Corvettes, Caves & Charm: Gear Up for Fun in Bowling Green, Kentucky
By Hayley Hutson
Welcome to Bowling Green, Kentucky – home of the Corvette, planes, trains, caves and thrilling raceways. If you’re looking for experiences for all ages, Bowling Green’s got you covered. Whether you’re a history buff, motorhead, or outdoor enthusiast, there’s always something happening in or around the city.
Rev your engines; it’s time to get this adventure started.
As the hub of Kentucky’s Cave Country, Bowling Green is the perfect spot for cave explorers. Check out the Lost River Cave, Kentucky’s only underground cave boat tour. Here, you’ll descend beneath the city and learn about the cave’s history, from its early beginnings as an ancient Indigenous American hunting ground to a hideout for outlaw Jesse James. Afterward, hunt for treasures in the gemstone sluice and explore the gift shop. Just a short drive from Bowling Green, the world’s largest cave system awaits in Mammoth Cave National Park. Discover 400 miles of passageways on a guided tour and see 350-million-year-old rocks and fascinating animals that have adapted to the dark (watch out for bats). Tours vary in length and will take visitors to popular features like Frozen Niagara, the sinkhole, and massive domes.
Make a splash at Shanty Hollow Lake. Spanning 114 acres, the lake and its surrounding trail system are the perfect spots to immerse yourself in Kentucky’s natural beauty just north of Bowling Green. Cast a line for catfish, largemouth bass and redear sunfish. Paddle across the lake and take in the stunning views of the forests on a kayak. Or, hike the Shanty Hollow Lake Trail to a small seasonal waterfall.
Motorsports & More
Car enthusiasts will find plenty to do around Bowling Green. Visit the National Corvette Museum Campus (home to the GM Corvette Plant) and learn about the history of the Corvette via exhibits showcasing classics, prototypes, and rare finds. Afterward, head to the NCM Motorsports Park for the full Corvette Experience, where you can drive around in one of the museum-owned Corvettes! Not ready to get behind the wheel? Get your adrenaline pumping with a virtual spin in the racing simulator. And don’t miss out on battling your family and friends at the NCM Kartplex via go-kart!
Long before Corvette hit the scene, racing enthusiasts knew Bowling Green for its legendary drag strip – the Beech Bend Raceway. In fact, it was the first track where stock car races were held in 1948. Today, events like drag races and car shows are held almost every weekend, with the most prominent event, Holley LS Fest, in September.
For roller coaster thrills, Beech Bend Amusement Park & Splash Lagoon delivers. Feel the rush as you twist and turn on the Kentucky Rumbler wooden coaster. Take in the incredible views as you feel weightless on Zero-G. And if you dare – brave the swinging pendulum of The Vortex. When you’re ready to cool off, head to Splash Lagoon for thrilling water rides like the Cyclone Saucers or relax on the Lazy River.
With over 7,000 peach, cherry, and apple trees spread across the 105-acre farm, Jackson’s Orchard is the place to visit for apples, peaches, honey and delicious apple cider. While the farm is open to the public from April to November, autumn is when the orchard comes to life. Grab a fresh fried apple pie at Apple Fest in September. In October, the annual Pumpkin Festival draws in a crowd with pumpkin picking, hayrides, corn mazes, and a petting zoo.
Get an authentic taste of farm life at Chaney’s Dairy Barn, known for its Jersey cows and award-winning ice cream. Embark on a self-guided tour to see the robot milking process, indulge in homemade treats like “moo-pies” (a skillet cookie topped with ice cream), and shop local Kentucky products.
Enjoy an afternoon at the ballpark at a Hot Rods game downtown! Affiliated with the Tampa Rays, the Minor League team plays roughly 70 home games each season—offering ample opportunities for affordable family fun.
Arts & Heritage
On the outskirts of Bowling Green, the Baker Arboretum and Downing Museum offer a peaceful respite from the hustle of the city. Stroll through 115 acres of vibrant landscapes filled with dogwoods, magnolias, and Japanese maples. Inside, wander through exhibits showcasing the artistic works of Kentucky-born artist Joe Downing.
If you’re looking for some of the best live entertainment in Bowling Green, the SKyPAC (Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center) downtown is the place to be. Watch standing ovation-worthy Broadway-style productions, comedy shows and concerts by famous artists like Jelly Roll and Travis Tritt. More entertainment awaits at the legendary Capitol Theatre. Once a popular vaudeville house and movie house, the theater now hosts the acclaimed Lost River Sessions Live, spotlighting folk, bluegrass, and Americana performances.
Dive into history at Aviation Heritage Park, where tales of regional heroes take flight. In addition to the eight fully restored aircraft, the park houses a new museum with interactive and educational displays that honor aviators such as Willa Brown, the first African-American woman to receive a pilot license. Explore the grounds and check out planes from the Vietnam War and a T-38 trainer flown by NASA astronauts.
No trip to Bowling Green is complete without a visit to the Historic Railpark & Train Museum. Housed in a restored 1925 depot, the museum features interactive exhibits highlighting tales from the Civil War, segregation, and the ups and downs of the railroad business. You’ll even find one of the region’s largest model railroad displays. Check out seven meticulously restored railcars outside the museum, from a WWII Hospital Car to the Duncan Hines Dining Car (yes, like the cake mix)!
Perfect for Date Night
There are plenty of options in and around Bowling Green for adult-only fun. Relax at one of the region’s charming wineries with a glass of wine. Sip sangria at the cozy Traveler’s Cellar. Indulge in handcrafted fruit wines like elderberry or watermelon at Bluegrass Vineyard. Or, enjoy a complimentary wine tasting at the award-winning Reid’s Livery Winery.
Love beer? Taste your way through the city’s beer scene with visits to two of its top breweries. White Squirrel Brewery serves unique brews like the local favorite Jalapeño Kölsch, a spicy blend of jalapenos and malt flavors in the historic Shake Rag District. Nearby, Blue Holler Brewery offers 20 beers on tap, brewing classes and food trucks on select nights.
Of course, nothing says date night like a stroll through downtown and the historic Fountain Square Park. Visit quaint shops like Candlemaker’s on the Square and Barbara Stewart Interiors. Grab a latte at Spencer’s Coffee. Savor local flavors at Hickory & Oak or Gerard’s Tavern, then indulge at Mary Jane’s Chocolates or Meltdown Ice Cream. At Fountain Square Park, events occur throughout the year, from ice skating in the winter to tailgating and live music.