Let’s road trip: 5 days across the Bluegrass State

Western Waterlands Bluegrass, Blues & BBQ Caves, Lakes & Corvettes

By Spencer Jenkins
April 1, 2024

 

Kentucky, known for its rolling bluegrass hills, world-famous bourbon and rich cultural heritage, offers a unique and enjoyable experience for LGBTQ travelers. This five-day itinerary will guide you through the best of what the Bluegrass State has to offer while highlighting LGBTQ-friendly establishments and events.

 

Day 1: Play in Louisville

 

 

Downtown Louisville is chock full of fun and adventure.

 

Begin your journey in Louisville because that’s where your flight will most likely touch down anyway. The state's largest city has a large LGBTQ scene and numerous attractions. Start your day with a visit to the iconic Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Take a guided tour of the historic racetrack and explore the Kentucky Derby Museum to learn about the history of the famous horse race.

 

For lunch, head over to Logan Street Market in the Smoketown/Shelby Park area to eat some local foods at LGBTQ+-affirming and vegan V-grits. Afterward, head over to Black- and queer-owned tea shop, Sis Got Tea.

 

As night falls, jump to Trouble Bar and get your photo in front of the “wall of trouble.” This wall houses photos of queer, BIPOC and other like-minded folks that have made good trouble in history in order to create a better world. After that, grab a drink named after famous Louisvillian author, Minda Honey, called “The Storyteller.” Trouble has an assortment of cocktails and some of them even have edible glitter to add a little glitz to your already glamorous self.

 

When the clock strikes 10, skip down to PLAY Louisville, a renowned dance and drag bar. Ensure you have plenty of ones in your pocket to tip the queens!

 

 

Day 2: Hang with some forest giants

 


The Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forrest engages all your senses.

 

 

It’s time to head west! Before heading to Bernheim Forest, fuel up at the charming Old Louisville Coffee Co-op. The welcoming atmosphere and inclusive ethos will uplift you and set the tone for your hike!

 

Upon arrival, make your way to the Sensory Garden, where you'll discover five garden beds representing each sense and a peaceful space for those requiring a calming atmosphere. Braille and pictograms are included on all garden displays. The garden is easily accessible via the Education Center parking lot.

 

Venture through the woods and discover the majestic forest giants. Bernheim was privileged to host the Danish artist, Thomas Dambo, to create three colossal sculptures throughout the arboretum, using recycled wood sourced in the region. You'll revel at Mama Loumari and her children, Little Nis, Little Elina and her third baby Giant, who is currently in her belly.

 

After you visit the “Giant” family, make your way up to Elm Lick Trail for a moderately challenging yet rewarding hike. It's the ultimate nature escape. When you finish your five-mile trip, refuel down the street at Mammy's Kitchen & Bar in Bardstown. Country home cooking will fill you up and slap a smile on your face!

 

 

Day 3: Vette City!

 

Welcome to Bowling Green! Upon your arrival, make your way to the heart of downtown to enjoy the lovely scenery of Fountain Square Park. This picturesque green space is nestled in the center of the city and adorned with beautiful, blooming flowers throughout spring. As you stroll along the winding paths, be sure to relish the opportunity to take a moment and relax on one of the many benches. And, of course, no visit to Bowling Green is complete without a stop at Spencer's Coffee, a beloved staple.

If your visit happens to land during fall, you have to hit up Donna’s bar for some local drag. Consider sticking around for the pride festival on Oct. 21!

 

National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green

 

Bowling Green is a destination that holds a special place in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts, with their love of Corvettes. Take a ride to the Corvette Museum and bask in its gorgeous exhibits, including the Nostalgia Gallery where you can witness realistic scenes mirroring Corvette’s early history.

 

 

Day 4: Wind down in Owensboro  

 

Next, travel westward toward the beautiful town of Owensboro, be sure to take a break and recenter yourself with a visit to Black Lotus Yoga & Healing Space. This welcoming wellness center offers a variety of yoga classes that cater to individuals of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned practitioners.

 

Not only that, but their Reiki services are the perfect way to find inner peace and promote healing through gentle, hands-on energy work. Let the experts at Black Lotus Yoga & Healing Space guide you toward tranquility and rejuvenation during your travels.

 

Owensboro also boasts a pride celebration! Although the city has a small LGBTQ scene, its embracing and accepting atmosphere, combined with a diverse range of attractions, make it a delightful destination for LGBTQ travelers.

 

Get ready for a night of fun in Owensboro, KY. Treat yourself to the delicious food at Moonlight BBQ, and then cap off the night at the Pub House with a fantastic cocktail! This is the perfect recipe for an unforgettable night out.

 

 

Day 5: Paducah People

 

If you're planning a trip to Paducah, these art-based experiences are musts!

 

Take a leisurely stroll through the LowerTown Arts District to explore charming boutiques featuring goods from local artisans. Head to one of the various art galleries and collectives around the city, such as the Art Guild of Paducah, Yeiser Art Center, Bricolage Art Collective or Raven & Moth, to admire the works of resident artists. You can even bring home a stunning piece of art to capture a piece of the city's vibrant creative energy.

 

Discover the captivating world of quilting at the National Quilt Museum. Feast your eyes on an extensive collection of contemporary quilts and awe-inspiring fiber art displays.

 

Take a stroll down Paducah Riverwalk, soaking in the stunning views of the Ohio River. Don't forget to check out the colorful murals that exquisitely showcase the city's history on the floodwall. 

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