Bluegrass, barbecue and bourbon sounds like a heady enough mix but that’s just the tip of the iceberg during your holidays in Kentucky. Wedged between the Midwest and the Deep South, Kentucky offers tasty, gut-busting Southern food, and green, rolling hills in equal measure.
Immerse yourself in one of Kentucky’s many cities. Louisville mixes a cosmopolitan vibe with a hip, laid-back sensibility. Alongside Churchill Downs, lies the venue for the Kentucky Derby, the city’s home to some quirky sporting museums. Visit the Slugger Museum and Factory, where the legendary baseball bat was born, and the Muhammad Ali Center, which pays fitting tribute to city’s celebrated pugilist and activist.
Discover beautiful cities on Kentucky holidays
There are some fantastic cities to explore in Kentucky. Owensboro lays a significant claim to being the birthplace of traditional Bluegrass music, and is celebrated by the city’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum. There’s no shortage of tempting barbecue joints to boot here.
Lexington has a more upscale feel, thanks in part to its luscious surroundings and the wealth generated by some 450 horse farms in the region. The city’s also home to Keeneland Race Track, which doubles as the venue of the world’s largest thoroughbred auction, earning Lexington the moniker of ‘horse capital of the world’. You can also explore a few of the city’s six bourbon distilleries too. At the weekend, a well-heeled crowd packs out the fine dining eateries, stylish bars and smart hotels in town.
Beyond Kentucky’s varied cities, there’s a wealth of natural wonders to enjoy. Explore the caves, gorges, waterfalls, lakes and forests. There are also 46 state parks, heritage parks, and of course, the large, scenic swathe of the Appalachian Mountains.
Great sample itineraries
Kentucky is ideally placed for exploring the Midwest and neighbouring states, such as Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee. Browse our popular Kentucky multi-centre holidays for inspiration.
Deep South Explorer
Rhythm Of The South Tour
Famous for horses, bourbon and bluegrass, Kentucky is home to a diverse landscape of rolling hills, sparkling lakes and the longest cave system in the world. Visit Lexington and Louisville for the cuisine, festivals and of course the horse racing Kentucky is renowned for.
Kentucky Bourbon Trail
The iconic Kentucky Bourbon Trail® gives visitors a first-hand look at the bourbon making process and includes ten of the state's distilleries including Maker's Mark, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey and Evan Williams. Pick up a free souvenir passport at your first distillery stop, collect a stamp from all ten distilleries and you bag yourself a free gift. Learn about the recipes, view the facilities and travel through the beautiful Kentucky landscape as you discover ‘America’s Official Native Spirit’ and stick around for after-tour tastings to make the best of the fantastic Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Home to the longest recorded cave system in the world, the famous Mammoth Caves reach over 400 miles.Well worth a visit this scenic park also includes the river valleys of the Green and Nolin rivers and part of the hilly country of south central Kentucky and is a favourite spot for picnics, hiking and horseback riding.
Average Weather in January
Average Weather in February
Average Weather in March
Average Weather in April
Average Weather in May
Average Weather in June
Average Weather in July
Average Weather in August
Average Weather in September
Average Weather in October
Average Weather in November
Average Weather in December
“Hit Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail to enjoy an immersive, educational introduction to the popular American barrel-aged whisky while sampling some of the 150-odd varieties distilled right here in ‘the Bluegrass State.’ Taste innovative, Bourbon-inspired dishes at over 20 leading culinary establishments, best topped off with the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep. The opportunities for appreciating fine bourbon here are almost endless.”
“You might be forgiven for thinking the entire state is one big bourbon free for all, but bear in mind that entire counties in the state’s southern regions are completely ‘dry’. This means all alcohol is prohibited, thanks to the strict Baptist traditions that have stuck fast here.”
Events & Festivals
Festivals and events are wonderful to include during your Kentucky holiday, offering a glimpse into the country’s authentic culture and traditions.
International BBQ Festival
Visit Owensboro in May for an annual meaty extravaganza during the International BBQ Festival. This two day festival of food and family fun also features the legendary mutton sandwich eating contest.
Get set for one of America’s great sporting fixtures. Every May the racing fraternity descends on Louisville for an afternoon of high stakes Thoroughbred races and equally spirited hospitality during the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs has hosted the race day since 1875.
Festival of the Bluegrass
Kentucky’s famed for its bluegrass music legacy and the Festival of the Bluegrass is the ultimate event to celebrate it. Today the flame is kept burning by this three day festival each June in Lexington.
Get a flavour of the local culture through your palate during your Kentucky holiday. Here are a few of our favourite dishes.
Burgoo is a delicious and wholesome Kentucky staple. It’s a stew generally comprising of at least three different meats, alongside beans, corn, lima beans, okra, potatoes and, sometimes, tomatoes. Whatever meat you choose, this stew will set you up for a busy day in the saddle.
Tuck into a ‘hot brown’, a hearty, open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich that is smothered in rich, cheesy Mornay sauce before being either baked or broiled. This filling Frankenfood was cooked up by Fred K. Schmidt in 1926 while cooking at Louisville’s Brown Hotel.
Fried chicken is arguably the dish that put Kentucky on the fast food map, as the world’s second biggest chain KFC is headquartered right here in Louisville.
Types of Kentucky holidays
You might also like these
We think you might also like to take a look at these destinations. If you'd like some advice, our Destination Specialists will be able to find something that is right for you.
There’s no question too small. Start planning your dream trip by talking to our Destination Specialists.
Sign up to our newsletter
Receive the latest travel inspiration and destination news.
How we tailor make your holiday
The Hayes & Jarvis Way
We've been tailor making holidays for 65 years. With over 60 destinations to choose from, talk to us and we'll listen to your travel ideas to create unforgettable holiday experiences.