15 Best Things to Do in Corbin, KY

Cumberland Falls State Park in Corbin, Kentucky
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Corbin, Kentucky, has the perfect blend of nature, modernity, and human ingenuity that makes it a must-see destination in this side of the Appalachian Mountains.

It’s part of two counties, Whitley and Knox, and has a small population that welcomes all who come to the city.

Because of its proximity to the Daniel Boone National Forest, the town has a myriad of outdoor recreation facilities and activities.

These can range from camping to water adventures to treks into thick forests.

The town is also the birthplace of the world-famous Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain.

So there’s lots of history and culture that you’re more than welcome to partake in.

For your next weekend getaway, make this city your top destination!

Here are the 15 best things to do in Corbin, KY:

See the Unusual Sights of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

View of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
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Located entirely in the Daniel Boone National Forest, the magnificent Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is one of the most sought-after destinations west of Corbin.

It covers 1,657 acres of land, featuring large swaths of forests, trails, outlooks, and the Cumberland River.

But the most prominent feature of this park is the eponymous waterfall.

View of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
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Cumberland Falls is one of the few places in the western hemisphere where a moonbow—a rainbow formed by the moonlight—can regularly be seen.

This sight, along with the ephemeral mist and boulder-strewn gorge, creates a magical scenery that even classic fairytales haven’t imagined.

View of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
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Catching the moonbow might warrant a few nights of visits to the falls, but there are some lodges in the park where you can stay for as long as necessary.

During the day, you can explore the other sections of the destination, including Eagle Falls and the Interpretive Center.

View of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
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Explore the Ed Tye Creek Walk

The tranquil Ed Tye Creek Walk is a little attraction in the heart of Corbin.

Here, you can take a short respite from the urban noise while watching the views of Lynn Camp Creek.

The pathway brings you to some waterside attractions and small patches of grass where you can relax and listen to the rushing waters.

At the end of the route lies Engineer Bridge, a gorgeous crossing that traverses the babbling creek underneath.

It’s used only for pedestrians, so no cars will pass this bridge.

You can stay there for as long as you want, as there are comfortable benches where you can sit and rest.

The best hours to visit are during the early morning or late afternoon when the temperatures are cooler.

Join the Exuberant NIBROC Festival

Nothing brings together the whole Corbin community like the NIBROC Festival, which is actually the town’s name in reverse.

This event is a gathering of townsfolk, performers, vendors, artisans, and visitors from all over for three days of fun and entertainment.

However young or old you may be, Main Street at Corbin’s downtown will be filled with events and activities that are suitable for everyone.

The fun marathons are open for runners, and there’s also a pageant where local competitors vie for a chance to get a scholarship.

Then there are the live music concerts with talented local bands as well as contests where everyone is invited to participate.

If you come early, you’ll be able to see the parades and carnivals that run during the week of the festival.

So when August comes, be ready to visit Corbin and join the festivities!

Meet Colonel Sanders at Sanders Park

Given KFC’s history with Corbin, it’s no surprise that the city dedicated an entire park to the food franchise.

The Sanders Park honors the memory of Colonel Sanders and the impact he’s made on the community.

Here, you will find memorial bricks, benches with a silhouette of Colonel Sanders, and a life-size bronze statue.

You’re welcome to take pictures and learn the story of Sanders and his pursuit of the famous Original Recipe.

In fact, there’s a garden in the park that grows the secret herbs and spices.

But don’t think you’re on your way to solving the mystery recipe—you’d still have to figure out the right amounts of spice and cooking methods.

Brave the Rapids of Cumberland River

View of Cumberland River
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The mighty Cumberland River is a major body of water in the Southern US, and its headwaters start somewhere near Corbin.

So the waterways are still pristine, unlike the segments that pass major metropolitan areas downriver.

One of the best ways to access it is at the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, but there are other segments in the Daniel Boone National Forest that are more isolated.

So if you’re up for some wild water adventures, you can contact an outfitter or tour guide in Corbin to help you navigate the meandering river.

Kayaking and paddle boating are favorite activities for those brave enough to traverse the rapids in some sections.

The areas with gentler currents are ideal for fishing, with brown trout, walleye, and oversized striped bass as some of the trophy species swimming underneath.

Immerse in History at Kentucky Native American Heritage Museum

Before Europeans settled this side of the US, many indigenous Native American tribes lived amongst the rivers and mountains of Kentucky.

Their history and culture are honored today at Kentucky Native American Heritage Museum.

The facility was established to foster connections between modern-day Native Americans and the rest of the community.

To accomplish this, the operators hold various events like powwows that showcase the lifestyle, practices, and traditions of various tribes, specifically those belonging to the Eastern Woodlands.

There’s also the museum itself, housing artifacts from Pre-Columbian days.

While exploring the facility, you’d find weapons, clothing and beadwork, artworks, and items used in rituals displayed on shelves and glass casings.

It’s an informative and immersive experience that will give you glimpses of a storied past.

Catch an Event at Corbin Arena

The expansive Corbin Arena is where all loud and rambunctious events of the city happen.

This expansive indoor events facility can comfortably seat 4,900 people, which is already more than half of the city’s population.

Here, live music concerts by local and national bands take place.

It’s also a favorite venue for sports tournaments, with the stage turned into basketball courts, bull-riding arenas, and even WWE rings.

The wrestling matches are especially popular—cause who doesn’t like watching burly men in costumes fight against each other?

On occasion, the facility is used for expos where cars, fishing gear, and other state-of-the-art products are put on display for everyone to admire.

Check out their calendar today and see the upcoming events!

