25 Best Things to Do in Owensboro, KY

Owensboro, KY
Marcus Velez Photography / shutterstock.com

Nestled on the banks of the enchanting Ohio River, Owensboro is a heavenly city rich in art, culture, and natural beauty.

It is known for its bluegrass music, fascinating museums, remarkable art galleries, numerous picturesque parks, beautiful gardens, excellent bourbon, mesmerizing lakes, charming creeks, lush foliage, and vibrant festivals.

You can enjoy many nature-based recreational activities, such as hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, picnicking, mountain biking, boating, and more.

Whether you are looking for a thrilling adventure or a relaxing vacation, this city is the perfect destination to plan your next holiday.

Here's a list of the best things to do in Owensboro, Kentucky:

Explore Bluegrass at the Music Hall of Fame & Museum

View of Buegrass Music Hall of fame and museum
Bluegrasshall, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This renowned museum is one of Owensboro's prime attractions.

It emphasizes the history of bluegrass music and features various interactive exhibits, costumes, a 450-seat theater, an amphitheater, artworks, posters, vintage bluegrass instruments, films, and more.

The home of Bill Monroe, who was popularly known as the "Father of Bluegrass," is located very close to the museum.

You can tour the house and explore its fascinating history.

Many events are organized throughout the year, including concerts, jam sessions, music festivals, parties, and Christmas shows.

This is the only museum in the world dedicated to the history of bluegrass music.

Music lessons are also provided at this place.

Tour this museum, learn exciting facts about this music genre, check out the incredible and antique displays, enjoy the live musical performances, and groove to the beats.

Visit the Owensboro Museum of Science and History

This famous museum features hands-on experiences, interactive exhibits, a motorsports gallery, indoor playgrounds, a government education center, a coal mine gallery, a puppet theater, a shadow room, and more.

Founded in 1966, it is located in downtown Owensboro.

Explore the region's racing and coal mining history, and have fun at the playgrounds that feature trains, boats, and treehouses.

Go on a journey in a recreated 19th-century coal mine, and learn interesting facts about the government.

Appreciate Nature's Beauty at the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden

View of Western Kentucky Botanical Garden
Steve Ryan from Groveland, California, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This top-rated tourist attraction encompasses seven picturesque gardens that include a  rose garden, butterfly garden, daylily garden, fruit garden, and Japanese garden.

In addition to the elegant gardens, this site also features spectacular sculptures, serene ponds, a playhouse, and historic buildings.

A multitude of events is organized here throughout the year, such as volunteer work sessions, kids' programs, and daylily festivals.

A rose garden in Western Kentucky Botanical Garden
Steve Ryan from Groveland, California, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The gardens provide gorgeous backdrops for weddings and other social gatherings.

Tour the scenic gardens, view the brilliantly colored flowers and artistic displays, explore the historic 19th-century doctor's office and ticket booth, appreciate nature's astounding beauty, learn interesting facts at the educational workshops, experience gardening, and relish a delicious meal.

Admire Thought-Provoking Art at the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art

Exterior of Owensboro Museum of Fine Art
Steve Ryan from Groveland, California, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This renowned museum displays rotating exhibits from its permanent collection and traveling exhibits from other well-known museums.

Its exhibits include artistic works from America and across the globe dating back to the 15th century, a collection of antique German stained glass, American folk artworks, works by regional artists, and more.

The museum hosts several events, such as the Bronze Buffalo Festival, Kaleidoscope Kave, interactive art studios, and auctions.

Additionally, it features an art market that showcases artistic creations by regional artists.

Tour the museum and explore thought-provoking, outstanding artistic works.

Have a Riverside Picnic at Smothers Park

Aerial view of Smothers Park
Bigseaton, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on the banks of the scenic Ohio River in downtown Owensboro, this popular park features a vast playground, riverfront swinging benches, a splash pad, and a memorial dedicated to prisoners of war and MIAs.

It's also home to magnificent fountains with water shows every 15 minutes, a waterfall, picnic areas, pavilions, a concession stand, and a river overlook.

Visit this park, enjoy a lovely riverside picnic, and appreciate the stunning views of the mesmerizing river and the beautiful bridge.

Fountain water show at Smothers Park during sunset
Massingale, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also have fun in the playground and spray park, watch the fountain water shows, and spend quality time with your friends and family.

It is also a perfect spot for a refreshing evening stroll by the river.

Owing to its scenic vistas, the park happens to be a popular venue for weddings.

Go Hiking at Yellow Creek Park

Nestled on the banks of Yellow Creek, this beautiful park encompasses softball fields, baseball diamonds, picnic areas, hiking trails, lush foliage, basketball courts, an enchanting lake, the James Lambert Pioneer Village, a splash pad, train cars, a 20th-century schoolhouse, disc golf courses, and a swinging bridge.

The park is home to diverse wildlife, including woodpeckers, muskrats, deer, turkeys, and several others.

The pioneer village consists of the Rosenwald schoolhouse, barns, and cabins that date back to the 19th and 20th centuries.

The park provides opportunities for a vast array of outdoor recreational activities, such as fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, disc golf, and picnicking.

