Labor Day is just around the corner and it's the perfect weekend to plan a little road trip. For those of us blessed to live in the Bluegrass or surrounding states, we don't have to travel far to explore the rich history, family fun, or exciting nightlife bourbon country has to offer. Just load up the car, prep your road trip playlist, and enjoy the beautiful scenic rolling hills and farms as you journey to one of these five best downtowns in Kentucky.

Owensboro Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Owensboro Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau

5. Visit Bardstown

Of course, I had to kick the list off with our official My Old Kentucky Home.  The second oldest city in Kentucky, most of the downtown area is actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can spend a day shopping at the adorable clothing boutiques and interesting gift shops before enjoying a delicious dinner at one of their many local restaurants. The My Old Kentucky Home Dinner Train is a favorite tourist attraction. While you're there be sure to tour the homestead where Stephen Foster was inspired to write our famous state song. Also the Bourbon Capital of the World, you can't miss a tour of one of the 11 local distilleries.  The sun shines bright on this beautiful small town. Visit Bardstown has everything you need to plan your getaway.

4. Visit Berea

Located along the border of the Appalachian Mountains, the Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky is home to Berea College. Known for its rich creative culture, this unique town hosts multiple art festivals which attract tourists from all over the world. Spend some time exploring the Old Towne Artisan Village with antique shops and an array of art galleries and workshops where artists and makers sell their beautiful creations. From glass blowing, weaving, painting, jewelry making, and more, you can even find classes to learn more about the rich Appalachian heritage of the area. You'll also want to find a local restaurant that suits your fancy as many of them take pride in using Kentucky farm produce and meats. For more about this one-of-a-kind town including hiking the gorgeous Pinnacles or scheduling a historic tour go to Visit Berea.

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3. Visit Covington

Right before crossing the bridge over the Ohio River to Cincinnati is the bustling downtown of Covington, KY.  Whatever kind of trip you have in mind, family-friendly, romantic couples getaway, or a weekend with friends, this exciting Northern Kentucky town has it all. Cross the Purple People Bridge to explore the Newport Aquarium, shop and stroll in the unique Mainstrasse Village, or hop over to King's Island if you're feeling adventurous. It will be hard to choose from all of the amazing local restaurants and breweries Covington has to offer. Some have even been featured on the Food Network for their incredible dishes and iconic atmosphere. If you are overwhelmed with all of the options, Meet NKY will even put together an itinerary for you!

2. Visit Louisville

The Ville will always have a special place in my heart from when I lived there through college. One of my favorite aspects of the downtown area is the fact that it is walkable. You could stay at one of the many nice hotels like 21C or The Brown where you can mark eating the OG Kentucky Hot Brown off your Kentucky Bucket List. See a show at the iconic Palace, visit the Louisville Science Center, and Louisville Slugger Museum, or whoop it up in the electric nightlife scene. If you want to venture a little further from downtown, The Louisville Bats baseball games are always a fun time.  The Louisville Zoo or Speed Art Museum has special events throughout the year as well.  If you want to Go to Louisville, check the link for lists of the best local restaurants, boutiques and so much more

1. Visit Owensboro

I realize I am totally biased, but we have one of the best downtowns in Kentucky right here.  When I was in Leadership Owensboro, we had a staycation at the Hampton Inn Waterfront and experienced our city as someone visiting.  A person could stay at a hotel downtown and walk to some of our best local restaurants, see shows at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame or Riverpark Center, and shop at boutiques like Willow & Pine, Byron & Barclay, or Simply Chic. But why wouldn't they venture out to have the full Owensboro experience? Tours at Green River Distillery are perfect for bourbon enthusiasts and our beautiful Botanical Garden is a gem of the city. Of course, our crown jewel is the incredible riverfront and Smother's Park.  Did you know that the same folks who designed the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas are responsible for the fountains at Smother's? So cool! The one-of-a-kind Lazy Days playground is inclusive and accessible for kids of all ages and abilities. We are truly lucky to have such an amazing place to live.


Have you been to any of these popular places in Kentucky? What cities would you add to the list and why?

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