Bowling Green, KY, is a university town with cultural roots that go back hundreds of years. There are many historical attractions in the town as well as a lot of other activities that make for a fun day out. The top twenty things to do in Bowling Green for first timers are listed below and can be a great place to start when you are planning your visit here.
20. Jackson's Orchard
The Jackson family have owned orchards on this site for three generations. The market here sells a wide range of produce including peaches, apples and cider. They also make their own honey and have many seasonal products on offer. If you have children with you, then there is an on site playground for them to enjoy. Festivals are held on a regular basis to coincide with the times of year that different fruits and vegetables are ready to harvest.
19. Bowling Green Hot Rods Baseball
The Bowling Green Hot Rods are a professional Minor League Baseball team who are affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays. There are more than seventy home games that are held between April and October, and ticket prices are kept low to encourage families to attend. There are also several other attractions that are held during games such as performances in the break of play and fireworks after the game. Even if you are not usually a fan of baseball, then there is a good time to be had by everyone in this stadium.
18. Civil War Discovery Trail
The Visit Bowling Green website suggests the Civil War Discovery Trail as a good way to explore the town. Bowling Green was the Capital of Confederate Kentucky for a short time and so it has a deep connection with the war. The trail is completely self guided and you don't have to do it all in one go. There is a detailed brochure and map available from the Visitor's Bureau. It will take you to all of the significant sites and landmarks from the war, as well as cemeteries and historical markers.
17. Basil Griffin Park
Basil Griffin Park is located in the south of the town and is a natural space with 111 acres. There is a 33 acre lake at the park where you can take part in activities such as fishing and boating. There is also an athletics complex where several games and activities are held. The park is a good place to enjoy a picnic and there are plenty of shelters that are located around the park with tables and benches.
16. eHot Air Ballooning Adventures
If you want to get an aerial view of Bowling Green, then one of the best ways to do this is on a hot air balloon ride. One of the most established companies that offer this experience is eHot Air Ballooning Adventures. The chief pilot is Doug Robertson who qualified as a pilot in 1981 and who has almost thirty years experience in ballooning. The balloon ride will take you right across Bowling Green and you will get a great view of the whole town. Be sure to take your camera with you to be able to capture memories of the day.
15. Chaney's Dairy Barn & Restaurant
Vacation Idea point out that Chaney's was named the best ice-cream parlor in Kentucky. As well as being a great place to enjoy an ice cream, Chaney's is also a working dairy farm. Tours of the farm are available and you don't need to make a reservation in advance. There are wagons that also tour the farm and you can ride on one of these for an extra fee.
14. Shanty Hollow Lake Hiking Trail
The Shanty Hollow Lake Trail is a looping 1.3 mile trail that takes in views of the lake. The trail can get quite muddy after periods of rainfall and so you will need to make sure that you are wearing suitable footwear. The elevation of the trail is 134 feet and it is classified as moderate, so it should be suitable for most people. A highlight of the tour is a waterfall that flows into the lake, and this is likely to be the busiest part of the trail. However, you will probably find that the rest of the trail is quiet and easy to get around.
13. South Union Shaker Village
The Shakers were a religious group that has a community in South Union for over one hundred years. The village now has several buildings that have been fully restored, including the Center House which was built in 1842. The house contains one of the largest collections of Shaker furniture in the whole of the United States. There are also a number of journals and manuscripts from the Civil War era on display. The Shakers did not take sides during the war and had to contend with both armies stealing their horses and demanding to be fed. It is estimated that they provided over 100,000 meals during the conflict.
12. Kentucky Museum
The Kentucky Museum is located on the campus of the University of Kentucky. The website states that you don't need to be a student to visit the museum and that admission is free. The museum has an area of 80,000 square feet and is dedicated to celebrating the art, history and culture of Kentucky. Highlights of the museum include The Snell-Franklin Decorative Arts Gallery which has artefacts from Ancient Egypt, right up to the 1970s. There is also an exhibition dedicated to local celebrity Duncan Hines who was born and raised in Bowling Green.
