Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Hodgenville, KY

  • Published 2022/08/18

Planning a travel itinerary and things to do in Hodgenville, Kentucky, should not ignore the definite historical aspect.

After all, the seat of LaRue County takes pride as the birthplace of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln.

Centrally located in LaRue County, Hodgenville also flaunts a long history, dating back to 1818.

Founded in 1818, Hodgenville stood on 27 acres donated by the Kentucky pioneer family of Robert Hodgen.

Situated along the North Fork of the Nolin River, Hodgenville was formally incorporated as a city in 1836.

The Kentucky state legislature subsequently named Hodgenville the county seat of LaRue County in 1843.

Since then, Hodgenville has become central to the country’s rise as a hospitable and historic community.

Discover more about the city by reading this list of the best things to do in Hodgenville.

Honor Honest Abe at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park

First Lincoln memorial at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park

Nagel Photography /

Touring the 344.50-acreAbraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park is a must-do in Hodgenville.

The park features two separately located sections, starting with the visitors’ logical first stop, the Birthplace Unit.

This unit’s centerpiece is a neo-classic Memorial Building resembling the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

You can find a replica of the humble log cabin where President Lincoln was born in this building.

Log cabin displayed in the first Lincoln memorial at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park

Nagel Photography /

Then, you can find the Sinking Spring that identifies the farm where Lincoln was born at the base of the staircase.

Another stairway leads farther down into a small sinkhole leading to the spring’s water source.

Visitors can enjoy picnics on the grounds of the Memorial Building.

Enjoy your visit to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park.

Entrance to the first Lincoln memorial at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park

Danae Abreu /

Hike Boundary Oak and Big Sink Trails

Visits to Lincoln’s Sinking Springs birthplace site can extend to two nature trails which are part of the National Historical Park’s first unit.

One of these is the Big Sink Trail, running 1.4 miles in three loops that take about 45 minutes to negotiate.

The other pathway is the Boundary Oak Trail, a wide gravel path of just half a mile that you can complete in 15 minutes.

The terrain of these trails is hilly, whose difficulty ranges from easy to moderate.

Work up a sweat at the Boundary Oak and Big Sink Trails!

Drop by the Nancy Lincoln Inn

In the 1920s, they build an inn and four small cabins near the Lincoln historical park’s Memorial Building.

These lodgings do not belong to the park but comprise the Nancy Lincoln Inn.

Likewise, they also belong to the National Register of Historic Places.

Local businessman and longtime LaRue County resident James Howell owned and operated the inn.

Visiting tourists can dine or stay overnight at the Nancy Lincoln Inn.

Likewise, you can buy Lincoln memorabilia at this inn.

You can also purchase gift items and books from the Visitor Center of the Lincoln Birthplace Unit.

Tour the Lincoln Museum

Proceed to the Downtown Hodgenville National Historic District to visit the Lincoln Museum.

This museum celebrates milestones in the life of President Lincoln.

The Lincoln Museum displays a collection of wax figures, period artifacts, and life-size dioramas, revolving around the former president.

Besides civil war memorabilia, the museum’s galleries display a collection of original Lincoln art.

Likewise, you can buy local crafts and music records at the museum’s gift shop, which also sells Lincoln souvenir items.

Two bronze statues of Abraham Lincoln grace the roundabout of Main Street outside the front of the museum.

Lincoln’s Boyhood Home at Knob Creek is seven miles east of the downtown Lincoln Museum.

On the other hand, the Memorial Building of Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace National Historic Park is three miles south.

Enjoy Nature at McDougal Lake

Located on Stiles Ford Road, the periphery of this lake provides a 6.6-kilometer trail for walking, hiking, and running.

The McDougal Lake Trail is generally an easy route that takes about one and a half hours to complete.

This wooded trail is popular among locals for a quiet interlude with nature.

Some folks also visit McDougal Lake to try their luck landing catfish.

Explore Creekfront Park

Visiting Hodgenville should also include spending time at one of its parks, particularly Creekfront Park.

This spacious park features slides, a swing set, and a grass field fit for playing Frisbee and other outdoor games.

Clean and well-kept, the park also provides walking paths lighted at night for evening strolls.

Meanwhile, you can also play baseball at the LaRue County Parks & Recreation, another popular destination for leisure time in Hodgenville.

Several tennis courts are also open for play south of this park’s ball fields.

Spend the day at Creekfront Park!

Test the Champions’ Grounds of the LaRue County Golf Course

This 18-hole golf course is on Greensburg Road, the proud home of the three-time regional champions La Rue County Golf Team.

Play on the champions’ course, which opened in 1967, at par 71 over 6,094 yards from the longest tees.

The LaRue County Golf Course has a 69.0 course rating and a 120 slope rating on Blue Grass.

Playing at the La Rue County Golf Course is open to club members and nonmembers alike.

Visit Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home

Exterior of Lincoln’s Boyhood Home

Robert Larsen /

The second unit of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park is ten miles northeast of the park’s first unit.

This unit is Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home at Knob Creek Field, featuring a reconstructed old cabin.

In 1811, the Lincoln family moved here because of a land dispute at Sinking Springs.

They farmed at Knob Creek until 1816.

Stone marker of Lincoln’s Boyhood Home

EWY Media /

The Lincoln Boyhood Home Visitor Center in Knob Creek used to be a small tavern under James Howell, the Nancy Lincoln Inn owner.

Hardy hikers visiting the Lincoln Boyhood Home will enjoy earning bragging rights.

After all, you will hike the same trail that Lincoln walked in his younger years.

