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Nestled on the banks of the enchanting Ohio River, Owensboro is a heavenly city which is rich in art, culture, and natural beauty. It is known for its bluegrass music, fascinating museums, remarkable art galleries, numerous picturesque parks, beautiful gardens, great bourbon, mesmerising lakes, charming creeks, lush foliage, and vibrant festivals. You can enjoy a vast array of nature-based recreational activities, such as hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, picnicking, mountain biking, boating, and more. Whether you are looking for thrilling adventure or a  relaxing vacation, Owensboro is the perfect destination to plan your next holiday. Here’s a list of the best things to do in Owensboro:

Explore Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum

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

This renowned museum is one of the prime attractions of Owensboro. It emphasises on the history of bluegrass music and features various interactive exhibits, costumes, a 450 seat theatre, an outdoor amphitheatre, artworks, posters, vintage bluegrass instruments, films, and so much more. The home of Bill Monroe, who was popularly known as ‘Father of Bluegrass’, is located very close to the museum.  You can tour the house and explore fascinating history. A multitude of events are organised here throughout the year including concerts, jam sessions, music festivals, parties, Christmas shows, and more. This is the only museum in the world which is dedicated to the history of bluegrass music. Music lessons are also provided at this place. The museum is open to public from Wednesday to Saturday between 11am and 5pm. Tour this museum, learn interesting facts about this music genre, check out the cool and antique displays, enjoy the live musical performances, and groove to the beats.

Owensboro Museum of Science and History

This popular museum features hands-on experiences, interactive exhibits, a motorsports gallery, indoor playgrounds, a government education center, a coal mine gallery, a puppet theatre, a shadow room, and so much more. Founded in 1966, it is located in downtown Owensboro. Admission to the museum is USD 5 per person and children under the age of 3 can enter for free. Explore the region’s racing and coal mining history, have fun at the playgrounds that feature trains, boats, tree houses and more, go on a journey in a recreated 19th century coal mine, and learn interesting facts about the government.

Appreciate nature’s beauty at Western Kentucky Botanical Garden

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

This very popular tourist attraction encompasses 7 picturesque gardens including a  rose garden, butterfly garden, daylily garden, fruit garden, Japanese garden, and more. In addition to the elegant gardens, this site also features spectacular sculptures, serene ponds, a playhouse, and historic buildings. A multitude of events are organised here throughout the year, such as volunteer work sessions, kids’ programs, daylily festival, and several others. The gardens provide gorgeous backdrops for weddings and other social gatherings. Tour the scenic gardens, view the brilliantly coloured flowers and artistic displays, explore the historic 19th century doctor’s office and ticket booth, appreciate nature’s astounding beauty, learn interesting facts during the educational workshops here, experience gardening, and relish a delicious meal. Admission fee is USD 5 for adults, USD 3 for seniors, and USD 1 for students and youth.

View thought provoking art at Owensboro Museum of Fine Art

This renowned museum displays rotating exhibits from its permanent collection and travelling exhibits from various other well-known museums. Its exhibits include artistic works from America and across the globe dating back to the 15th century and beyond, a collection of antique German stained glass, American folk art works, works by regional artists, and so much more. The museum is host to several events, such as Bronze Buffalo Festival, Kaleidoscope Kave, interactive art studios, auctions, and many more. Additionally, it features an art market which  showcases artistic creations by regional artists. The museum is open to public from Tuesday to Friday between 12-5pm and from Saturday to Sunday between 1-4pm. Admission fee is USD 3 for adults and USD 2 for children below the age of 13.  Tour the museum and explore thought-provoking, outstanding artistic works.

Riverside picnicking Smothers Park

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 huge playground, riverfront swinging benches, splash pad, a memorial dedicated to prisoners of war and MIAs, magnificent fountains with water shows every 15 minutes, a waterfall,  picnic areas, pavilions, a concession stand, river overlook, and so much more. The park is open to public 24 hours. The playground is open daily from 7am to 10pm. Visit this park, enjoy a lovely riverside picnic, appreciate the stunning views of the mesmerising river and the beautiful bridge, have fun in the playground and spraypark, watch the fountain water shows, and spend quality time with your friends and family here. It is also a perfect spot for a refreshing evening stroll by the river. Owing to the scenic vistas, the park happens to be a popular venue for weddings.

