Unique Places in Kentucky

  • Off The Beaten Path
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    by Dester
  • Off The Beaten Path
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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Kentucky

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    Daniel Boone's Influence on Eastern Kentucky

    by deecat Updated Jan 10, 2005

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    In Eastern Kentucky, there are many reminders of Daniel Boone. Daniel Boone National Forest (located in Winchester in the rugged mountain country, takes up much of the land here), is a 690,00-acre forest featuring the Red River gorge, waterfalls, caves, sandstone cliffs, and natural stone arches. You should realize that this bridge developed naturally from solid rock!

    This long strip stretches all the way south to the Tennessee state line. High on a hilltop about three miles from the Mountain Parkway, there's a gigantic natural sandstone arch called the Natural Bridge. Hikers climb to the top (65 feet high) for spectacular views. Only experienced, rugged hikers try it. The less experienced (like me) take a skylift.
    The bridge is close to the Red River Gorge Geological Area where 50+ more natural arches can be seen. Also there, we saw lovely spires, steep cliffs, abundant palisades, and numerous pinnacles.
    Whenever you see a map of Kentucky, you will note a long strip of green; that represents this enormous Daniel Boone National Forest.

    We saw another influence of Boone at a town called Barbourville which holds the Daniel Boone Festival each October, and people dress in pioneer clothes.

    Of course, Fort Boonesboro State Park in Richmond shows a re-creation of the fort built by Daniel Boone in 1775, and artisans demonstrate 18th-century trades and skill as well.

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    • Hiking and Walking
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    Lesser-Known Sites in Kentucky

    by deecat Updated Jan 11, 2005

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    This tip is to tell you about lesser-known sites that I've been to that are not usually in travel books, but I still think that they are worth visiting.

    Nostalgia Station Toy & Train Museum

    This museum is located in Versailles, Kentucky. It really is a 1911 restored railroad station that has a model train display of 1916 and 1950s Lionel Train layouts with all the original accessories. It also has railroad memorabilia and children's toys.
    If you are a fan of the old Lionel Trains, then you want to see this. Or, if you have children, it would be great to show them what used to be.

    Big Bone Lick State Park

    This park is near Union, Kentucky. During the Ice Age, many animals came to this particular spot to lick the salt springs. The bones of these prehistoric creatures have been preserved and are on display in the park.

    Kentucky Opry

    The Kentucky Opry is located in Benton, Kentucky, near where my parents lived. It's a musical theater that showcases fine Kentucky talent in the fields of Bluegrass, country, and gospel music. We've gone here many times, and we were never disappointed.

    Newport Aquarium

    Newport Aquarium is located in Newport, Kentucky, and it is quite unusual and interesting. Here, it's like visiting the depths of the ocean. You walk through 200 feet of clear, underwater tunnels that contain thousands of sea creatures. Children really love this place.

    White Hall State Shine

    This home is located in Richmond, Kentucky, and it is the restored home of Cassius M. Clay, an abolitionist, diplomat, and publisher of the antislavery paper The True American.
    Hopefully, you will venture out to some of these lesser-known places.

    Bybee Pottery

    Bybee Pottery is located in Richmond, Kentucky and dates from the early 1800s. This hand-thrown pottery is still being made by a fifth generation of the founding family.

    Hopefully, you will venture out to some of these lesser-known but wonderful sites here in Kentucky.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

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    Largest city in Eastern Kentucky: Ashland

    by deecat Updated Jan 9, 2005

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    Historic Ashland is a great city for you to see centuries of Kentucky's history all in one place. This small city is located near the point where three states--Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky--meet.

    The people who settled in the area in the eighteenth century built houses in the middle of ancient Indian burial mounds from 2,000 years earlier! We visited the mounds (see photo) as well as the ornate homes. What wonderful architectural details we saw such as the cast-iron dragons that glared down from the roof of one of the homes.
    Ashland is a steel-making and oil-refining center. Who has not heard of Ashland Oil Company?
    Ashland is Eastern Kentucky's largest city, and it's located along the Ohio River in the far northeastern part of the state.
    Kentucky's one-time poet laureat, Jesse Stuart, lived ten miles north of Ashland. This land that he lived on was willed to and set aside as a nature preserve where there are many trails to hike.
    We visited the Kentucky Highlands Museum that is located in a 1917 Mansion where we learned about the fascinating past of the region. I really enjoyed the antique clothing that they exhibited. There was also an interesting exhibit about the development of the radio!

