Five experiences you can only have in Kentucky—that don’t involve horses or bourbon

By Gian Prabhudas, Building Kentucky

The latest Kentucky Inspiration Guide is out with all the traveling tips and hot-spot attractions you need to plan your next vacation. Most of us already know about the thrilling Kentucky Derby and the storied distilleries; the guide is a great resource for the best ways to experience those. Below is a list of five attractions also included in the guide that may not be top of mind but are certainly worth the visit in 2022.

1. Catching a “moonbow”

Cumberland Falls: Moonbow

A “moonbow,” or lunar rainbow, is the coolest natural phenomenon you’ve never heard of—and proof that the Cumberland Falls are in their own category. Moonbows are formed when the light from the moon is refracted through water droplets in the air. Although these can be seen in other places around the world, Cumberland Falls is the only destination in the Western Hemisphere where they appear regularly. If you want to see the moonbow, plan to visit the falls within two days (either before or after) a full moon.

2. Exploring the world’s longest cave system

Mammoth Cave Staircase (Mammoth Cave Facebook Page)

It’s nearly twice as long as the second longest cave system—and not all of it has been mapped yet. Designated a World Heritage site, Mammoth Cave is one of the oldest attractions in America. It is a home to over 130 animal species and a window into thousands of years of human history. Another interesting fact—no matter what time of year you visit the cave, it will always be 54 degrees.

3. Plan your stay at Dome Town

These geodesic domes suspended in the trees are sure to give you a one-of-a-kind camping experience. The domes are heated and cooled to keep you comfortable from the elements while still being immersed in Red River Gorge. At night, the suspended steps and pathways are lit, complementing the natural beauty. If you plan to stay at Dome Town, you may need to book several months in advance.

4. Learning about a historic feud

Photo courtesy of Pikeville Tourism

If you like history, or just drama in general, consider taking a self-guided audio tour through the sites where the Hatfields and McCoys carried out their world-famous feud. Just stop by the visitor center in Pikeville and pick up a free brochure or CD/USB for a self-guided tour through each of the feud sites. Some of the best times to visit are in September during the Hatfield and McCoy Heritage Days, or in April during the area’s Hillbilly Days festival.

5. Watching (and hearing) a train on main

Imagine cozy cottages, unique shops, art galleries and freight trains that roll right down Main Street. If that last part got your attention, there’s only one place where you can find it: La Grange, Kentucky. About 30 times a day, visitors line up to see the trains rumbling through downtown, adding to the old-timey feel of this already-rare setting. Most people visit La Grange in the summer, but you can see the trains year-round.

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