Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Paducah, KY

  • Published 2023/04/11

Perched in the beautiful Bluegrass State of Kentucky, Paducah is a gorgeous river city with a remarkable history, magnificent landmarks, and eclectic culture.

It is located at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers.

Paducah is recognized as a UNESCO Creative City because of its culture’s originality and creativity.

Downtown Paducah, which has been designated a Historic District, has 20 blocks listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

From lovely parks to momentous fascinating, Paducah has it all.

The uniqueness and beauty of this city will surely win over your heart.

Ready to start exploring this destination?

Here are some of the best things to do in Paducah, Kentucky:

Visit the Fascinating National Quilt Museum

Sculptures at the National Quilt Museum

David Hedrich /

Located on Jefferson Street in Paducah, the National Quilt Museum is the gateway to the fascinating world of quilts and quilt making.

The museum showcases the contemporary quilt experience through several displays and exhibits.

It aims to promote the art of quilting to a new set of audiences through various programs and exhibitions.

The National Quilt Museum is recognized as one of the best quilt displays in the world.

The museum contains three galleries that display fantastic quilt and fiber art.

The exhibits are rotated a number of times a year so that the visitors always have something new to see every time they come here.

Make sure to get a guided tour of the place to find out as much as you can about the world’s best quilt museum.

Sample Fantastic Wine at Purple Toad Winery

Established in 2009, Purple Toad Winery was the first-ever winery in the lovely city of Paducah.

This award-winning winery is the largest one in Kentucky and is among the state’s pioneers of the wine industry.

Purple Toad Winery produces several types of wines made from a variety of the best quality fruits, including strawberries and blackberries.

There are over 43 types of wines available at all times, and you can buy or sample them in the winery’s tasting room.

Wines range from dry to sweet and are made with a mix of traditional, old-world, and modern winemaking techniques.

Located on the edge of the city, Purple Toad Winery offers scenic views of the city.

Do not forget to avail of the free tour of the winery to learn more about their amazing wine and winemaking process.

Check Out the Creative Paducah Wall to Wall Floodwall Murals

Floodwall Murals in Paducah

Farragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Overlooking the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, the Paducah Wall to Wall Floodwall Murals showcase the city’s rich history with huge paintings on the floodwall of the river city.

The murals were created by Robert Dafford, one of the prolific muralists of America, and the Dafford Murals Team, who created the magnificent showcase of Paducah’s historical significance with great detail.

You can check out the murals on your own and admire the beauty of Paducah.

Alternatively, you have the option to request for a guided tour in order to learn about each work of art.

Either way, you will be stunned by the creativity and charm of this place.

Watch the Sunset at Paducah Riverwalk

Kids cycling in Paducah River walk

Wendy van Overstreet /

Being a river city, Paducah is known for its scenic and peaceful riverwalk.

You can sit on the benches and enjoy the serene views of Paducah’s magnificent river while listening to the chirping of the birds.

You can also stroll around Paducah Riverwalk and take in the tranquil environment.

Make sure to visit in the evening to enjoy the stunning sunset right by the waters.

Join a Guided Tour of the Lloyd Tilghman House & Civil War Museum

Located in Downtown Paducah, the Lloyd Tilghman House & Civil War Museum is a historic house-turned-museum that showcases Western Kentucky’s role in the civil war.

The house dates back to 1852 and was the former home of Lloyd Tilghman, a railroad worker-turned-general of the Confederate Army.

This Greek Revival-style home is now owned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and displays the Confederate version of Civil War history.

The museum consists of an eclectic collection of artifacts of the Civil War.

It is run by volunteers who also offer a guided tour of the museum.

The Lloyd Tilghman House & Civil War Museum also has a gift shop on the premises, where you can buy a souvenir to remind you of the place and of Paducah.

Admission to the museum is free; however, small donations would be greatly appreciated.

Learn about the Railroad Era at the Paducah Railroad Museum

Founded in 1996, the Paducah Railroad Museum is a part of the project of the Paducah Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

It showcases memorabilia and artifacts from America’s railroad era.

The museum focuses on the importance of the locomotive and how it impacted the whole country’s development.

Make sure to ride in the modern locomotive stimulator, which will make you feel like you are riding in a locomotive cab and will fill you with nostalgia.

