Top 200 Reasons to Love Kentucky

bradristic Real Estate

img_0180-_snapseedPioneer Daniel Boone, who knew Kentucky about as well as anyone, is credited with saying, “Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place.” Let’s pray he’s right. There are so many reasons to love Kentucky that no list is ever complete. It’s a losing proposition. Here are the Top 200 Reasons to Love Kentucky.

In celebration of our 200th issue, we thought we’d give it a try. We compiled a list of 200 reasons, presented here in no particular order, and we reached out to some well-known friends of Kentucky Monthly asking them to sum up their love of the Commonwealth in 200 words. Of others, we asked for the things they love most about the 15th state.

We were flooded with responses. Many are contained here, and others will appear on our website or in future issues, so don’t be disappointed if yours isn’t included. Sit yourself down and write us a finely crafted letter, a well-reasoned treatise, or a witty email. We’ll comb through them and publish the worthy ones between now and our 300th issue in 2026.

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200. Mint Juleps, Iconic bourbon cocktails best served in sterling silver cups

199. Modjeskas, Irresistable caramel/marshmellow confections produced for four generations by Bauer’s Candies in Lawrenceburg

198. Kentucky Artists and Artisans, Painters, sculptors, potters, weavers, woodcrafters and more

197. Our Commonwealth’s strikingly scenic horse farms

196. Frazier History Museum

195. Boone Tavern, Berea

194. Pine Mountain State Resort Park

193. Great hunting and fishing

192. Kentucky Downs

191. Ellis Park

190. Roebling Bridge

189. Old Louisville, America’s largest Victorian preservation district

188. Squinting to see the images of the champ hidden in the mural of the Muhammad Ali Center

187. My Old Kentucky Dinner Train

186. Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site

185. Stone fences

184. Kentucky Speedway

183. Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History

182. Devouring a Hot Brown at the historic Brown Hotel

181. Enjoying an ice-cold Ale-8-One, Kentucky’s own soft drink, bottled in Winchester for

90 years

180. Cave Hill National Cemetery, George Rogers Clark and Colonel Harland Sanders are among the notables whose final resting place is this stunningly beautiful setting

179. The fragrance of roasting peanuts wafting through the air from the Jif Plant near downtown Lexington

178. Hearing the story of 84-year-old Cassius Clay chasing away the family of his 15-year-old bride at White Hall State Historic Site

177. ROMPfest, Owensboro’s premier Bluegrass roots and branches music festival

176. Hummel Planetarium

175. Spotting brand new Thoroughbred foals with their moms in the fields beginning in early January

174. Benedictine

173. High Bridge

172. Kentucky Reptile Zoo

171. The sight of the Waddy-Peytona sign on I-64

170. Kentucky Derby Museum

169. Mill Springs Battlefield Visitors Center & Museum

168. Henry Bain sauce

167. Berea Pinnacles

166. Watching strangers to our Commonwealth weeping during the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home”

165. Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park, Nicholasville

164. Green River Lake State Park

163. Four distinct seasons—sometimes all in one day

162. Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in Renfro Valley

161. Churchill Downs

160. Salato Wildlife Reserve

159. Henry Clay’s Ashland Estate

158. American Saddlebred Museum

157. Watching your kids climbing in the Osage orange tree at Old Fort Harrod State Park

156. Historic Railpark and Train Museum

155. Country Music Highway

154. Aviation Museum of Kentucky

153. Mother Goose House, Hazard

152. Riverview at Hobson Grove

151. Behringer-Crawford Museum

150. Appalshop

149. Knowing the nation’s gold and possibly an alien or two are safe in the gold depository at Fort Knox

148. Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement

147. Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park

146. Mary Todd Lincoln House

145. Nattily dressed frat boys at Keeneland meets

144. The steam rising off freshly washed racehorses on the backside at Churchill Downs

143. Kentucky’s 12 Covered Bridges

142. The look on visitors’ faces when you drive them by the Castle between Lexington and Versailles

141. The Carnegie, Covington

140. Lexington Cemetery, especially in the spring

139. Red Mile Harness Track

138. Red River Gorge

137. Working off the effects of the mile-high merengue pie Patti’s 1880’s Settlement with a bike ride through the Land Between the Lakes

