Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Ashland, KY

  • Published 2023/03/17

Ashland is the largest city in Boyd County, Kentucky.

It’s a bustling Southern town with the usual collection of shops and restaurants you’d expect in a city of its size.

Ashland is the smaller of the two major cities that make up the Huntington-Ashland metropolitan region.

Locals call this region the “Tri-State Area.”

The charming community has all the amenities you need to live a comfortable life, all close to the Ohio River.

Ashland is a great place to get away from it all, especially if you’re a fan of art and culture.

It’s a charming town with a lot to offer: from its beautiful parks to its walkable streets and charming shops.

There’s no shortage of things to see and do.

Here are the best things to do in Ashland, KY:

Enjoy the Outdoors in Central Park

Winter view of Central Park

Jerry Pennington /

The best things to do in Ashland, Kentucky, are outdoors.

That’s because Central Park is the main attraction of this city, where you’ll find all the outdoor activities.

Central Park is a fantastic place to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.

The large green area stretching along the riverfront is famous for soccer games and running, among other things.

It’s the “Crown Jewel” of Ashland because of its gorgeous scenery, brimming with outdoor activities that tourists and locals can enjoy.

Indian mounds at Central Park

JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

From its dog park to its baseball fields and exercise paths to a serene setting perfect for picnics, this historic park has something for everyone.

History buffs will appreciate its history as a horse racing track.

You can trace the roots of this Kentucky town through the bricks where you walk.

Central Park is free to visit anytime; it’s open from sunrise until sunset every day year-round.

Learn about History at the Highlands Museum & Discovery Center

Are you looking for a fun way to spend your time in Ashland?

Visit the Highlands Museum & Discovery Museum in Ashland.

It’s a heritage center and science center with exhibits highlighting the area’s origins and hands-on activities for youngsters.

Founded in 1894, the museum started as an educational organization with a mission to preserve and promote the area’s culture.

In addition to its impressive collections of local history and artifacts, the museum houses several interactive exhibits to engage your whole family.

The Highlands Museum & Discovery Center also offers tours, classes, and events.

Everyone from kids to adults can join some fun and educational activity.

You can keep your family entertained while learning about the past at Highlands Museum & Discovery Center.

Watch the Boats at the Port of Ashland

When you think of Ashland, Kentucky, you probably don’t picture a boat cruising the Ohio River.

The Port of Ashland is a serene spot that invites visitors to kick back and relax from its soaring pavilion to the scenic overlooks.

This park is an Ashland landmark, with plenty of activities for visitors, including boat tours and river cruises on the Ohio River.

Port of Ashland also features three giant sculptures by renowned sculptor, Gines Serran Pagan, adding to the park’s beauty.

There are many benches and tables around the park where you can sit down and enjoy the peaceful environment while reading a book or contemplating life.

You can also cast your fishing rods in the river because the Port of Ashland is a popular fishing spot.

After all the fun activities, stay for a while and wait for the sunset.

The Port of Ashland provides the best spot for watching the sun go down on the river.

Go Back in Time at Camayo Arcade

If you’re heading to Camayo Arcade in Ashland, Kentucky, prepare for a blast from the past.

No, it’s not a video game arcade.

The Camayo Arcade is the first indoor mall in Kentucky, and it’s still going strong.

This indoor mall is in an old department store built in 1926, now filled with local businesses.

In 1994, the National Register of Historic Places listed the Camayo Arcade as one of the historical places in Ashland.

With the Arcade’s rich history and beautiful architecture, no trip to Ashland is complete without a visit to this historic landmark.

If you want to experience something that harkens back to simpler times, take a day trip to Ashland and explore the Camayo Arcade for yourself.

Experience a Fun Day at Malibu Jack’s

Malibu Jack’s Ashland is a massive indoor theme park with more than 20 rides, attractions and games for all ages.

Thanks to its fun and affordable offerings, Malibu Jack’s is fast becoming a popular spot for a day with friends and family.

This theme park is filled with rides, games, and food.

Get everything you could ever want in an indoor theme park at Malibu Jack’s.

Whether it’s sunny or rainy, snowing or blazing hot outside, you can keep having fun right where you are.

It’s the perfect place to spend time with your family and friends, celebrate a birthday or an anniversary, or have a fun day out.

You can’t beat Malibu Jack’s for a fun family outing.

Every day is full of fun, excitement, and adventure.

Go Shopping in Camp Landing Entertainment District

Camp Landing is a prime example of what happens when developers want to do something creative with an abandoned mall.

If you’ve seen the Camp Landing location, you might be wondering how it’s changed.

Built in 1989, the mall has undergone two major renovations.

The first renovation was in 2005.

They completed the second renovation in 2021 when Camp Landing became Camp Landing Entertainment District.

The location sat unused for a while until new owners decided to bring something new to this location without having to move it far away.