The Paducah Railroad Museum is operated and maintained by volunteers.

There is a quaint gift shop on the premises where you can buy railroad-themed items and souvenirs.

Do not forget to buy the teddy bear in the conductor’s uniform from the gift shop!

Check Out the William Clark Market House Museum

The William Clark Market House Museum is a staged museum consisting of a reconstructed 19th-century drugstore, along with several rotating exhibitions.

The museum covers more than 4,000 square feet and displays some of the most unusual and finest artifacts in the city that showcase Paducah’s rich culture and history.

Some artifacts on display include the town’s first motorized fire truck, vintage furniture used by Abraham Lincoln, a quilt made by Mrs. Robert E. Lee, and much more.

The on-site gift shop is delightful, and you can buy books and puzzles, among many other items here.

Make sure to take a guided tour of the museum to learn more about its history and value to the local community.

Visit the Historic Whitehaven Welcome Center

Exterior of Whitehaven Welcome Center

Clarinetguy097, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Built during the 1860s, the Whitehaven Welcome Center is a historic antebellum house located in the wonderful city of Paducah in Kentucky.

This historic house is a local landmark and is used as Kentucky’s interstate welcome center.

In 1984, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Whitehaven Welcome Center is the only historic house in the United States of America that is used as a resting area for tourists.

The welcome center consists of lovely antiques belonging to former US Vice President Alben Barkley.

The well-kept grounds of the house comprise an area designated for picnics, a butterfly garden, and walkable paths.

The welcome center is open 24 hours a day and is the first attraction you’ll see when you enter Paducah.

Enjoy a Leisurely Stroll around Bob Noble Park

Tree sculpture at Bob Noble Park

melissamn /

Bob Noble Park is a lovely green park covering over 135 acres of tranquil land.

The park is a go-to for locals who want to enjoy the swimming pools, fishing piers, sports areas, playgrounds, and much more while being surrounded by the park’s lush greenery and peaceful environment.

Gazebo at Bob Noble Park

melissamn /

It also has many shaded areas where you can enjoy a delightful picnic.

The walking paths at Bob Noble Park are perfect for strolling or biking around while appreciating the scenic views.

Pond at Bob Noble Park

melissamn /

Get Your Fix of Comfort Food at Pizza By The Pound

Located on 32nd Street, Pizza By The Pound is a quintessential laid-back eatery that serves the most comforting and delicious food of all: pizza.

The interior of the place is that of a classic American sports bar, with memorabilia of various celebrities like Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

The pizzeria specializes in pizza made with gooey mozzarella cheese, tons of toppings, and pillowy crusts.

However, you will find other delicious dishes as well, such as pies, subs, onion rings, and more comfort food.

Make sure to end your meal with Pizza By The Pound’s specialty cookie, which is made in-house.

Take Your Taste Buds to the Caribbean at Flamingo Row

Flamingo Row is a locally owned Caribbean-themed restaurant with an extensive menu.

The interior of the restaurant is reminiscent of the Caribbean, with high, aquamarine-colored warehouse ceilings and more carefully curated decor.

The ambiance of this eatery is very lively, with live reggae music being played in the background as you enjoy your delicious food.

While there’s so much to love about this restaurant, the food that is served here would have to be its main attraction.

The dishes on their menu are made with locally sourced ingredients and are always freshly prepared by very talented chefs.

Flamingo Row’s must-try dishes include grilled their Tahitian Tuna, Coconut Chicken, and Big Fat Chocolate cake.

Grab a Delicious Breakfast at Gold Rush Cafe

Gold Rush Cafe is a beloved family-owned breakfast place located in downtown Paducah.

This place serves classic Southern food, including scotch eggs, chicken and waffles, homemade biscuits and gravy, omelets, and so much more.

Apart from breakfast, Gold Rush Cafe has a pretty extensive lunch menu, along with desserts to satisfy the sweet tooth.

Make sure to order the Chocolate-Covered Carrot Cake, ‘CINNammon Roll Pancakes, and Frosted Flake-Breaded Peanut Butter and Jelly if you love your sweets.

