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Kentucky’s Hottest Attractions for Student Travel Groups

Kentucky’s Hottest Attractions for Student Travel Groups

Brand new Corvettes. Baseball bats. Dollhouse cities. Untouched bat caves. Providing students with the chance to encounter all these attractions in just one trip is a daunting task, but Kentucky has proudly stepped up to the plate. No matter what your students’ interests may be, Kentucky’s museums, parks and natural wonders will.

Blankets, Belles and the History of the Bluegrass State

Discover the centuries-old art of quilt making at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, where you can learn the basics of how these beautiful blankets are created then wander through a gallery that holds quilts from all 50 states and over 40 different countries. Visit the “Quilts of Caohagan” exhibit and witness how women of the Philippines stitched stories into their fabric, then stop by “The 11th Hour Quilts of WWI” and see blankets that were created during the first World War.

Make an herb bag, craft hand soap and build a nature collage at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill near Harrodsburg.  Listen to traditional Shaker songs and learn a few dance steps, then head outdoors and explore the world of organic agriculture. You and your students can take a hayride or riverboat tour, or explore the property’s trails with a guide. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the on-site restaurant and experience farm-to-table dining.

Be inspired by hundreds of years of musical history at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro. See the hall of fame that honors bluegrass greats like Bill Monroe, then come face-to-face with the instruments that made these musicians famous. If your students are musically inclined, make sure to visit on a Thursday so they can join in a jam session.

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Portraits of famous musicians glisten on the walls of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Credit: International Bluegrass Music Museum

Come aboard the Belle of Louisville, the world’s oldest authentic river steamboat and one of Kentucky’s premier historic landmarks. Travel back into the Steamboat Era to discover the physics that made the massive vessels run, and listen to the crew tell tales about Kentucky, the Ohio River and the days when steamboats ruled the waters. The Belle of Louisville offers catered lunch and dinner tours as well as opportunities for student groups to perform.

Take the Stage

Let your students sing, dance and entertain crowds at Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, one of the nation’s best-loved amusement parks. After the performance, enjoy attractions such as Tin Lizzies, a 5D cinema, roller coasters with terrifying drops and countless other rides. Trying to beat the heat? Head over to Kentucky Kingdom’s Hurricane Bay water park and take advantage of the lazy river, wave pool and dizzying water slides.

At Louisville’s Waterfront Park you can catch a concert at Festival Plaza or have your students perform for an audience relaxing on the lawn. Grab a bite to eat at Joe’s Crab Shack, and then spend the afternoon walking the park paths that follow the Ohio River. Relax and enjoy the hanging benches at the Swing Garden, and grab a snack at one of the concession stands.

A few other Kentucky attractions that will let your students put on a show include the Belle of Louisville, Frazier History Museum and Louisville Zoo.

Science in the Great Outdoors

Hop in a kayak and take a guided tour of the underground waterways of Lost River Cave in Bowling Green. Learn about the science of cave formation, and drift along the river as your tour guide introduces you to the birds of the wetlands and teaches you how to mimic their calls. Take part in a Karst Topography program and discover the connections between surface and subsurface geology, or enjoy a program on fossil formation and have the chance to collect minerals and rocks of your own.

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A student tries his hand at the boat simulator. Credit: River Discovery Center

Get hands-on with the Ohio River at River Discovery Center in Paducah when you test out the simulator and see what it’s like to drive a speed boat, towboat or Coast Guard buoy in a variety of situations. Learn about the lives of the area’s indigenous people, the Mound Builders, through an archaeological dig, then head outside and encounter the owls, snakes, turtles and other creatures who call the river home.

Kentucky is home to Mammoth Cave, the second oldest attraction in the nation. Hike underground through cave trails and see endangered species like the Indiana bat, or stay above the surface and explore the surrounding area on horses, bikes or your own two feet. Take your students out on canoes in the Green and Nolin rivers, and catch a few fish before you head for shore.

Offbeat Museums

How do machines piece together luxury vehicles? What’s the first step to making a sports car? How is a new model designed? Answers await you at GM Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green. Watch from start to finish as a Corvette is born, then head across the street to the Corvette Museum where you and your students can find out more about the past, present and future of America’s favorite sports car.

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Brand new Corvettes fill the lot of the Corvette Museum. Credit: GM Corvette Assembly Plant and Museum

Explore Danville’s Great American Dollhouse Museum and see a collection of over 200 impeccably furnished dollhouses. From the Fantasy Forest with its tiny fairies and dragons to the miniature mansions in the Village of Cooper Hollow, the museum’s exhibits will have your students seeing dollhouses and their construction in an entirely new light. After your tour, enjoy a pizza lunch and then create your very own dollhouse room using pieces from an 18-foot-long materials buffet.

Ever wondered what goes into the making of a baseball bat? Tour the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and watch as a professional grade baseball bat is constructed right before your very eyes. Learn about the white ash and maple trees used to make the bats, and discover how baseball equipment has changed with the times. Other fascinating attractions include the world’s oldest baseball glove, a 90-mph fastball simulator and an exhibit that explores U.S.-Cuba relations through the lens of America’s favorite pastime.

Powerful engines? Smooth music? Exhilarating roller coasters? No matter what your students are interested in, Kentucky can provide. Whether your students are performing for river-side crowds, traveling back to the Steamboat Era or being wowed by the fathomless depths of Mammoth Cave, the Bluegrass State will win them over time and time again. What are you waiting for? Bring your students to Kentucky and discover the state for yourself!