No matter which part of Kentucky you happen to find yourself in, the state is full of fun attractions the whole family can enjoy together. Animal lovers will have the time of their lives at the Kentucky Horse Park, the Louisville Zoo, or the Newport Aquarium, but there are plenty of non-animal related things to do as well, including the Explorium Of Lexington, the Louisville Slugger Museum, and the Old West themed Guntown Mountain. If your kid is an explorer at heart, consider paying a visit to the Hidden River Cave and American Cave Museum, or Mammoth Cave National Park.
1.Louisville Slugger Museum
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The world-famous Louisville Slugger baseball bats have been made by the same family-owned company since 1884, and the Louisville Slugger Museum introduces visitors to the history behind the bats as well as to various other aspects of baseball history. Half-hour guided tours of the factory are offered multiple times a day, and other attractions include a 120-foot replica of Babe Ruth's bat, a hands-on exhibit where visitors can hold legendary baseball bats, and an enormous glove sculpture kids can climb on. At the end of your visit, you and your kids will each get a miniature souvenir bat to bring home.
800 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202, Phone: 877-775-8443
2.Belle of Louisville
Constructed in 1914, the Belle of Louisville is the country's oldest river steamboat still in operation. It was originally built to serve as a passenger ferry, but it now offers leisure cruises up and down the Ohio River. Sightseeing cruises last approximately two hours, and as all the seating is outdoors, guests are advised to dress for the weather. A small concession sells snacks and drinks, but if you'd like a full meal, you can also book a lunch or dinner cruise, which include live entertainment and a dance floor. Kids under the age of 4 travel free.
401 W River Rd, Louisville, KY 40202, Phone: 502-574-2992
3.Bluegrass Railroad Museum
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Located in Woodford County Park, the Bluegrass Railroad Museum is a heritage railroad with four operational diesel locomotives. The museum displays a variety of railroad memorabilia, and kids will particularly enjoy the model train layouts. If you're visiting on a weekend between May and October, you can also take a 90-minute scenic train ride through the Kentucky countryside. Old railway equipment can be seen alongside the track, and partway through the trip, the train stops at the historic Young's High bridge, which makes an excellent photo opportunity. Special holiday train rides are also offered on Thanksgiving weekend and during the Christmas season
175 Beasley Rd, Versailles, KY 40383, Phone: 859-873-2476
4.Chaney’s Dairy Barn
© Chaney’s Dairy Barn
Nestled in the lush countryside of southwestern Kentucky, Chaney’s Dairy Barn is a working dairy farm with an on-site restaurant, an ice cream shop, and an excellent children's playground. For a small fee, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the farm facilities, including a spacious dairy barn with viewing windows and a robotic milker. Access to the playground is free of charge, but passes must be purchased for kids who want to play on the Jumping Pillow. When you get hungry, stop by the restaurant to enjoy some delicious soups and sandwiches, and don't forget to try the farm's delicious ice cream for dessert.
9191 Nashville Rd, Bowling Green, KY 42101, Phone: 270-843-5567
5.Daniel Boone National Forest
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Spanning more than two million acres of land in southern and eastern Kentucky, the Daniel Boone National Forest provides seemingly endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. There are more than 600 miles of trails for visitors to explore, but if you're visiting with your kids, the best options are the scenic one-mile Sky Bridge Trail and the 1.4-mile Rock Bridge Trail, which leads past several waterfalls. One a hot day, you might prefer to spend some time by one of the park's beautiful lakes and rivers, most of which are perfect for swimming, kayaking, and even scuba diving.
1700 Bypass Rd, London, KY 40744, Phone: 859-745-3100
Conveniently located right next to Mammoth Cave National Park, the Diamond Caverns boast one of the most beautiful show caves in Kentucky. The walls of the cathedral-like caverns are lined with thousands of colorful rock formations, and state-of-the-art white lighting illuminates all the most intricate and beautiful sections. Guided hour-long tours are offered every day of the week, and all tours are first-come first-served. Approximately half a mile of walking is required, and due to the nature of the cave, the path is not handicap accessible and the walk can be quite strenuous in parts.
