Note from The Kentucky Wildlands: This is an excerpt of a blog about The Kentucky Wildlands by Start reading here and then continue to the full blog when you reach the link at the bottom.

Just about every destination in Kentucky is a short road trip away. It takes only 3.5 hours to drive from Newport, the northernmost point along the Ohio River, to Scottsville in the south, along the Tennessee state line. Kentucky road trips always take me longer, though, because I love to stop at the charming small towns and quirky oddities along the way.

For families looking for a weekend getaway or a history lesson, the Bluegrass State offers rich Civil War history and natural wonders in just about every small town. Even better for families, Kentucky is a super affordable vacation destination with lots of free things to do in Kentucky with kids all across the state.


Small Towns in Kentucky Wildlands

Kentucky Wildlands, a 14,000-square-mile region that is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, also is home to some of the state’s cutest small towns, each with its own unique gem worth visiting.

Kentucky Wildlands visit was hosted.



Small towns in KY - Austin City Saloon in Corbin
Austin City Saloon. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

Probably best known for the Harland Café, where Colonel Harland Sanders created the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is now a museum with photos and information about the original KFC and its founder.

My cousin did her medical school residency in Corbin, KY and she recommended we stop at one of her favorites, The Root Beer Stand. It’s an old school drive up (not drive thru) where waitresses come to your car to take your order. A large root beer float tastes amazing and will set you back $3.

Small towns in KY - Austin City Saloon Fries in Low Places
I couldn’t resist trying the Fries in Low Places at Austin City Saloon. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

Austin City Saloon, downtown, offers atmosphere, live music on weekends, a rooftop patio and good food. The burger menu is solid and the bourbon menu was interesting but it was the Fries in Low Places that caught my attention. A must try!


Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

small towns in kentucky - Cumberland Falls
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

OK, this isn’t technically a small town in Kentucky. But it is a must-visit spot. Woods surround the resort at Cumberland Falls and the hike to the falls easy access. Sheltowee Trace Resort is just 5 miles from the Falls and has all kinds of fun kid activities from zip lining to glamping in a covered wagon.

My husband prefers indoor plumbing so we stayed in one of the cabins in a more secluded part of the property. The cabin was new, cozy and the first ric of firewood is free. Adventurous activities like kayaking, tubing and a river boat cruise can all be organized by Sheltowee Trace.

TravelingMom Tip: You will NOT see the waterfall on the riverboat cruise; it is a one hour tour of the river. If you book a nighttime moonbow cruise, you can see the rainbow colors from the waterfall spray illuminated by the moon. (Be sure to check dates and weather ahead of time to ensure the moon will be shining the night you want to visit!) Also, skip the snack bar, (limited options and pricey) but do load up on s’mores bling in the cute shop.


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