Bluegrass, Blues & BBQ Family Itinerary
From bluegrass music, science and history in Owensboro to Audubon art and nature in Henderson, a getaway to Kentucky's Bluegrass, Blues & BBQ region is fun for the whole family. (Enjoying some of the world’s best barbecue sure won’t hurt, either.)
Day 1: Owensboro & Henderson
Begin your day with fun and discovery at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, which presents traveling exhibits and five kid-friendly galleries: The PlayZeum, SpeedZeum, Encounter, Coal Mine Gallery and Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center. Just a few blocks away, the stunning and hands-on Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum celebrates the role of bluegrass as the official music of Kentucky, while the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art offers a kid-friendly exhibit area called Artland.
One of the best times to visit Owensboro is in May during the International Bar-B-Que Festival. But any day in town offers the chance to try mouthwatering ’cue at local restaurants that give Owensboro the nickname “The BBQ Capital of the World,” including the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, Old Hickory Bar-B-Que and other restaurants along the Western Kentucky BBQ Trail.
Take a short drive to neighboring Henderson to discover a downtown that celebrates great public art. See if you can spot all the life-size, cast-bronze bird sculptures based on paintings by John James Audubon, the famous naturalist who lived in Henderson for a time in the early 1800s. You can see these sculptures, which were created by Kentucky-born artist Raymond Graf, on a walking tour that also points out the town’s pre-Civil War, Victorian and Italianate architecture. Afterward, enjoy downtown shopping and dining.
During warm weather don't miss the Riverfront Fountains, an interactive splash park featuring dancing jets of gloriously cool water that shoot high into the air in an ever-changing spray. The water park also has two play areas for kids – a larger area with 45 jets that shoot up to 15 feet high, plus a second section with smaller jets for the wee ones.
Day 2: Birds, Paddleboats & More
Spend your morning exploring the John James Audubon State Park Museum and Nature Center. Original oil and watercolor art by Audubon himself are on display in this museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Park staff conduct environmental and art programs for adults and children, while an adjacent nature preserve offers hiking, walking trails and paddleboat rentals.
Now hop back in the car for the Webster County Civil War Driving Tour past key sites from the battles of Slaughtersville, Burnt Mill and Dixon, plus see where the burning of the Dixon Jail took place. Stretch your legs with a little recreation and relaxation at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park in Dawson Springs; a showcase for Kentucky’s magnificent hardwood trees, this state park is truly a dream destination for nature lovers, offering birding, boating, camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking and more. Stay the night in one of the park’s cozy cottages or lodge rooms.
Day 3: Country Adventures... and Country Ham
After a leisurely breakfast at Pennyrile’s Clifty Creek Restaurant, take time to go horseback riding, play a round of miniature golf or get in a little fishing before heading to Newsom's Old Mill Store in downtown Princeton. An institution you won’t want to miss, Newsom’s serves up handmade sandwiches stuffed with a wide variety of meats, including their signature country ham. (Just to give you a taste testimonial, Food Network star Bobby Flay has Newsom’s meats shipped from Kentucky to his restaurants in New York City.)
Before leaving Princeton, visit Adsmore House and Gardens, sitting on approximately four beautiful acres filled with a variety of mature trees. Tours by Victorian-costumed guides take you back in time with periodic settings like a 1907 wedding, the Black Patch Tobacco Wars and one of the most popular, 1901 Victorian Christmas.