Explore the Overlook Trail at Knob Creek which covers three miles, out and back.

This trail is also part of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park.

Enjoy Food and Music at Lincoln Jamboree

Lincoln Jamboree opened in 1954.

It’s a music hall with an on-site restaurant.

You can find it on Lincoln Farm Road, where it hosts live classic country music performances every Saturday night.

Lincoln Jamboree’s restaurant offers home-style cooking throughout the week, with daily specials and short orders.

Try the Friendly Flavors of Vibe Coffee

This coffeehouse is an extension of Vibe Coffee in the nearby city of Elizabethtown.

Located on North Lincoln Boulevard, Vibe Coffee Hodgenville is where you can enjoy a sugar-free iced mocha amid a cozy shop layout.

Some of the winning combinations include its iced peppermint mocha with a banana muffin or avocado toast.

The Hodgenville staff of this coffee house give prompt service, complementing the relaxing ambiance at Vibe Coffee.

Enjoy the Treats of Sweet Shoppe Dessert Cafe

Downtown Hodgenville hosts the Sweet Shoppe Dessert Cafe on South Lincoln Boulevard.

It draws locals and visitors for its generous servings of sweet treats like pie, fudge, ice cream, and candy.

Sweet Shoppe Dessert Café provides a choice of outdoor or indoor seating for its customers to enjoy their orders.

You can also play board games upon request.

Customers can have fun posing for pictures at the café’s charming premises and putting pins on a US map replica to mark their hometowns.

Check Out the Best Burgers at Laha’s Red Castle

Customers have voted Laha’s Red Castle as the best burger joint in all of Kentucky.

Four generations have run Laha’s Red Castle, building its reputation as Kentucky’s hamburger rock star.

Since its establishment in 1934, Laha’s Red Castle has become as a favorite local stopover for double cheeseburgers and hotdogs.

Shop Fresh Produce at Hinton’s Orchard & Farm Market

Hodgenville residents and visitors have a bountiful source of fresh produce at Hinton’s Orchard & Farm Market.

This family farm on Campbellsville Road has served Hodgenville and its neighboring towns and cities since 2002.

Fresh produce is available on this farm from April through November, including fruits and vegetables.

The farm also offers flowers, seasonal Christmas trees, gift baskets, and baked goods.

Besides its Hodgenville location, Hinton’s Orchard & Farm Market also has an outlet in the neighboring city of Elizabethtown.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take an Excursion at the Kentucky Railway Museum

Steam locomotive at Kentucky Railway Museum

Grantadria152, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Constructed in 1954, the Kentucky Railway Museum is in New Haven, Kentucky, 13 minutes from Hodgenville.

Formerly based in Louisville, the railway museum welcomes visitors to see its displays.

Visitors of the museum can simply tour its displays or buy a ticket for train excursions of varying themes and destinations.

The Kentucky Railway Museum has six diesel locomotives, four steam locomotives, and more than 100 pieces of rolling stock.

The museum offers regular train rides to Boston, Kentucky, and back to New Haven.

Monon train at Kentucky Railway Museum

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Those taking the museum’s special excursions can pick from themes like haunted trains, train robberies, Santa Claus, Thomas the Tank Engine, and the Easter Bunny.

The train ride affords scenic views of the Rolling Fork River Valley and takes about one hour to cover the one-way 22-mile distance.

One of the museum’s buildings includes a model train display in glass-enclosed dioramas.

The setups of the dioramas include convicts working on rail construction and a German village with a carnival.

Power car at Kentucky Railway Museum

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Elizabethtown Nature Park

This nature park is in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, about 20 minutes from Hodgenville.

Elizabethtown developed the park as a passive park spanning over 104 acres where visitors can enjoy a beautiful natural setting.

The park’s gently rolling terrain was former pasture land, with the Freeman Creek crossing the area toward Freeman Lake, Elizabethtown’s largest lake.

Elizabethtown Nature Park connects with the northern side of Freeman Lake Park via a tunnel built under Ring Road.

The other features of the park include a pavilion and a pathway linked with the trail system of Freeman Lake Park.

The Hardin County Veterans Tribute is also part of Elizabethtown Nature Park.

Sculptors created bronze sculptures and granite monoliths in a star formation for the Veterans Tribute.

These sculptures honor those who served in the military’s five branches.

Enjoy the American Legion Park

This park is another attraction in Elizabethtown, 17 minutes from Hodgenville.

Located on North Miles Street, the American Legion Park draws plenty of visitors because of its many facilities.

The park includes a nine-hole, par three golf course, and tennis courts.

Visiting families with children can bond together at the park’s Born Learning Trail especially designed for kids.

The Funtopia Community Playground is another crowd pleaser for families.

They have completely renovated the playground to improve its accessibility to families.

Likewise, the park provides a first-come, first-serve shelter where early birds can hold parties or social gatherings.

You can enjoy more recreational facilities at the American Legion Water Park adjoining the Nature Park.

The Water Park is handicap accessible and provides two water slides and a play structure.

It also features a splash pad, a lazy river, vending machines, and rental rooms for private parties.

Bring your family to the American Legion Park!

Final Thoughts

Expect a full day’s itinerary when planning a visit to Hodgenville, especially if you bring the whole family.

This city brims with points of interest, even if you limit them to places celebrating its kinship with President Lincoln.

The parks and homegrown dining destinations of Hodgenville are some of Kentucky’s best spots.

The neighboring cities of Hodgenville, New Haven, and Elizabethtown, only add to the delights of a visit to this side of Kentucky.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Hodgenville!

© All rights reserved.