136. Maysville’s Kentucky Gateway Museum Center

135. Turfway Park

134. Big Bone Lick State Historic Site

133. Bluegrass Railway Museum

132. Scenic Hills of Eastern Kentucky

131. Louisville Mega Cavern

130. John James Audubon State Park

129. Dogwoods in the spring

128. Great American Dollhouse Museum

127. Vent Haven Museum

126. E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park

125. Kentucky wine

124. Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft

123. Wigwam Village

122. Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park

121. Lake Barkley State Resort Park

120. Portal 31 Mine Tour

119. Wondering why the Centre College football team no longer plays Harvard

118. Lexington Legends

117. Paducah Railroad Museum

116. Old Mulkey Meeting House State Historic Site

115. Kentucky Railroad Museum

114. Toyota Kentucky

113. Flying Saucer House, Covington

112. The view of Frankfort and the Capitol from Daniel Boone’s gravesite at the Frankfort Cemetery

111. Rolling land of the Bluegrass Region

110. Burgoo

109. Waveland State Historic Site

108. Cumberland Falls, one of only two places in the world where you can view a moonbow

107. Conrad-Caldwell House Museum

106. Louisville Waterfront Park

105. KFC, Creator and provider of the world’s most famous chicken

104. Derby Pie, Kern’s Kitchen’s delectable chocolatey, nutty concoction

103. Bluegrass Music, Genre of music developed in the Kentucky hills and derived from traditional Irish, Scottish and English tunes

102. The squeak of sneakers on the hardwood and the sound of a basketball going though a nylon net

101. Waverly Hills Sanitorium, Former tuberculosis hospital, shuttered in 1961 and alleged to be one of the most haunted places on earth

100. The comfort in knowing you’re never more than 10 miles from a Walmart and a few hundred yards from a Baptist Church

99. Although it’s discouraged, rubbing the foot of Abraham Lincoln’s statue in the Capitol Rotunda for good luck

98. Ruth Hunt Candy Company, Mt. Sterling-based producer of scrumptious bourbon balls and its exclusive Blue Mondays, among other tasty treats

97. The Kentucky Theater, Ornately designed and lovingly restored venue touted as a “palatial new photoplay house” when it opened in 1921, still showing movies today

96. Mammoth Cave, The world’s longest cave system and Kentucky’s only National Park

95. Mingua Brothers Beef Jerky, The purchase of a Ronco food dehydrator led to the creation of this premium beef jerky produced in Bourbon County

94. Kentucky Derby, The most exciting two minutes in sports

93. Louisville Slugger, The official bat of Major League Baseball, made by the same family that began producing bats in 1884

92. Feeling better during allergy season knowing that goldenrod is the state flower

91. Our native spirit: Bourbon, Kentucky’s signature adult beverage, beloved the world over

90. Speed Art Museum, Started from a private collection, the museum now houses the most extensive treasure trove of art in Kentucky

89. Kentucky Capitol, The classically designed structure housing our state’s government opened in 1910

88. A slaw burger, fries and a bottle of Ski at any one of Kentucky’s six remaining drive-ins

87. Natural Bridge State Resort Park, One of many examples in Kentucky of Mother Nature at her finest

86. Kentucky State Fair, First held in 1816, the entertainment and educational extravaganza attracts 600,000-plus attendees

85. Carter Caves State Resort Park

84. Kentucky Folk Art Center

83. Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site

82. Big South Fork Scenic Railroad

81. Fancy Farm Picnic

80. Lilley Cornett Woods

79. Jenny Wiley State Resort Park

78. Kentucky Museum, Bowling Green

77. Kentucky Horse Park

76. Fort Boonesborough State Park

75. Brown-Pusey House

74. Louisville Bats

73. The sun shining through the world’s largest hand-blown stained glass window, in Covington’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption

