Kentucky is a mideastern state of the United States. Its state capital is Frankfort. Attractions include horse racing and beautiful lakes. Kentucky is also culturally part of the American South. It is home to famous food (Kentucky Fried Chicken, Hot Brown, and Burgoo), drink (bourbon whiskey) and music (bluegrass) traditions.


Kentucky regions - Color-coded map
Bluegrass Region
Horses and bourbon sum up this region; the gently rolling hills are the heart of the thoroughbred industry and many distilleries can be found along its streams.
Caves and Lakes
A karst region containing the largest cave system in the world; its hub is Bowling Green
Daniel Boone Country
This rugged landscape is dominated by the Daniel Boone National Forest and it was here that the Wilderness Road was cut enabling the first wave of settlers to enter the state through the Cumberland Gap.
Kentucky Appalachians
A rugged and rural portion of the state.
Kentucky Derby Region
This region, centered around Kentucky's largest city, Louisville is also world-famous for its bourbon distilleries
Northern Ohio River Region
An emerging economic power in Kentucky: The cities of Covington, Florence, Independence, and Newport are among the fastest growing in the state
Southern Lakes
Containing many man-made lakes, this rural region offers many opportunities for recreation
Western Coal Fields
This area of alternating ridges and valleys was mined extensively in the years after WWII, but many of the mined lands were turned into wildlife management areas and the region has become a draw for sportsmen; Owensboro is its largest city
Western Waterlands
A mostly flat area of the state that lies within the floodplains of four major rivers, this region contains the state's largest agricultural operations as well as the recreational areas around Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley

For the most part, these regions are used only by the state for tourism promotion—they do not necessarily reflect the regions recognized by Kentuckians themselves. The state tourism regions map to locally recognized regions as follows:


Other destinations

Get in

By car

Kentucky is accessible by five Interstates:

A sixth interstate, I-69, has segments in Kentucky, but is not currently connected with an interstate-standard highway to any other state. The Kentucky segment starts at Henderson, across the Ohio River from Evansville, taking an indirect southwest course through the state as it follows previously existing parkways (see below). The currently signed route passes by Madisonville and Princeton before ending near Calvert City, and from there I-69 will follow the Purchase Parkway (now signed as "Future I-69") to Fulton.

In addition, the future I-66, not connected to the existing highway of that number in Virginia, is proposed to be routed through the southern half of the state, with much of the route following other Kentucky parkways.

Kentucky is connected to many U.S. Highways:

By air

There are three large airports in the state. Louisville International Airport is served by several major airlines, including Southwest, Frontier, Delta/Delta Connection, United Express, American Airlines/American Eagle, and Midwest Connect. Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, located off of I-275 near Hebron, is a major hub for Delta, and is also served by American Eagle, United Express, Comair, Delta Connection, and USA 3000. Lexington's Blue Grass Field offers direct flights from fourteen cities in the midwestern, southern and eastern parts of the country via American Eagle, US Express, United Express, and Delta Connection. The two smaller commercial airports in Kentucky are Barkley Regional (serving Paducah), served by Delta Connection, and Owensboro-Daviess County Airport, served by Great Lakes Aviation. The Ashland area is served by Tri-State Airport near Huntington, West Virginia. There are many other smaller, general aviation airports throughout the state.

Get around

Kentucky maintains 9 parkways to supplement the Interstate and U.S. Highways. These roads were all built as toll roads but have since become freeways, although the portions of these roads that will become part of the new I-66 and I-69 may become tolled again in the future. Nine roads make up the parkway system:

Kentucky also has more than 9000 numbered state routes; most are just a dozen miles long or so. Notable ones for traversing the state include:


State Parks

Wherever you travel in Kentucky, you are never far from one of 52 Kentucky State Parks. Each park has its own unique attributes, from shorelines to majestic mountains, from winding caves to enchanting woodlands.

State Resort Parks

Kentucky offers seventeen state resort parks, more than any other state. This wealth of resort parks, each featuring a full-service lodge and dining room, has given rise to our reputation as "the nation's finest state park system."