    If you enjoy out-of-the-way places, you'll love Ashland.

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    Cumberland Gap National Park

    by deecat Updated Jan 10, 2005

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    Cumberland Gap National Park, located in Middlesboro, honors the pass through the Appalachian Mountains that served as a "natural doorway for wildlife, explorers, and settlers." There is a grandeur here like nowhere else on earth. Thank goodness that Congress authorized this area as a national historic park in 1940!

    It's at the southeastern tip of Kentucky, and you enter the park on U.S. Highway 25, which follows the rail route that Daniel Boone blazed. You are able to journey back into history if you participate in nature hikes and listen to Appalachian music. Or, you may wish to take a self-guided hike. How about going to the visitor center museum and their movie theater? The best thing to do, I think, is to join park rangers on their guided tour. Vistor Center is open daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    You might want to see Gap Cave by joining the park rangers on a two-hour adventure.
    The actual park contains about 70 miles of hiking trails that go through beautiful forested mountains. Drive up the mountain to the Pinnacle Overlook for an overwhelming view into three states (Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee).
    For nature lovers, this is a "must see"...it just takes your breath away.

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    Barkley Lake

    by deecat Updated Jan 11, 2005

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    The story of Lake Barkley is a strange one. Lake Barkley was actually formed in the early 1960s when a dam was built on the Cumberland at Grand Rivers. There were two communities with a combined population of 3500 that rested on the banks off the Cumberland. The river was "impounded (or flooded by the dam), and the two towns, Eddyville and Kuttawa, had to be relocated.
    It was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that did this work. They did the same to Kentucky Lake which is about 38 miles up stream from where the Cumberland empties into the Ohio River. One mile above the dam is a canal connecting Lake Barkley with Kentucky Lake to form one of the greatest freshwater recreational complexes in the nation. These two lakes run parallel courses for more than 50 miles. The Land Between the Lakes recreational area is located between them.
    Lake Barkley is about 134 miles long, and the shoreline measures 1,004 miles long. Strangely, the lake's level is mechanically fluctuated from summer to winter for flood control purposes. The "Summer Pool is usually reached by May 1. Then the water level begin dropping gradually on July 1, and winter pool is reached by December 1. The spring rise starts April 1. So, the lake's water surface area varies accordingly from 57,920 acres at summer pool to 45,210 acres at winter pool. That fascinates me.
    So, when people refer to Eddyville and "Old Eddyville", the "Old" areas were the portions of the city that were left above the water after the areas were flooded. You can see old foundations and streets during winter pool. Can you believe that highways were even relocated including US 68 and US 62. The Illinois Central railroad was relocated and can still be seen under water from low flying planes above!!!
    Today, Lake Barkley is a beautiful lake and recreation area.

    Related to:
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    Historic Covington

    by deecat Written Jan 9, 2005

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    In Kentucky's northern tip, you will find the city of Covington. Don't miss it!
    Since Allan has relatives who live here, we just happened to discover it.
    The town was named for General Leonard Covington who was an American hero. The town lies across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Onio, and is Kentucky's fourth largest city. An interesting bridge called The John A. Roebling Bridge links the two cities.
    I loved the Animated Clock (one of the country's only one). It's located at the Carroll Chimes Tower. The clock has twenty-one small figures who march out every hour to perform the story of "The Pied Piper of Hamelin"
    By all means, don't miss Covington's Basilica of the Assumption because this church has one of the world's largest hand-blown stained-glass windows. It's truly marvelous.

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    Valley View

    by Krumlovgirl Updated Oct 16, 2005

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    Valley View isn't on the way to anywhere, unless you are taking the ferry over from Jessamin County to Madison County or vice versa. And I really suggest that you do. Although there isn't much to see in Valley View (okay, there isn't ANYTHING to see in Valley View) it is still worth it to take the ferry ride.

