Historic Kentucky, Road Trips
Comments 3

Our Kentucky (Road Trip) Bucket List

Kentucky scenery Beattyville, Kentucky Appalachia

Do you have a bucket list?

No, we’re not talking about the movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman (though that is a fine flick). We’re not even talking about that Buried Life show on MTV (though it’s pretty awesome, too).

We’re talking about a list of things you have – either in your mind or on paper – that you want to do before you die. Wow, that sounds morbid. Let us rephrase. Do you have a list of things you want to make sure you do in your life? Things you want to see? Places you want to visit? Food you want to try? If you don’t have one, maybe it’s something to think about.

Before he died, Kentucky historian Dr. Thomas Clark was asked by a friend of his (former Lexington Herald-Leader photographer David Stephenson) to make a list of his Kentucky Treasures – 10 places every Kentuckian should visit. Clark died before he’d completed his list but his widow Loretta found a type-written list of 11 places in her husbands things. It may or may not have been his final draft. You can find that list here, along with an audio program about Clark and his Kentucky Treasures done by KET.

Last week, the Lexington Herald-Leader put together a “Kentucky Bucket List” of 50 things in the state you should see, taste or do before you die … or maybe even before the summer ends. There are a lot of great things on the list, a few of which we’ve already checked off of our Old Kentucky Road Trip list (Mammoth Cave, Wigwam Village … and we may or may not have had a run in once upon a time with some moonshine, which we are not at liberty to discuss), so we thought we’d pass it along to all of you travelers.

Early Morning on Shadwell Horse Farm in Lexington, KY. Elliott Hess for My Old Kentucky Road Trip, http://www.elliotthess.com

And in the spirit of this state bucket list, we decided to make one of our own. A few personal things we’d like to see and do in Kentucky in our lifetimes. (The out of KY list is much longer, I’m afraid).

Cameron & Blair’s Kentucky (Road Trip) Bucket List

1. See a moon bow at Cumberland Falls. Only at night during a full moon can you see this phenomenon, not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.

2. See the Mississippi River at the very tip of Western Kentucky.

3. Visit a coal mine.

4. Spend a day in silence at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Nelson County.

5. See the New Madrid fault.

6. Visit Fort Knox.

7. Travel the length of Kentucky Highway 68 from Maysville to Paducah as it weaves its way through dozens and dozens of Kentucky’s most interesting towns. (It’ll take you past the Jefferson Davis monument too).

8. Attend some of Kentucky’s great food festivals. Tater Days? The Country Ham Festival? Yes, please.

Sunset over Lake Barkley. Elliott Hess for My Old Kentucky Road Trip, http://www.elliotthess.com

The Kentucky Bucket List

**Now Updated** with Reader Favorites!

(and featuring MOKRT)

For more information on each bucket list entry, head over to the Herald-Leader.

1. Visit Mammoth Cave (check!)

2. Dip a bourbon bottle into that famous red wax at Maker’s Mark in Loretto

3. Take a sip at all the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail

4. Watch Harlan County U.S.A.

5. Read the works of Wendell Berry

6. Visit the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum in Corbin

7. Own a piece of work by a Kentucky craftsman

Read the rest after the jump!

8. Read Louisville native Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal article “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved”

9. Visit the Abbey of Gethsemani near Bardstown

10. Talk to Freddie Farm Bureau at the Kentucky State Fair

11. Walk over Natural Bridge, near Slade

12. Ogle the natural beauty at Red River Gorge

13. Take a hike at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill

14. Stand outside the gold depository at Fort Knox

15. Grab a country ham sandwich

16. Listen to the trickle of the Sinking Spring at Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace near Hodgensville

17. Visit the Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington

18. Measure your stride against that of the great (giant) horse Man O’ War

19. Bring roses to Funny Cide

20. Eat a hot Brown at Louisville’s Brown Hotel

21. Attend one of the multitudes of bluegrass festivals across the state

22. Visit the state Capitol building in Frankfort

23. Read Harriette Arnow’s The Dollmaker

24. Visit Cane Ridge Meeting House outside Paris

25. Tour the Corvette Museum and Corvette plant in Bowling Green

26. Visit the Toyota plant in Georgetown

27. Eat a tomato still warm from the sun

28. Attend the Garrard County Tobacco Cutting Contest

29. Find a fence row and pick some blackberries

30. Eat a slice or two – or three – of historic “transparent” pie at Magee’s Bakery in Maysville

31. Have a taste of the state’s regional sodas

32. Attend the Fancy Farm Picnic in Graves County

33. Watch the sun rise from Pinnacle Overlook

34. Watch the sun set over the Mississippi

35. Visit the Tri-Cities area – Cumberland, Benham and Lynch – for a look into the storied past of the underground coal industry

36. Read All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (Warren was a native of Guthrie)

37. Take your picture by the signs that mark some of Kentucky’s more oddly named places (Like Black Gnat, Monkey’s Eyebrow, Rabbit Hash and Peasticks)

38. Visit Letcher County’s Lilley Cornett Woods

39. Memorize all of the versus to our state song

40. Take a self-guided West Kentucky barbecue tour

41. Put your name on a bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

42. Drink moonshine

43. Ride a horse

44. Go hiking or rafting in gorgeous Breaks Interstate Park

45. Stay in Wigwam Village in Cave City (check!)

46. Explore Kentucky’s Amish and Mennonite communities

47. Get out on Lake Cumberland

48. Drive Eastern Kentucky’s U.S. 23, aka the Country Music Highway

49. Meditate of life (and death) at Lexington Cemetery

50. Walk on the land once owned by Henry Clay

Source: The Lexington Herald-Leader, Friday June 17, 2011

All photos by Elliott Hess, www.elliotthess.com, for My Old Kentucky Road Trip


  1. All are great lists… I need to do a Kaintuckeean list! Correction to your list: highway 68 isn’t an interstate. Keep up the great site and happy trails. Perhaps a joint venture is in our future? I’m thinking some Kentucky River kayaking?

    • Whoops! I promise we read maps better than that en route! We may need a joint venture, though you may be overestimating our kayaking skills… What about something along the lines of a Lexington Walking Roadtrip, all of the forgotten landmarks maybe, or the places you never got to visit on a school field trip?


  2. Pingback: A Road Trip to See the Moonbow at Cumberland Falls «

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s