This lively city in southern Kentucky may be best known for the National Corvette Museum, where visitors can actually drive classic Corvettes for an extra fee. The excitement continues at Beech Bend Amusement Park and Raceway, where thrill seekers can master park rides or catch a drag race on the speedway. Visitors can learn about local history, including Civil War history at the Kentucky Museum or Hobson House. The Lost River Cave offers an underground cave experience that travelers won’t find anywhere else in Kentucky.
1.Aviation Heritage Park
© Aviation Heritage Park
Aviation Heritage Park, located at Basil Griffin Park, is an ongoing project designed to showcase seven remarkable hand-picked aircraft that honor local military aviators. The collection currently has five aircraft on display, including a Phantom 550, a Grumman Panther F9F, a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, an F-111 Aardvark and, most recently, a NASA T-38 Talon. The Talon has been flown by every Mercury and Gemini astronaut and every man who’s ever walked on the moon. The park is raising funds to restore a BG Huey and add it to the collection. They also honor the first African American Tuskegee-trained female commercial pilot Willa Brown in a new exhibit.
1825 Three Springs Road, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-421-4885
2.Beech Bend Amusement Park & Raceway
© Beech Bend Amusement Park & Raceway
Beech Bend Amusement Park opened its gates to the public in 1898 and has been entertaining families ever since. Today, it’s a combination of amusement park, drag raceway, and campground all rolled into one. The amusement park features rides and attractions for the whole family, from a giant wooden rollercoaster to a waterpark. There are seven thrill rides, 19 family rides and attractions, and 11 children’s rides. Splash Lagoon includes seven amazing water attractions. Seasonal drag racing events offer thrills all summer, with drivers competing to be Season Point Champions. Beech Bend Campgrounds offers 500 gorgeous wooded campsites, half of which have full hookups. Wi-Fi is available and free throughout the campgrounds.
798 Beech Bend Road, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-781-7634
3.The Baker Arboretum and the Downing Museum
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The Baker Arboretum and the Downing Museum
sits on 115 acres of rolling hills outside Bowling Green. Visitors will find a variety of trees – magnolias, dogwoods, Japanese maples, and others – in a carefully landscaped architecture that pleases the eye and soothes the soul. The seasonal landscaping rewards visitors with nature’s splendor all year round. Spring and summer blooming trees give way to colorful Japanese maples in fall and hardy conifers in winter. Its Western Kentucky University location keeps the educational research on these ornamental trees alive. The Downing Museum at the arboretum is dominated by the spectacular artwork of international contemporary artist Joseph Dudley Downing. Other exhibitions include the works of regional Kentucky artists.
4801 Morganstown Road, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-842-7415
4.Drake Vintage Music & Curios
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Drake Vintage Music & Curios is located 20 minutes outside Bowling Green in Drake, Kentucky. Country music lovers will enjoy this museum, which showcases the history of country music fan culture in the 20th century. Freeman Kitchens, founder of the Carter Family country music fan club, began collecting and selling country songs from his store in Drake, Kentucky, in the 1940s. Today, visitors to the shop will get a lesson in early country music history as Freeman guides them through his collection of photos, music, and artifacts. This grassroots documentation of the music and lives of the Carter country music singers spans the generations.
7487 Plano Road, Drake, KY, Phone: 270-843-9376
5.General Motors Corvette Assembly Plant & National Corvette Museum
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Sports car enthusiasts will be elated to tour the General Motors Corvette Assembly Plant to see how America’s sportscar is built. Bowling Green has been home to the Corvette assembly line for over 60 years. Unfortunately, plant tours are suspended until June 2019, but visitors can tour the National Corvette Museum on the plant’s 55-acre campus. Museum visits usually take 1 to 2 hours to complete and are available 7 days a week. Real enthusiasts can reserve a ride in a Corvette at the museum admissions desk, where they’ll be able to choose from a couple classic Corvette convertibles. This option is only available March through October.
350 Corvette Drive, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-745-8019
6.Historic Railpark and Train Museum
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The L & N Depot was first built in 1925 and provided service to over 20 trains per day. Most routes connected Louisville, Kentucky, with Nashville, Tennessee. The museum galleries include information on railroad history and offer kids hands-on learning activities. There are 450 feet of railway track behind the museum displaying seven cars, each with its own story, which have been available to visitors since 2002. Each car has been meticulously restored to its former glory. Cars are available for guided tours on the hour. Another way to explore and enjoy the railcars is via an escape room experience on either the caboose or hospital car.
