View of the Kentucky River running alongside downtown Frankfort, Kentucky.

7 Cutest Small Towns In Kentucky To Visit In 2024

If you are seeking a peaceful retreat from city life, Kentucky's small towns offer natural beauty with rolling hills, rivers, lakes, and lush forests, which appeals to nature lovers. These towns are steeped in historical charm and offer visitors modern amenities. It is no wonder visiting the Bluegrass State has become popular. Moreover, these towns offer a retreat from the urban hustle and bustle that follows people around in big cities. For those planning a vacation in 2024, here are seven of the cutest small towns in Kentucky to visit and noteworthy events to attend.


Lux Row Distillery on the Distillery Tour of Bardstown.
Lux Row Distillery, a part of the Distillery Tour in Bardstown, Kentucky.

Also known as the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown is a welcoming small town in Nelson County. As its nickname indicates, the town is home to at least six bourbon distilleries, such as Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience. In September 2024, Bardstown will host the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. It is a three-day event featuring 50 Kentucky distilleries where visitors can sample and purchase some of the country’s finest bourbon. Apart from the drinks, popular attractions in Bardstown include a tour of the town's historic district with noteworthy sites such as the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, the Old Talbott Tavern, and My Old Kentucky Home State Park.


East Pinnacle Lookout near Berea, Kentucky.
View of Berea from the East Pinnacle Lookout in Kentucky.

Situated in the Cumberland Plateau, Berea is the mecca of the Kentucky arts and crafts scene. This is evident through the array of art festivals and vibrant yearly events, perfect for visitors in 2024. In July, the town will host the Berea Craft Festival, featuring handicrafts by at least 110 artists. Berea is also gearing up for the Kentucky Hardcore in May 2024, a heavy metal and hard rock extravaganza worth attending.

Outside the bustling town, nature lovers adore the 8,400 acres of forest and trails, dubbing Berea one of Kentucky’s Trail Towns. Located within the privately owned forests of Berea College is the Indian Fort Mountain Trail System, which is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. The trails range in length and are open year-round for hikers.


The Boyle County Courthouse in Danville, Kentucky.
The Boyle County Courthouse in Danville, Kentucky.

The town of Danville is in the heart of Kentucky, which makes day trips to surrounding popular attractions such as Shaker Village possible. When visiting Daville in 2024, tourists can tour the new Luca Mariano Distillery or enjoy a tasting at Wilderness Trail Distillery. Those not interested in drinking can visit the Glass National Art Museum to view stunning glassworks or a performance at the Norton Center for the Arts. Meanwhile, music enthusiasts should plan their trip between May 30th and June 1st, 2024, as the town is set to host the 34th annual Great American Brass Band Festival. Held on the Centre College grounds, the free concert promises three days of outstanding musical performances.


The downtown commercial district in Paducah, Kentucky.
Buildings lined along the downtown commercial district of Paducah, Kentucky. By Farragutful - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Paducah is a historic river town on the banks of the Tennessee River and a designated UNESCO Creative City because of its cultural creativity and diversity. For visitors who wish to sample this culture, there are several options, such as the Maiden Alley Cinema and Gallery, the Clemens Fine Art Center, the Market House Theater, and the Yeiser Art Center. At these spots, one can explore exhibits, catch a live theater show, or enjoy a performance by the Paducah Symphony Orchestra.

The National Quilt Museum is another popular tourist attraction, showcasing endless quilt designs, techniques, and history. While these sites are available year-round, Paducah hosts the McCracken County Fair at Carson Park. It is a week-long summer fair in June with amusement rides, children’s activities, live entertainment, and a horse show.


View of the Kentucky River running through Frankfort, Kentucky.
Aerial view of the Kentucky River cutting through downtown Frankfort, Kentucky.

Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky and is located in Franklin County. There are many reasons to visit this town; it has a rich history and abundant natural beauty. The Kentucky River flows past Frankfort and is a haven for water activities such as kayaking, fishing, boating, canoeing, and swimming. Alternatively, visitors can spend the day at Cove Spring Park. It is a 250-acre park with streams, waterfalls, and trails for walking, hiking or biking. Every year, Frankfort gears up for the Frankfort Craft Beer Week, and 2024 is no different. The event begins on the 30th of September and ends on October 5th. The festival celebrates Michigan Craft Beer, delectable food, and the town.


The Mercer County Judicial Center in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.
The Mercer County Judicial Center in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

Harrodsburg is Ketucky’s oldest town and the first permanent American settlement west of the Appalachians. The town was founded by James Harrod in 1774 and has since become a wellspring of historical landmarks. Old Fort Harrod State Park is one of the town’s most famous attractions. The park is home to a full-scale replica of the fort built in 1774 by James Harrod.

Other prominent sites in the park include the Mansion Museum, the Lincoln Marriage Museum, and the George Rogers Clark Federal Monument, all offering a trip to the past. In 2024, the town will celebrate its birthday and host the 250th Harrodsburg Celebration to commemorate the occasion. The festival will be a four-day event commencing on June 13th. The event promises town tours, live music, a parade, food and drink vendors, and historical programs.


Washington Opera House in Maysville, Kentucky.
The historic Washington Opera House in the town of Maysville, Kentucky. By Photo by Greg Hume (Greg5030) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Another river town, Maysville, is located along the banks of the Ohio River. There are umpteen things to do and see in Maysville, starting with a visit to Cummings Nature Preserve. It is a 110-acre area with hiking and walking trails that outdoor enthusiasts adore. There is also a picnic area and playground for families to spend a lovely evening in Kentucky. For indoor enjoyment, the Washington Opera House is perfect. It is one of the oldest theaters in the United States, is on the National Register of Historic Places, and puts on regular live performances. If you visit in June, attend the annual Maysville Uncorked Wine and Art Festival, which celebrates the region's wineries, bourbon, and beer.


When planning your upcoming 2024 vacation, don’t forget to consider Kentucky. It is a welcoming state with undeniable hospitality, warmth, and charm. Each of the towns mentioned above promises a memorable experience. You can plan your trip around events such as Frankfort’s Craft Beer Week or Bardtown’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival. No matter when you visit these seven cutest small towns in Kentucky, there are beautiful sites and enjoyable outdoor adventures.

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