One of the tricky things about constantly traveling is picking what to do when we visit an area because there are so many family fun things to do.
No matter where you are in America, there is a plethora of things to do and places to see within an hour drive. If we did everything an area has to offer, we would soon be broke and our adventure would come to a screeching halt. So we have gotten good at mixing free attractions with paid ones to make a fun experience without breaking the bank. If you are budget minded like us, then here are six family fun things to do in Kentucky. Just know that there are about a hundred other things that could have made this list, but we chose those that mix education with fun.
1. Kentucky Science Center in Louisville
Louisville has so much to offer, that choosing what to do can be daunting. We chose to visit the Kentucky Science Center because we like incorporating education into our family fun things, plus it is on the ASTC reciprocal benefits list which gets us in for free.
The museum had multiple floors to explore and a wide range of displays. Some of it was very educational, like the Egyptian mummy with it’s displays and video. Other areas were just hands on fun for the kids like the shape market and the climbing structure. I liked that the museum had a mix of natural history, historic displays, and science. The kids all really enjoyed the hands on lab experiments they were able to preform with the staff. We spent a full day and brought a picnic lunch to eat. If you wanted to spend half a day and visit another place, it is located right near several other attractions.
Cost: $13 per adult and $11 per kid for the exhibits
Free if you have an ASTC membership and are traveling (see the ASTC reciprocal rules)
2. Toyota Factory in Kentucky
When my youngest son asked to visit the Toyota Factory in Georgetown I was skeptical that they would allow minors on the factory tour. Most of the other manufacturing facilities we have looked into touring have had an age limit set too low for our family. Toyota doesn’t set the limit according to age and instead says that the child must be in first grade. Trip does first grade work and even though he is only five years old was an absolute angel while we toured the factory. The guide even thanked the kids for their good behavior afterward.
If you are anywhere near the Toyota Factory it is worth taking the time to let them drive you around to see all the excellent work being done. Robots welding, humans working on this very advanced assembly line, a management that values its staff and allows them to help improve the manufacturing process are just some of what you will see. Pictures inside aren’t allowed, but you can take photos of the first car they ever made!
3. Kentucky State Capitol Tour
We love walking around in state capitol buildings and have been in over 30 of them now including the US Capitol building in D.C. I thought the pleasure of wandering around inside of these historic buildings would die down. Then we walked in to the Kentucky State Capitol and were wowed beyond belief because it could very well be the nicest Capitol building in America!
The people were friendly, the art was epic, the architecture was impressive, and they had some museum quality displays to check out. We really like the doll display with the dresses of all the first ladies. The kids said the color changing dome was the best though. If you were only going to visit a single Capitol building, then this would be the one to pick.
4. The Governors Mansion in Frankfort
We don’t visit the governors mansion in every state, but if it is convenient to the capitol we try to check it out. Well Kentucky’s governors mansion only does tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After touring the Capitol building on the weekend, we decided to come back during the week to see the mansion. I made a mistake and we showed up after all the tours had been completed! Luckily the volunteer working at The Governors Mansion was super nice and gave us a personal tour around the place.
The mansion has some very nice older furniture, a rotating display of art and lots of Kentucky history to learn about. Although the Governors Mansion doesn’t have hands on activities for kids, we still included it in our list of family fun things to see because it isn’t a huge tour. It was just long enough for everyone to learn something without the kids becoming bored.
5. Mammoth Cave National Park
Going down into a cave is fun no matter how old you are and there is something extra special about visiting the largest cave in the world. So the bad part about Mammoth Cave National Park is that you have to pay for a tour in order to gain any access into the caves. The guides are good though and our historic tour was a blast for the entire family. The ranger even turned off all the lights deep in the caves and then lit an oil lamp while he told stories about the historic guides. We were lucky and got to see a bat, a rare occurrence for the time of the year we visited. Although the cave system is the largest in the world, with over 400 miles of cave, you don’t have to walk that far as the tours are all under 2 miles.
If you have kids, talk with a ranger and get a free Junior Ranger book. It was one of the better books we have encountered and all our kids enjoyed filling it out. Don’t forget to hike around above ground too, which is free. We visited Cedar Sink Hole to see the effects of the caves and we even got to hike down into it.
Cost: From $7 per adult and $5 per kid up to $16 per adult and $10 per youth or more
You can use some of the Special Access passes to get a reduced price (not the 4th grader pass though)
Free to hike above ground
6. Lincolns Birthplace in Kentucky
There are two places to visit if you are interested about president Lincoln. The first is his birthplace, called The First Lincoln Memorial, and it has a monument, visitor center, and some trails. Kids can fill out a junior ranger book to receive a badge. There is a video at the visitor center that was educational and entertaining. It definitely has family fun things to do, with hands on activities for the kids.
Afterwards you can visit Lincoln’s boyhood home, where the kids can earn a patch for filling out a single page of activities. There is a reproduction of the cabin his parents would have built there. None of the original cabins survived, but they have reproductions at both the memorial and the boyhood site. Our kids liked being able to go inside this cabin to see what it would have been like when Lincoln lived there. Outside there are some hiking trails to explore and our kids liked visiting the river where he almost drown.
No matter what you decide to spend your time doing while in Kentucky, I am sure the people will be friendly.
After having visited so many places, we tend to notice what the general mood of the locals is and Kentucky was one of the friendliest places in America. Everywhere we visited to enjoy our family fun things everyone was warm and kind, it was super easy to start a conversation with people. It isn’t called the hospitality state for no reason and they have mastered the art of being nice to strangers. It was great getting to visit Kentucky and I am looking forward to going back again.
No matter where we go we usually bring along at least one hydration pack. If your packing a picnic, hiking in a National Park, or just visiting a museum a good hydration pack is a great thing for a family to bring. We like the Teton brand, but some people swear by Camelbak. Even if you prefer to lug a water bottle, just remember to stay hydrated. #AD