Shopping malls have evolved quite a bit over the past few decades.

They’re no longer just places to go window-shopping while walking around at a leisurely pace.

They’ve become destinations where you can find some of your favorite restaurants and shops under one roof.

See a Show at Paramount Arts Center

Exterior of the Paramount Arts Center

thatckphotographer /

The Paramount Arts Center is a historic performance space located inside a 1931 movie theater.

Paramount Arts Center showcases the best of local and national artists.

The theater and concert venue is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It still uses original fixtures from 1931.

Perhaps, the best thing about Paramount Arts Center is its rustic ambiance, complete with a stone exterior and lavish interior.

The stage also has beautiful curtains that look like they’re straight out of a musical.

Likewise, the theater stages plays to musicals.

Paramount Arts Center has always been an essential part of Ashland’s culture.

It still serves its community with fantastic entertainment.

Solve Puzzles in the Tri-State Escape

Tri-State Escape is a new escape room studio that has become a big hit in Ashland.

Playing an escape room is like playing a video game that isn’t a video game.

You get locked in a room with your friends, and you must resolve a complex story by deciphering clues and using problem-solving skills.

These escape rooms are fun for your friends, family, significant others or co-workers to do together.

They’re also great for businesses looking for team-building exercises.

Escape rooms are also great for groups who want to do something different from the traditional restaurant, movie, or bar plans.

Obviously, they’re perfect if you love puzzles and mysteries.

Tri-State Escape offers six challenging rooms for all skill levels.

Your team can choose a simple space that’s still full of fun puzzles, or you can put yourself up against the toughest rooms with locks and codes you might find unsolvable.

Whether with family, friends or on a date, these rooms will challenge you to work together.

Use your problem-solving skills to find clues and figure out the puzzles that will lead you to your save point.

Enjoy a Match at Ashland Tennis Center

What could be more relaxing than a day at the Ashland Tennis Center in Ashland?

The facility has everything you could want from a tennis center.

Check out the well-stocked pro shop or join camps that teach the fundamentals.

Otherwise, book private lessons with one-on-one instruction from the experts.

If you’re new to the game, you can learn quickly and easily at one of the camp sessions.

With a hugely diverse program for tennis enthusiasts of all ages, competitive and recreational players can find something to do here.

The center also offers year-round tennis, featuring four indoor and eleven outdoor courts, and has something for everyone.

Enjoy professional lessons, match play, and family fun nights.

The center also hosts several leagues and tournaments throughout the year where players can compete against each other.

There’s no reason not to make Ashland Tennis Center your next destination on your travel list.

Practice Skating in Garden Roller Rink

The first thing you’ll notice in Garden Roller Rink is that it’s not just a roller skating rink.

Established in 1986, the family-owned Garden Roller Rink is a family-friendly destination in Ashland.

Garden Roller Rink is where friends and families go for a fun night.

The rink has mirrored walls and disco lighting.

You can rent various private rooms for parties or gatherings, and enjoy delicious food and drinks.

There’s no better way to spend a Friday night than rolling around at this colorful rink.

Shop ‘til You Drop in Ashland Town Center

You’ll never run out of fun ways to spend your time in the Ashland Town Center.

People come from all over Northern Kentucky to shop here since the mall features over 70 shops and a food court.

You’ll find everything from high-end clothing shops to local boutiques selling hand-crafted items.

If you want to treat yourself, go shopping at Victoria’s Secret, T.J. Maxx, or American Eagle Outfitters.

If you’re looking for a great meal out with family or friends, there are several dining options.

You’ll never be bored at Ashland Town Center!

Buy a Gift from Aladdin’s Art Gallery

Have you ever seen a shop that sells “art for the artsy-fartsy?”

Aladdin’s Art Gallery is a gift shop and custom art framing gallery that lives up to the tagline.

The quirky shop is in the historic downtown area, so you’ll taste local culture while you’re there.

Since 1965, the family-owned business has designed memorable gifts and art pieces.

This place is a treasure trove for anyone who appreciates art and artists and loves to shop for quality gifts.

Aladdin’s doesn’t just sell decorative signs.

They also frame artwork; they can turn any painting or photo into custom framing that will match any decor.

No matter the size or style of the art you bring, they will frame it perfectly at an affordable price.

Enjoy a Delicious Ice Cream at Superhero Creamery

A sweet treat while getting around the city would be great, so make a quick stop at Superhero Creamery on Winchester Avenue.

The shop serves delicious ice cream in different flavors, as well as frozen yogurt, which you can enjoy in the middle of your tour around the city.

But what makes it more inviting is that it’s filled with superhero toys and comics.

The store also buys and sells any figure that all ages love.

Superhero Creamery also has a pottery section where kids can paint ceramics and bring them home.

