Bluegrass, Blues & Barbecue Region
Bluegrass, blues and barbecue – an iconic trio that marks the area’s soulful traditions. Pack your appetite and prepare your ears for legendary bluegrass music as you explore the charming towns in this northwestern region of Kentucky. Below we’ve highlighted a few of the towns and attractions in the area to help you plan your next road trip!
Downloadable Road Trip Ideas
Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum
The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Owensboro celebrates and preserves the history of bluegrass music with interactive exhibits, concerts, jam sessions, lessons, the annual ROMP Festival and more, all just a few miles from the home place of “Father of Bluegrass” Bill Monroe.
John James Audubon State Park
Visit the John James Audubon State Park in Henderson to stroll the Audubon Wetlands boardwalk, hike the trails, golf, fish and explore the Audubon Museum and Nature Center. Housed in the same building, the museum tells about the life and work of naturalist, ornithologist and painter John James Audubon, while the nature center offers a wildlife observation room, theater and educational programming.
Western Kentucky is known for delicious barbecue – there’s even a Western Kentucky BBQ Trail! And local restaurants don’t just serve pulled pork, beef brisket, ribs, chicken and turkey, although they have all those, too – this region is particularly famous for its barbecue mutton and burgoo. From barbecue joints in Owensboro, locally known as the “BBQ Capital of the World,” and home to the annual International Bar-B-Q Festival in May to Madisonville and more cities across the region and state, there’s plenty of opportunities to sample all the mouthwatering varieties of barbecue.
Green River Distilling Co.
Stop by Green River Distilling Co. in Owensboro, the westernmost point on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®. The company was formerly known as the O.Z. Tyler Distillery, but rebranded in 2020 to celebrate their heritage and start a new chapter for the business. The original Green River was started by J.W. McCulloch in the late 19th century at the same location, then suffered a devastating loss in 1918 when a fire burned through the distillery. Journey back through the distillery’s history during a bourbon tasting and tour.
Dawson Springs in Hopkins County was Kentucky’s first official Trail Town, serving as an example of a community where you can find trails of all sorts, supplies, guides, lodging and meals. Hike, bike, paddle and more while enjoying the outdoors. The nearby Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park offers abundant nature trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding in the woods surrounding Pennyrile Lake.
Bill Monroe’s Rosine
Rosine is a small western Kentucky town and the birthplace of “Father of Bluegrass” Bill Monroe. Visit the Bill Monroe Museum to explore memorabilia, step back in history at Bill Monroe’s Homeplace near Jerusalem Ridge and hear live music at the Rosine Barn Jamboree – all three pay homage to his life, career and legacy.
Farmer & Frenchman Winery and Café
The Farmer and Frenchman Winery and Café is a small farm winery and vineyard with a café, event space and guest cabins that combines rustic Kentucky agrarian roots and Parisian elegance, just fifteen minutes south of Henderson. Enjoy a wine tasting, a stroll through the vineyard, a delicious meal and extend your stay overnight – the guest cabins are solar-powered with incredible 360-degree views of the surrounding farmland, woods and vineyard with miles of walking trails.
Owensboro Museum of Fine Art
The Owensboro Museum of Fine Art is home to traveling exhibits, galleries, private collections and rotating exhibits from the permanent collection featuring American, European and Asian fine and decorative arts from the 15th century to present day. Two parts of the facility itself are on the National Register of Historic Sites, the John Hampden Smith House that serves as a decorative arts wing and the 1909 Carnegie Library.
Ellis Park Racing & Gaming
See Kentucky’s horse industry in motion at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming in Henderson, which hosts live horse racing in the summer months, usually mid-July through Labor Day. Simulcasting from racetracks throughout the nation are available year-round for viewers. Other fun racing activities and events are held seasonally.
Muhlenberg Music & History Museum
Located off exit 58 on the Western Kentucky Parkway, the Muhlenberg Music & History Museum in Central City showcases historic area connections to a number of famous musicians. This is the city the country-rock duo the Everly Brothers called home, the county award-winning singer-songwriter John Prine made famous in “Paradise,” the boyhood home of country singer and guitarist Merle Davis and the hometown community of renowned flutist Jim Walker.