With the new semester starting, many people are still clinging onto summer, wanting to make the most of the sunshine while we still have it. If you’re looking for a quick trip, this one you can do in a day and still make it to your 9 AM Bio class the next morning, here are the best day trips in Kentucky.
1. Mammoth Cave
Mammoth Cave is the field trip every Kentucky kid took in middle school. We all remember going to school early in the morning before the sun was up, with our packed lunches, and our teachers calling out attendance. It was the field trip you knew you had to go on but weren’t really enthused about going. As a kid they tell you all the history of it, which, let’s face it, no middle schooler cares that it’s the longest cave system in the world; they’re just hoping a bat doesn’t fly at their heads.
As a young adult, Mammoth Cave is actually much cooler than our history teacher made it out to be. There are customizable tours between an hour to six hours. So depending on how far you live from Mammoth Cave, you can pick the one for your best day trip. The tours can range from a simple, walk in and learn a few facts, to hardcore spelunking.
Their Wild Cave Tour is perfect for college students looking to burn energy and destress when the semester is getting crazy. This tour is the best option for a day trip in Kentucky, it’s about six hours long and is much more physically demanding than any of the other tours. It will help to get your mind off of the stress of school and you’ll get a good workout in while doing it.
Not a cave dweller? Mammoth Cave also offers plenty of other adventures not inside the cave; outdoor hiking, kayaking (which you can also do inside of the cave for a spookier experience), and lantern tours to an abandoned hospital. If you even want to extend your stay, there’s camping areas perfect to crash in before heading back to campus.
2. Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Bourbon to Kentuckians is the equivalent of water to fish. It’s our lifeblood. But Bourbon also has a sophistication to it, (and by that I mean it tastes like burning lava and smells like death) that tends to be more appealing to older crowds. But don’t count out the Kentucky Bourbon Trail from the best day trips in Kentucky.
There are several options when it comes to the Bourbon Trail, you can do the full and official Bourbon Trail, but that will likely take you a few days. For a day trip option, there are several “regional trails” you can do. Depending on where you live you can pick the region closest to you and make a trip to those listed in your region. Now, since this is a boozy day trip, you’ll either want to have a DD or a very understanding Uber driver.
The different distilleries offer a variety of tours. Depending on which distilleries you choose, you can also alter your tour options. The tours can include a showing of how they produce Bourbon at their distillery, a history of Bourbon or, of the area itself; but they almost always conclude with a tasting. All of the tours are around an hour, so it’s perfect to make an entire day trip out of seeing multiple in your region.
This option isn’t just for people above 21. You do have to be 21 to actually taste the bourbons, but they allow all ages on the tour. So if you have a group of friends, some under 21 and some older, it’s a great option for something a little different to do for a day trip.
The final portion of the tour where you sample the bourbon is where you feel like a true Kentuckian. Typically you get a few shots of bourbon, but remember this isn’t a frat party. Most everyone there will sip of the bourbon to try and discuss the flavors and notes they taste. It isn’t fireball, you don’t want to take it as a normal shot. Trust me, made that mistake and the people at New Riff Distillery in Newport had to educate me on how to properly sample bourbon.
3. Kentucky Horse Park
Now, is this even an article about Kentucky if I don’t mention horses? Kentucky Horse Park is a perfect day trip for any college student but a must-see for UK students since it’s located in Lexington. There’s plenty of things to do here and most of them are free or a small fee. The tours are going to cost a bit more but you can go here for a picnic with friends for a few hours and still make it back before your night class.
The park is also dog-friendly— any place that allows dogs is a must-see. You can go hiking on their trails, set up a Horse-Drawn tour, or you can opt for a more simple barn tour to see the horses. It’s a quick stress-free trip that is a must-do for the best day trip.
4. Lake Cumberland
Lake Cumberland is the pinnacle of Kentucky. It’s the place that everyone knows and loves. It exudes southern hospitality and is the absolute best day trip in Kentucky that you have to take. There is such a wide range of things to do at Lake Cumberland. The most obvious and common ones are boating, swimming, tubing, fishing, and hiking to name a few.
Lake Cumberland located towards the south of Kentucky is a few hours drive from any major Kentucky city. Although its a perfect day trip there are plenty of accommodations for those who want to stay a few days. There’s plenty of cabin and house rentals as well as camping grounds for those who want to extend their stay.
Lake Cumberland offers an oasis for people to boat and float for a few hours. There are plenty of places to rent a boat if you want to be able to cover more lake, but there are also tons of shores to swim and fish off of for those who don’t want the hassle of a boat.
The lake although very fun is also beautiful. The landscape of the trees as you breeze by are full and green in the summer and even more stunning in the fall as the colors start to change. At sunset, the sun peaks over the trees, making a pink and orange sky that could compete with any beach sunset.
One thing to know about Lake Cumberland is that many of the counties there are dry, which means that you can’t buy any alcohol and in some places you can’t drink it either. Do your research before you go, if you’re a person who wants a cold beer while you float, you’ll have to buy it before you go, but you’ll want to stay in an area that isn’t a dry county so you can actually enjoy it.
All of these places offer a perfect getaway for the best day trips in Kentucky that you have to take. With a wide variety of activities, you’ll have plenty of options for whatever interests you! Comment below which day trip you’re taking next!
Featured Image Source: Maria Hehman
MARIA HEHMAN IS A GRADUATE OF THOMAS MORE COLLEGE, WHERE SHE OBTAINED A BACHELOR'S OF ARTS IN ENGLISH, WITH AN EMPHASIS IN CREATIVE WRITING. SHE WORKS AS A MANAGER IN RETAIL AND DOES FREELANCE WRITING IN HER SPARE TIME. HER WRITING TOPIC WITH SOCIETY19 VARY, BUT FASHION IS HER GREATEST INTEREST. YOU CAN FIND HER MOST DAYS DRINKING ENTIRELY TOO MUCH COFFEE WHILE WATCHING HER FAVORITE SHOW, FRIENDS.