    There are several things that set Valley View apart from other communities of long ago around Richmond. One is the Valley View (car and people) ferry that is still in operation today. You can ride it from Madison to Jessamine county and it is free. The other thing is that if you are a fan of Cassius Clay and his history, this is the town where he first met his fourteen year old wife, Dora. (He was in his eighties which is another reason that Cassius himself was the man.) Although Dora’s home place no longer exists, it is her celebrity that gave the town a bit of a boost in the early 1900’s. Today, nothing remains of the town that once was. Still, it is worth driving down and taking a look at the ferry and a lot of the old buildings are still standing. As you might have noticed, I have a fondness for old houses, towns, and country drives. If you are into that as well, then by all means check out this small community.

    Note: On the way, you will pass a place that USED to be a community. So much, in fact, that it had several churches, a school, and a factory. Now NOTHING remains except for a church. You can’t even see any ruins. Amazing how something like that can just dry up and disappear.

    I have a page devoted to Valley View that this information came from. I have more photos on it if you want to check them out.

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    Acres of Land Winery- Richmond

    by Krumlovgirl Updated Oct 14, 2006

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    While I wouldn't recommend coming to Richmond for the sole purpose of visiting the winery, if you're already there then it's a good place to stop at. It was just a matter of time. AND it’s located on one of my favorite roads-Poosey Ridge. (Yeah, the address says “Barnes Mill” but it’s Poosey.) It’s still fairly new but the restaurant is really good. We had lunch there and for Richmond they have quite an extensive menu. The winery is located on eight acres of beautiful land and is open daily from noon to 7:00 pm. They offer tours of the winery and free tasting. Opinions vary as to the quality of the wine but they’re still young yet and trying to find their feet. Some people really like the merlot but I find it a bit strong. I am more of a sparkling wine person myself and although theirs isn't quite as fruity as I like, it has potential. I just love trying out local wines wherever I am. You can take a picnic there if you wish. Some of the wines that they carry are:
    Chardonnay
    Vidal Blanc
    Chenin Blanc/Viognier
    Vignoles
    Blush
    Cabernet Sauvignon
    Merlot
    Chambourcin
    Concord
    Blackberry
    Sparkling Wine

    Take Barnes Mill Road out of town. Cross over the little creek and go up the BIG hill. When you get to the top, the winery is down on the right.

    Note: photo taken by me

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    West Liberty

    by Krumlovgirl Updated Oct 16, 2005

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    There are a couple of reasons to go to West Liberty: the Sorghum Festival, the Bluegrass Festival, and Cave Run Lake. It is fairly easy to get to fromthe Mountain Parkway and the roads around it are quite scenic.

    West Liberty is the county seat of Morgan County. Currently, it has around 3,000 people. The name West Liberty always confused me because the town of Liberty is actually west of West Liberty which should have made West Liberty “East Liberty.” But no, this is not the case. In actuality, the county seat of Pike County was going to be called “Liberty” so this town really would have been west of it. Back in its heyday it was a hopping little town with an active downtown area and the Sorghum Festival in the fall. Now, like many other small towns, the downtown area has pretty much dried up. Although, they still have the Sorghum Festival in September. The problem with West Liberty’s downtown drying up is that they don’t have anywhere else to go. With Richmond, they built the Bypass and businesses relocated there. They also have a mall and other sources of businesses around town. West Liberty only had downtown and when it started going, the whole town started going. You definitely won’t see a subdivision here.

    Cave Run Lake is very close to West Liberty and there is also a nice scenic drive from West Liberty to Ezel. Broke Leg Falls is only a few short miles from Ezel. The Sorghum Festival goes on the last full weekend of September.

    I have a West Liberty page that is in progress for the moment if you want more pictures.

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    Guist Creek Lake

    by Dester Updated Jun 1, 2008

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    The park offers camping, boating, fishing and skiing on approximately 325 acres with 27 miles of shoreline. The lake has bluegill, crappie and channel catfish. Guist Creek Lake has good (large mouth) bass fishing and the two state records for mud cat and white catfish.
    I've seen more great blue herons here than any where. The boat launch is well maintained as are the slips. Launch fee is only $5.00 with an honor box if the store is closed.

