Are you looking for the best things to do in Kentucky with kids? You’ve come to the right place!
The Bluegrass State is home to stunning landscapes, beautiful waterfalls, lively cities, and all sorts of family fun! Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, a food focused vacation, or a city escape, Kentucky has you covered. Known for bluegrass music, country cuisine, moonshine, bourbon, horse racing, college basketball, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, Kentucky is an interesting state with a large variety of attractions and activities to participate in.
Which of these things to do in Kentucky with kids will you do first?
70 Exciting Things To Do In Kentucky With Kids
Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington
This park in Lexington is one of the coolest things to do in Kentucky with kids. Inside the park, there’s the International Museum of the Horse as well as the American Saddlebred Museum where you can learn about the history of horses in Kentucky. If you are able to visit the horse park in the winter, you are in for a treat. In the winter, the park holds an event called the Southern Lights where you can shop local products, see Santa, dive through millions of Christmas light, eat yummy food, and more!
Fort Boonesborough State Park, Richmond
Fort Boonesborough was a frontier fort founded by Daniel Boone and his men in Kentucky. The settlement is the second oldest European-Ameican settlement in Kentucky. You can tour the fort, check out the wood cabins, learn about history and play on the beach at Fort Boonesborough.
Drive Old Frankfort Pike
One of the most unique things to do in Kentucky with kids is to drive along Old Frankfort Pike. This is known as Thoroughbred Alley and is absolutely beautiful. This road starts in Lexington and ends in Frankfort. The amount of history that this road has seen is amazing. A drive along this road will showcase horses running in Bluegrass fields, beautiful landscapes, and multi-million dollar barns!
Cumberland Falls, Corbin
Cumberland Falls is one of the best things to do in Kentucky with kids if you love being outdoors. Often called Little Niagra or the Niagra Falls of the South, this waterfall is stunning and draws visitors from all over the United States. In the park, you can hike, sunbathe mine for gems, and more! If you’re lucky, you can witness the moon bow that appears around the falls. Check the Cumberland Falls website for more information and dates about the moon bow!
The Breaks Interstate Park, Elkhorn City
Located in Elkhorn City, KY and Breaks, VA, The Breaks are like a Grand Canyon of the south. Kayaking, camping, mountain biking, canoeing, and hiking trails can all be found in the park. Jump into one of the blue swimming holes, hike down to the river below, and really explore the beauty of the southeastern Kentucky mountains.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Mammoth Cave
Boating, canoeing, kayaking, camping, hiking, horseback riding, biking, and more awaits you at the Mammoth Cave National Park! Of course the highlight of the park is Mammoth Cave which os the world’s longest known cave system at nearly twice the size of the second largest save system in Mexico! There are many tours to take through the cave system that range in difficulty, length, and time, so you will be able to pick the one that fits the needs of your family.
Red River Gorge Geological Area, Stanton
The Red River Gorge has been increasing in popularity in recent years and is now one of the most popular things to do in Kentucky with kids! The most popular feature in the gorge is Natural Bridge, which is a naturally formed sandstone bridge that you can hike to and walk over. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can take the sky lift up to the bridge and ride it back down again as well. There are also other trails and natural aches to be seen in the gorge. In fact, there are more than one hundred naturally formed sandstone aches in the Red River Gorge! You can also play on the ropes course, go underground kayaking, zipline, rock climb, drive through the Nada Tunnel, and more!
Newport Aquarium, Newport
This aquarium in northern Kentucky is full of life and excitement for both kids and adults, making it one of the best things to do in Newport with kids! The Newport Aquarium features a Shark Bridge where you can walk over the vast shark tanks in the aquarium. Other aquariums have added shark bridges to their aquariums, but this one in Newport is the world’s first! You can also touch sharks and stingrays, watch penguins play, and walk through underwater tunnels.
Dog Slaughter Falls, Whitley County
This waterfall hike in Whitley County Kentucky is a heavily trafficked out and back trail that is around 2.4 miles long. Your reward from this hike is a beautiful fifteen foot waterfall that pours into a pretty blue swimming hole below! For those traveling with older kids or kids who are use to hiking, this is a must when in Kentucky.
