer" attractions in Frankfort, the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built in 1988 on a hillside overlooking the New Capitol Building.
Here, visitors can pay their respects to the 1,108 veterans from Kentucky who lost their lives during the Vietnam War, each of whose names are engraved in granite. The site also pays tribute to those who served in the conflict and survived its ordeal.
A unique feature of the memorial is its central sundial, designed to "point" at each of the inscribed names on the anniversary of their having died.
Address: 365 Vernon Cooper Ln, Frankfort, Kentucky
9. Explore the Capital City Museum
Fresh from a makeover completed in 2021, the Capital City Museum offers state-of-the-art displays and exhibits relating to Frankfort's history and its role as the state capital.
Self-guided tours include a chance to learn about key events in politics and everyday life in the city, all within an easy stroll of other downtown attractions such as the Old State Capitol Building and the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History.
This is one of the top free things to do in Frankfort, and fun guided tours are also available.
Address: 325 Ann Street, Frankfort, Kentucky
10. See a Show at the Grand Theatre
Built in 1911, the Grand Theatre has been a lynchpin of Frankfort's cultural scene for well over 100 years. If you're planning a visit to Kentucky's capital city, be sure to check the Grand Theatre's official website for details of shows on during your visit.
In addition to having built up a solid reputation for arts and entertainment, with offerings covering everything from music concerts to comedy shows, the Grand also offers a variety of movie choices throughout the year.
Kids' programs and events are also often held here.
Address: 308 St. Clair Street, Frankfort, Kentucky
11. Kentucky Military History Museum
Those interested in the operations of the USA's military over the centuries would do well to visit the Kentucky Military History Museum. Exhibits cover everything from the state's pivotal role in the War of 1812, as well as the Civil War period, which saw Kentuckians split between supporting the Union and the Confederate sides (the state officially supported the Union).
Other displays range from stories of Medal of Honor recipients to the role Kentucky's military personnel have played in 20th-century and modern-day conflicts. Informative guided tours are also available.
Address: 125 E Main Street, Frankfort, Kentucky
12. Kentucky Old Governors Mansion
Some 35 governors from the state of Kentucky are known to have inhabited the Kentucky Old Governors Mansion between 1798 to 1914. The home was built in 1797 and houses a variety of exhibits about each of these governors and their families.
This must-visit attraction paints a compelling picture of the important role Kentucky's governors have played over the years, and also provides details relating to the eight US Presidents who have visited the home.
Admission to what is one of the oldest state governor's homes in the US is by guided tour only.
Address: 420 High Street, Frankfort, Kentucky
13. See the Outdoor Art at Josephine Sculpture Park
Located seven miles to the south of downtown Frankfort, Josephine Sculpture Park is as much fun to visit for art buffs as it is for families wanting to let the kids blow off some steam. Spread across 30 acres of lovely Kentucky countryside are 70 outdoor artworks just waiting to be explored, touched, and photographed.
Free to visit, the park also includes pleasant walking trails along with picnic areas, collections of native plants, as well as a wildlife habitat. Check their official website prior to your visit to learn of interesting rotating art exhibits and workshops.
The park is dog-friendly, and those needing help getting about can reserve a golf cart for use during their visit.
Address: 3355 Lawrenceburg Road, Frankfort, Kentucky
14. Explore the Kentucky River from Riverview Park
No visit to Frankfort is complete without spending at least a little time exploring the Kentucky River. It stretches over 250 miles through the state. The best place in Frankfort to experience this iconic river as it flows through the city is the aptly named Riverview Park.
The park is accessible via a short stroll from the downtown core. Features of note include a large pavilion providing shelter from the elements, while picnickers can nab a picnic table for their alfresco family meal.
Two miles of walking trails are accessible from the park and provide great views over the river.
Visitors in the summer can enjoy musical concerts in the amphitheater, and a great farmers market is held from May through October.
A boat dock is available, and fun river boat tours are available, with regular departures. Canoes and kayaks are also available for rent.
Address: 404 Wilkinson Blvd, Frankfort, Kentucky
Best Time to Visit Frankfort, KY - Historical Climate Averages
|Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Frankfort, KY in °C|
|4 -6||7 -5||13 -1||19 4||24 9||28 15||31 17||30 17||26 13||20 6||13 1||7 -3|
|Average monthly precipitation totals for Frankfort, KY in mm.|
|Average monthly snowfall totals for Frankfort, KY in cm.|
|Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Frankfort, KY in °F|
|40 21||45 23||55 31||66 39||75 49||83 59||87 63||86 62||79 55||68 42||55 34||44 26|
|Average monthly precipitation totals for Frankfort, KY in inches.|
|Average monthly snowfall totals for Frankfort, KY in inches.|