Introduction to the Bucket List
This List just skims the surface of what there is to do in this incredibly interesting state that is full of natural beauty and rich culture and history. It will not include everything on the previous bucket lists: 2012, 2013, so check those out if you want even more ideas. This List focuses on the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, but it also includes several things to do in other Kentucky regions as well as Cincinnati.
$ - less than $10 per adult
$$ - $10-15 per adult
$$$ - more than $15 per adult
*Children are often significantly discounted or free. Ask for government, military, veteran, first responder or teacher discounts. This key does not guarantee that prices or dates won't change at these venues. This is only a guide; please check each venue for updated information.
When you are done perusing the Bucket List, check out the companion post: the Kentucky Summer Bucket List Calendar of Events.
Bluegrass Family Fun
- Visit Shaker Village and cruise on the Dixie Belle Riverboat in Harrodsburg. Before you visit, look at the annual membership prices. You may find that joining Shaker Village saves you money on combined Village/Riverboat tickets and gives you member access to other events. $$
- Join the Kentucky State Parks Family Adventure Quest. This Quest offers prizes for families who visit multiple state parks and complete family activities. State park fees apply. $
- Go to the Movies!
- Free Friday Flicks at Jacobson Park, May 30 - June 27
- Summer Movie Express, Regal Cinemas, $1 movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am, starting June 3.
- Summer Movie Clubhouse at Cinemark, $1 movie or $5 for 10 movies, Thursdays and Fridays at 10am, starting June 11. $1 off snack coupon on website.
- Summer Kids Flicks at AmStar Theaters, Tuesdaya and Wednesdays at 10am starting June 4. $3.50 includes movie, popcorn and drink.
- Theaters of Georgetown, FREE movies, Wednesdays and Thursdays starting June 5.
- Take the kids out to the ballgame - Lexington Legends Baseball - Kids Eat Free every Monday night at the ballpark. $-$$$ (depends on your seat, meals)
- Meet a naturalist, plant a garden or stomp in the creek at the Kentucky Children’s Garden. $
- Tour Ashland, Henry Clay’s home and gardens near downtown Lexington. $$
- Walk around Lexington Cemetery. Bring your camera for beautiful pictures. Stop by the Visitors Center for a Kids Scavenger Hunt guide. Free.
- Visit Kentucky Horse Park. Don't miss the museum, and make sure the kids complete the scavenger hunt at the Children's Barn. $$
- Ride, walk or jog on The Legacy Trail. Free.
- Tour the Mary Todd Lincoln House. Word is the docents are fantastic guides, and the home contains really interesting period furniture and clothing. Hop on over to Shakespeare & Co. for dessert afterward. $
- Discover the trees and plants of Kentucky by taking a walk at the Kentucky Arboretum. Free.
- Ride the Rails at the Bluegrass Railroad Museum. The prices are really reasonable and include an interesting museum inside. Check out the family membership if you plan to go more than once.
- Go to the Aviation Museum of Kentucky. Kids 10 yrs and older can attend Aviation Camp this summer! $
- Walk through the Civil War Museum at the Hunt-Morgan House. $
- Tour Waveland State Historic Site and picnic on the grounds. $
- Look at the Foucault Pendulum and the World’s Largest Ceiling Clock at the Lexington Public Central Library, and don’t forget to go to the Book Cellar in the basement! Free.
- Make a day of it and visit the great, family-friendly Kentucky State History Museum in Frankfort. Admission includes the KY State Military Museum and the Old State Capitol. A Great Value! $
The Great Outdoors: Bluegrass Region
- Go birding, look at the "blue hole" aquifer, and stomp the creek at McConnell Springs. Their upcoming summer events look fantastic. Free to walk and explore. Some events have a minimal fee.
- Get a workout with the Jacobson Park Paddle Boats - $4 for 30 minutes. Fish, go birding, play at their amazing playground. Several geocaches here too!
- Take a hike at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. If you have young children, make sure to ask a park employee which hike is more "child-friendly"! Free.
- Floracliff Nature Sanctuary (not open to the public, but open for reserved tours for groups up to 15 ppl). Their $5 workshops are highly recommended.
- Salato Wildlife Education Center. This is the closest thing the Bluegrass has to a zoo. Visit the deer, the elk, the bear, the wildcat and much more at Salato. $
- Dupree Nature Preserve, Lancaster (Kentucky’s newest nature preserve!). They are developing several family-friendly activities and trails. Free.
State Parks and Historic Sites
- Daniel Boone National Forest
- Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, Perryville.
- Cumberland Falls State Park. Check the Park calendar and catch the moonbow at Cumberland Falls - it's magical!
- Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park
- Buckhorn Lake State Park
- Red River Gorge, 50th Anniversary celebrations all year. An absolutely breathtaking part of Kentucky, RRG is great for hiking, climbing and camping.
- Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Slade. Free - $$. There are multiple trails for all skill levels. Take a picnic, hike a trail and ride the skylift. It's beautiful!
- Federal Hill (aka My Old Kentucky Home), Bardstown. If in season, try to catch a showing of the musical based on Stephen Foster's life.
National Parks in Kentucky
An Hour or Two Away
- Creation Museum, N. Kentucky. $$$
- Cincinnati Zoo. $$$ (if you are an educator, register for educator discounts). This is a GREAT zoo.
- John James Audubon Museum and Campground, Henderson. State Park fees apply.
- Frazier History Museum, Louisville. This living history museum always has wonderful live demonstrations. Check the calendar before you go. $-$$
- Big South Fork Railway, Stearns. $$$
- Kentucky Railway Museum and Train Rides. Look for specials on their calendar. $$$
- Kentucky Splash Water Park. $
- Louisville Slugger Museum. $$
- East Kentucky Science Center and Planetarium. $
- Bernheim Forest & Arboretum, Bullitt Co. $
- Ohio Renaissance Fair - 8 weekends, August 30 - October 19. $$-$$$