Learn KFC’s History at Harland Sanders Café and Museum

View of Harland Sanders Café and Museum
Flickr User Brent and MariLynn, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The historic Harland Sanders Café and Museum takes the title as the first restaurant of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

It was established in the 1930s and is the place where the legendary 11 herbs and spices recipe was developed.

Because of these reasons, the cafe took its rightful place in the National Register of Historic Places.

The establishment now stands as a must-see destination for those traveling along Interstate 75.

With the unmistakable white facade and triangular roofs, the attraction stands out among the other buildings surrounding it.

There’s still a restaurant operating here, offering KFC staples like the famous chicken, burgers, and fries.

You can also visit the museum, which houses KFC memorabilia and other historical items that were integral to the company’s past.

Trek the Trails of Laurel Bridge Recreation Area

The scenic Laurel Bridge Recreation Area is located at the section before Laurel River turns into a lake, so it’s much closer to Corbin and takes faster to reach.

This is a day-use picnic area used for light recreational activities, so camping is not allowed.

But the visit is still worth it, as the place offers incredible views of Laurel River and the surrounding cliffs and forests.

It’s also a great starting point for those who want to explore the lake owing to the boat ramp jutting out into the rushing waters.

But if you prefer to stay on dry land, the attraction has picnic tables, spacious grounds, and other spots where you can simply sit back and relax.

Those who like to explore are welcome to trek the forested trails, which bring you to riverfront lookouts and thick woodlands.

Stay and Unwind at Falls Creek Cabins and Campgrounds

If you’re looking for a base for your adventures in this side of the Daniel Boone National Forest, Falls Creek Cabins and Campgrounds is a great choice.

It’s located south of Corbin’s city proper, so there is a tranquil atmosphere far from the urban noise.

Within the expansive space, Falls Creek has areas for RVs, traditional tents, and even cabins of their own.

So you’re welcome to choose the type of lodging that’s most convenient to you.

Falls Creek Cabins and Campgrounds is part of the Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort, with the latter’s main office sitting next to the camping grounds.

You can join their whitewater rafting and kayaking tours, ride zip lines and try other exhilarating outdoor activities they offer.

Watch a Blockbuster Film at Tri-County Cineplex

When in need of a break from the outdoors, Corbin’s Tri-County Cineplex is a great place to visit.

This theater is a favorite entertainment facility in the city, functioning as a multiplex cinema with stadium seating for maximum viewing angles.

So if you want to catch a new blockbuster while on vacation, see the cinema schedules and buy your tickets.

There are also showings of classic films at the Flashback Cinema, allowing you to relive the experience of watching Hollywood’s greatest movies.

So bring a bucket of delicious popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the feature film you picked!

Go Swimming at Laurel River Lake

View of Laurel River Lake
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The Laurel River is one of the tributaries of Cumberland River, but it became something more than that when it was dammed by the US Army back in 1977.

Laurel River Lake, an expansive reservoir, resulted from this project.

It’s one of the main recreational attractions in Corbin, covering an area of 5,600 acres.

Along the lake’s banks are many manmade facilities built by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Forest Service.

These serve as recreational spots for all who visit this body of water.

One of these is Spillway Beach, a strip of golden sand located next to the dam that created the reservoir.

Here, you can launch kayaks, go swimming, and even try shore fishing.

There are also marinas, campgrounds, farms, and attractions hidden in the tight corners and isolated segments of the lake.

Have a Fun Family Day at Rotary Park

While Corbin is surrounded by forests on its borders, there are only a few green spaces within the city where the whole community can come together.

One of these is Rotary Park, an expansive outdoor facility sitting next to Lynn Camp Creek.

It’s got verdant grounds and waterfront views, making it a relaxing place to stay with the whole family.

For those who like to play sports, the park has three baseball diamonds, multi-purpose practice fields, a basketball court, and a skatepark.

On the northern section, there’s a well-equipped playground where parents can let their kids play for hours.

And if you brought your pooch to your trip, you can bring them to the dog park.

They can run around all day and socialize with other dogs visiting the area.

Other Things to Do Nearby

After you tour Corbin’s attractions, check out these other destinations in the vicinity.

See the Magnificent Vanhook Falls

Beautiful Vanhook Falls is already part of London in Laurel County, but it’s just a few minutes away from Corbin and less from the attractions in Daniel Boone National Forest.

Here, the water plummets down a 40-feet drop before reaching the boulders at the base.

It’s a magnificent sight, especially during rainy days and spring melt when the waters rush in a torrent.

Reaching the place is an experience in itself, as you’d have to walk around five miles from Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort before arriving at the falls.

But it’s an enjoyable trek where you’ll travel through thick forests, meadows, and bridges over creeks.

Have a Cooling Dip at Kentucky Splash Waterpark and Campground

If the waters of Cumberland River or Laurel River Lake prove too treacherous or wild for your taste, then Williamsburg’s Kentucky Splash Waterpark and Campground is a great alternative.

This water recreation facility has a lazy river, zero-depth entry pool, and towering slides that offer a thrilling aquatic experience.

On the rest of the expansive complex are campgrounds, a driving range, and a miniature golf course where you can practice your putting skills.

It’s a fun family destination all around, so if you have extra time after your Corbin trip, make a stopover here!

Final Thoughts

The opportunities for outdoor adventures in Corbin are endless thanks to its proximity to the Daniel Boone National Forest.

But there are also other attractions for entertainment lovers and culture buffs, such as museums, arenas, and cinemas.

Whichever you choose, you’re be guaranteed a great time!

Check out this list and add the top spots to your itinerary today.