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 school house, disc golf courses, a swinging bridge, and so much more. 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, picnicking, and more. The scenic beauty of the park attracts myriads of photographers. Owing to the picturesque backdrops and tranquil environment, it is a popular venue for weddings and other social gatherings. A multitude of events are organised here all year round, such as ROMP Bluegrass Festival, concerts, and more. The park is open to public between 8am and 11pm from April to October and between 8am and 5pm from November to March.

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 Whiskey is made and try out their different varieties of Bourbon. The place is known for its excellent whiskies. Distillery tours are offered from Mondays to Saturdays at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, and 2pm. The gift shop and cocktail lounge is open to visitors between 10am and 3pm. The tours are priced at USD 15 and include sampling of 3 whiskies.

Workout at Legion Park

This scenic park features a spray park, a basketball court, 2 tennis courts, a playground, walking trails, picnic areas, a soccer court, a dog park, and so much more. Take  a break from the mundane and monotonous daily routine and visit this park. Beat the heat in the splashpad, play a fun game of soccer or basketball, have fun in the playground, practice yoga while watching the mesmerising 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 a great place for your morning workout or an evening stroll.

Apple Festival at Reid’s Orchard

This beautiful orchard features brilliantly coloured flowers, fruits, vegetables, a children’s play area, a petting zoo, a store, and so much more. The fruits, vegetables, and flowers grown here include strawberries, peaches, chrysanthemums, tomatoes, bedding plants, squash, green beans, apples, corn, pumpkins, gourds, and plenty more. Additionally, they offer for sale delicious honey and homemade pies, jellies, jams and fudge at their store. The play area features huge 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, fun activities, and more. 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.  The store is open to visitors from Monday to Saturday between 8am and 5.30pm and on Sundays from 11am to 5pm. The play area is open from Monday to Saturday between 10am and 4pm and on Sundays from 11am to 4pm.  Admission fee for the petting zoo is USD 2 per person and train rides cost USD 2 per person. Play area admission fee is USD 8 per child and adults can enter for free.

Fishing at Panther Creek Park

This scenic park encompasses wetlands, woodlands, picnic areas, a mesmerising lake,  a butterfly garden, 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 which attract many visitors here. 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 250-300 years old and the site is a historical landmark. View this impressive tree in Owensboro and appreciate its awe-inspiring beauty.

Golfing at Ben Hawes Park

This scenic park features multiple golf courses, picnic areas, hiking and mountain biking trails, archery range, a playground, sand volleyball court, horseshoe pits, and so much more. Enjoy a game of golf, hike on the verdant trails, indulge in a fun game of volleyball, have fun in the playground, experience mountain biking, and end your day with a lovely picnic here. The park is open daily from 7am to dusk.

Groove to music at Friday After 5

This vibrant festival takes place on every Friday during summer months and is one of the top summer festivals in the state. It features free concerts, fairs, delicious food stalls, live entertainment, and so much more. The festival is organised on the banks of the picturesque Ohio River. Enjoy live musical performances, groove to the beats, feast your eyes to 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. All events are absolutely free for everyone. The festival dates back to 1997 and lasts for 16 weeks every season.

Watch a game at Horse Fork Creek Park

This is one of the largest soccer grounds in the region. Various games and tournaments are organised 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 game of soccer, 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 that surrounds the park.

Riverside Stroll at English Park

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 amphitheatre, picnic areas, a boat ramp, and so much more. It is a perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing evening stroll by the picturesque river and watch the gorgeous sunset. The park is a popular venue for many events, such as fishing tournaments, archery tournament, concerts, and more. Enjoy picnicking at the park, watch the beautiful boats pass by, and admire the natural beauty that surrounds the park.