Things to do and see in the Cave City, Kentucky Area
July 4, 2021 7:03 PM   Subscribe

I am planning a 2 week stay to visit Mammoth Cave NP, the Corvette Museum, and the bourbon trail. I need other places, or things to do or experience in the area. Anywhere up to 2 hours away. I'm into geocaching, railroading, and nature photography.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a to Travel & Transportation around Barren County, KY (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Ever been to Nashville? Cincinnati?

The one less-obvious thing I'd potentially suggest is the Red River Gorge area around Slade, KY. I've only travelled there to climb, but there's also some hiking and (relaxed) rafting.
posted by kickingtheground at 7:19 PM on July 4, 2021

Last summer I spent a week camping at Mammoth Cave, in part out of necessity and in part out of opportunity. It's a beautiful area, although kinda scary in that I felt surrounded by visitors who were refusing to wear masks and aggressively so. I hope it's better this year or at least that being vaccinated helps. I really liked Louisville and Lexington is nice too; I second Cincinnati.

While at Mammoth Cave, which was surprisingly super impressive, I also did a bunch of hikes but can't think of the places sadly. I also visited Lincoln's Childhood Home nearby, which was being updated; the group of sites is definitely worth visiting for a few hours. I would have loved visiting the quilt museum in Paducah. Many sweet small towns. Lots of farm stands with fresh veggies all around and local beer, too.

My hands-down favorite place in Kentucky is Berea, the home of badass Berea College and the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky. Very cool with tasty places to eat and a friendly vibe, think progressive Appalachian hipster vibes.
posted by smorgasbord at 8:40 PM on July 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Cincinnati person here. I just happened to visit Big Bone Lick Historical Site. It is about 30 minutes south of Cincinnati and only 10ish minutes off of the interstate. It gets its name from the fact that it is an ancient salt lick that attracted mammoths and mastodons and other large creatures..hence the big bones. There is a small but surprisingly detailed museum as well as a herd of bison that you can view up close. The park also apparently is big on orienteering which probably intersects with your geocaching hobby.

Have not been but have heard good things about the forest giants. They are southeast of Louisville.

Speaking of Louisville, the Speed Museum Has a lovely glass collection, a special exhibit of gowns and clothing made entirely out of paper that truly fool the eye.
posted by mmascolino at 9:38 PM on July 4, 2021

Cedar Sink Trail is one of the most otherworldly hikes I've taken, with memorable encounters with bagworms, butterflies, caterpillars, weird geological features and tiny forests of moss on old wood. You'll be glad of a macro lens for your camera or cell phone. The hike features in my 2017 eclipse road trip blog post, which mentions a few other sites in the vicinity. And you can sleep in a wigwam!
posted by Scram at 11:02 PM on July 4, 2021

Best answer: Bardstown, Kentucky is generally considered one of the prettiest small towns in America. I think it’s part of the Bourbon Trail but it’s probably worth some time on its own.

After I went to the cave, I drove home through horse country on the way to Lexington. I wish I’d stopped, because it was beautiful. No specific recommendations, but something to look at.

In Cave City itself, there are a handful of fun vintage and secondhand shops. Glasgow, nearby, is nice, and depending on your timing, they host a Scottish Highlander games competition. There’s an Amish population in, I think Horse Cave, whatever the town just north of Cave City is, if that’s interesting to you.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:58 AM on July 5, 2021

Best answer: I grew up just a few miles from Bernheim Arboretum, which is the location of the forest giants linked above. It's just a mile or two off of I-65, so it would be an easy trip from Cave City. Although I have moved away from Kentucky, Bernheim is probably my favorite place in the state. Part of that is the nostalgia of my childhood nearby, but it's also really nice, and a large arboretum at 16,000 acres.

According to Google, Bernheim is about an hour drive from Cave City. That means you are an hour and a half from Louisville. I would second the Speed Art Museum in Louisville.

I kinda can't believe I pulled this out of my memory, but since you mentioned railroading, my Mom used to love to drag me to Whistle Stop Cafe in Glendale, KY. It was a kitschy Southern food place with a railroad theme - it's just below Elizabethtown, so it wouldn't be far from Cave City. There is a railroad line right through town, but I'm not sure where the touristy railroad stuff is in that region.
posted by Tchozz at 5:34 AM on July 5, 2021

We did Lost River Cave in Bowling Green on our Mammoth Cave trip and it was fun! Highly recommend!
posted by cooker girl at 9:19 AM on July 5, 2021

Best answer: Right in Cave City is Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo, an absolutely fantastic Zoo, We live in Lexington and we make a trip there at least once a year. Also in Cave City is El Mazatlan one of the best Mexican restaurants I have experienced.

Lots to see in Bardstown which is near by. Someting that might be of interest is the My Old Kentucky Dinner Train.
posted by tman99 at 3:53 PM on July 5, 2021

Best answer: There is RJ Corman Railroad, which is an active modern railroad company in Nicholasville. They have a depot and museum at their HQ. They also operate they Old Kentucky dinner train out of their Lexington depot. They recently donated a locomotive engine, Old Smokey, to the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 5:25 PM on July 5, 2021

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