Fun, especially fun the entire family can enjoy, comes in many forms across the state. It can be as subdued as riding a trail on a slow-moving horse, or screaming while plunging down a roller coaster drop at 65 miles an hour.
Although water parks are very popular, there’s still a lot of fun to be had without getting wet.
One of those places is Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green. The trademark attraction at this park is the Kentucky Rumbler: this wooden roller coaster is rated as one of the top wooden coasters in the world.
“We wanted to build something the family could ride together,” says Dallas Jones, the park’s owner. “Our goal was to construct a world-class wooden roller coaster that would be fun for children as small as 48 inches tall to those of senior citizen age. We have a family ride that is about as thrilling as we could make it.”
Beech Bend also features Splash Lagoon water park, as well as an arcade and some 40 rides.
Prizer Point on Lake Barkley, 12 miles from Cadiz in western Kentucky, offers lakefront lodging, camping sites, and a marina. But it’s the kid-friendly amenities that separate this 56-acre venue from the others.
Pontoon boats with slides, kayaks, paddleboats, a magnetic climbing wall, miniature golf, game room, and swimming pool are just some of the activities a family can enjoy together.
“We’ve put together a place where a family can come and find something for every age group,” says Lisa Batts, who owns and operates Prizer Point along with husband Greg.
Lodging here takes on several levels of comfort, from motel-style units and log cabins, to cottages and condos. But it’s the “tree house” units that offer visitors wanting to rough it just a little an overnight experience that will give a family, especially the kids, something to remember.
The tree house is elevated on stilts and offers beds, heat, and air. What it doesn’t have is a bathroom. But don’t worry, the bathhouse is nearby.
“These rooms work great for a family that doesn’t really want to sleep in a tent, but wants a few more of the vacation comforts,” Lisa offers. “Sleeping in a tent on an August night might not be too good.”
Renaissance Fun Park sits just off Shelbyville Road in Middletown near Louisville. Several years ago it was known as The Park at Middletown, but with the name change also came quite a few other changes. All the better for making it a park where there’s something for everyone.
A two-story laser tag facility, two miniature golf courses, grand prix go-karts (56″ height requirement), video and arcade room, covered outside horseshoe and volleyball area, and a snack bar offer visitors enough fun for an hour or for all day.
For admission prices, times, and directions, call or go online to Web site.
Beech Bend Park & Splash Lagoon
798 Beech Bend Road, Bowling Green
Open daily Memorial Day to mid-August. Weekends only May and September.
Prizer Point Marina & Resort
1777 Prizer Point Road
Lake Barkley, Cadiz
Lodging, camping, hiking, biking, restaurant, marina, bathhouse, and swimming pool.
Renaissance Fun Park
201 Park Place Road, Louisville
Kiddie playground, private party rooms, and high-tech arcade room.
Other Fun Places
I-65, Exit 53, Cave City
Gun fights, haunted house, rides, and games.
Kentucky Splash Water Park
Hal Rogers Family Entertainment Center
1050 Hwy. 92W, Williamsburg
Three water slides and wave pool.
Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
937 Phillips Lane, Louisville
(800) SCREAMS or (502) 366-2231
A new roller coaster-style water ride called Deluge. Must be 42” to ride and bathing suits are recommended.
Venture River Family Water Park
U.S. 62, Eddyville
Water slides, wave pool, and sunning areas.
I-65, Exit 53, Cave City
More than 100 life-size dinosaurs and educational dinosaur movie.
Louisville Science Center
727 West Main Street, Louisville
Four-story-tall IMAX Theatre. 40,000 square feet of exhibits.
Gary P. West is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.
Nineteenth-century row houses, many of them gaily trimmed with flower boxes, colorful flags, and awnings, crowd lamp-lit streets. A life-size bronze sculpture, the Goose Girl Fountain, holds court at one end of a grassy promenade. At the other, the traditionally built German Gothic glockenspiel, the Carroll Chimes Bell Tower, a 43-bell carillon, presents an hourly musical and mechanical homage to The Pied Piper of Hamelin, the Brothers Grimm folk tale.
An old-world German vibe threads itself through MainStrasse Village, a national historic district characterized by classic Italianate and Victorian architecture.
