I recently had the chance to visit Bowling Green, Kentucky as a guest of the CVB and it was very different from what I was expecting. Instead of a small farming community I found a town very similar to my own Chicago suburb that had plenty of things to do for the whole family.
Bowling Green is an easy drive from Chicago and worth the short hour drive if you will be nearby in Nashville. You’ll want to be geared for fun when you visit!
The first thing that comes to mind when many hear “Bowling Green” is the National Corvette Museum and it’s definitely a popular tourist stop. The 115,000 sq. ft. building houses more than 80 Corvette models and one-of-a-kind concept cars spanning the history of Corvette. Made even more famous by the Corvette sink-hole, they now have a special exhibit about that national phenomenon that caused millions of dollars in damage to a number of rare corvettes. I found it interesting to look at.
Those with young kids will want to visit the car themed playroom at the museum. They also have a Corvette Cafe so you can have lunch in the retro diner while you are at the museum, too.
Speaking of cars, Bowling Green is home to the Beech Bend Raceway Park. Check the schedule online to see if anything is going on while you are there. I was lucky enough to visit during the Annual NMCA Bluegrass Nationals and got to see all the drag racing cars up close and personal, along with having the chance to talk to some of the drag racers themselves. I never watched drag racing before but I found it fascinating to watch and enjoyed listening to how passionate the drivers are.
Next to the race track are two must visits during the summer months- Beech Bend Amusement Park and Splash Lagoon Water Park. Though these parks look to be on the smaller side, there is plenty for families to do here for the whole day and I loved that it was cheaper than all of the other amusement parks I’ve been to and there were no long lines to stand in. There are over 30 rides, mini-golf, a petting farm, a pool, water slides and other water attractions. If you love coasters you’ll want to make sure to ride the Kentucky Rumbler (currently ranked in the Top 33 wooden roller coasters worldwide!)
Want to spend even more time outside? Mammoth Cave National Park is a free U.S. national park. You can walk or bike around the park but the most popular thing to do is take a cave tour. The park encompasses portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world at over 400 miles of cave that has been discovered. There are a variety of cave tours but I went on one called the “Frozen Niagara” that was one of the easier tours, prefect for families.
Another cave in Bowling Green is the Lost River Cave which offers a boat tour of their cave. It was fun to explore the cave by boat on their tour which lasted about 45 minutes. There are lots of other activities to do with kids here including walking along trails, playing bird bingo, cooling off at the natural spring, treasure mining, visiting the butterfly habitat and playing at their Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom.
Once you work up an appetite at Lost River Cave you’ll want to stop by the nearby restaurant, Lost River Pizza Co, for lunch. Though most well-known for their pizza, make sure to get an appetizer to go with it, like their spicy fried pickles, Brown Ale Shrooms, or wings. For kids there are plenty of affordable options.
Don’t forget dessert! Head on over to Chaney’s Dairy Barn for some homemade ice cream. Named #1 ice cream in Kentucky by USA Today, you will see why after just one taste! There are a variety of flavors from Bourbon Crunch to Mocha Moo. I tried their peanut butter fudge swirl in a waffle cone and it was delicious. During the summer they also host events like farm tours and outdoor “MOOvie” nights so be sure to check their calendar to see what’s going on during your visit. Have baseball fans in your home? Head out to a Hot Rods baseball game while you are in town. They also have a great kid’s play area, with a playground and carousel, for kids to play. They have theme nights and other fun events so again, check the calendar to see what’s happening. I went to a game on Star Wars night and it was fun to see so many in costumes. Within walking distance of the baseball stadium is the Railpark & Train Museum. The train museum is in a former station and has historical exhibits, a model railroad & vintage car tours. It was interesting to walk through the train cars and imagine what it would have been like to travel in them years ago. I also enjoyed checking out their downtown area. Fountain Square Park in the middle of their downtown is a beautiful place to sit and relax. They also had a number of storefronts, including Mary Jane’s Chocolates, for those of you who love chocolates. If you like to stop at Farmer’s Markets, it should be noted that Bowling Green has a large Farmer’s Market that’s open a couple times a week year-round.
One other place I enjoyed eating while in Bowling Green was Montana Grille (not to be confused with the chain restaurant that has a similar name). They had lots to choose from on the menu and I loved the cabin-like atmosphere. Favorites include their Bourbon filet, Spike’s Mean Beans and Jalapeno Cornbread.
As you can see, there are tons of great places to play and eat in Bowling Green. You’ll need a place to sleep as well and I’d recommend staying at the Hilton Garden Inn. It’s a well-taken care of hotel with spacious guest rooms, nice outdoor patio areas and a delicious breakfast selection. The hotel also has an indoor pool as well which I know is always on my boys’ wish list when it comes to accommodations.
Bowling Green, Kentucky has plenty of fun for the whole family! What are you most looking forward to doing on your visit?