Bluegrass, Blues, and Barbecue
Plan your next vacation around these fun things to do in Western Kentucky
This is the birthplace of Bluegrass music, the spot where you’ll taste some of the most exceptional barbecue on the planet and where music festivals, from Bluegrass to blues and country to rock, are held. Kentucky has always been associated with the color blue - - the Bluegrass State, Birthplace of Bluegrass music, Blue Mondays candy bars but, most importantly a "blue-zillion" family fun vacation spots, attractions and adventures in "Only One Kentucky." Make plans to visit the Bluegrass, Blues and Barbecue region to enjoy some of the best things to do in Western Kentucky – the adventures and traditions that await you, your family and friends in the hospitable communities within this region of Kentucky
DAY 1 of your Family Fun Adventure
Your day begins with the discovery of fun at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History in downtown Owensboro. The museum houses a traveling exhibit gallery and five permanent exhibit galleries: The PlayZeum, SpeedZeum, Encounter Hand-On, Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center and The Coal Mine Gallery. For additional information including dates/hours of operation, special events, traveling exhibits and admission information visit their website http://www.owensboromuseum.org/exhibits or call (270) 687-2732.
Estimated walking distance from the Owensboro Museum of Science and History and the International Bluegrass Museum is 2 minutes.
Your next downtown Owensboro destination is the International Bluegrass Museum located less than a half block from the Owensboro Museum of Science and History. Bluegrass is the official State Music of Kentucky, and Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" shares with Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home" the honorable distinction of being the official Kentucky State Songs. This museum was established to preserve the history of the music created by Kentucky’s Only One, Bill Monroe. Bluegrass music became more main stream with the release of the movie and soundtrack of "Oh Brother Where Art Thou." As you walk nearer to the museum, you'll hear the sounds of bluegrass music emanating from the museum's radio station, RBI, with audio speakers taking the music to the streets. For dates and hours of operation and admission information visit their website http://www.bluegrass-museum.org/general/home.php or call (888) 692-2656.
The absolute best time to visit Owensboro is the second weekend of May for Kentucky’s Only One International Bar-B-Que Festival. The next best time to visit is anytime during lunch or dinner. There are numerous amazing barbecue choices in Owensboro but, we will point out, the tourist favorite is Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn http://www.moonlite.com while the locals prefer Old Hickory Bar-B-Q http://www.oldhickorybbqky.com.
Estimated drive time between the International Bluegrass Music Museum and the Henderson Riverfront Fountains is 30 minutes.
Before you head off to enjoy this wonderful water feature in downtown Henderson, take the time to stroll the downtown which has one of the best examples of public art – life-size cast-bronze sculptures based on paintings from Audubon's Birds Of America series are strategically located throughout downtown Henderson. The sculptures were created by Kentucky native artisan Raymond Graf. Download a walking tour brochure of the birds at http://www.hendersonky.org/citybirds/citybirds.html and while at the website be sure to also download the Downtown Henderson Walking Tour brochure which highlights the historic properties representing pre-Civil War, Victorian and Italianate architecture. Downtown Henderson is a shopping, dining and cultural arts district in which your family will truly enjoy exploring.
Your next Family Fun destination is the Riverfront Fountains. This interactive water park boasts random dancing jets of gloriously cool water that shoot high into the summer air and offer plenty of fun (and cool relief) for those willing to challenge the ever changing bursts of water -- few, if any, emerge dry! The water park has two play areas; the larger area contains forty-five jets varying in height from a few feet to a towering fifteen feet, and a second play area with smaller jets approximately two feet in height for the younger members of your family. The Park overlooks the Ohio River with plenty of seating near and below the fountain area where you can enjoy the view and the Park while the children play.
Make lodging reservations at the hotel of your choice in the Henderson area http://www.hendersonky.org/stay.htm.
Estimated drive time between the Downtown Riverfront Fountains and the John James Audubon State Park Museum and Nature Center is 7 minutes.
DAY 2 of your Family Fun Adventure
Start your day at the John James Audubon State Park Museum and Nature Center. Artist and naturalist, John James Audubon lived in Kentucky during the early 1800s and the amazing facility provides your family the opportunity to see original oil and watercolor art by Audubon and personal memorabilia in this facility listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park naturalist and art educator conduct environmental and art programs for adults and children. For dates/hours of operation, admission and special exhibits information visit their website http://parks.ky.gov/parks/recreationparks/john-james/default.aspx or call (270) 826-2247. Adjacent to the Museum and Nature Center is a 700 acre which offers a nature preserve, hiking, walking trails and paddleboat rentals.
Estimated drive time between the John James Audubon State Park Museum and Nature Center and Webster County Civil War Driving Tour is 40 minutes.
In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, your next destination is the Webster County Civil War Driving Tour. This destination includes a driving tour of Civil War sites, including the battles of Slaughtersville, Burnt Mill and Dixon and the Burning of the Dixon Jail. For additional information visit the following website: http://www.kentuckytourism.com/things_to_do/webster-county-civil-war-driving-tour/2358/ or if you need further assistance call (270) 667-5022.
Estimated drive time between Webster County Civil War Driving Tour and Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park is 45 minutes.
Ready to stretch those legs and find a destination for both recreation and relaxation – your next stop is the Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park in Dawson Springs. With 15,331 acres, Pennyrile Forest is a showcase for Kentucky’s magnificent hardwood trees. This state park is truly a recreational dream destination offering basketball, birding, boating, camping, canoeing, equine camping, fishing, shopping, hiking, horseback riding, horseshoes, miniature golf, pedal boating, picnicking, playground, swimming and tennis http://parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/pennyrile-forest/things_to_do.aspx all available at one location – making it one of the most fun family vacation spots around!
Make lodging reservations at the Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park by visiting their website http://parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/pennyrile-forest/reservations.aspx or call (270) 797-3421.
DAY 3 of your Family Fun Adventure
After starting your day with a leisurely breakfast at the park’s Clifty Creek Restaurant, take time to go horseback riding, play a round of miniature golf or get in a couple of hours of fishing before heading to Newsom’s Country Ham Store.
Estimated drive time from Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park and Newsom’s Country Ham Store is 25 minutes.
Col. Bill Newsom’s Aged KY Country Ham Country Store in downtown Princeton is an institution that you won’t want to miss. Make sure you try a handmade sandwich from their wide variety of meats. Just to give you a taste testimonial – Bobby Flay has meats shipped from Newsom’s Country Store to his New York restaurants. It is a uniquely Kentucky picnic lunch opportunity you are sure not to forget. For dates/hours of operation, sandwich and meat selections, gift baskets and national acclaim visit their website http://www.newsomscountryham.com or call (270) 365-2482.