Kentucky is so blessed to have so many wonderful places to visit. Spring break will be taking place soon, and I hope parents will take advantage of some of the historical sites in Kentucky and take their children for a visit.
I am almost ashamed to admit that I had never visited the Mary Todd Lincoln home in Lexington until recently. It was a wonderful experience, and I learned things about Lincoln that I did not know. I saw furniture in the home I had not seen in other historical places. The tour guide was very good. On the tour were visitors from Alaska. It just sort of hit home that people come from as far away as Alaska, and I had not visited there, even though I only live one county over.
There is also Ashland, the home of Henry Clay, in Lexington, that I have not visited, but I intend to before the summer is over.
That is what led me to this article. We have a wonderful museum downtown with the Bluegrass Heritage Museum. If you have never been there, I urge you to visit. I promise you will learn so much about our county, city and state that you never knew. Every time I go there I learn something new.
We also have Whitehall, the home of Cassius Clay, which is a wonderful place to visit. I bet it would surprise you how many children have never been to Fort Boonesboro State Park, or to visit the Civil War site near Boonesboro, where at least once a year you can go and see a battle re-enactment. Nancy Turner has done a wonderful job seeing this place become a reality and history preserved in our area.
Carter Caves is another good place to go during the summer months and is close by, near Morehead.
The Red River Gorge is a place people visit from all over the United States to go hiking. In fact, this week I had visitors from Memphis, who came to visit me on their way to the Red River Gorge. It is absolutely beautiful during the spring, and would be a good time to teach your children about the different types of wildflowers that grow in our area. We take these flowers for granted, but people in other areas of the world have never seen some of them. It is also a wonderful place to hike and enjoy the scenery.
When you take your child to historical places, it lets them know you think history is important, and also makes it more exciting for them at school.
I remember when we studied Kentucky history, I always felt proud to say I had visited the different state parks and historical places. Though we did not have a lot of money, my parents always let us stop at the historical places if it was on the route we traveled going to or from somewhere.
I will never forget when we went by My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown for the first time, and the girls were out on the lawn in colonial dresses, carrying parasols. I recognized where we were from pictures I had seen. I was so excited. We hadn’t been told we were going there, so I was very happy to get to go inside. I have visited there at least 20 times since then, but the excitement was never as great as when I was a child.
Another place we visited was the Jefferson Monument near Fairview. I thought I had really accomplished something going to the top of that monument. It is shaped like the Washington monument in Washington, D.C. The monument can be seen for nearly 10 miles, so driving to it is exciting as you get closer.
However, only until I got to go to the Washington monument did I realize how much larger it was than the Jefferson monument, but I guarantee the thrill I got as a child going up in the Jefferson monument outscored the thrill I got going up in the Washington monument as an adult.
There is the Abraham Lincoln birthplace near Springfield. It is a wonderful place to take students, and one I didn’t get to visit until I was an adult. I still think it is a place all children in Kentucky should visit. I have already told my daughter it is a place I would like to take my grandson to visit this summer. There are picnic tables on the site, so you can have a picnic, then tour the monument and see Abraham Lincoln’s first home.
Harrodsburg is another great place to visit and another place I visited as a child. There are several cabins there and a graveyard full of history. You can see how life was during the early years of Kentucky history. It is so much easier to retain things when you actually see what you study about and a visual image is there also.
Blue Licks Battlefield State Park is another neat place to visit to learn about the role Kentucky played during the Civil War. There is a lodge there, and great food.
Natural Bridge is always a great place to go. It is also a beautiful place to visit during the spring and fall, and another good place to learn about wildflowers or different types of trees. There is a lodge there, and would be a good place to go eat and then tour.
We have Cumberland Falls State Park in Whitley County, and Mammoth Cave near Bowling Green, which is also a National Park. There you could teach the children about stalagtites and stalactites, they will definitely have to learn about in their classroom at some point. Being able to see them themselves means they will understand what they are and never forget them.
Kentucky has some of the most beautiful lakes anywhere in the world, with Cumberland, Cave Run, and Kentucky Lake and others in western Kentucky. I remember seeing my first oil well being pumped on a trip to western Kentucky. It is the little things such as this that will stay in your child’s mind.
The state Capitol in Frankfort is very pretty this time of the year with the flowers that surround the floral clock, and would be another great place to visit and learn about state government. I thought it very exciting when my parents pointed out the Capitol dome to me as we drove to it. I loved seeing where the governor lived. Our state Capitol is one of the most beautiful anywhere, and full of history lessons.
Another place of interest can be the Lexington Cemetery, where there is a walking tour . Buried within that cemetery is John Hunt Morgan, in Section C, along with his brother Frances Key Morgan. John Cabell Breckenridge, who was James Buchanan’s vice-president at the age of 36, and later ran against Lincoln for president in 1860, is buried in Section G.
Several members of Mary Todd Lincoln’s family are buried in this cemetery.
Our own Winchester Cemetery has many famous people buried there also. The Confederate monuments are also interesting to see within the cemeteries. Nearby Machpelah cemetery in Mount Sterling, the older section is very interesting to visit and see the Confederate monuments.
One could visit Lorretta Lynn’s home, then try to name all the famous musicians from Kentucky. Riding in the car together is a wonderful place to teach your children.
I have listed only a very few of all the wonderful places to go to in Kentucky. If I have mentioned a place you have not visited, I hope you will make plans to go there. Even if you can’t go far because of the economy, make an attempt to take advantage of the history around you.
I do hope you plan a Kentucky trip today. After all, Kentucky is not only a wonderful place to live but a wonderful place to visit.