401 Kentucky Street, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-745-7317
© Kentucky Museum
Western Kentucky University is home to the Kentucky Museum. The museum has numerous permanent and temporary exhibits for public viewing. Temporary exhibits have included A Culture Carried: Bosnians in Bowling Green and Korea through Kentucky Eyes. Other museum exhibits address the history of quilting, common objects used in extraordinary work, the 18th century slave trade, the Civil War, and prehistoric Kentuckians, among others. Art and artifacts are included in themed exhibits. Visitors may take self-guided tours of the museums, although docents are on hand to answer questions and offer insights. Tours last approximately 90 minutes. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday.
1444 Kentucky Street, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-745-2592
8.Lost River Cave
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Lost River Cave is a Bowling Green natural landmark that includes 70 acres of wetlands, meadows, a restored prairie, and the famous cave that started it all. Visitors will definitely want to take the Cave Boat Tour, the highlight attraction here. It begins with a hike to the cave while a guide recounts historical tales. Guests set off across still waters on the underground boat tour through a cathedral-like cavern. The hike and boat tour take 45 minutes to an hour. Another exciting, albeit muddy, adventure is the guided 2-hour Discovery Cave Crawl, where participants follow the same passageways as Civil War soldiers. Families will discover numerous other activities at Lost River Cave.
2818 Nashville Road, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-393-0077
9.Novo Dolce Gastro Pub
© Novo Dolce Gastro Pub
Novo Dolce Gastro Pub created the consummate partnership of upscale dining with a casual pub ambience. The trendy restaurant has concrete floors, a marble top bar, neutral color palette, floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the space with light, subdued recessed and track lighting for evenings, and contemporary furnishings. Diners can expect an Italian-inspired menu with caprese, Greek, and panzanella salads, six scrumptious pizzas including a build your own option, eight delicious sandwiches, and three pasta dishes. The food, ambience, and location combine to make a comfortable and delectable dining experience. Novo Dolce is open from lunch to late night, 7 days a week.
651 US-31 Bypass #101, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-904-3300
10.Riverview at Hobson Grove
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Riverview at Hobson Grove is an Italianate home built in 1872 on a 400-acre horse and cattle farm. The historical house museum sits atop a hill overlooking the Barren River. The Italianate architecture features rounded window arches, roofline eaves with ornamental brackets and, of course, a cupola where visitors can take in spectacular views. Inside, the home has been restored to its original beauty, with two parlors that have painted ceilings and elegant Victorian décor throughout. Construction began before the Civil War and was completed thereafter. During the war, it was used for Confederate munitions storage, which makes it a site on the Civil War Discovery Trail.
1100 West Main Avenue, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-843-5565
11.Shanty Hollow Lake Hiking Trail
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Parents looking for a family-friendly hike will find it here at Shanty Hollow Lake Hiking Trail. The loop trail is under 2 miles long with beautiful bluffs and rock overhangs along the way. It takes an average of 50 minutes to hike the full loop. There are some obstacles along the trail like rocks and fallen trees, but nothing too difficult, and the reward is a small but beautiful waterfall at the end. The trail is not well maintained, so parts can be muddy, particularly after rain. Hikers will want to be prepared and bring good footwear. The best time to hike this peaceful trail is between March and October.
1200 Shanty Hollow Road, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-782-0800
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Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center is the most recent, and most significant, addition to Bowling Green’s downtown entertainment scene. This exciting venue welcomes visitors into a stunning lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Circus Square. A comfortable living room-style seating area with Wi-Fi is the perfect place to relax before or after an event, or to people watch anytime. SKyPAC hosts national acts like country singer Gene Watso, and illusionist Jay Owenhouse in its 1,800-seat Performance Hall. There is also a 200-seat Studio Theater for more intimate performances, and the SKyPAC Galleries, which include a children’s art gallery. An outdoor amphitheater hosts movies under the stars.
601 College Street, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-904-1880
© Spencer’s Coffee
Spencer’s Coffee is Bowling Green’s answer to world-class espresso and coffee drinks. The funky urban coffeehouse has a comfortable warehouse vibe with wood floors, exposed ceilings, floor to ceiling arched windows overlooking Fountain Square, and plenty of bistro tables and chairs. Modern works of art hang from the walls, and a wraparound computer work bar with ample plug-ins and free Wi-Fi offers plenty of opportunities get things done. An outdoor patio provides a laidback space to relax with a great coffee. This specialty coffee shop also has handmade breakfasts and lunches, made-from-scratch baked goods, and…wait for it…craft beer. Guests can buy whole bean coffees from around the world as well as coffeemakers and gadgets.
