16 cool places to visit on a Kentucky family vacation

If you’re looking for fun things to do during Kentucky family vacations, you’ll find lots of opportunities for family-friendly adventures across the state. Kids’ activities in Lexington, KY, range from petting horses at the Kentucky Horse Park and picnicking on the water to indoor amusement parks and museums. Louisville kids’ activities include animal attractions, waterfront parks, and an underground zip-line adventure. Learn about some of the unique places you can visit on a family vacation in Kentucky.

Family fun in Louisville, KY

1. Monkey around at the Louisville Zoo

Louisville Zoo houses more than 1,000 animals within themed zones and botanical gardens. Within a mix of outdoor and indoor exhibits, you can check out everything from polar bears, seals, and tigers to crocodiles, wallabies, elephants, and gorillas. Kids can enjoy child-friendly interactive exhibits and spaces, play areas, and a seasonal splash park. Family-friendly rentals include strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs.

2. Ride, slide, and splash in Kentucky Kingdom

If you’re looking for things to do with kids in Louisville, Kentucky Kingdom Theme Park and Water Park is packed with entertainment options for children of all ages. Theme park rides range from fun and exciting attractions to adrenaline-pumping coasters, as well as an entire section for younger kids in King Louie’s Playland. You can cool off in Hurricane Bay in pools and watercourses, an adventure river, waterslides, and kid-friendly splash zones. Kentucky Kingdom also offers inclusive resources and accommodations for guests with autism, mobility restrictions, and disabilities. See the park website for more details.

3. Go on an underground zip-line tour at Louisville Mega Cavern

Louisville Mega Cavern offers unique all-weather kids’ activities in Louisville, with all activities located fully underground in a sprawling series of caves. You can sign up for a number of different guided tours through the caves, from a 2-hour zip-line course through cavern spaces to riding on an underground tram tour or exploring on foot on a walking adventure. Zip-line and walking tours require kids to be age 7 and up. Tram tours are suitable for all ages and are also wheelchair accessible.

4. Play and picnic in Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park, overlooking beautiful views of the Ohio River, is one of the great free things to do with kids in Louisville. Two different playgrounds offer themed play spaces as well as a seasonal splash pad to cool off in. Picnic areas and grills are available, or you can pick up snacks from food vendors within the park. You can stroll or bike across the river on the Big Four Bridge and stay for the evening light show across the bridge from dusk through 1 am. The park has family-friendly facilities, with fully accessible ADA paths throughout.

Fun family vacations in Lexington, Kentucky

5. Ride horseback at the Kentucky Horse Park

Kentucky is known as the Horse Capital of the World and is the home of some of the most famous horses of all time. In the Kentucky Horse Park, you can explore equine history through museums and interactive galleries, events and shows, and a diverse collection of horse breeds housed within. In the International Museum of the Horse, you can learn about the relationship between people and horses throughout history. Attend a live show or presentation to see horses up-close and learn about their breeds, care, and history. Book a pony ride or trail ride to get in on the action yourself.

6. Go pedal boating on the lake at Jacobson Park

If you’re looking for budget-friendly kids’ activities in Lexington, KY, you can head over to Jacobson Park for outdoor adventures. The park offers family-friendly facilities and picnic areas, sports facilities, a dog park, and plenty of open space to run around. A splash pad is perfect for cooling off with the kids on hot days in Jacobson Park. At the marina, you can inexpensively rent 2- or 4-seater pedal boats to take out on the water, as well as 2-seater kayaks. An ADA pedal boat and accessible launch site are available for reservation, as well as wheelchair-accessible fishing docks.

7. Play games and enjoy rides indoors at Malibu Jack’s

If the weather forecast calls for indoor kids’ activities in Lexington, KY, Malibu Jack’s indoor theme park is a great all-weather attraction. Malibu Jack’s games, rides, and attractions are all a la carte, so entry is free and you’ll only pay for the specific activities you’re interested in. Inside, you’ll find everything from a kids' zone and bounce house for young kids to mini golf, virtual reality, bowling, rides, go-karts, games, and laser tag. Food and snacks are also available in-house if you get hungry while playing.

