Bardstwon, Kentucky. Editorial credit: Ryan_hoel /

7 Most Scenic Small Towns In Kentucky

Whenever one thinks of vacationing in the US state of Kentucky, images of its acclaimed equestrian sporting events, Bluegrass music, Kentucky Fried Chicken, bourbon whiskey, and delicious Southern cuisines first come to mind. Nevertheless, the innumerable small towns sprinkled all over this American Southeast’s landlocked mid-sized state proudly showcase the true heart and soul of The Bluegrass State. So, what are you waiting for? Come and discover the rich heritage, spectacular natural landscapes, pretty downtowns, excellent eateries, vibrant festivals, and warm hospitality of these scenic Kentucky towns.


Aerial view of the countryside around Berea, Kentucky.
Aerial view of the countryside around Berea, Kentucky.

One of the state’s fastest-developing towns, Berea sits along the Interstate 75 highway, right on the margin of the Cumberland Plateau, roughly 14 miles south of Richmond and 40 miles south of Lexington. Aside from being home to the prestigious Berea College, this Madison County town is known for its colorful arts scene, vintage structures, and top-tier restaurants. The famed Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant located at the town’s core on College Square is a well-liked place serving delectable regional dishes and displaying award-winning amenities.

Adventure seekers should head to the Berea Pinnacles and traverse miles of eye-catching hiking trails, while merrymakers get to attend the Spoonbread Festival in mid-September and the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music in mid-October, in addition to a variety of crafts festivals throughout the year.

La Grange

Downtown La Grange, Kentucky.
Downtown La Grange, Kentucky. Image credit: Joseph via

A laid-back suburban community in Oldham County, La Grange, nicknamed the “Kindness Capital of Kentucky” is situated around 20 minutes northeast of Louisville. La Grange’s most special attraction is the CSX Transportation street-running mainline track directly through the heart of the town’s business district. Travelers are lured here from different parts of the world to closely observe the 25 freight trains that pass through the town each day. Holidayers must also visit the Oldham County History Center, La Grange Railroad Museum, and La Grange Springs Park, or browse the plethora of shops, eateries, and art galleries that fill the La Grange Historic District. Every year, from mid-May to late October, the town hosts a Farmers & Artisans Market, where tourists can purchase locally produced products.


A historical building in Greenville, Kentucky.
A historical building in Greenville, Kentucky. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon /

Muhlenberg County’s administrative center, this adorable town named in honor of the American Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene, is tucked in the hilly western part of The Bluegrass State. Greenville's historic Downtown Square, anchored by a 100-year-old courthouse, is packed with quirky shops, boutiques, eateries like Philly’s Restaurant, entertainment spaces, and hotels like Best Western Central City and Super 8 by Wyndham Central City.

Do not forget to tour the Thistle Cottage, Muhlenberg County Veterans Mall & Plaza, Muhlenberg County Rail Trail, Lake Malone State Park, Brizendine Brothers Nature Park, and The Summerhouse - a unique gazebo perfect for picnics. All year round, Greenville hosts several celebrations like the Saturdays on the Square, Squash and Gobble Arts Bazaar & Fall Festival, and Twilight Antique Car Show.


Heaven Hill Distillery at Bardstown, Kentucky.
Heaven Hill Distillery at Bardstown, Kentucky. Editorial credit: Irina Mos /

Bardstown, christened after David and William Bard, is the Nelson County seat situated in the outer Bluegrass region of Central Kentucky, almost 39 miles southeast of Louisville. Primarily settled by European Americans, Bardstown is considered one of the oldest cities in the state. Promoted as the “Bourbon Capital of the World” this foremost stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail has three operating distilleries: Lux Row Distilleries, Barton 1792 Distillery, and Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., where travelers get to see the making of bourbon firsthand.

Furthermore, when in town, the Old Talbott Tavern, Wickland Mansion, Bardstown Historical Museum, Bardstown Historic District, Bardstown Tourist & Convention Commission in the 1892 County Courthouse, Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral, Civil War Museum, My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Spalding Hall, and Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey are must-visits.


4th Street, Danville, Kentucky
Fourth Street, Danville, Kentucky. Image credit: Warren LeMay via

Dubbed “The City of Firsts,” Danville, the seat of government of Boyle County, is located in Central Kentucky’s Bluegrass region, approximately 36 miles southwest of Lexington. This principal city of the Danville Micropolitan Statistical Area has been named in honor of Walker Daniel, the first district attorney of the state who surveyed and platted the town in 1783. Considered the birthplace of Kentucky statehood, Danville’s Constitution Square Historic Site features countless restored structures, including a courthouse that hosted around ten constitutional conventions between 1785 and 1792.

The Art Center of the Bluegrass, Ephraim McDowell House Museum, Jones Visual Arts Center, Warrenwood Manor, Norton Center for the Arts, Pioneer Playhouse, the Great American Dollhouse Museum, Wilderness Trail Distillery, Danville National Cemetery, and Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site are some noteworthy points of interest. Placed amidst Danville’s breathtaking scenery is the Chaplin Hill Bed & Breakfast, an amazing retreat for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail explorers. Every year, revelers flock to attend the town’s various festivals such as the Great American Brass Band Festival, Forkland Heritage Festival, Kentucky State BBQ Festival, and Perryville Battle reenactment.


South Green Street in Glasgow, Kentucky.
South Green Street in Glasgow, Kentucky. Image credit: Ichabod via Wikimedia Commons.

The chief city of the Glasgow Micropolitan Statistical Area, Glasgow, called after the Scottish hometown of the US Senator William Logan’s father, occupies the heart of Barren County. The town’s South Green Street is lined by numerous beautifully preserved buildings in different architectural styles dating back to the early 1800s. History buffs must tour the Historic Plaza Theatre, Fort Williams, the Museum of the Barrens (South Central Kentucky Cultural Center), and the Veterans Wall of Honor. From Glasgow, outdoor enthusiasts can access some notable natural landmarks, including the Mammoth Cave National Park, Barren River Lake, Diamond Caverns, and Brigadoon State Nature Reserve.


Trail to a historic barn in Harrodsburg, Kentucky
A trail to a historic barn in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Editorial credit: Ken Schulze /

Founded as Harrod’s Town in 1774 by James Harrod and his band of pioneers, Harrodsburg, the administrative center of Mercer County, is considered the oldest permanent American settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains. Heritage lovers are especially drawn to the town’s significant sites of interest, like the Old Fort Harrod State Park, Dutch Reformed Church (Old Mud Meeting House), Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, and Morgan Row House (home of the Harrodsburg Historical Society). Walk down Harrodsburg’s restored downtown and peruse the numerous locally-owned shops, eateries, and art galleries. Outdoorsy types can recce the different hiking, horseback riding, and biking trails, or enjoy a cruise through the scenic Kentucky River Palisades.

From the artsy community of Berea to Bardstown - the “Bourbon Capital of the World,” the small towns in the country’s 37th largest and 26th most populous state are perfect for every kind of retreat. Whether you want to shop for exclusive locally-made goods, traverse the outdoors, gain knowledge about the state’s glorious bygone days, and relish mouthwatering traditional cuisines, these scenic Kentucky towns provide unforgettable experiences for avid shoppers, adventurists, heritage lovers, foodies, and relaxation seekers alike.

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