Kentucky Appalachians Family Itinerary
From chocolates to caves to country music, the mountains and valleys of the Kentucky Appalachians offer diverse vacation experiences. Pair them with history, mystery and outdoor recreation for an outstanding family getaway!
Day 1: Caves & Candy
If there’s one thing you can probably get everyone in the family to agree on, it’s chocolate! Sink your teeth into Blue Mondays and other only-in-Kentucky candies at Ruth Hunt Candy Co. in Mt. Sterling, which has been in the chocolate business since 1921 and is the official candy maker for the Kentucky Derby. Take a factory tour to see how the chocolate gets made!
Next, venture underground on a memorable tour at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill. The three-quarter-mile Cascade Cave Tour takes you to the Lake Room, the geologically diverse Cathedral Room and a 30-foot high underground waterfall. For a shorter excursion, the quarter-mile Glimpse of Cascade Cave Tour offers an excellent look at Dance Hall Cavern and Dragon’s Lair, while the X-Cave Tour features two vertical joint passages that meander through a large layer of limestone and provide views of beautiful formations. Reserve a room at the lodge here or overnight in nearby Ashland.
Day 2: Stars of Many Kinds
Today’s adventure starts at Ashland's Highlands Museum and Discovery Center, which houses a wide range of hands-on exhibits that explore the region’s past and celebrate its present. Kids can visit a 19th-century classroom, explore a Discovery Cavern, and make their own souvenir in an area that brings Kentucky’s frontier days to life.
From here, drive south to explore Kentucky’s country music heritage at Loretta Lynn's Homeplace: "Butcher Holler." Situated along the Country Music Highway (U.S. 23) the cabin is nestled between two mist-shrouded mountains up a “holler” two miles southeast of the coal-mining camp of Van Lear.
Now trade country stars for actual stars at the East Kentucky Science Center on the campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonsburg. Planetarium shows here will take you to the edge of space and time. If you enjoy rock music, be sure to check out the center’s awesome laser light shows set to music. Make reservations to stay at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park or continue on to nearby Pikeville.
Day 3: Wild Feuds & Whitewater Rafting
The History Channel’s highly successful miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys” generated overwhelming interest in that infamous feud. There’s no better place to explore it than right where it happened, Pike County, on the Hatfield and McCoy Driving Tour.
Before leaving the mountains, try your hand at Russell Fork Whitewater Rafting. The Russell Fork cuts a dramatic 1,600-foot gorge through the mountains into Elkhorn City, offering Class IV-Class VI rapids – one of many ways to enjoy the area's splendid outdoors.