8. Explore the living history museum at Fort Boonesborough State Park

Fort Boonesborough State Park is a living history museum on the site of Daniel Boone’s original settlement. Inside the reconstructed fort is a working settlement of blockhouses, cabins, furnishings, and workspaces, where costumed living historians and artisans work and interact with visitors. You can watch crafting and skill demonstrations to learn about pioneer life and check out historical displays and artifacts in the Kentucky River Museum. Additional attractions include a seasonal swimming pool with a play fountain, a kids' area, and lifeguards, and there's an 18-hole mini-golf course within the park.

Cool family attractions in Corbin, Kentucky

9. See a moonbow phenomenon at Cumberland Falls

Cumberland Falls is known as “the Niagara of the South,” a beautiful waterfall that spans 125 feet across. You can see the falls for free within Cumberland Falls State Resort Park from either a viewing platform near the parking lot or a hiking trail that takes you to the bottom of the falls. During a full moon on a cloudless night, the falls produce a natural phenomenon called a moonbow, an arch of white light reflected off the base of the falls from the moon. This is the only location in the Western Hemisphere to see a moonbow.

10. Take a hike in Daniel Boone National Forest

Daniel Boone National Forest is a hidden gem in Kentucky, a lesser-known forest with thousands of acres of wilderness to explore and impressive natural features. Outdoor activities within the park can range from swimming, fishing, and boating to hiking and biking, rock climbing, and camping. You can hike the family-friendly trail to the Sky Bridge for breathtaking panoramic views of the forest below.

Adventurous family vacations in Slade, Kentucky

11. Go on an underground boat tour in Red River Gorge Geological Area

At the Red River Gorge Geological Area, you’ll find a ton of cool things to do during family vacations in Kentucky. The scenic beauty in and around Red River Gorge can be enjoyed while hiking or biking, speeding through the treetops on zip lines, and on guided adventures through the park. On a guided Gorge Underground Tour, you can explore beneath the mountains, gliding on top of watery caverns on a kayak or as a passenger on a cave boat tour.

12. Learn about venomous and nonvenomous creatures at Kentucky Reptile Zoo

Kentucky Reptile Zoo is a nonprofit organization that provides venom to researchers and antivenom production facilities, which saves lives. You can tour this unique reptile facility and learn about venomous and nonvenomous creatures and catch daily programs that range from snake venom extractions to reptile talks and creature presentations.

Unique family vacations activities in Bowling Green, Kentucky

13. See one-of-a-kind cars at the National Corvette Museum

Bowling Green is the home of the Corvette and the National Corvette Museum, which houses historical galleries, interactive exhibits, and tons of cool cars. Over 80 unique Corvettes are displayed throughout the museum’s themed galleries and nostalgic memorabilia, including rare and one-of-a-kind Corvettes. In the KidZone, children can play and get hands-on in car-themed activities and play spaces.

14. Watch drag racing on the raceway at Beech Bend

Beech Bend is a unique family attraction in Kentucky that houses an amusement park and a dragstrip raceway. Inside the amusement park, you can enjoy rides, games, attractions, and shows, as well as cool off in a seasonal water park. Events at Beech Bend Raceway are exciting and family-friendly, with multiple weekly racing events that are free for kids 12 and under to attend.

Cave City, Kentucky, family vacations with kids

15. Explore underground caverns in Mammoth Cave National Park

Kentucky offers tons of fun things to do with kids in Mammoth Cave National Park, home of the worlds longest known cave system. An easy, self-guided tour of some of the caverns typically takes about 2 hours and is appropriate for all ages, but it does require the use of stairs. Guided tours of the caves frequently sell out, so it’s recommended to book in advance. Accessible trails are available within the park for those with limited mobility—see the park’s website for more information.

16. Feed kangaroos at Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo

Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo is known as a “piece of Australia in the heart of Kentucky,” and features animals, attractions, and hands-on experiences relating to Australian culture. In themed spaces, you can participate in animal feedings, explore a free-flying bird aviary, and get up close to mellow creatures in the petting zoo.