Kentucky is one of the most underrated states in the US. Despite ranking only 33 out of 51 in number of annual visitors, Kentucky has a lot of cool attractions worth visiting for. Below are 7 of the top reasons to add Kentucky to your travel bucket list.


Kentucky is home to some of the most iconic bourbon distilleries in the US including Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve. Whisky lovers can travel the Kentucky bourbon trail – a cluster of famous distilleries across northern and central Kentucky, which each offer tours and tastings.

Louisville is a good city to use as a base when exploring Kentucky’s many distilleries. In fact, you don’t even have to travel outside the city to experience the bourbon on offer – check out this guide to the best Louisville distilleries for tours and tastings within the city. There are also a few decent whisky bars to check out in Louisville for tasting various local bourbons.

Did you know that Kentucky is home to the world’s longest known cave system? Mammoth Cave is the name of this cave system and can be explored via a variety of tours. The caves can be a great escape from the heat in summer, and you can see all kinds of impressive rock formations (and possibly even some bats).

Beyond Mammoth Cave, there are also other impressive caves such as Lost River Cave (which you can explore via boat) and the Gap Cave (believed to be a battlefield hospital during the Civil War). Sporting the highest concentration of caves in the country, Kentucky is the perfect destination for those that love caves.


The Kentucky Derby is arguably the most famous horse-racing event in the US. It is held annually in Churchill Downs, capping a two week long festival. The reputation of this event has led to Kentucky being regarded as a horse-racing capital.

There are plenty of horse racing events throughout the state that you can attend beyond the Kentucky Derby, including other events at Churchill Downs. On top of this, there’s the Kentucky Derby Museum and International Museum of the Horse to explore, where you can learn all about the history of horse-racing in Kentucky.


If you love hiking, you won’t be disappointed by the trails on offer in Kentucky. Although the Appalachian trail itself doesn’t run through Kentucky, the Appalachian mountains do stretch into Kentucky and there are plenty of trails to explore here. The Tri-state Trail is one popular option that takes you through Cumberland Gap into Tennessee and Virginia.

Mammoth Cave Park is meanwhile full of forest trails that can be combined with trips into the caves for a unique hiking expedition. Consider booking a lodge here to plan your hiking trips from or stay at a campsite for a more rugged adventure.


Bluegrass is a genre of music rooted in country and blues that originated in Kentucky. Fans of bluegrass come from all around the US to trace the footsteps of musicians like Bill Monroe.

To learn all about the history of bluegrass, consider visiting the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro. Frankfort is meanwhile a great town for hearing live bluegrass – there are many music venues dedicated to bluegrass here, as well as many venues where you can listen to country and blues in general.


Kentucky is of course the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken. In fact, it’s probably the most renowned thing to come out of the state.
Colonel Sanders is known to have developed his secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices at the Harland Sanders cafe in North Corbin – and yes, you can still visit the cafe today. In fact, it’s now a museum dedicated to the origins of KFC. Colonel Sanders’ grave can meanwhile be found in Louisville in Cave Hill Cemetery for those who may be interested.

Muhammad Ali

Muhummad Ali, the world’s most famous boxer, was born in Louisville in Kentucky. There are many tributes to the sports legend throughout the city that could be worth exploring if you’re a Muhummad Ali fan.

Firstly, there’s the Muhummad Ali Center, which is a museum dedicated to Ali’s life. Then there is Muhummad Ali Boulevard named after the boxer. On top of this, there is also Cave Hill Cemetery where the grave of Muhummad Ali resides (yes, that’s the same cemetery where Colonel Sanders’s resting place can be found!).