Eat Kentucky’s Best Tacos at El Taco Luchador, Louisville
Some of the best tacos in Kentucky can be found at El Taco Luchador in Louisville. Binge on their scrumptious tacos and rest easy knowing that even your picky eater will have something to eat at this restaurant in Kentucky!
Land Between The Lakes, Golden Pond
This is an exciting and fun thing to do with kids in Kentucky. There’s camping, lake activities, a planetarium, an elk and bison prairie, and a nature station where you can see native animals up close and personal. For those who like to camp, there are five campsites to choose from!
Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville
Muhammad Ali was a Louisville native and you can explore his history and life at this museum and cultural center in Kentucky! There are interactive exhibits, you can see his awards, car, motorcycle, and much more. The center is situated along the Ohio river and is close by to the River Walk and Bike Trail, Kentucky Science Center, Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, and other attractions within walking distance.
Lost River Cave, Bowling Green
Have you ever wanted to take a boat ride through a cave? You can at the Lost River Cave! This has to be one of the coolest things to do in Kentucky with kids! The tour is forty five minutes and people of all ages can take part. To avoid waiting in line, you can book your tour ahead of time online. You can also zipline and gem mine while you’re there!
Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo, Horse Cave
Are there kangaroos in Kentucky? There are at Kentucky Down Under! Other than petting a kangaroo, you can also learn about history, tour the Mammoth Onyx Cave, watch animal shows, check out the petting zoo, picnic, take part in gem mining, and more at this Kentucky zoo!
Kentucky Railway Museum, New Haven
Te Kentucky Railway Museum is one of the coolest things to do in Kentucky with kids! Thee are many different tours to choose from; you can take an hour long train excursion, take part in a train robbery, take a behind the scenes tour, ride in a locomotive cab, and more! Train rides are especially beautiful in the fall when the colorful fall leaves fill the area around the train tracks.
Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay, Louisville
Are roller coasters up your alley? Coasters, kids rides, and water rides are all available at Kentucky Kingdom! If you’re looking to escape the summer heat, head over to Hurricane Bay to cool off in the wave pool, lazy river, kiddie pools, or on the water slides. You can easily spend all day (or a couple days) at Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay!
Camp at Turkey Foot Camprgound, McKee
This campground is about an hour south from the Natural Bridge State Park and is has tons of gorgeous areas to explore. There are fifteen spots and it’s totally free! You can camp between walls of tree near the War Fork Creek. There are horseshoe pits and the creek is great for fishing as it is stocked with trout throughout the year. This campground is surrounded by popular outdoor attractions. Flat Lick Falls, a Sheltowee Trace Trailhead, Cave Run Lake, and more!
Salato Wildlife Center, Frankfort
This beautiful display of wildlife is one of the best things to do in Kentucky with kids! You can see bison, black bear, turkeys, snakes, turtles, eagles, beavers, cougars, and more at Salato. The wildlife center is open seasonly and holds different programs at different times of year; check their website for events/programs and dates!
Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, Owensboro
AS you know, Kentucky is known for its Bluegrass music. You can tour the exhibits, take a group tour, see the birthplace of Bluegrass and listen to live performances. Owensboro is known as the birthplace of Bluegrass because it’s where the International Bluegrass Music Association was founded in 1986. At the museum, you are just forty five minutes from the home of the father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe.
National Corvette Museum, Bowling Green
Years ago, part of this museum was famously sunk down into a a sink hole and today you can now visit an exhibit at the museum called Corvette Cave-In where you can learn about the sinkhole that swallowed eight of the corvettes in the museum. The museum also has a racing simulator, a nostalgic section, and a kid zone!
Louisville Zoo, Louisville
Zoos are always a hit with the kids, and this one os no different. The Louisville Zoo is one of the best things to do in Kentucky with kids as it has a Dino Quest, seals, polar bears, sloths, elephants, Cuban crocodiles, and many other exciting animals. Your little ones will also love the antique carousel, riding a camel or pony, playing in the splash park and feeding lorikeets!
