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. Visit the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area to see the Elk & Bison prairie, or stay at a Kentucky State Park on one of the lakes. This road trip offers many opportunities to soak in the charm of small towns. And where else but Mayfield can you see the "strange procession that never moves." Whether you’re just passing through or making a vacation of it, the opportunities along I-69 are endless!

Must-Stops on Interstate 69

ellis park race course inc. photo

Ellis Park Race Course Inc.

3300 U.S. Hwy. 41 N.
Henderson, KY 42420

john james audubon state park photo

John James Audubon State Park

3100 US Hwy 41 North
Henderson, KY 42420

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

glema mahr center for the arts photo

Glema Mahr Center for the Arts

2000 College Drive
Madisonville, KY 42431

stone bridge photo

Mahr Park Arboretum

55 Mahr Park Dr.
Madisonville, KY 42431

kayaking the tradewater river photo

Dawson Springs (Trail Town)

200 West Arcadia Ave
Dawson Springs, KY 42408

adsmore house & gardens living history museum photo

Adsmore House & Gardens Living History Museum

304 N. Jefferson St.
Princeton, KY 42445

mineral mound state park photo

Mineral Mound State Park

48 Finch Ln.
Eddyville, KY 42038

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

wooldridge monuments photo

Wooldridge Monuments

Lockridge Street
Mayfield, KY 42066

fancy farm vineyard and winery (i-69, exit 22) photo

Fancy Farm Vineyard and Winery (I-69, Exit 22)

115 Hayden Street
Fancy Farm, KY 42039


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.


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.


Cartwright Grove is the re-creation of an 1800’s Wild West Town.  Buildings include a dry goods store, ladies dress shop, livery, jail, barber shop, hotel, church, and even a saloon.  Stop by anytime to peek in the windows or attend one of the themed open houses that occur the last two weekends of October and every weekend from Thanksgiving through Christmas.  Sometimes you can even take a wagon ride right through the middle of Cartwright Grove.

In a plot of Maplewood Cemetery are the unusual stone figures of an eccentric aristocrat and Civil War soldier, tagged as “The Strange Procession That Never Moves”.   The Woolridge Monuments were built from 1892 until Henry Wooldridge’s death in 1899.  Wooldridge, his family, and favorite animals are enshrined here; gates are open 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., daily.  

Located in Mayfield’s Historic Ice House, the Gallery exhibits original works from local and regional artists, hosting several art shows throughout the year.  The Gallery also offers classes and workshops for all ages and is home to a gift shop where you can purchase handcrafted items by local and regional artists.  The Ice House also is home to the Barton-Davis Museum, featuring local memorabilia representing the history of Mayfield & Graves County, and also is home to the Mayfield-Graves County Tourism Office.  

Nestled in the small Graves County Community of Fancy Farm, you will find a vineyard established by a local fourth-generation agricultural innovator.  The winery offers a variety of wines in a welcoming atmosphere and also hosts special events throughout the year.  


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.


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.


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