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5 Reasons To Visit This Charming U.S. State Breaking All-Time Tourism Records  

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Blending urban excitement with Civil War battlefields and bourbon farms with southern hospitality, Kentucky is a charming but often underrated vacation destination.  

While it might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of traveling in the U.S., Kentucky has just experienced its best year on record for tourism.  

5 Reasons To Visit This Charming U.S. State Breaking All-Time Tourism Records

75.9 million travelers visited the state and spent an incredible $8.9 billion on their adventures.  

What makes Kentucky so unique is its welcoming culture, beautiful natural attractions, and of course its famous fried chicken! 

Here are 5 great reasons to visit Kentucky:  


Get Closer To Nature  

Kentucky is a beautiful state with plenty of natural wonders to explore. It is known for its green rolling hills, which make it a great place to get outside and explore the great outdoors.  

The state is home to the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Falls, which have been dubbed the ‘Niagara of the South’.  

The Mammoth Cave National Park is also in the heart of Kentucky. This is the longest cave system in the world, and the passages that have been explored cover an incredible 420 miles.  

The Mammoth Caves National Park in Kentucky

The National Park Service offers guided tours of the caves which range between 1 and 6 hours in length. 

And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous then you can take a wild tour away from the most developed parts of the cave to explore the muddy, dusty, lesser developed, and explored parts of the network.  

Experience World-Class Horse Racing

The annual Kentucky Derby is considered to be one of the most prestigious and important horse races in the world.

It is held in Louisville on the first Saturday in May, and the whole area is alive with excitement as the horsing community descends. Want to see it for yourself? Tickets sell out quickly so book well in advance.  

Beautiful chestnut horses on a farm in Central Kentucky at sunset

Lexington, Kentucky is known as the horse capital of the world because of the huge number of horse farms and racing facilities it contains.  

Although it’s most famous for its connection to the pros, Lexington is also a great place to learn to ride. You’ll find stables and horse parks suitable for riders of all abilities, making it an ideal location to enjoy a riding adventure.  

Enjoy Delicious Food And Drink

Most people think of Kentucky Fried Chicken when they think of food in Kentucky, and those KFC sandwiches are delicious! But there’s so much more to food in the state.  

Louisville boasts more than 2,500 restaurants and a whole range of different types of cuisine. On the Bardstown Road corridor, you will find “Restaurant Row” which is incredibly popular with locals and tourists alike.  

As well as chicken, catfish, and barbeque are also considered ‘must try’ dishes in Kentucky, with plenty of pie for dessert.  

Barrel room, Woodford Reserve, Versailles, Kentucky.

And of course Bourbon fans can visit Kentucky’s famous Bourbon Trail. This takes you along a coalition of the finest distilleries in the state to learn about bourbon making and sample the end results of course.

Explore Fascinating Museums

We all know it’s impossible to break into Fort Knox, which is where the U.S. Department of Treasury stores its gold bullion. But did you know that you can visit? 

Whilst the Depository itself is closed to visitors so you can’t fulfill that fantasy of diving into a pool full of gold coins, Fort Knox is home to the wonderfully interesting General George Patton Museum which you can visit year-round.  

Street view in Louisville downtown - LOUISVILLE. KENTUCKY

Other museums well worth exploring in Kentucky include the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory which boasts great photo opportunities and is a must-do for baseball fans.  

And the Kentucky Derby Museum gives a fascinating insight into the rich history of horse racing and is place in American culture. While boxing fans will also enjoy the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. It boasts an incredible collection of memorabilia and visitors can rewatch many of the legend’s fights.  

Serene Small Towns

The biggest cities in Kentucky understandably get the most attention but the smallest towns that you’ve never heard of (and that you’ll forget the name of as soon as you leave) are the true heart of Kentucky.  

These are the places with the best ‘mom and pop’ restaurants, friendly locals, and old-style general stores. Where the gardens are beautiful and old Victorian houses are immaculately preserved.  

A view of the historic buildings down Short Street in Lexington during golden hour

One such small town called Rabbit Hash has elected a dog as mayor.  And although Lexington is a bigger location, it is still bustling with small-town charm if you're on a tight schedule.

The cliché of ladies drinking sweet tea in hats and children in overalls running barefoot may not reflect real life in Kentucky. But it certainly exists in small pockets of the state, and these little towns are a lot of fun to explore.  

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Jeremiah Miller

Monday 2nd of October 2023

Please don't move to Kentucky


Saturday 16th of September 2023

What, no Bourbon Tour? Lots of people are heading to Kentucky just for that reason alone.


Friday 15th of September 2023