Located in northern Kentucky on Covington’s west side, MainStrasse is a vibrant five-block community that embraces its past, present, and future equally. Its German heritage is robustly celebrated with annual festivals, including Maifest, Oktoberfest, and Goettafest (a gathering that fetes the uniquely regional concoction of ground meat, pin oats, and spices brought to the area originally by German immigrants).
Throughout the year, MainStrasse maintains its lively step with events of a more contemporary nature, including First Friday Gallery Hops, Second Sunday Antiques Marketplace, the World’s Longest Yard Sale, a Classic Car Show that brings in 250 vintage autos, and a Dog Costume Paw-rade.
“MainStrasse Village is a must-see for its history and beauty,” says Donna Kremer, administrative coordinator of the MainStrasse Village Association. “Most of our buildings were built in the mid- to late-1800s. Our parks, promenade, and architecture are truly picturesque.”
Other attributes include year-round shopping and dining, much of it with a German flair: Linden Noll Gift Haus is chock-full of German gifts and collectibles; Wertheim’s Restaurant is known for house specialties Jaeger schnitzel (lean breaded pork) and Zigeuner schnitzel (thinly sliced veal, lightly breaded). Music tends toward a broader outlook, with Dee Felice Café pulsating with jazz and Dixieland, and Chez Nora swinging with jazz and blues.
Lest you think the Village limits itself to German goods and goodies, shops like trendy Bag You and eclectic Leapin Lizard Gallery add a smart edge to the yesteryear streetscape; eateries like Zazou Grill & Pub and Cosmo’s Grille spice up the neighborhood with their own zesty foodstuffs and signature drinks.
MainStrasse is a village with verve. Within the last year alone, nearly a dozen businesses have hung out their shingles. These include eateries like Lucy Blue Pizza, watering holes like Bar Monet and Mr. T’s Tavern on Main, a bustling coffee bar called Bean Haus, and an inn—the only one in the Village—the Morning Glory Bed and Breakfast.
The inn, a formerly condemned late-19th-century Italianate row house, has been graciously restored by innkeeper Brenda Zechmeister, who fell in love with the “walkability” of MainStrasse.
Visitors can enjoy the area’s unique mix of history, shopping, dining, arts, entertainment, and special events any time of the year.
“The old-world charm, the diverse collection of businesses, restaurants, and shops, the safe environment—and plenty of free parking—make MainStrasse a welcoming place always,” says Kremer.
Maifest at MainStrasse
Come to MainStrasse on May 18-20 and join the 150,000-plus visitors who will be celebrating Maifest, in its 28th year, a German tradition that centers around the first spring wines. Maifest offers great tastes of German and international foods from more than 24 vendors. It brings together nearly 90 unique arts and crafts booths, and rolls out a variety of musical entertainment, from German to rock-n-roll to country.
Spread over six blocks along the tree-lined Sixth Street Promenade, as well as Main and Philadelphia streets and extending into Goebel Park, the festival has a spirited German atmosphere, with polkas playing in the background.
In Goebel Park, the Kinderplatz will have rides for young children and, in the Fifth Street parking lot, older children and adults will enjoy the amusement midway.
Historic MainStrasse Village
MainStrasse is a little pocket of a town tucked into Covington’s west side. While visiting the area, make time to visit these treasures:
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption (www.covcathedral.com), a French-Gothic replica of the
Notre Dame in Paris, features 80 stained-glass windows, including the world’s largest stained-glass church window. There are murals by famed Covington artist Frank Duveneck, sculptures by Clement J. Barnhorn, and a historic Matthias Schwab organ.
The century-old Carnegie (www.thecarnegie.com), recently renovated and reopened, houses the Otto M. Budig Theatre, five contemporary art galleries, and new arts education center. The 465-seat theater, patterned after a French opera house, showcases a newly restored Harlan Hubbard mural above the stage. The theater is the perfect backdrop for small concerts, independent film screenings, live performances, and the zany but always original antics of the Madcap Puppet Theatre Company.
Jean-Robert’s Greenup Café (www.greenupcafe.com), a chummy eatery with a French Bohemian vibe, is overseen by renowned chef Jean-Robert de Cavel. Located in Covington’s Historic Riverside District, the neighborhood café and pastry shop dishes up French country-style meals in an easy, breezy ambience indoors and in the charming backyard garden.
For more information, contact the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 782-9659 or online at www.staynky.com.
Kathy Witt is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.