Big Bone Lick State Historic Site, Union
This attraction is great for parents looking to add a little education into their family vacation. At Big Bone Lick, you can see a Bison Herd, go camping, visit the Big Bone lick Museum, play a round of mini golf, play on the playgrounds, hiking one of the easy or moderate trails, swim in the pool, or have a picnic in the sun!
Eat Peach Ice Cream at Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen, Louisville
Have you ever had homemade peach ice cream? A trip in Kentucky isn’t complete without trying a sweet treat and there isn’t anything better than this homemade peach ice cream from the Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen in Louisville, Kentucky.
Have Fun at the Green River Lake
For outdoor lovers, a trip to the Green River Lake is one of the best things to do in Kentucky with kids. You can rent a boat, go swimming or fishing, play on the beach, sunbathe, picnic, and camp at Green River Lake. The lake runs through three counties and has countless opportunities for some family fun in the sun!
Dinosaur World, Cave City
Dinosaur World is not only kid friendly, but it’s also dog friendly! It’s just a short drive from Mammoth Cave National Park and is full of fun things to do. You can dig for fossils, play on the playgrounds, see the artifacts in the museum, pan for minerals, and more! This is a great activity to do when visiting Mammoth Cave.
Diamond Caverns, Park City
The historic Diamond Caverns are located across from the Mammoth Cave National park and has been offering tours for more than 160 years! This is one of the best things to do in Kentucky with kids as it offers exploration, adventure, as well as opportunities to learn about the history and science of the area. The tour is considered strenuous so this may be better suited for olde kids, however young kids and babies in a front carrier are allowed.
Kentucky Science Center, Louisville
The Kentucky Science Center is perfect for those looking for things to do in Louisville with kids. The exhibits are interactive and teach children about art, science, math, animals, and other important topics. There are exhibits that focus on air cargo, the world, being human, and more.
Aviation Museum of Kentucky, Lexington
This is the perfect attraction in Kentucky for the aviation lover in your family. You can explore the two hangers that are full of aircraft from different time periods and for different purposes. They have military aircraft, simulators, helicopters, a replica of one of the first quadraplanes and more! The museum also has military memorabilia, plane engines, a gift shop, and the opportunity to watch planes take off and land from the nearby airport.
Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum, Versailles
This is one of the coolest things to do in Kentucky with kids! Are you ready to ride on an open air car? Maybe you would prefer to ride in first class with air condition and plush reclining seats. Or maybe coach seating in a 1930’s New York City Commuter coach with open window is more your speed. Either way, visiting the museum and taking a train ride is super exciting at the Bluegrass Railroad and Museum.
Old Fort Harrod State Park, Harrodsburg
Built in the 1770’s, Fort Harrod is super cool to explore as a family! You can see what life was like hundreds of years ago, visit the Mansion Museum, see the largest Osage Orange tree in the United States and the Lincoln Marriage Temple, and last but not least, take a walk through the oldest cemetery in Kentucky, the Pioneer Cemetery. You can also picnic and play on the playground on the park!
Yuko-En on the Elkhorn, Georgetown
This garden is the official Kentucky-Japan Friendship Garden and is six acres of specially designed strolling garden. This is a great place to take a walk, be in nature, have a picnic, and take photos!
Shaker Town Village of Pleasant Hill, Harrodsburg
The Shaker Town Village in Harrodsburg is the third largest shaker community in the United States and is one of the best things to do in Kentucky with kids to learn about the past and be encouraged to explore. The grounds are beautiful and are fun to explore as a family!
Paddle Board on Grayson Lake
Paddleboarding in Kentucky can be so much fun! One of the best places to paddle board in Kentucky is on Grayson Lake. This is because there is a grotto on the lake that is tucked into mossy covered sandstone cliffs. If you want, you can take a tour with SUP Kentucky. The tour is three hours and you must be nine years old or older. You can discover seven waterfalls and paddle all the way to the beautiful Grayson Grotto.
Mary Todd Lincoln House, Lexington
Abraham Lincoln’s wife was raised in Lexington and her childhood home can be toured by visitors to the day. You can tour the preserved historic home, as well as take a walking tour around Lexington to view different locations that pertain to Mary Todd Lincoln’s childhood. (You can print the walking tour guides from their website.)