1900 Mammoth Cave Pkwy, Park City, KY 42160, Phone: 270-749-2233
The perfect destination for dino-crazy kids, Dinosaur World is a unique outdoor theme park dotted with hundreds of life-size dinosaur sculptures. A walking path meanders through the forest, providing plenty of opportunities to spot the dinosaurs, most of which are accompanied by informative signs. There's also a dinosaur-themed playground with swings and slides, and kids can participate in fun activities like a fossil dig and a gem excavation. Outside food and drinks are welcome, and geodes and other souvenirs can be purchased from the gift shop. Visitors are free to bring their dogs as long as they remain leashed.
711 Mammoth Cave Rd, Cave City, KY 42127, Phone: 270-773-4345
8.Explorium Of Lexington
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Open since 1990, the Explorium Of Lexington is a hands-on museum best suited to kids 10 and younger. The exhibits are designed to promote children's natural curiosity and desire to learn, and highlights include an interactive dinosaur and insect display, a bubble zone, and a space-themed exhibit where kids can get a photo of themselves walking on the moon. For kids 3 and under, there's a tots play area with a splash fountain and a treehouse. The space can also be booked for children's birthday parties, and packages include table set-up and optional add-ons like candy art, mad scientist experiments, and fort building.
440 W Short St, Lexington, KY 40507, Phone: 859-258-3253
9.General Butler Park
Just outside the town of Carrollton, not far from the confluence of the Ohio and Kentucky rivers, General Butler Park is a state park with a lodge, a campground, and a handful of cabins. Many visitors choose to spend the night, but it's also an excellent place for a day trip, and popular activities include exploring the park's five miles of hiking trail and paddle-boating on Butler Lake. It's also worth taking a guided tour of the Butler-Turpin Historic home, which was built in 1859 and is still furnished with family heirlooms and other unique period pieces.
1608 KY-227, Carrollton, KY 41008, Phone: 502-732-4384
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10.Green River Lake State Park
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Green River Lake is a man-made reservoir that was created in 1969 by damming the river, and although it was primarily done for flood control, Green River Lake State Park is now a popular destination for outdoor recreation. Families tend to flock to the swimming beach, where kids can splash around in the water while their parents relax on the shore, but the lake is also excellent for fishing. However, there are things to do off the water as well; the park boasts an 18-hole mini golf course, and there are almost 30 miles of multipurpose trails to enjoy.
179 Park Office Rd, Campbellsville, KY 42718, Phone: 270-465-8255
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Dating back to the late 1960s, Guntown Mountain is a nostalgic family-friendly attraction that whisks visitors back in time to the days of the Old West. The Wild West Town perched on top of the mountain features gunfight reenactments, live music, and can-can shows, and visitors can also play a game of black light golf, dress up and get an old-fashioned photo taken, or try out the Escape Room. Every October, there's also a special haunted house attraction open on Friday and Saturday evenings. A complimentary shuttle is available to take visitors up and down the mountain as needed.
101 Huckleberry Knob Rd, Cave City, KY 42127, Phone: 270-773-2700
12.Hidden River Cave and American Cave Museum
Found right underneath the City of Horse Cave, the Hidden River Cave and American Cave Museum offer all sorts of family-friendly adventures. The standard guided tours take guests down into the cave and across a 100-foot swinging bridge, and Wild Tours are available for those who don't mind getting a little dirty while exploring the far reaches of the cave. If you're feeling even more adventurous, you can even rappel down to the mouth of the cave or ride the zipline across the entrance of the sinkhole. After your tour, visit the museum to learn about the cave's fascinating history and geology.
119 W Main St, Horse Cave, KY 42749, Phone: 270-786-1466
13.Historic RailPark & Train Museum
Another fantastic place to learn about Kentucky's railroad heritage, the Historic RailPark & Train Museum is situated inside the old railroad station in Bowling Green, which was built in 1925. The exhibits cover a wide range of topics, and they feature kid-friendly interactive aspects like train sound recordings. The museum also boasts five restored railcars, and guided tours of these cars are offered several times a day. If you have an extra hour to spare, you can also play one of the exciting Escape Games, which require visitors to work together to escape a locked train car.
401 Kentucky St, Bowling Green, KY 42101, Phone: 270-745-7317
Watching a planetarium show is a classic family activity, and if you're in Kentucky, there's no better place to go than the Hummel Planetarium. It hosts everything from laser light shows to educational kid's films that take viewers on an adventure through the solar system, and all shows are followed by a live talk about the night sky and what lies beyond. The schedule for public shows changes from month to month, and the current schedule can be found on the planetarium's website. Private shows can be arranged for groups of 20 or more people Monday through Friday.
