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Explore Outdoor Kentucky

A Guide to Bluegrass Recreation

Kentucky plays host to some incredible historic sites, cultural centers, and world famous events like the Kentucky Derby – but it’s the outdoor splendor that really puts the Bluegrass State on the map. Outdoor Kentucky is full of adventure – everything from a relaxing day of fishing by the lake in Campbellsville to an underground cave tour in Bowling Green.

Feel like touring Kentucky on two wheels? Join the Pennyrile Area Cyclists in Madisonville for a weekly ride through town, or head to Louisville and meet up with the Wheel Fun Rentals & Guided Bike Tours.

Nature lover? Hiker? Make your way to the Metropolis Lake State Nature Preserve in Paducah, or the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge in Danville for miles of scenic trails coursing through the Kentucky wilderness. Bring your camera, or just your hiking boots, and enjoy your time with the family in outdoor Kentucky.

Accommodations in Kentucky are just as warm and familiar as the outdoor activities, so make plans for a sleepover in the Bluegrass State. Find your inner outdoorsmen any time of year in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s scenic terrain is ideal for the cyclist. Whether trekking down Kentucky’s many mountain-biking trails, or zooming down the pavement on a brand new set of street tires, you’ll have plenty of fun in the Bluegrass State.

Set in western Kentucky, the small town of Madisonville is home to the Pennyrile Area Cyclists. Whether you ride street or trail, the PAC is more than willing to show fellow cyclists around outdoor Kentucky. With nearly 100 members in the Hopkins County area, PAC invites all visitors to join them on one of their weekly rides or even the PAC Challenge – an annual bike tour of Hopkins County. Weekly rides are held Tuesday and Thursday evenings, with Saturday and Sunday rides announced weekly on their website.

Vacationing in Louisville soon? How about a family bike ride with Wheel Fun Rentals & Guided Bike Tours? Get in a bike tour of everything from Churchill Downs, River Walk, and even downtown Louisville. These tours are a quick two-hour ride between 10 to 15 miles through outdoor Kentucky. Call ahead for a reservations; private and self-guided tours are also available.

There is always plenty to see and do when exploring the Bluegrass State on two wheels.

Kentucky offers some of the best caving adventures in the world. Cities like Bowling Green, and, of course, Cave City are home to well-known caverns like Onyx Cave, Outlaw Cave, and the Lost River Cave. Don’t miss underground adventure with the family during your Kentucky trip.

Cave City is famous for, you guessed it, its many caves. Check out Onyx Cave and Outlaw Cave, and especially the Historic Diamond Caverns. Neighboring the Mammoth Cave National Park, Diamond Caverns encourages visitors to join one-hour, .5-mile guided tour of the caves. Bring comfortable walking shoes, a camera, and your sense of adventure for this journey through the stunning, 58-degree caverns of underground Kentucky.

For those in southern Kentucky, head to the town of Bowling Green for tours the Lost River Cave and Valley. Why? The Lost River Cave is home to Kentucky’s Only Underground Boat Tour – ready to show you a kid-friendly time daily, throughout the year. Sign up for a trip down the deepest and shortest river on the globe, all underground in a 57-degree cave. After the boat tour, take a hike down three miles of Blue Hole Trails and check out the Seasonal Butterfly Habitat, or the Old Mill Gift Shop.

Go ahead and explore underground Kentucky – you won’t be sorry.

There’s no better way to relax than fishing in Kentucky. Take a deserved break at on of Kentucky’s many lakes or rivers – an ideal getaway for anglers using bait and flies alike.

Just east of Louisville in northern Kentucky, the town of Shelbyville is home to Lake Shelby – a 20-acre paradise for fisherman. Catch some crappie, and catfish or bring in some bass and bluegill. The kids will enjoy some paddle boat time on the water, or get the whole family together and rent a row boat or canoe.

Found yourself in central Kentucky? Head to Campbellsville for incredible fishing spots like the Big Cat – a collection of fishing lakes, events and a bait shop. Looking for trophy sized catfish? Find a spot on the two-acre Trophy Lake – or reel in some catfish at Pay Lake – three acres of two-pound catfish. Kids under 12 fish free at Pay Lake – where no fishing license is required.

Another Kentucky fishing spot is Spurlington Club Lake, also found in Campbellsville. The lake is a 30-acre hot spot for bass and bluegill, and fishermen are more than welcome to take out the boat or fish from the shore.

Covering 65,530 acres, Lake Cumberland is one of the world's largest man-made lakes. Found in south-central Kentucky just northwest of Monticello, the lake features marinas like Conley Bottom and Beaver Creek – plus two state parks: General Burnside and Lake Cumberland. Lake-goers enjoy boating, waterskiing, and fishing for possibly record breaking trout, bass, sturgeon, walleye, and sauger.

Hiking boots, meet Kentucky – you’re about to be fast friends. Kentucky’s lush terrain and scenic landscapes create an impressive trail system ready to accommodate beginning and advanced level travelers.

Head to the Kentucky town of Paducah – a historic city in the western part of the state – for a few days at the nearby Metropolis Lake State Nature Preserve. Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy everything from birding to nature photography, and of course, hiking. Enjoy a picnic by the 50-acre Metropolis Lake, or explore this 123-acre patch of outdoor Kentucky.

The Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge is another escape for hikers in that area. Found 13 miles from Danville, this 500-acre preserve provides hiking trails, the Mary Ashby Cheek Nature Center, and the popular Fred Loetscher Bird Blind. Don’t miss nights of stargazing with the family, or days of trekking miles of Kentucky wilderness.

Heading down to Lexington? Make your way to the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. This 700-acre paradise has 10 miles of trails – open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sign up for a guided hike of the Kentucky River Palisades, check out the Nature Center, or have a family lunch in one the designated picnic areas. Set just 15 miles south of Lexington, the sanctuary is a must do in outdoor Kentucky.