Bowling Green, the third largest city in Kentucky, sits about an hour’s drive north from Nashville, TN and 30 minutes south of Mammoth Cave National Park along I-65. A destination known for making Corvettes and celebrating all things motorsports, this hub of southern Kentucky’s cave country is also a growing destination for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. Many adrenaline-seeking visitors put the pedal to the metal on our tracks, but there are ample opportunities for exploration beyond the windshield in Bowling Green.
Take the state’s only underground boat tour, soar over scenic blue holes and navigate trails, wetlands and an outdoor classroom at Lost River Cave & Zipline. The cave offers a cool escape from the late summer heat, plus the natural spring encourages everyone to chill out. Kids as young as three can try out the Lightning Bug zip, and be sure to check out the butterfly habitat while there!
If you’ve always had Mammoth Cave National Park on your bucket list, Bowling Green is the perfect home base for visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site. After exploring the underground labyrinth on one of several available tours, head above ground and paddle the Green River, hike or bike nearly 84 miles of trails, or take a guided horseback ride.
Another popular outdoor spot is Shanty Hollow Lake, a manmade lake with opportunities for fishing, hiking, rock-climbing and rappelling that features a nice waterfall. Additionally, several Warren County Parks offer graded, paved launch spots for kayaking or canoeing, and if you aren’t traveling with your own boat, a couple of outfitters in the area offer rentals and/or shuttle services.
Kentucky is one of the top five states with the most miles on the U.S. Bicycle Route System, and cyclists take in the Bowling Green area’s lush countryside along U.S. Bike Route 23 that passes local favorites Boyce General Store and Smiths Grove. Connecting to U.S. Bicycle Route 76, this 109-mile route traverses the region from Mammoth Cave National Park to the Tennessee border.
Exploring the area with kids? Let their squeals resonate in the wide-open spaces surrounding one of our family-owned farms like Chaney’s Dairy Barn, home of the best Ice Cream Parlor in the state, or Jackson’s Orchard, both with great playgrounds and opportunities to see how food goes from farm to table. Take in a professional minor league baseball game in the evening with the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Beech Bend Amusement Park & Splash Lagoon is the area’s most popular family-friendly attraction, with seasonal hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and the National Corvette Museum offers family-friendly karting at its Motorsports Park year-round, weather permitting. If the weather doesn’t cooperate for outdoor activities, head to the Vertical eXcape indoor climbing center or travel 20 minutes south to Dueling Grounds Distillery, the southernmost craft distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Locally-owned dining at White Squirrel Brewery, Lost River Pizza or Montana Grille satisfies the most carb-craving adventurers, and Nat’s Outdoor Sports provides all your favorite apparel and accessories from the brands you love. Request a free guide online or by calling call 800-326-7465 to start planning your Bowling Green adventure today!