Next time you visit Kentucky, explore the state’s historic sites. From Lincoln’s birthplace to Churchill Downs, get your fill of fun and history in Kentucky.
The Civil War, Daniel Boone, rural Appalachia, and the Kentucky Derby are just a few of the prime components that define Kentucky’s rich history. Whether you’re interested in natural history, American history, or the history of horseracing, you can find plenty to see and do in the Bluegrass State. Don’t miss these great historic sites on your next Kentucky vacation.
Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace
In the small town of Hodgenville, about an hour south of Louisville, a replica of Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace sits inside a marble, neoclassical monument. Stop at the visitors’ center to watch the video presentation about Lincoln’s early life. Sinking Spring, where the Lincolns drew their water, runs through the park where the historic home sits.
Explorer Daniel Boone and his team carved out Kentucky’s first road in 1775 to forge a path for settlers traveling to new lands in the west. The 120-mile route starts on the Holston River in what is now Kingsport, Tennessee, and winds through five Kentucky counties before ending in Boonesborough. If you want to top off the drive with a visit to Boone’s grave, travel a little farther northwest to Frankfort.
The scenic drive starts at historic marker No. 1228, which commemorates Bell County’s oldest house (circa 1800) and continues north into Flat Lick, a Native American campsite. From there, it passes through mountainous Rockcastle County before ending at the settlement and fort that bears Boone’s name.
Frazier Kentucky History Museum
Learn all about the Bluegrass State by enjoying the exhibits, artifacts, and live performances at Frazier Kentucky History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. Costumed staff, called “teaching artists,” provide an in-the-flesh way to experience the life and culture of the state. Throughout the museum’s three floors, the permanent exhibits focus on legends like Lewis and Clark, prohibition (complete with a speakeasy), World War I, and more.
The International Bluegrass Music Museum
There’s no better place to establish a permanent tribute to bluegrass music than the birthplace of Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass. Located in Owensboro, Kentucky, the International Bluegrass Music Museum’s permanent exhibits include “Big Mon,” — featuring items from Monroe’s estate — a timeline of bluegrass music, and an instrument showcase.
The building is also home to the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. Be sure to check the museum’s calendar for the best chance to catch some amazing live music.
Since 1875, Churchill Downs has hosted the prestigious Kentucky Derby, the longest continuously running sporting event in the U.S. Twin Spires mark a grandstand that accommodates more than 165,000 guests on Derby Day.
The best way to experience Churchill Downs is to attend a live horseracing event. The season starts in late April. You can also stop by the Kentucky Derby Museum, which takes you through Derby history and shows you the life of a racing thoroughbred.
There’s so much history to see and explore in Kentucky, but these 5 locations are a great place to start. We hope that after your next trip to this state you are able to bring home some new historical knowledge, and plenty of memories, that will last a lifetime.
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