    Related to:
    • Fishing
    • Camping

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    NATURAL ARCH

    by LoriPori Written Jan 25, 2007

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    Located in the Daniel Boone National Forest and towering above a forest woodland, the 50 by 9 foot NATURAL ARCH was formed by the erosion of wind, water and ice, that cut away the soft sandstone and left a hard rock cap that arches dramatically across the sky.
    The arch's surrounding 945 acres were once home to prehistoric groups and later the hunting grounds of the Cherokee Indians.
    Panoramic View Trail ( 0.55 miles ) begins at the parking lot, terminating at a scenic overlook.
    Directions: Take US 27 south from Somerset for 21 miles, turn right (west) on Ky 927 and follow signs for 4 miles.
    It was absolutely worth the little detour.

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    Middlesboro: Town Built in a Meteor Crater

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jun 15, 2004

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    From just about any vantage point in the Southeastern Kentucky town of Middlesboro it is obvious that the town sits in the middle of a round shaped valley. What's unusual about that is that this southern Appalachian area is one of long linear ridges and valleys. A round one is very strange.

    Rocks found in the center of the town site are shattered as if by something out of this world, and rock on the perimeter of the valley, four miles in diameter, have been bent and turned upside down by some extraordinarily powerful force. Scores of Geologists have descended upon this ususual site and have concluded that there was a gigantic asteroid strike here. The theory is that it happened 300 million years ago, and that the asteroid or meteor was 1,500 feet in diameter. The Kentucky Society of Professional Geologists has designated the town of Middlesboro a "Distinguished Geological Site."

    There are other reasons one may want to visit Middlesboro. Immediately south of the town is Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, a very important point in the history of American westward expansion. North of Middlesboro is Pine Mountain State Resort Park and its famous Chained Rock. Check out our two seperate sets of pages for more information on each of these outstanding parks.

    Middlesboro is in the southeastern corner of the state, where Kentucky joins Tennessee and Virginia.

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    McHargue's Mill

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jan 22, 2006

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    McHargue's Mill was built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It stands on the banks of the LIttle Laurel River where it intersects with Boone's Trace, a historic pioneer road built by Daniel Boone. This authentic working reproduction mill is open and in operation Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is free. Visitors can buy fresh stone ground corn meal at $2.50 for a two pound bag.

    The most notable thing about the mill is that the paths leading up to it are lined with the "Library of Mountain Millstones," the largest collection of old millstones in the United States. A few of these are of European origin, having been brought to America by early immigrants. The stones in the mill itself date back to 1805, and were carried by wagon or ox cart over the original Wilderness Road. There are many more millstones than I was able to capture in this photograph. It's am impressive sight to see.

    The mill is located at the entrance to Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park, 998 Levi Jackson Mill Road, London, KY 40741. London is on I-75 in southeastern Kentucky.

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    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • National/State Park

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    Hidden River Cave

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Mar 22, 2004

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    In the center of the small town of Horse Cave, Kentucky is the huge natural entrance to Hidden River Cave, and the American Cave Museum. As the name implies, a river runs through this cavern, flowing 150 feet beneath the streets of the town. On the January Sunday morning of our visit the water was very high and rising so fast that tours had to be suspended for the day after ours.

    Every cave has it's fascination. This one holds a story of miracle-like restoration, as it was for many years too dangerous to enter because of pollution. With tougher environmental standards in the surrounding community, and with the flushing effect of the river, it is once again clean and inhabited by rare creatures such as the albino crayfish which we could see in the water. The Museum above the cave is in an old two story downtown storefront building. The exhibits and displays were well done, interesting, and educational. It is operated by the American Cave Conservation Assoc., a non-profit organization.

    Horse Cave is 12 miles northeast of Mammoth Cave, on US-31 West.

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    • Eco-Tourism
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    WILDLIFE

    by johanl Written Jan 8, 2003

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    Kentucky has quite some wildlife to offer. Birds, of which "The Red Cardinal" is the state bird, deer and wild turkeys.
    It is fun to sit out and wait for them to appear and follow their movements. It's to me one of the best ways to relax and enjoy the real country life.

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Kentucky Off The Beaten Path

Reviews and photos of Kentucky off the beaten path posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Kentucky sightseeing.
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