8 Great Kentucky Weekend Getaways

With so much to do, from antiquing to ziplining, these 8 destinations offer a range of Kentucky weekend getaways whatever your interests.

To the outsider, Kentucky conjures up images of bourbon barrels aging in warehouses and white-fenced paddocks where thoroughbreds play among the lush bluegrass. While these images are certainly accurate, there is a huge variety of things to do in Kentucky, from antiquing to ziplining.

History is an important part of Kentucky life, but the state has even more to offer. Mountains, lakes, and underground caverns promise adventure, while museums and cultural sites are not the stuffy experiences of decades gone by. Plus, let’s not forget a thriving food scene that is reimagining Kentucky favorites with a modern twist. In short, there is something for everyone, no matter what their age or preferences.

These eight destinations offer a range of Kentucky weekend getaways for couples, friends, families, or solo travelers. All are just a drive from each other, but show you many different sides to the multi-faceted state.

A Weekend With the Romantic Luxury of Versailles


Versailles (pronounced Ver-Sayles) has the traditional Kentucky duo of bourbon and thoroughbreds right on its doorstep. This is where visitors can feel like a millionaire, even if their bank statement says otherwise.

WinStar is one of the top racehorse farms in the country. Their shuttle tour introduces visitors to the farm’s celebrity stallions and gives an inside look at the daily workings of a horse farm. There’s plenty of glamor, but also an impressive amount of hard work.

Afterwards, a pitstop for lunch is in order. Wallace Station is a diner owned by local celebrity chef Ouita Michaels. The sorghum vinaigrette on the Kentucky Cobb Salad is locally sourced, as are many other ingredients. The lemon bars from the nearby Midway Bakery are a tempting (and worthwhile) indulgence.

Then it’s on to explore the other great local tradition. The Spanish mission style of the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg is a surprise in the middle of bluegrass country. The guided tours walk through the entire process, from the mash to bottling. Everyone’s favorite part of the tour is (of course) the tasting, and bottles are available for purchase.

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Where to Stay: The Kentucky Castle

The Kentucky Castlepost is just four miles from Lexington’s airport and downtown Versailles, but this feels like another world – one of romance and luxury. Modelled after European castles, it is now a luxury hotel with restaurant, tennis courts, and onsite spa.


8.9 Excellent (58 reviews)

A Weekend of Family Fun in Cave Country


For a Kentucky weekend getaway that the whole family will enjoy, head down I-65 to Cave Country.

Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo is filled with all sorts of wildlife from Australia. After watching the animal show and sheepdog demonstrations, the kids can meet with lemurs and tropical birds before wandering through the outback, where emus, kangaroos, and wallabies roam freely. Follow the hiking trail around the property and then tour Mammoth Onyx Cave before having a go at mining gemstones.

Six miles down the road is Dinosaur World. The outdoor trails carry many surprises. One of the 150 life-sized dinosaur models could be just around any corner. Picnic with a T-Rex!

Plan to spend the next day at Mammoth Cave National Park, where options include cave tours of varying lengths, horseback riding, cycling, canoeing, or just sitting back in the sun.

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Where to Stay: Holiday Inn Express, Horse Cave

With all the amenities you need, the Holiday Inn Express in Horse Cave is just a short drive from downtown Horse Cave. Take advantage of modern, family-friendly rooms with free breakfast. Cribs are also available.

Holiday Inn Express Horse Cave

Horse Cave
8.1 Very good (2838 reviews)

A Weekend of Antiquing, Shaker-Style


Highway 1267 from Lexington is a gentle drive past farms and grazing livestock to the tiny community of Nonesuch, a good place to begin a weekend of antiquing and history.

Irish Acres is a treasure-trove of antiques and interior design. Wandering from room to room takes you from an elegant 18th century French dining room suite to a cluttered corner of old magazines. The 32,000 square feet are crammed with all sorts of antiques. Before leaving, head down to The Glitz, adorned with fairy lights, for a gourmet 3-course lunch.

After getting one’s fill of antiques and fine food, follow US68 along the Kentucky River to the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. The Shaker residents are long gone but the former religious community has been preserved as a farm and history center. Browse the restored buildings and watch demonstrations by local craftsmen. Later, a cruise along the river aboard the Dixie Belle paddleboat affords a chance for relaxation and a little nature-spotting.

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Where to Stay: Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill

The Hotel at Shaker Village combines traditional Shaker furniture with modern amenities. Those traveling with children may want to leave them enjoying some of the organized activities while the adults sneak off to the onsite steam room.

Shaker Village of Pleasant

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (647 reviews)

A Weekend in Louisville for Art Lovers


Louisville’s collection of galleries, studios, and museums makes it the perfect weekend getaway for the art lover.

The Speed Art Museum on 3rd Street is close to the university campus. Its extensive collection includes pieces from ancient Egypt, Africa, and Europe, as well as contemporary American works and a gallery of historical Kentucky furniture.

From here, head downtown to the KMAC Museum, where Kentucky artists and artisans exhibit their work. It’s the ideal place to spot a budding future star of the art world.