Hike The Pinnacles, Berea
The 3.5 miles trail to the Pinnacles is one the best things to do in Kentucky with kids for travelers who love to spend time in nature. If you can hike the 700+ foot of elevation gain, you will be rewarded by stunning views form the top!
Zipline Black Mountain, Evarts
For the little daredevils in your travel party, the Black Mountain Thunder Zip Line is the perfect activity! The Black Mountain Adventure Park is home to the fastest zipline in all of North America! The zipline will have you zipping up to 350 feet above the ground at more than 50 miles per hour. To make sure you get to participate, book reservations in advance.
Treetop Adventure at Levi Jackson, London
This aerial ropes course is perfect for staying active while visiting Kentucky. You’re kids will be like Tarzan taking the different trails up in the trees. There are different trails that vary in difficulty so there is a place for everyone at this treetop adventure park!
Try Thai Inspired Ice Cream at Crank and Boom, Lexington
All of the ingredients at Crank and Boom are locally sourced and the result is a Thai inspired product that was made from ingredients of the Bluegrass. This ice cream shop has been featured in USA Today and Southern Living. You can find a large variety of ice cream flavors, including: bourbon and honey, blackberry and buttermilk, blueberry lime cheesecake, strawberry balsamic sorbet, and more! You can also try their signature sundaes and ice cream cocktails!
Kentucky State Capital, Frankfort
There’s no better way to learn about Kentucky than by touring the Kentucky State Capital for yourself. To learn the most from your time in the capital building, consider taking a guided tour.
Zipline Underground at The Mega Cavern, Louisville
There is so much to do in the Louisville Mega Cavern! From bike tours, walking through the cavern, riding the tram, zip lining underground or trying your hand at the ropes course called Mega Quest, the Louisville Mega Cavern is one of the coolest things to do in Kentucky with kids! The zipline course is the world’s only course that is entirely underground, and although you must be seven years old to participate, there are six ziplines and two challenge bridges to experience.
Munal’s Donut Shop, Paducah
When in western Kentucky, there’s no better place to grab a quick breakfast than Munal’s Donut Shop in Paducah! You can find traditional donut flavors as well as donuts covered in different breakfast cereals, Oreos, bacon, and much more!
Ark Encounter, Williamstown
This life size ark offer many cool features and activities for its visitors. You can explore three decks of exhibits, take part in a virtual reality experience, or learn about the Bible at the sister attraction, The Creation Museum. The Ark Encounter teaches about pre-flood life, what the animals on the ark actually looked like and more!
Beech Bend, Bowling Green
You can’t go wrong with a trip to an amusement park! Beech Bend has roller coasters, rides, a drag strip, campground, waterpark, and more! This amusement park is just over ten minutes away from the National Corvette Museum, so it’s quite easy to visit both in a day or in the same trip to Bowling Green.
Tie Breaker Family Aquatic Center, Hopkinsville
One of the best things to do in Kentucky with kids during the hot summer months is to visit the Tie Breaker Family Aquatic Center in Hopkinsville. The center features a lazy river, water slides, kiddie pools and more!
The Explorium, Lexington
This children’s museum in Lexington is perfect for those traveling with young kids. Your little ones can burn off some energy while learning and exploring in the Explorium. One of the coolest features about the Explorium is the bubble room where you can stand inside of a bubble! Located in The Square, there are restaurants and shops all around the Explorium for parents to enjoy.
Kentucky Museum, Bowling Green
This museum covers history, arts, culture, and more. The exhibits are both interesting and beautiful. After the museum, you can check out the Historic RailPark or The Lost River Cave, which are both within a ten minute drive from the Kentucky Museum.
SomerSplash Waterpark, Somerset
The perfect summer activity for families traveling in Kentucky, SomerSplash is an amazing waterpark in Pulaski County, Kentucky. The park is huge and has a large kids area, a lazy river, multiple slides, a wave pool, and more fun in the sun.