915 College Street, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-393-7060
14.White Squirrel Brewery
© White Squirrel Brewery
White Squirrel Brewery serves small-batch specialty brews in a rustic and welcoming atmosphere. The worn floor, open-beamed ceiling, glass industrial garage doors, wood plank and metal walls, antique accents, whimsical artwork, and contemporary furnishings create the perfect ambience for tasting uniquely crafted beers. Small-batch brews mean frequently rotated beer selections, so guests come back again and again, always finding a new taste. White Squirrel Brewery serves an eclectic pub-style menu for brunch, lunch, and dinner, with new specials every week. White Squirrel beer can also be found at Overtime and at Cheddar’s, both in Bowling Green.
871 Broadway Avenue, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-904-1573
© 440 Main
440 Main is one of Bowling Green’s top romantic restaurants. The restaurant’s casual elegance is reflected in the historical pressed tin ceilings and mahogany grand staircase preserved since the building’s 1871 origin. Subdued pendant lighting, a quiet earth tone color palette, marble accents, and local artwork add to the ambience. Diners will appreciate the New Orleans Creole flavors in dishes like the Big Easy Pork Chop and their classic jambalaya. Other menu favorites include steak and seafood dishes as well as nightly specials featuring fresh Kentucky-grown ingredients. Those in town for an event will appreciate 440 Main’s 20 years of banquet service experience.
440 Main Street, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-793-0450
16.Chaney's Dairy Barn & Restaurant
© Chaney’s Dairy Barn & Restaurant
When USA Today named the top ice cream parlors in 50 states, Chaney’s Dairy Barn took that honor in Kentucky. It’s one part farm, one part artists’ market, and two parts amazing homemade ice cream. This unique ice cream shop also serves homemade burgers, sandwiches, salads, and soups. The Barn market features specialty foods and crafts made by Kentucky’s finest craftsmen and farmers. They also sell an array of Chaney’s souvenirs and clothes. Self-guided farm tours cost $4 and available whenever Chaney’s is open for business. Groups of 10 or more need reservations for guided tours featuring demonstrations.
9191 Nashville Road, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-843-5567
17.EHot Air Ballooning Adventures
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EHot Air Ballooning Adventures has been providing south central Kentucky with epic hot air balloon rides since 1994. Captain Doug Robertson, a pilot since 1981, mans the controls on every flight, so guests are assured of a safe and comfortable ride. Robertson goes out of his way to make sure riders experience the full range of hot air ballooning, from serenity to excitement. Like most balloon flights, they’re scheduled an hour before sunrise and 2 hours before sunset for optimum flight conditions. It just so happens that it’s also when lighting is the best for gorgeous in-flight photos. Generally, children should be 10 years or older to ride.
1000 Woodhurst Street, Bowling Green Airport, Bowling Green, KY, Phone: 270-246-2860
17 Best Things to Do in Bowling Green, Kentucky
- Aviation Heritage Park, Photo: Aviation Heritage Park
- Beech Bend Amusement Park & Raceway, Photo: Beech Bend Amusement Park & Raceway
- The Baker Arboretum and the Downing Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Syndy - Fotolia.com
- Drake Vintage Music & Curios, Photo: Courtesy of rushay - Fotolia.com
- General Motors Corvette Assembly Plant & National Corvette Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Hamik - Fotolia.com
- Historic Railpark and Train Museum, Photo: Courtesy of vrabelpeter1 - Fotolia.com
- Kentucky Museum, Photo: Kentucky Museum
- Lost River Cave, Photo: Courtesy of Rhombur - Fotolia.com
- Novo Dolce Gastro Pub, Photo: Novo Dolce Gastro Pub
- Riverview at Hobson Grove, Photo: Courtesy of DenisProduction.com - Fotolia.com
- Shanty Hollow Lake Hiking Trail, Photo: Courtesy of schankz - Fotolia.com
- SKyPAC, Photo: Courtesy of Carlos Santa Maria - Fotolia.com
- Spencer’s Coffee, Photo: Spencer’s Coffee
- White Squirrel Brewery, Photo: White Squirrel Brewery
- 440 Main, Photo: 440 Main
- Chaney's Dairy Barn & Restaurant, Photo: Chaney’s Dairy Barn & Restaurant
- EHot Air Ballooning Adventures, Photo: Courtesy of Greg Meland - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jackienix - Fotolia.com