Further along the city’s Museum Row, The Frazier Museum has a permanent collection reflecting the founder’s love of American history (Roosevelt’s big stick, Geronimo’s bow and arrows, etc.). Newer exhibits chart the history of women’s suffrage and prohibition in the state. Since this is bourbon country, the Pappy Van Winkle family collection is also on show.

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Where to Stay: 21c Museum Hotel

21c Museum Hotel is a four-star boutique hotel with onsite museum, restaurant, and spa. With a double-sized replica of Michaelangelo’s David outside, it’s difficult to miss. In the rooms, modernist décor meets large windows and high ceilings, a throwback to the building’s past as a warehouse.

21c Museum Hotel Louisville - MGallery

Top rated
9.4 Excellent (2150 reviews)

Get Active With a Weekend Outdoors in Red River Gorge


Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy a weekend getaway in the Red River Gorge. Avoid the crowds at Natural Bridge and choose from one of dozens of other trails that crisscross the area. At 10.7 miles in length, the Rough Trail Loop provides a challenge for relatively new hikers, while still having lots to offer the more experienced adventurer. There is some climbing involved, but the views make it all worthwhile.

Paddleboard or kayak through a 100-year-old flooded mine at The Gorge Underground. The temperatures here are a comfortable 55 degrees all year.

Don’t forget to drop by Miguel’s Pizza, a local hangout popular with climbers and campers. Enjoy some of the best pizza in Kentucky while striking up a conversation with other diners, sharing stories and tips for where to explore next.

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Where to Stay: Zoe Hideaway

This rustic log cabin sleeps four and provides the ideal place to relax after a strenuous day of hiking or climbing. A fully stocked kitchen lets guests prepare their own meals. The lodge is close to the gorge and the state park, as well as several area restaurants.

Zoe Hideaway

8.7 Excellent (23 reviews)

Take to the Water on a Weekend in Western Kentucky


The Land Between the Lakes covers 170,000 acres in western Kentucky and Tennessee, between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The lakes are the main attraction with swimming, fishing, boating, and watersports all readily available. Many visitors rent a pontoon boat from Kenlake Marina and spend the day following the coastline or trying to land the big one.

A drive around the Elk and Bison Prairie promises a glimpse of the wild prairie as it was centuries ago. Elk and bison were reintroduced in the 1970s and the grassland was soon restored. May and June are good times for spotting young calves, but there is plenty of wildlife to see throughout the year.

A day on the lake can build up an appetite. Diners choose their fish at The Pond and enjoy it cooked to order with all the proper Southern fixins’. Save room for a homemade dessert.

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Where to Stay: Kenlake State Resort Park

The Kenlake State Resort Park lies on the banks of the Kentucky Lake. Accommodation options include rooms in the main lodge, rental cottages, or the campground. The park has its own marina, an outdoor pool, tennis center, archery range, and eagle-watching tours.

Kenlake State Resort

9.0 Excellent (1134 reviews)

Bardstown is a Weekend in My Old Kentucky Home


A frequent mention on lists of the most beautiful small towns in America, Bardstown has seen its fair share of historical visitors and still retains a sense of a bygone era.

Federal Hill is better known as the inspiration for Stephen Foster’s My Old Kentucky Home. The house is open for tours, and Stephen Foster: The Musical is performed in the outdoor amphitheater during the summer months.

My Old Kentucky Dinner Train offers both lunch and dinnertime excursions from Bardstown. Dine in style aboard a 1940s-era carriage and enjoy views of the Kentucky countryside while chugging along to the Old Jim Beam Distillery.

Spend some time browsing the shops on Bardstown’s main square and then pay a visit to the Old Talbott Tavern, built in 1779 and reputedly haunted. Over the years, many have claimed to see the ghost of famed outlaw Jesse James; the bullet holes he shot into the wall after a night of drinking are still visible.

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Where to Stay: Jailer's Inn Bed and Breakfast

Next door to the Old Talbott Tavern is the Jailer’s Inn Bed and Breakfast. The old county jail for 200 years, it is now a bed and breakfast with nine rooms, each furnished to match a specific historical era.

Jailer's Inn

9.5 Excellent (302 reviews)

A Weekend on the Edge…of Kentucky, that is


Paducah is a UNESCO Creative City, making it a perfect Kentucky weekend getaway destination for those seeking a combination of culture and history.

The floodwall built after the 1937 flood is a work of art in its own right, with murals depicting the history of the city – from settlement, through the Civil War to the nuclear age.

A visit to the William Clark Market House Museum is a walk through Paducah’s history. The collection includes a meticulously maintained drugstore interior from 100 years ago and local memorabilia. Then it’s along to the National Quilt Museum, where even non-quilters will be impressed by the levels of skill and craftsmanship on display.

Paducah’s dining scene runs from tasty takeout to fine Southern cuisine. During the segregation era, Doe’s Eat Place only allowed black customers, but the tamales were so good that white customers would go around back. It’s a friendly place to eat – and those tamales are good.

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Where to Stay: The 1857

The original brickwork and beams of this former industrial building have been paired with white airy linens and high ceilings for a sense of space. With just ten rooms, the 1857 offers a cozy welcome just steps from downtown.

The 1857

9.6 Excellent (1453 reviews)