William Clark Market House Museum, Paducah
The William Clark Market House Museum is a history museum that has a replica of a 19th century drugstore, as well as artifacts from the area. The museum offers a chronological history of the city of Paducah. After you’ve toured the museum, you can visit one of the many shop and restaurants that are within walking distance. You can grab a meal from Italian Village Pizza, dessert from Craving the Curls Rolled Ice Cream, before doing some local shopping and ending your walk around Paducah with a cup of coffee from Etcetera Squared.
Historic RailPark & Train Museum, Bowling Green
Would your kids want to walk onto a dining car or sleeping car? Children will be educated and entertained by the interactive and educational displays that the train museum. You can also board five restored railcars, including a caboose and hospital car, with their own interesting pasts.
Capital City Museum, Frankfort
This museum should be on your list of things to do in Kentucky with kids if you and your family homeschool. You can learn about the capital city of Kentucky in detail at this multi-story museum. From clothes worn by frontiersman and local currency to Kentucky Penitentiary artifacts and hollowed out logs from a water system of the past, the museum is full of interesting items and topics to learn about.
Museum of Science and History, Owensboro
The Owensboro Museum of Science of History is an exciting museum for family travelers to visit. There are many exhibits that are designed for children to play and learn at the same time. Kids can learn about magnets, puppets, history, bridges, boats, and more! There’s also an exhibit called the Speedzeum that is dedicated to motorsports and local racing history that older kids will be interested in.
Eat Burgers at the Grind Burger Kitchen, Louisville
For the best burgers in Louisville, a trip to the Grind Burger Kitchen is a must! They have a simple yet delicious menu that even kids will love. You can get typical burgers or try something different like a Cuban sandwich, kale salad, a veggie burger, or one of the B&B burgers which has brie cheese, bacon, and habanero jam. The restaurant has even been features on Food Network on the show Diners, Drive-in’s, and Dives!
Hummel Planetarium, Richmond
One of the most educational things to do in Kentucky with kids is to visit the Hummel Planetarium at Eastern Kentucky University. You can attend public showings at the planetarium to learn about constellations, meteors, space exploration and more!
Carter Caves State Park, Olive Hill
Kentucky has amazing cave systems and you can explore some of the caves in eastern Kentucky at the Carter Caves State Park in Olive Hill, Kentucky. You can hike the Three Bridges Trail, explore the Laurel and Horn Hollow cave systems, tour the Cascade Cave, and allow your kids to experience the bat cave where they can try to navigate through a crowded simulated cave in the dark!
Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum, Marion
Have a rock collector in the family? They will love this mineral museum in Marion, Kentucky! They have an extensive collection of photographs, artifacts, mining tools, and other items related to the fluorspar mining that was booming during World War II. They also have fossils, coal, glow in the dark specimens, and thousands of other minerals from the western Kentucky and southern Illinois region.
Eat Kentucky’s Most Iconic Pizza at Miguels, Slade
Miguel’s Pizza is one of the most iconic things to do in Kentucky with kids. Located in Slade, this pizza restaurant is popular among people the Red River Gorge. After a day of hiking or exploring the gorge, there’s nothing better than filling your belly with some of Miguel’s famous pizza.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Louisville
The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is arguably one of the best things to do in Louisville with kids. The museum shows the history of baseball and the Louisville Slugger baseball bats. You can see the baseball bat making process and get one to take home with you as well!
Try a Donut Grilled Cheese at Tom & Chee, Newport
Located in Newport on the Levee, Tom & Chee is a unique restaurant that you just have to try! The restaurant was on the Shark Tank and has since become a great success. Tom & Chee has also been featured on The Chew, The Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food Nation, and Amazing Eats. And The Today Show has even named their Grilled Cheese Donut as one of the best sandwiches in America! A trip to northern Kentucky without a sandwich from Tom & Chee just wouldn’t be complete.
Ride on the Belle of Louisville, Louisville
While in Louisville, consider taking a cruise on the Belle of Louisville. You can take sunset and moonlight cruises, picnic lunch cruises, captain’s dinner cruises, and more. Sightseeing cruises that are super kid friendly start at only $10 a person! This is a budget friendly and kid friendly way to explore a beautiful part of Kentucky as a family.