4440 Kit Carson Dr, Richmond, KY 40475, Phone: 859-622-1547
15.Kentucky Horse Park
The Kentucky Horse Park is a beautiful 1,2000-acre working horse farm tucked away in the countryside on the outskirts of Lexington, and it's the perfect place to bring your kids if they're crazy about horses. Visit the draft horses in the Big Barn, stop by the Hall of Champions to see some of the world's most famous racehorses, or take a trolley tour of the grounds. There are also plenty of attractions and activities specifically aimed at children, including an interactive Kids Barn where visitors can help groom horses, pony rides around the paddock, and a week-long summer riding camp.
4089 Iron Works Pkwy, Lexington, KY 40511, Phone: 859-233-4303
16.Kentucky Reptile Zoo
If your kids are more interested in snakes and lizards than ponies, the Kentucky Reptile Zoo is the place to go. More than 75 species of reptiles call the zoo home, including turtles, alligators, and lizards, but most of the reptiles you'll find here are venomous snakes. A tour guide leads visitors through the zoo's various buildings, introducing the different reptiles and answering questions, and the tour typically takes between 30 and 45 minutes. Hours of operation vary according to the season, but when the zoo is open, venom extraction demonstrations and reptile talks are held daily.
200 L&E Railroad Pl, Slade, KY 40376, Phone: 606-663-9160
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17.Land Between the Lakes
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Tucked in between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, the Land Between the Lakes is a 170,000-acre National Recreation Area that stretches from Western Kentucky into Tennessee. The area offers almost every kind of outdoor recreation activity imaginable, both on and off the water, with popular options including boating and tubing on the lakes, exploring the 200 miles of hiking trails, and cycling along the beautiful Canal Loop. Other family-friendly attractions include the Woodlands Nature Station, the Golden Pond Visitor Center and Planetarium, and the Elk and Bison Prairie, where you can drive around a 3.5-mile loop trying to spot the animals.
238 Visitor Center Dr, Golden Pond, KY 42211, Phone: 800-525-7077
18.Living Arts and Science Center
Established by the Junior League of Lexington in 1968, the Living Arts and Science Center is a family-friendly museum with an art gallery, a planetarium, and plenty of interactive science exhibits that encourage kids to learn through play. The museum is open between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but it's best to come in the afternoon if possible, as it tends to get quite busy with school groups between 9 a.m. and noon. If you visit on a Friday, you might also be able to catch an exciting show in the planetarium
362 N Martin Luther King Blvd Lexington, Kentucky 40508, Phone: 859-252-5222
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19.Louisville Mega Cavern
Formerly a limestone mine, the Louisville Mega Cavern is a unique recreational destination hidden away under the city. Guided tours of the cavern are offered on foot, by electric bike, or in a historic tram, but if you're looking for more of an adrenaline rush, you can also take a two-hour underground zipline tour or test your skills on the Mega Quest aerial ropes course. During the Christmas season, the cavern also puts on a special holiday lights show, and visitors can drive their own cars through the cavern or hop aboard the Christmas Express.
1841 Taylor Ave, Louisville, KY 40213, Phone: 877-614-6342
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20.Louisville Nature Center
A peaceful oasis located right in the heart of the city, the Louisville Nature Center is a provides the opportunity to learn about nature in a beautiful setting. The center features indoor exhibits about the native wildlife, but the real highlights are outside in the grounds and gardens. Kids will love exploring the wildflower gardens, but if you want to go for a longer hike, there are some excellent trails in the neighboring Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve. During the summer, the gardens also attract butterflies, and more than 30 different species have been observed here.
3745 Illinois Ave, Louisville, KY 40213, Phone: 502-458-1328
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Occupying over 130 acres of land, much of which has been designed to resemble various animal habitats from around the world, the Louisville Zoo is one of the best family attractions in Kentucky. More than 1,100 animals call the zoo home, and visitors can spot jaguars and flamingos in the South American Zone, marvel at elephants and ride camels in the Africa exhibit, and step back in time at an exhibit designed to replicate a town on the edge of the arctic wilderness. On a hot summer day, your kids can also cool off in the zoo's inviting splash park.