11. Baker Arboretum And Downing Museum
Jerry Baker and Joe Downing were lifelong friends who worked on the design of the Downing Museum together. The museum has a collection of works by the late Joe Downing who was an internationally renowned artist. He was an abstract artist who worked with a range of different materials throughout his career including canvas, linen, metal and wood. When you have explored the museum, then you can take a look at the Baker Arboretum which is just outside. Here you will find sculptures and other unique item among all the plants and flowers.
10. Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo
The adventure zoo is located in Horse Cave, which is less than an hour away from Bowling Green. As you may guess from the name, the zoo is Australian themed. The zoo was first opened by Bill and Judy Austin in 1990. As well as exhibits featuring animals from Australia, you will also find some that are native to the United States. There is a petting zoo and animal shows are held every day. Visitors to the zoo are also able to tour the Mammoth Onyx Cave.
9. Beech Bend Park
Trip 101 lists Beech Bend Park as a great day out for the whole family. It is an amusement park with a good selection of family rides, as well as plenty to keep thrill seekers happy. The park is also home to Splash Lagoon, a water park for all the family. The entrance fee allows you to use the rides at the park, and in Splash Lagoon as many times as you want. There is also live entertainment which is available on a daily basis.
8. Mammoth Cave National Park
This park is just a thirty minute drive from Bowling Green, and it really does live up to its name. It is the longest cave network in the world with over 400 miles of passageways that have been surveyed. There are several guided tours that are offered which vary in length from one to six hours. It is believed that humans have used the caves for five thousand years or more, and there is a lot of history to explore here. It has been a National Park since 1926.
7. GM Corvette Assembly Plant
If you have not had your fill of all things Corvette from the museum, then you may also want to pay a visit to the assembly plant. Here you will be able to walk on the factory floor and see the work that goes into the production of the Corvette. Every single one of these new cars in the United States comes from this factory. There are restrictions on the items that you can bring with you on the tour and there are also guidelines for clothing. It is advised that you check this information on the website before you go on the tour.
6. Aviation Heritage Park
The Aviation Heritage Park website talks about how the park wants to be more than somewhere where people can just look at old planes. The park has fully interactive exhibits that bring the history of aviation to life and encourage visitors to touch the aircraft as well as look. There are decommissioned and restored military aircraft on display and the connection that these airplanes have to Kentucky is fully explained. You are also able to view inside the hanger, where repairs take place and new aircraft are prepared for display. Entrance to the park is free.
5. Historic Railpark And Train Museum
Bowling Green is a town that grew around a railroad and so trains are an important part of its history. The site of the railpark was once a depot for the Louisville and Nashville Railway, and twenty trains a day would depart from here. Today, the site has a museum and five historic railcars to explore. Guided tours are available, or you can tour the museum at your own pace. Special events are held at the railpark throughout the year.
4. Riverview At Hobson Grove
Construction of this mansion began in the late 1850s before it was halted due to the civil war. It is also sometimes referred to as Hobson House. It was completed in 1872 and has been restored to the way it would have been at this time. The home was built by Atwood Gaines Hobson and was named Riverview because of the proximity of the house to the Barren River. The house was completed in the Italianate style and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
3. Fountain Square Park
Trip Savvy reports that the historic fountain in Fountain Square Park has recently been restored. The square is one of the most photographed places in the whole of Bowling Green. The park is lined with historic buildings and there are plenty of places nearby to shop. Fountain Square Park is a popular place to sit and enjoy some lunch, especially a picnic. There are maps available from the Visitor's Bureau with details of a self-guided tour of the park. Free concerts are often held in the park in the summer months.
2. Lost River Cave
One of the most unique experiences you will have in Bowling Green is travelling through caves on an underground river. The tour of the Lost River Cave lasts for approximately forty five minutes and is split into two parts. The first part of the tour includes a walk along the river and to the entrance of the cave, with the second part taking you into the cave aboard a boat. It is recommended that you book in advance to guarantee a place on the tour. There are also 2.5 miles of walking trails to explore at the cave and admission to these trails is free.
1. National Corvette Museum
The Corvette has been manufactured in Bowling Green since 1981. The idea for a museum had been talked about throughout the 1980s, and town officials were keen for this to be located in Bowling Green. The museum finally opened its doors in September 1994. The museum covers 115, 000 square feet of space and it is easy to spend a few hours here looking at all the different cars that are on display. Guided tours of the museum are available, or you can choose to make your own way around.
Written by Liz Flynn
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