See the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Hodgenville
Located in rural central Kentucky, the First Lincoln Memorial sits as a way to honor the humble beginnings of America’s 16th president. You can also see the symbolic birth cabin that is enshrined on the site of the birthplace of Lincoln as well as the Sinking Spring that was used as the main water source for the Lincoln family. The Sinking Spring Farm draws visitors from all over the world!
The Henry Clay Estate, Ashland
This estate in Ashland, Kentucky is a 19th century home and grounds of the politician, Henry Clay. You can tour the home, see the exhibits, and walk the trail son the grounds. Henry Clay was an interesting and conflicting man. He owned slaves, yet supported emancipation and was an active early supporter of creating a colony in Africa for free African American slaves. He was known as being the Great Compromiser and the Great Pacificator for his contributions to domestic policy and economic development.
President Zachary Taylor house, Louisville
The Zachary Taylor house in Louisville is an educational and historic site in Kentucky also known as Springfield. It was the childhood home of America’s 12th president. He was a a career military officer for most of his life, slave owner, and held a controversial term in office due to adopting new antislavery opinions. Zachary Taylor House id just a 10 minute drive away from the Waterfront Park in Louisville.
Women’s Civil War Museum, Bardstown
This museum in Bardstown, Kentucky is one of the best things to do in Kentucky with kids to learn about the Civil War.This museum is the forth largest American Civil War Museum and focuses on the role that women played during the war. You can see photos and stories of the women who helped during the war, uniforms over time, flags over time, and much more.
Fishtrap Lake State Park, Shelbiana
This Kentucky State Park is centered around a man made lake and has provided years of recreation for visitors. Fishing, camping, and playing on an inflatable water park are all activities at Fish Trap Lake. The lake is about an hour drive from The Breaks Interstate Park and just over a half hour drive from Pikeville, Kentucky.
Paradise Cove Aquatic Center, Richmond
Located around the popular Lake Reba in Richmond has been a welcome addition to the park for locals and visitors alike. If you find yourself around Richmond during the summer, a visit to the Paradise Cove Aquatic Center can be just the things you need to cool off from the summer sun!
Great American Dollhouse Museum, Danville
This museum is one of the most unique in the state of Kentucky. For those traveling with young kids, they may be interested to see this dollhouse museum for themselves. This museum features reconstruction of American history in miniature form, so it’s a bit of a history lesson as well. The craftsmanship and artistic ability that was use to create the displays at the dollhouse museum is amazing in itself!
John James Audubon State Park, Henderson
This Kentucky State Park has golfing, hiking, camping, cottage rentals, a boardwalk over the wetlands, a museum, and a nature center. The museum will show you the life and impact of John James Audubon and his family as seen along a timeline of world events. This is a beautiful area of Kentucky where you can see many species of birds and waterfowl as well as other wildlife like otters, beavers, and more!
Camp Nelson National Monument, Nicholasville
Camp Nelson was a large recruiting and training center for African American soldiers. Thousands of enslaved people escaped to Camp Nelson in the hopes of securing their freedom and a future by helping destroy slavery. Camp Nelson represents such a powerful piece of American history and today you can learn about that history at the museum, the Oliver Perry House, and the reconstructed Army barracks. There are walking trail son the site and a cemetery for the Federal dead as well.
Swope’s Cars of Yesteryear Museum, Elizabethtown
This is one of the greatest things to do in Kentucky with kids for all of the car lovers! This museum is contemporary but features collections of out automobiles built between 1900 and the 1960’s. This is a free museum in Kentucky, making it great for budget and family travelers. If you’re not sure if this attraction is for you, you can check out a virtual tour of the museum on their website.
Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, Lexington
The Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, has several hiking trails and features in the park that make it one of the best things to do in Kentucky with for nature lovers! In the early 1800’s, the area that is now Raven Run was owned by the Prather family. Today, you can explore The Prather Homestead, Moore Grave, Evans Mill, and the Kentucky River Overlook in the park. Make sure you stop at the river overlook to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Kentucky River Palisades below.
As you can see, Kentucky is full of fun activities for families. You can find fun and exploration around every corner! Which of these exciting things to do in Kentucky will you do first?