72. Kentucky barbecue

71. Keeneland

70. University of Kentucky Art Musuem

69. 76 Falls

68. Rupp Arena

67. House Made of Coal, Middlesboro

66. International Bluegrass Music Museum

65. Redbuds

64. The serenity of the Abbey of Gethsemani

63. Newport Aquarium

62. Meeting the eclectic mass of creative people at Penn’s Store on Kentucky Writers Day (Robert Penn Warren’s birthday)

61. Big Sandy Heritage Center

60. Kenlake State Resort Park

59. Wooden board fences

58. Rebecca Ruth Candies

57. Headley-Whitney Museum

56. Kentucky River Palisades

55. Enjoying outdoor theater in Danville or outdoor music in Bardstown

54. Kentuckians, the friendliest people on Earth

53. My Old Kentucky Home (Federal Hill)

52. Knowing that Paintville’s Chris Stapleton sings about Tennessee whiskey, because it’s harder to find a rhyme for “Kentucky bourbon”

51. MainStrasse Village

50. Lost River Cave

49. Owensboro Museum of Fine Art

48. Land Between the Lakes

47. Learning the history of why American horses run counterclockwise at a visit to William Whitley House State Historic Site

46. Intriguing signs such as “Welcome to Hartford, Home of 2,000 Happy People & a Few Soreheads”

45. Rabbit Hash General Store, Open since 1831, the store was ravaged by fire in February, but Rabbit Hash has vowed to rebuild

44. Bibb lettuce, A petite, delicate, premium lettuce variety first cultivated in Frankfort by John J. Bibb

43. Belle of Louisville, Constructed in 1914, the beloved Belle is the oldest operating steamboat in the country

42. Barn Quilts, Open air art is everywhere in the Bluegrass State

41. Thunder Over Louisville, The official start of the Kentucky Derby Festival and a fireworks/air show wonder to behold

40. Taking a selfie with the Colonel at the Harland Sanders Café and Museum or the Louisville International Airport

39. Gotta, Savory northern Kentucky specialty that pays homage to our German roots

38. ’Tis a gift to be simple at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill

37. Beer cheese

36. Basketball fans—the most ardent in the world

35. Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center

34. Girls in dresses of UK blue at Commonwealth Stadium on a Saturday afternoon

33. Louisville Water Tower Park and the finest water in the world

32. Kentucky Military History Museum

31. KFC Yum! Center

30. “Kentucky Rain”

29. Kenton County Farm Tour

28. Lake Cumberland State Resort Park

27. Pennyroyal Area Museum

26. Kentucky’s motto: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”

25. Knowing Rabbit Hash’s mayor is a dog

24. Daniel Boone statue at Eastern Kentucky University

23. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

22. Devou Park in Covington

21. Interesting place names, such as Monkey’s Eyebrow and Possum Trot

20. The first time you hear “On, on, U of K” in the fall

19. Kentucky Coal Mining Museum

18. Wickland, Home of Three Governors

17. Floral Clock, Frankfort

16. Rosemary Clooney Museum in Augusta

15. New Madrid Bend

14. Kentucky agate

13. Kentucky craft beers

12. National Underground Railroad Museum

11. Kentucky’s awesome authors and magnificent musicians

10. The Louisville Palace Theater

9. The Gideon Shryock staircase in the Old State Capitol

8. South Union Shaker Village

7. The Florence Y’all water tower

6. National Quilt Museum in Paducah

5. The sight of blue, red and yellow Corvettes on the streets of Bowling Green

4. Feeling secure enough to build a Stonehenge replica in your yard, like the one in Munfordville, and not worry about being hauled away to the psych ward

3. Louisville Zoo, Features more than 1,500 animals and a mission to “Better the Bond Between People and Our Planet”

2. The previous 199 issues of Kentucky Monthly

1. It’s home!

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