State Recreation Parks

The Kentucky State Parks operate 22 recreation parks that offer a variety of activities for visitors, whether you have a few hours, a day or a week to spend with us. You can visit these parks and enjoy camping, fishing, golf, boating, hiking, picnicking, tennis, mini-golf, horseback riding, historic sites and much, much more.



Kentucky State Parks offer a great variety of species and settings for fishing. Anglers have a choice of largemouth and smallmouth bass, striped bass, trout, bluegill, crappie, catfish and many more kinds of fish at state parks. And for beginners, many parks have fishing equipment to loan to guests.


Kentucky is famed for bluegrass, bourbon, beautiful mountains and thoroughbreds. And, spurred by a renewed focus from the State Park system, golf now is becoming a larger part of Kentucky's recreational reputation. With 19 State Park golf courses, there is sure to be something for everyone.


There are several indoor firing ranges at which arms and ammunition may be rented, along with some time at a firing lane.


There’s plenty of water to go around for a swim at Kentucky State Parks. The parks operate more than two dozen swimming pools and 11 beaches at lakes. And during the winter, there are indoor pools at Lake Cumberland and Lake Barkley resort parks.


More than $2.5 million has been spent in recent years on improvements at campgrounds, which offer 2,600 improved sites. Reservations are now available for the campgrounds. You can enjoy campground activities such as entertainment, arts and crafts, mini golf, cook outs and nature programs.


The state parks oversee 15 marinas that offer pontoon and fishing boat rentals. The marinas also provide a variety of services including fuel, fishing licenses, ice and slip rentals. And many parks have canoes and paddle boats as well.


Kentucky State Parks offer nearly 300 miles of trails suitable for all levels of enjoyment. From the remote 45 miles currently developed on the Pine Mountain Trail to the .5 mile self-guided interpretive trail through the Civil War redoubts at Columbus-Belmont State Park, there is an outdoor experience that will satisfy everyone! Along with the state parks, many hiking opportunities can be found on federal lands located within the state. The Daniel Boone National forest boasts over 600 miles of trails including the 290 mile Sheltowee Trace. The 58 mile North-South Trail is located in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and the Pine Mountain Trail will be integrated into the 1600 mile Great Eastern Trail.


Looking to explore some new surroundings with your favorite equine companion? Visit one of the scenic Kentucky State Parks horse trails and escape for the day. Or, spend the weekend at a “horse campground” for some cowboy time under the stars. You will find several parks are equipped with seasonal riding stables for the whole family to enjoy. Horse back riding is also an option at many private stables, and at the Kentucky Horse Park seasonally.

Stay safe


Kentucky's cuisine is similar to traditional southern cooking, although in some areas of the state it can blend Southern and Midwestern.

Kentucky has invented several dishes; most notably the Kentucky Hot Brown and beer cheese. The Hot Brown was developed at the Brown Hotel in Louisville. The dish is usually layered in this order: toasted bread, turkey, bacon, tomatoes and topped with mornay sauce. Beer cheese is a cheese spread that originated in Central Kentucky near Winchester. While there are conflicting stories on where beer cheese originated, Johnny Allman's, a restaurant on the Kentucky River (present-day site of Hall's on the River) is generally credited with inventing the dip. Colonel Harland Sanders began Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin. Today, visitors can see where the restaurant got its start.


Alcohol laws in Kentucky are (pun not intended) a mixed bag. As you travel through the state, you can find yourself in a "wet", "dry", or "moist" city or county. A guide to these terms:

The laws governing package sales in wet areas also have their own quirks. Supermarkets are allowed to sell beer, but not wine or distilled spirits—at least not in the main grocery section. A supermarket can hold a license to sell wine and spirits, but must do so out of a separate facility with its own entrances, checkout counters, and staffing; if the wine and spirits shop is inside the supermarket, it must be walled off from the grocery section. Supermarkets that have such licenses usually (but not always) place the entrance to the wine and spirits shop either inside the main entrance of the grocery or next door to it. Pharmacies can sell all types of alcoholic beverages if they hold the required licenses, as can dedicated liquor stores.

Go next

Kentucky is bordered by seven other states.

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