Drink Fantastic Bourbon at Barrel and Bond

Paducah is full of places where you can try innovative cocktails and excellent liquor and drink like the locals.

Located in Historic Downtown Paducah, Barrel and Bond is a bourbon bar that serves several varieties of whiskey.

This bourbon-centric bar boasts one of America’s most extensive whiskey and bourbon collections, with 1,600 types available.

The Bourbon Review named it one of the best bars in Bourbon Country.

Barrel and Bond also serves dishes made specifically to be paired with different types of whiskeys.

Do not forget to try their specially curated charcuterie boards, which feature scrumptious Kentucky food and elevate the flavors of their whiskey.

Experience Rustic Comfort at the 1857 Hotel

Located in the Historic Downtown area of the city, the 1857 Hotel is one of the hotels in Paducah with easy access to several bars, pubs, restaurants, the riverfront, and much more.

This 19th-century redbrick hotel features rustic interiors, with high beamed ceilings, exposed brick walls, and more.

Each room is curated and adorned with several amenities to provide the utmost comfort to the guests.

The staff is also very courteous and helpful and will make your stay worthwhile.

Gain Knowledge about the River System at the River Discovery Center

Discover the vital role that water played in the Civil War as you stroll through the galleries of the River Discovery Center and witness vintage steamboats, riverbeds, and rainfall.

The Ohio and Tennessee Rivers meet on the second level of the River Discovery Center, which has been immaculately restored.

This historic downtown gem has been painstakingly preserved, as seen by the original flooring, doors and window, fireplaces, and exquisite staircase.

For events, there is a great space and two smaller ones available.

They have banquet tables and chairs that you may utilize as well.

Through genuine narratives and engaging activities, the River Discovery Center encourages interest in and knowledge of the country’s crucial river system in individuals of all ages.

Take Pictures at the Clyde F. Boyles Greenway Trail

Making your way across this picturesque route is just one of many things you can do in Paducah without breaking the bank.

A prominent bike and hiking path, the Clyde F. Boyles Greenway Trail travels through lively neighborhoods, gorgeous waterfronts, and forested regions.

Along the path, you’ll see distance signs, shelters, and benches.

Use appropriate footwear as you bike or jog around the Clyde F. Boyles Greenway Trail in the early hours or the afternoons.

Make many stops along the path and capture lots of photos of the beautiful natural scenery.

Have a Morning Coffee at Etcetera Coffeehouse

Are you looking for a place to hang out with friends?

Etcetera Coffeehouse offers organic, direct-trade coffee, tea, and bubble tea beverages.

High school teachers Johanna and Allan Rhodes established Etcetera Coffeehouse in 2006, with the goal of selling a couple of cups of coffee and acting as the neighborhood’s hub.

Since that time, Etcetera Coffeehouse has transformed from a local establishment to a significant part of the community.

The cuisine has grown throughout time, and the setting has improved with the addition of a labyrinth, an art walk, and mural walls.

Visit this well-known coffeehouse in Paducah and spend quality time with friends!

Wander around and Go Shopping at Downtown Paducah

Colorful buildings at Downtown Paducah

Angela N Perryman /

Do you wish to go on a shopping spree with your traveling companions or check out the various top-rated attractions and local cuisine?

Several other organizations have repeatedly named Historic Downtown Paducah one of the greatest Main Streets in the country.

Shops at Historic Downtown Paducah

Angela N Perryman /

You’ll be greeted by Paducah’s genuine beauty, cultural legacy, and creative energy as soon as you arrive in this gorgeous Paducah neighborhood situated along the Ohio River.

You may discover a variety of city attractions here, including restaurants, lively cocktail bars, historical museums, art galleries, and more.

Together with your traveling companions, discover all that Historic Downtown has to offer.

Enjoy a Tasteful Meal at the Freight House

The Freight House‘s mission is to serve the city’s residents and tourists delectable meals, beverages, and treats made with products from their own gardens.

Due to their commitment to agricultural sustainability, they use only the freshest ingredients to produce their cuisine every day.

The Freight House collaborates with various local farmers to bring the most upscale farm-to-table dining experience to Paducah’s diners.

Their often-changing cuisine is created with locally sourced, highly seasonal products that may all be found within a day’s journey.

