Kayakers explore a scenic river in Kentucky

Interstate 69

  • Western Waterlands
  • Bluegrass, Blues & BBQ
151 miles

Interstate 69 cuts a scenic path across beautiful Western Kentucky and highlights some of the best art, history and recreation the Bluegrass State has to offer. 

The route is of particular interest to bird watchers, as it passes through wildlife habitats where John James Audubon himself lived and studied local bird populations. Stop in one of the many quaint small towns for a bite to eat and a local story or two, visit the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area to see the Elk & Bison prairie, or stay at a Kentucky State Park. Whether you’re just passing through or making a vacation of it, the opportunities along I-69 are endless!

Must-Stops on Interstate 69

Patti's 1880's Settlement Photo

Patti's 1880's Settlement

1793 J.H. O'Bryan Ave.
Grand Rivers, KY 42045

Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area Photo

Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area

238 Visitor Center Drive
Golden Pond, KY 42211

Mineral Mound State Park Photo

Mineral Mound State Park

48 Finch Ln.
Eddyville, KY 42038

Adsmore House & Gardens Living History Museum Photo

Adsmore House & Gardens Living History Museum

304 N. Jefferson St.
Princeton, KY 42445

Kayaking the Tradewater River Photo

Dawson Springs (Trail Town)

200 West Arcadia Ave
Dawson Springs, KY 42408

Peabody Wildlife Management Are Photo

Peabody Wildlife Management Area

U.S. 62 and KY 70
Rockport, KY 42369

Glema Mahr Center for the Arts Photo

Glema Mahr Center for the Arts

2000 College Drive
Madisonville, KY 42431

Audubon Sculpture Walking Tour

101 N. Water St., Ste. B
Henderson, KY 42420

Sloughs Wildlife Management Area Photo

Sloughs Wildlife Management Area

9956 Hwy. 268
Corydon, KY 42406

Henderson

Entering Kentucky from Indiana on I-69, the first city you’ll pass through is Henderson. Two famous Kentuckians resided in Henderson: “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy and John James Audubon, the painter, naturalist and ornithologist famous for his “Birds of America” series. The popular W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival is held each summer, and is free to the public. 

John James Audubon State Park Museum & Nature Center is located in a historic home not far from where Audubon and his family lived from 1810-1819, when Henderson was a mere frontier town. Here you can view original artwork and personal memorabilia, and take a leisurely stroll through the wooded grounds. The park also offers an assortment of cabins and lodge rooms, if you’re looking for a place to stay the night. In downtown Henderson, the Audubon Sculpture Walking Tour features cast-bronze sculptures inspired by Audubon’s bird studies, created by Kentucky artist Raymond Graf.

A short detour west brings you to Sloughs Wildlife Management Area, recognized by the National Audubon Society as Kentucky’s first Important Bird Area. These wetland and hardwood bottoms are a habitat for bald eagles, ducks, geese, great blue heron and dozens more bird species. The Slough is also a popular hunting destination in season.

Madisonville

Check the calendar of Glema Mahr Center for the Arts to see what’s on the schedule when you’re passing through. This 1,000+ seat, state-of-the-art theater hosts a variety of music acts, from classical to pop, as well as award-winning plays and other performances.

Drakesboro

Spanning 46,000 acres of reclaimed coal land, Peabody Wildlife Management Area offers excellent opportunities for fishing and birding, as well as horseback riding and hunting for deer, turkey, waterfowl, small game and, most notably, quail.

Dawson Springs

The quaint town of Dawson Springs was Kentucky’s very first certified Trail Town, which means there are abundant nature activities in the area as well as goods and services available to outdoor enthusiasts. Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park offers hiking, biking, horseback riding, paddling on the Tradewater River and lodging; other nearby recreation areas include Jones Keeney Wildlife Management Area, Pennyrile Lake and Lake Beshear
Trip Idea: If you’re coming to the Bluegrass State to play in the outdoors, then Kentucky Trail Towns are great places to plan your trip around.

Princeton

About 12 miles from Dawson Springs, the quaint city of Princeton is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. View beautiful architecture, browse local businesses and visit several museums including Adsmore House & Gardens Living History Museum, a circa 1857 Greek Revival home filled with period furnishings. Other museums and historic sites worth a visit include the Amoss House Museum, Caldwell County Railroad Museum and the Trail of Tears Park Historic Site

If you’re hungry, be sure to stop at Newsom’s Old Country Store, home to Col. Newsom’s Aged Kentucky Country Ham – a stop on the Kentucky Country Ham Trail.

Eddyville

Explore more of Western Kentucky’s history and scenic beauty at Mineral Mound State Park. This former farm on the shores of Lake Barkley was once owned by the grandfather of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald. These days, the leisurely life of the Gatsby Era is alive and well, with laid-back lake cruises and an idyllic waterside golf course that Golf Digest once called one of the “Best Courses You Can Play.”

Grand Rivers

The city of Grand Rivers marks the north entrance to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. You could spend days exploring this 170,000-acre inland peninsula, but it also makes for a fine quick driving break, with an Elk & Bison Prairie, hiking trails and more.

Bordered by Kentucky Lake on the west and Lake Barkley on the east, Grand Rivers has earned its nickname of “the village between the lakes,” and the town is a popular stock-up spot for anglers, boaters and other water sport enthusiasts. Off the water, Grand Rivers is home to must-stop eateries like Patti’s 1880’s Settlement and Restaurant, unique shops and the Badgett Playhouse Theater. 
Read More: A Complete Guide to the Kentucky Section of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

Explore More Kentucky Interstates & Highways