1100 Trevilian Way, Louisville, KY 40213, Phone: 502-459-2181
22.Mammoth Cave National Park
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Situated in south central Kentucky, the Mammoth Cave National Park was established to protect a significant section of Mammoth Cave, the world's longest known cave. There are a variety of tours to choose from, ranging from one to two hours in length, and many are designed to cater to people with a specific interest in history, science, or geology. If you have small children, the Mammoth Passage Tour is the best choice, as it leads along broad pathways in the cave's main sections. Reservations are recommended for most tours, particularly during the spring and fall when school groups tend to come.
PO Box 7, 6140 Mammoth Cave Pkwy Mammoth Cave, Kentucky 42259, Phone: 270-758-2180
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One of the top attractions in Newport, the Newport Aquarium is a spectacular aquarium with approximately 70 exhibits showcasing thousands of aquatic animals from all over the world. Highlights of the exhibits include Gator Alley, the jellyfish room, and the interactive Frog Bog, and in some exhibits, visitors can even touch animals like penguins, sharks, and sting rays. Daring guests can also walk across the Shark Bridge, a 75-foot-long rope bridge suspended inches above the water of the shark tank. Dive shows and animal-related talks are held on a regular basis, and every September, the aquarium hosts an exciting interactive mermaids event.
1 Levee Way, Newport, KY 41071, Phone: 800-406-3474
24.Rebecca Ruth Candy Tours
Rebecca Ruth Candy has been one of Kentucky's favorite chocolate producers since 1919, and Rebecca Ruth Candy Tours is a great place to visit whether you're interested in the company's history or you just love chocolate. Guided tours are offered to take visitors behind the scenes between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and they typically last 20 minutes. Before you leave, don't forget to buy a box or two of chocolates to bring home; the bourbon balls are always a hit with grown-ups, but kids might want to stick with the old-fashioned Creamed Pull Candy.
116 E 2nd St, Frankfort, KY 40601, Phone: 502-223-7475
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25.Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
Home to one of the country's largest Shaker communities during the entire 19th century, the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill proudly introduces visitors to the history, culture, and spirit of the Kentucky Shakers. The Historic Center of Shaker Village boasts more than 30 buildings that can be explored with a guide or on your own, and visitors can also interact with friendly barnyard animals at The Farm, explore the 40 miles of trails in The Preserve, and dine at The Trustees’ Table. The village is open year-round, and hayrides and riverboat tours are offered between April and October.
3501 Lexington Rd, Harrodsburg, KY 40330, Phone: 859-734-5411
25 Fun Things to Do in Kentucky with Kids of All Ages
- Louisville Slugger Museum, Photo: Duncan Noakes/stock.adobe.com
- Belle of Louisville, Photo: travelview/stock.adobe.com
- Bluegrass Railroad Museum, Photo: Mariia Nazarova/stock.adobe.com
- Chaney’s Dairy Barn, Photo: Chaney’s Dairy Barn
- Daniel Boone National Forest, Photo: R. P. Jennings/stock.adobe.com
- Diamond Caverns, Photo: Ina/stock.adobe.com
- Dinosaur World, Photo: somchai/stock.adobe.com
- Explorium Of Lexington, Photo: Hafiez Razali/stock.adobe.com
- General Butler Park, Photo: Mihail/stock.adobe.com
- Green River Lake State Park, Photo: Ernest Prim/stock.adobe.com
- Guntown Mountain, Photo: Nicolas Viard/stock.adobe.com
- Hidden River Cave and American Cave Museum, Photo: Giulio/stock.adobe.com
- Historic RailPark & Train Museum, Photo: catwalkphotos/stock.adobe.com
- Hummel Planetarium, Photo: Pavel/stock.adobe.com
- Kentucky Horse Park, Photo: DarrenDwayne/stock.adobe.com
- Kentucky Reptile Zoo, Photo: mgkuijpers/stock.adobe.com
- Land Between the Lakes, Photo: Marek Walica/stock.adobe.com
- Living Arts and Science Center, Photo: vitec40/stock.adobe.com
- Louisville Mega Cavern, Photo: blas/stock.adobe.com
- Louisville Nature Center, Photo: MediaMarketing/stock.adobe.com
- Louisville Zoo, Photo: nm737/stock.adobe.com
- Mammoth Cave National Park, Photo: National Parked/stock.adobe.com
- Newport Aquarium, Photo: Adam Jones and Danita Delimont/stock.adobe.com
- Rebecca Ruth Candy Tours, Photo: BillionPhotos.com/stock.adobe.com
- Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Photo: doncon402/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Joshua/stock.adobe.com