The scenic beauty of the park attracts myriads of photographers.

Owing to its picturesque backdrops and tranquil environment, it is a popular venue for weddings and other social gatherings.

A multitude of events is organized here all year round, including ROMP Bluegrass Festival, concerts, and more.

Tour the Green River Distilling Company

This historical site has housed numerous distilleries since the late 19th century.

It is open to visitors throughout the year for tours and tastings.

Watch the fascinating process of how bourbon whisky is made and try out their different varieties of bourbon.

The place is known for its excellent whiskies.

Work Out at Legion Park

This scenic park features a spray park, a basketball court, two tennis courts, a playground, walking trails, picnic areas, a soccer court, a dog park, and more.

Take a break from your daily routine and visit this park.

Beat the heat in the splash pad, play a fun soccer or basketball game, and have fun in the playground.

You can also practice yoga while watching the mesmerizing sunrise, read a book under the shade of a tree, and end your day with a delicious picnic with your friends and family.

It is an excellent place for your morning workout or an evening stroll.

Join in the Fun at Reid's Orchard Apple Festival

This beautiful orchard features brilliantly colored flowers, fruits, vegetables, a children's play area, a petting zoo, a store, and more.

The fruits, vegetables, and flowers grown here include strawberries, peaches, chrysanthemums, tomatoes, bedding plants, squash, green beans, apples, corn, pumpkins, and gourds.

Additionally, they sell delicious honey and homemade pies, jellies, jams, and fudge at their store.

The play area features enormous slides, a corn maze, swings, miniature train rides, tractor tires, a castle, soybean maze, yard games, an inflatable jump pad, and so much more.

You can pet farm animals at the petting zoo, and kids can enjoy pony rides.

The Apple Festival takes place every year on the third weekend of October.

The festival includes around 100 handmade craft booths, wagon rides, mouth-watering food stalls, carnival rides, fundraisers, live musical performances, and fun activities.

Be sure to try out the mind-blowing caramel apple sundae at the festival.

Tour the orchard, enjoy the spectacular views, try out the incredible pies and jams, pick fruits, pet the animals, experience miniature train rides, and have fun at the play area.

Go Fishing at Panther Creek Park

This scenic park encompasses wetlands, woodlands, picnic areas, a mesmerizing lake, a butterfly garden, a disc golf course, six baseball and softball diamonds, beautiful bridges, a spray park, concession stands, batting cages, and nature trails.

Hike on the verdant trails that meander through the picturesque landscapes of the park and enjoy fishing in the lake.

The trails feature multiple swinging bridges that attract many visitors.

The park is home to diverse wildlife, including fishes, waterfowls, and turtles.

The lush foliage and the gorgeous lake provide stunning backdrops for weddings and reunions.

This park is a nature lover's paradise.

Visit this place and escape into nature.

View the Magnificent Sassafras Tree

Owensboro is home to the largest sassafras tree in the world.

It is over 100 feet in height, and its circumference is over 15 feet.

The tree is estimated to be between 250 to 300 years old, and the site is a historical landmark.

View this impressive tree in Owensboro and appreciate its awe-inspiring beauty.

Golf at Ben Hawes Park

This scenic park features multiple golf courses, picnic areas, and hiking and mountain biking trails.

There's also an archery range, a playground, sand volleyball court, horseshoe pits, and a whole lot more.

Enjoy a game of golf, hike on the verdant trails, and indulge in a fun game of volleyball.

You can also have fun in the playground, experience mountain biking, and end your day with a lovely picnic.

Groove to Music at Friday After 5

This vibrant festival takes place every Friday during the summer months.

Dating back to 1997, it's one of the top summer festivals in the state.

It features free concerts, fairs, delicious food stalls, live entertainment, and more.

The festival is organized on the banks of the picturesque Ohio River.

Enjoy live musical performances, groove to the beats, feast your eyes on the spectacular views of the river and the surrounding greenery, and gorge on mouth-watering food.

It is a family-friendly event that attracts myriads of music lovers.

Watch a Game at Horse Fork Creek Park

This is one of the largest soccer grounds in the region.

Various games and tournaments are organized here throughout the year.

The site also features wetlands, a serene lake with fishing docks, a playground, a splash pad,  hiking trails, and more.

Watch a soccer game, enjoy an invigorating hike on the trails, try your hand at fishing in the lake, cool off in the splash pad, and admire the natural beauty surroundings the park.

Enjoy a Riverside Stroll at English Park

View of English Park, Owensboro
Tammy Roberts / Shutterstock.com

This beautiful park is located right on the banks of the enchanting Ohio River.

It features a playground, a fishing dock, an amphitheater, picnic areas, a boat ramp, and more.

It is a perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing evening stroll by the picturesque river and watch the gorgeous sunset.

English Park is a popular venue for many events, such as fishing tournaments, archery tournaments, and concerts.

Enjoy picnicking, watch the beautiful boats pass by, and admire the natural beauty that surrounds the park.

Catch a Basketball Game or See a Rodeo at the Owensboro Sportscenter

The Owensboro Sportscenter is the premier basketball arena in the area and hosts a variety of events on a regular basis.

