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Road Tripping in Kentucky with Teens

Horses and Bourbon were not part of our recent trip, but an amusement park, a really big boat, a bridge, a Bible, a grave, and a Yeti were!

It’s approximately 10 hours from my location in the the Tarheel State to The Bluegrass State. The rolling hills of Kentucky are a beautiful sight for someone who lives at just 10 feet above sea level. I will say though, it is a stretch to find blue grass in Kentucky. Perhaps because the lawns were so well manicured, I missed it. While we didn’t see the blue hues, we did see a lot more. Come with me on a road trip to Kentucky!

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What brought us to Kentucky was the Bluegrass Bible Conference. We had a wonderful time with like-minded believers in God’s Word. Vacations make memories and those that have eternal value are an added bonus! The conference was held at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Frankfort. With teenagers, we upgrade to a suite wherever we go if possible. They need their space, and we need ours. The suite had ample room for our family, and enough floor space for an air mattress we purchased for the trip.

Frankfort is central to several areas of interest on our vacation, so it served as a perfect home base. While in Frankfort, we visited Cove Springs Park. The park is a beautiful area with waterfalls, streams, and nice hiking trails. I like to find a park or trail our family can enjoy while on a downtime day of vacation. Another area of interest in Frankfort is the grave site of Daniel & Rebecca Boone. Or is it? We learned about the famous frontiersman and his connection with North Carolina in our own studies of NC History, so it made visiting a graveyard even more interesting. No matter who’s in those graves, they have the best view in Frankfort!

Louisville – Kentucky Kingdom

On the second day of our trip we visited Kentucky Kingdom. It’s a fantastic amusement/water park that is the perfect size. Not too big, not too little – just right! An extra bonus is the fantastic deal I got on tickets as an out-of-state guest.

I’m still a fan of roller coasters, although I think my days are limited. Until that day comes, I’m happy pretending to be a teenager with my teenagers. There are a variety of rides available, and the water park also looked to have a good variety. We did not do the water park slides and pools, but it is in the same park as the amusement park. We visited on a weekday, and spent a little over 5 hours doing the amusement park only, and our two teenagers got to ride many of the rides they wanted several times. Of course, a mixed age of children would take slightly longer.

Big Four Bridge

What was nice about a slightly smaller amusement park, is that you have time to do something else if you choose to. After we finished Kentucky Kingdom, our next stop was my favorite – Big Four Bridge. The former railroad truss bridge turned pedestrian bridge spans the Ohio River and connects Louisville, Kentucky to Jeffersonville, Indiana. It is one mile across, and the views are amazing! You can walk across and back in 30 minutes, or take your time and read the historical info graphics, snap photos, and just take in the view.

I planned to see the spectacular rainbow of lights on the bridge at nighttime, but to my surprise, the sun doesn’t set early in western KY! I should have not been surprised, just something I never gave any thought to. On that particular evening, the sun set in Louisville KY at 9:09 p.m. and was still somewhat light out until nearly 10 o’clock! It was just odd for us east-coasters. Next time, I will plan accordingly.

The Food & the Yeti

Whenever we take a trip, we enjoy really taking in the area in terms of food. If the area is famous for something, than I want to try it! While we waited on the kids to ride rides, I googled restaurants in the area that serve Kentucky Hot Brown. One that caught my eye was The Red Yeti. I mean, how fun is that – and they are a local farm-to-table restaurant! I knew we would be in for a treat. My husband and I ordered the Kentuckiana Hot Brown – oven roasted turkey breast, grilled baguette, roasted tomato, mornay sauce, browned cheddar, and candied local bacon. Wow, wow, wow, it was delicious! Plus we got a few selfies with a Red Yeti! Stuffed and tired, I completely forgot to do a ride by on The Louisville Slugger Museum, and snap a picture of the gigantic bat! It’s on the list already for next time.

The Ark Encounter

Isn’t this what everyone comes to Kentucky for? Well, I can only say that I’m glad The Ark Encounter was not the only reason for our Kentucky visit. I know, I know – don’t throw eggs at me just yet. While it was certainly something to marvel at, and as a roadside attraction, there’s nothing like it. The size is absolutely amazing, and it definitely puts some perspective to what a cubit is! It’s the inside that was disappointing for our family. Our visit was on a Friday, so I’m sure that added to the massive crowd that were all trying to board the boat. Unless herding is part of the experience, which it may very well be, was just too much. After just a few minutes inside, we got out of line and looked at the displays from afar, then made an swift exit. I think we were inside for less and 30 minutes.

It really would be helpful if there was a guide taking small groups every few minutes through the ark to make a smoother and more enjoyable experience for all. There is so much to read and see, it is impossible to do it with hundreds trying to do the same thing you are. All around, it was not a good set up. I’ll also mention, while the displays are interesting, it is someone’s imagination, and they did disclose that information right up front. The Bible leaves much detail concerning the inside of the ark unwritten.

Outside the ark was a different story. The Ararat Ridge Zoo was much better. There you can pet goats, view birds and other exotic mammals from across the globe. There are some educational animal encounter programs throughout the day, as well as camel rides and zip lining for an additional cost. Not nearly as big as a zoo, it’s a nice little addition to the main attraction. The large gift shop inside is very nice, and has a library of books, toys, shirts, handcrafted gift items, and a fair-trade section with handcrafted products. Unfortunately, the Ark Encounter was not the encounter we had hoped for, and would likely pass on next time.

Do you still have travel plans this summer? If so, you will want to check out this post for traveling with teens and grab a free printable list with games that will make teenagers forget about their phones for a little while! Make the ride a memorable part of vacation!

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