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Kentucky was founded as a state in 1792 after splitting off from Virginia. The state stretches along the Ohio river to the north and the Appalachian Mountains to the south giving it many distinct areas. Kentucky has many claims to fame. The first being called the Bluegrass State because of its many lawns and pastures. It is also the birthplace of Bluegrass music!
Another claim include horses and horse racing with the apex being the Kentucky Derby. Along with horses is bourbon, which can only be brewed in Kentucky and tobacco growing. If your planing to spend a fair amount time in this beautiful state remember to brush up on your horse and college basketball before sitting down and enjoying a BBQ sandwich.
Kentucky is a long state that is kind of fat on the eastern edge that gets skinner the further west it goes. On the northern edge is the Ohio River that gently slopes south until meeting the Mississippi River. Interestingly Kentucky is the only state to have a non-contiguous part as an exclave that is complete surrounded by another state, which is Fulton County in the far west corner of the state. This county can only be accessed by Tennessee. Kentucky borders seven states, from the Midwest and the Southeast. West Virginia lies to the east, Virginia to the southeast, Tennessee to the south, Missouri to the west, Illinois and Indiana to the northwest, and Ohio to the north and northeast. Only Missouri and Tennessee, both of which border eight states, touch more states.
The easter area of Kentucky is dominated by the Cumberland Plateau and the Appalachian Mountains. The rest of the state is a series of plateaus with unique and distinct charms. Many of these areas are dominated by rolling tobacco farms or horse stables that are very pretty.
Kentucky has both the largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi in water volume (Lake Cumberland) and surface area (Kentucky Lake). It is the only U.S. state to be bordered on three sides by rivers—the Mississippi River to the west, the Ohio River to the north, and the Big Sandy River and Tug Fork to the east. Its major internal rivers include the Kentucky River, Tennessee River, Cumberland River, Green River and Licking River.
Mammoth Cave National Park is a United States National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kentucky's Caves and Lakes region. It preserves the world's longest known cave system, with over 392 miles of caves. The park was established in 1941 and currently draws nearly two million visitors annually. Mammoth Cave National Park is home to over 70 threatened, endangered or state listed species. More than 130 species are regular inhabitants of the caves. These species are divided almost equally among three classes of cave life: obligate cave dwellers known as troglobites, facultative species which can complete their life cycle in or out of caves (troglophiles), and those that use caves for refuge (trogloxenes). The Park has cave species and biotic cave communities that are among the most diverse in the world. Because of its diverse array of landscapes and habitats, the Park contains an extraordinary 1,300 species of plants.
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Located within the southeastern interior portion of North America, Kentucky has a climate that can best be described as a humid subtropical climate. Highs and lows of temperature in Kentucky's usual range from daytime summer highs of 31 °C to the winter low of -5 °C. The average precipitation is 1,200 mm a year. Kentucky experiences four seasons, with greater variations in the severity of summer and winter. The highest recorded temperature was 46 °C at Greensburg on July 28, 1930 while the lowest recorded temperature was -38 °C at Shelbyville on January 19, 1994.
Although serving Cincinnati, Ohio, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is the largest airport in Kentucky.
It has flights to/from Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York, Cancun, Punta Cana, Atlanta, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Paris, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Fort Myers, Phoenix, San Diego, Detroit, Pittburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Greensboro, Hartford/Springfield, Harrisburg, Memphis, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greenville/Spartanburg]], Houston, Jacksonville, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Omaha, St. Louis, Grand Rapids and Montego Bay.
Louisville International Airport (SDF) has flights to/from Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Memphis, New York, Minneapolis, Denver, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, St. Louis, Tampa, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Charlotte.
Two Amtrak trains operate to and from Kentucky:
Kentucky is accessible by five Interstates:
In addition, Kentucky is connected to many U.S. Highways:
Check Greyhound buses for more information.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
Kentucky has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.
Kentucky's cuisine is similar to traditional southern cooking, although in some areas of the state it can blend Southern and Midwestern.
Kentucky has invented several dishes; most notably the Kentucky Hot Brown and beer cheese. The Hot Brown was developed at the Brown Hotel in Louisville. The dish is usually layered in this order: toasted bread, turkey, bacon, tomatoes and topped with mornay sauce. Beer cheese is a cheese spread that originated in Central Kentucky near Winchester. While there are conflicting stories on where beer cheese originated, Johnny Allman's, a restaurant on the Kentucky River (present-day site of Hall's on the River) is generally credited with inventing the dip. Colonel Harland Sanders began Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin. Today, visitors can see where the restaurant got its start.
Kentucky is considered the home of bourbon. If is possible to visit the several different bourbon breweries across the state. Remember, like champagne, authentic bourbon can only come from Kentucky.
Ale-8-One, known colloquially as Ale-8, is a regional fruity/ginger-flavored soft drink. It is bottled in the Central Kentucky city of Winchester and distributed only within the state and neighboring portions of Indiana and Ohio.
There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:
We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Kentucky
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