Watch a Movie at Cinemark Movies 10

Movie-goers can enjoy watching first-run movies at Cinemark Movies 10, which features comfortable reclining seats and quality sound.

The concessions are great at offering snacks, and you’ll love that the popcorn is warm and you can even get refills if you need to.

If you come early, you may be able to pick your own seat upon purchase of your ticket or let them assign you one, so you don’t have to worry about it while you grab your snacks.

It’s a family-friendly cinema, so go bring your loved ones to the seats!

Cinemark Movies 10 is located on Winchester Avenue.

Grab a Hearty Burger at Fat Patty’s Ashland

Up for burgers?

Head to Fat Patty’s Ashland to try its popular burgers; Big Fat Patty and the Vampire Killer Patty in particular, alongside 14 other varieties to enjoy.

The restaurant also has outdoor dining, which is great on warmer days if you want to dine catching natural sunlight and warm air.

Fat Patty’s Ashland also serves mouthwatering wings, build-your-own pizza, soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and lots of delicious starters.

Also, don’t miss out on its terrific onion rings!

You can find the restaurant on Winchester Avenue.

Join the Fun at the Poage Landing Days

Celebrating the arrival of the city’s founding family in the 1780s, the Poage Landing Days is an annual family-friendly festival in Ashland.

To celebrate the rich culture and heritage, the three-day festival is packed with fun and exciting events such as live music, skateboarding shows, food, artisans & crafters, games, and many more.

This festival is to honor the city’s old name, which was Poage Landing; a name that the Poage Family first started when they built a home along the Ohio River.

One of the events also includes the reunion of the Poage Family’s roots from all over the country.

The Poage Landing Days happens in downtown Ashland in September.

Get Your Donuts & Coffee at Jolly Pirate Donuts

Popular for its freshly baked donuts and delicious coffee, Jolly Pirate Donuts is your place to chill out on a fine afternoon with your cup of coffee.

Its Buttermilk Donuts are what customers are raving about.

Also, you’ll love that you get a free donut if you buy dozen, which comes in a cute little chest treasure box.

Jolly Pirate Donuts are considered the best donut shop in the Tri-State area, and it sometimes sold out.

Go, grab your donuts and coffee, and enjoy your day!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the Horses of Black Horse Farm

Take a 22-minute drive from Ashland to Rush, Kentucky, to reach Black Horse Farm.

Take a detour through this ancient landscape of winding roads and gently rolling hills.

Black Horse Farm is a wedding venue and a horse farm.

They can make your wildest wedding fantasy come true.

If you want to get married on the farm, take advantage of their multiple barns for indoor ceremonies to large receptions.

The barns have facades that look like they came from Versailles or Milan.

Likewise, the Black Horse Farm offers its 40-acre venue for other events like birthday parties.

Enjoy pony parties or horseback riding lessons.

Black Horse Farm is also an equestrian center with miles of trails for horseback riding and 40 acres of pastureland and paddocks.

Equestrian-minded visitors will love the farm because it’s one of the biggest venues for outdoor activities in the region.

Black Horse Farm is the perfect location for a relaxing getaway.

Spend a Day at Camden Park

You’ll find Camden Park in Huntington, West Virginia, 16 minutes away from Ashland, Kentucky.

This amusement park is a great place to visit any time of year.

The park’s vintage rides have remained as enjoyable as they were in 1993.

The roller coasters, rides, and games are geared toward all ages and thrill levels, so each party member will find something to enjoy.

Why not take to the sky on the Rattler or ride through the Haunted House?

You can even test your mettle with a classic carousel ride or on the brand-new Log Flume, taking thrill-seekers down a winding river filled with enough rocks to keep them on their toes.

The park is the perfect place to spend the day with your family or take that special someone out on a date.

Admire the Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area

If you want to go somewhere outdoors, but aren’t sure where to go, Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area might be the perfect destination for you.

Go to Pedro, Ohio, 21 minutes from Ashland.

It’s home to the most interesting geological sites in the eastern United States.

The 143-acre lake offers boating, hiking, fishing, and hiking.

There are also several picnic areas where you can sit down and relax.

Lake Vesuvius is home to many gorgeous hiking trails and views; some of these paths even surround the lake.

You can also bring your fishing pole for fishing on the lake or rent a boat for an even better opportunity to catch fish without reeling them in yourself.

If you haven’t been there yet, save this destination for your next road trip.

It is well worth the trip.

Final Thoughts

Many travelers visiting Kentucky are looking for a place to relax, see the rolling hills and horse farms, and maybe even learn a little about the state’s history.

If this sounds like you, you should include Ashland in your itinerary.

From historic communities to charming shops and restaurants along Main Street, Ashland is also home to a fantastic food scene that balances delicious local fare with some of the best selections you’ll find anywhere in the state.

Book your trip to Ashland today!

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