In addition to a fantastic collection of bourbons, including historic bottles, the Freight House in Paducah also boasts a complete bar with a seasonal change-up of cocktails and local beer.

Go on a Shopping Spree at Kentucky Oaks Mall

Toys R Us at Kentucky Oaks Mall

Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Travelers with deep pockets and who are fond of malls can enjoy shopping at Kentucky Oaks Mall.

Opened in 1982, the 1,300,000-square-foot mall is a perfect destination in Paducah for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

There are more than 100 stores housed in the mall, including popular brands like Victoria’s Secret, Ross Dress For Less, H&M, Kohl’s, Old Navy, and many more.

You can also watch a movie at the theater, or simply sit at one of the restaurants for lunch or dinner.

Kentucky Oaks Mall is located at Hinkleville Road.

Home Depot at Kentucky Oaks Mall

Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Catch a Live Performance at the Market House Theatre

Paducah and its surrounding region are filled with talented artists—both the youth and adult; who stage live performances at the Market House Theatre.

When in Paducah, look out for the theater’s schedule of plays, including musicals and sketch comedies with many categories perfect for families with young children.

You’ll love the acting, singing, dancing, and most of all, the passion that’s visible in every performance the stage actors do.

The Market House Theatre also hosts workshops and classes, as well as summer camps.

You can find it at Market House Square.

See the Historic St. Francis DeSales Roman Catholic Church

Exterior of St. Francis DeSales Roman Catholic Church

Rosemarie Mosteller /

Built in 1899 and named for a French Catholic bishop Francis de Sales, the St. Francis DeSales Roman Catholic Church is one of Paducah’s historic structures that has won the hearts of many.

It was built in a Classical Revival architectural style with two domed bell towers, and the rectory, which was built in 1927.

Appreciate the church’s old-world structure—pitched face and buff brick with Bedford stone trimmings.

There’s also a mural above the altar, which represents the Ascension; painted by Sicily-native Leo Mirabile, and he also added portraits of ten saints to the walls.

You can take advantage of the solemnity of the church while admiring its historic structure and amazing backstory.

Shop for Unique Finds at Paducah Antique Mall

If you’re into antiques, browse and grab some unique items at Paducah Antique Mall on Broadway Street.

This eclectic shop features vintage collectibles, vinyl, glassware, clothing, comic books, clocks, vintage toys, home decor, porcelain figurines, quilts, and many more.

There’s a little bit of everything here, so if you’re looking for a special and unique gift and souvenir, look no further than Paducah Antique Mall.

It’s a great spot to drop by before heading back home to grab something vintage and classic for yourself and for your loved ones.

Paducah Antique Mall has more than 60 vendors to look into!

Join the Lower Town Arts and Music Festival

Celebrating arts, music, and the community, the Lower Town Arts and Music Festival gathers everyone at the historic arts district for a two-day of entertainment and learning.

Held on the second weekend of May every year, the festival highlights live music, art, family-friendly activities, as well as local food and beverages.

There will be arts & crafts, culinary, kid-friendly activities, and many more.

It sure is the time to celebrate and attend a local festival while traveling!

The Lower Town Arts And Music Festival is presented by the Yeiser Art Center.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Surround Yourself with History and Greenery at Fort Massac State Park

Located only a 25-minute drive away from Paducah, Fort Massac State Park makes for a perfect spot to visit in the evening.

Visitors can enjoy the great many activities that this place offers.

Located within the state park grounds, Fort Massac is an early national-era fort in southern Illinois.

The park covers almost 1,500 acres of land and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971.

You can enjoy a number of activities here, including hiking, picnics, boating, camping, fishing, and even hunting with seasonal hunting programs.

The park is an incredible reminder of Illinois’ rich history and is an excellent place to relax while being surrounded by nature.

Final Thoughts

This popular tourist spot is a thriving city with an endless variety of attractions.

There is a heck of a lot of fun things you can do, including taking in the exhibitions at a museum, wandering through the stores in the city’s center, and going on a fantastic excursion in nature.

Paducah’s beautiful state parks, bustling marketplaces, picturesque vineyards, lovely trails, and many more locations are just waiting to be explored.

Create memories and make the most of your trip to Paducah, Kentucky!

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