This 5,000-seat arena is home to Owensboro Catholic High School's and Kentucky Wesleyan College's basketball team, and their games are always fun to watch.

It's home to three minor-pro basketball teams: the Owensboro Thoroughbreds, the Kentucky Mavericks, and formerly, the Kentucky Bisons.

The Owensboro Sportscenter is also the place to be if you're looking for unique bull riding rodeo events in the area.

The staff is friendly, and there are plenty of options for vendors bringing delicious snacks.

Alcoholic beverages are also available for purchase, further enhancing your rodeo experience.

Discover the Owensboro Convention Center

Exterior of Owensboro Convention Center
Bildflut, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in beautiful Western Kentucky, the Owensboro Convention Center is a state-of-the-art facility housed in a downtown area befitting the beautiful Ohio river views and grants the finest service possible.

This is a place loaded with nearly 102,000 square feet of space, including a polished exhibition hall that spans over 44,000 square feet to host just about any kind of event.

Front exterior of Owensboro Convention Center
Farragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There's also a spacious outdoor pier that extends over 8,900 square feet.

The in-house services in this multi-purpose space include food and beverage, internet access, audiovisual, electrical, and trade show decorating services.

The Owensboro Convention Center is a pretty large place to see big events, like OMG!Con, the Kentucky Air Show, and dance competitions.

Escape and Smash at Escape Today Owensboro

Escape Today has been around for five years, and they have definitely grown from their humble beginnings.

They started out in a 1,000-square-foot location with only one escape room, but now they have nearly 7,000 square feet of space to explore and play.

Their newest opening is Harry Potter: The Last Remnant, an escape adventure game where you can search for the last remnant of The Dark Lord—only 570 square feet!

It's an experience suitable for players aged six and above and all levels of experience.

This is one of the friendliest and wildest amusement centers you'll ever step foot in, as they aim to provide fun-loving customers with a plethora of different toys and products that will definitely give you a swing for your buck.

You can throw axes into a huge wooden bull's-eye, chat with friends over some drinks or birthday cake in the party room, and enjoy a few rounds on the latest video games.

Afterward, maybe try their Rage Room, where you can smash, slam, and destroy just about anything as you unleash your fury like never before.

Admire the Scenery at White Chateau at Cecil Farms

A functioning family farm with a focus on growing some of Kentucky's best quality fruits and veggies, Cecil Farms is home to this unique wedding location.

Founded by Suzanne Cecil White and her husband, Mack, White Chateau at Cecil Farms is an addition to the original estate.

White Chateau at Cecil Farms is a highly sought-after private destination for expertly planned weddings and events, nestled in tens of acres of green hills, bathed in good lighting, and boasting spectacular sunset vistas.

It blends traditional elegance, southern charm, and all the modern conveniences to deliver a pleasurable stay for the pair and their visitors.

Come to White Chateau at Cecil Farms immediately, and let them assist you in planning your unique event.

Witness a Performance of the Theatre Workshop of Owensboro

Since 1955, Owensboro's Theatre Workshop has had a lasting influence on the local population.

Their goal is to use the theater arts to engage, enlighten, and improve the community.

As the longest-running production in the area, they offer top-notch community theatrical performances along with special volunteer and academic opportunities.

The more than 30-year residence in the ancient Trinity Centre continues to be a special and private setting.

Additionally, they just acquired a century-old Frederica Street theater.

As they gather the money required for the renovation and restoration, they may use that venue as a platform for bigger plays, musicals, and events.

Dine and Dink at the Miller House

The Miller House is a simple, family-run restaurant providing classic fare with a Southern flair in Owensboro's downtown area.

For the healthiest lunch in Owensboro, they cultivate veggies in their garden.

They look forward to serving Kentucky Proud items and provide seasonal menus to guarantee the best produce.

The Miller House's modest underground bar is called Spirits.

Thanks to its diverse client base, anyone visiting Spirits for the first time would undoubtedly feel at home.

Being an establishment specializing in bourbon, they often have around 600 bottles of the spirit on hand.

Aside from bourbon, they also have a huge selection of specialty martinis, mixed cocktails, beer, wine, and live music!

Pay a Visit to RiverPark Center

The most prominent municipal landmark on the riverside in the heart of Owensboro is RiverPark Center.

The RiverPark Center, with an emphasis on the arts in academic achievement, works to enhance the standard of life by sponsoring and presenting a variety of cultural and civic activities.

Through its hundreds of activities, the non-profit RiverPark Center has amused and enlightened thousands of people, including youngsters.

RiverPark Center's over 100,000 square feet comprise a 300-seat multipurpose theatre, outdoor entertainment terrace, events spaces and conference rooms, and a bricked central courtyard.

Millions of dollars worth of private investment have been sparked in Owensboro's downtown, increasing the area's tax base, aesthetic appeal, and vibrancy.

Final Thoughts

Perfect for a memorable vacation with loved ones, the city has so much to offer.

Tourists can enjoy everything from parks that boast stunning nature views to exciting festivals that let you experience a taste of local culture.

Start planning your trip, and make sure to reference this list of things to do in Owensboro!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.