What are some of the best things to do in Owensboro, Kentucky?
After all, when we think about the city of Owensboro in Kentucky, what typically comes to mind?
Well for starters, Owensboro is a home-rule class city named after Colonel Abraham Owen and is located in the state of Kentucky. It is located on U.S. Route 60 and Interstate 165 about 107 miles (172 km) southwest of Louisville, And as of the 2010 census, the population of the city is about 57,265 which makes it the fourth largest city in the state of Kentucky.
Owensboro is a place filled with history and culture all throughout its life. In fact, there is evidence that American Indian settlements were found living in this area from nearly 12,000 years ago. It wasn’t until 1797 that the first European descendent William Smeathers came to this area to live.
Not to mention that the city has a strong affinity to distilleries as there are quite a few of them around, although mainly dedicated to Bourbon Whiskey.
But aside from that information, what else do we really know about the city of Owensboro?
Well the city of Owensboro is the industrial, medical, retail and cultural hub of western Kentucky. Because of that fact, visitors who come here will be able to find a bundle of different things for them to see and do.
For instance, the city is strategically located on the southern banks of the Ohio River, which provides a majestic backdrop to any and all scenic views. There are also many recreational and cultural activities nearby, from things like “Edge Ice Center” where visitors can watch some hockey to even the “International Bar-B-Q Festival” where visitors can eat some of the most delicious Barbecue ever.
Plus, the city of Owensboro is home to many different museums and theaters which means there is always something to do any day of the week. And with world-class restaurants, art galleries and beautiful scenery all around, the city of Owensboro has it all.
So if you’re wondering what exactly you are able to see and do here in the city of Owensboro, then you are in the right place.
In this post, we’ll be detailing all the best things to do in Owensboro, Kentucky.
So if you’re ready, lets get started!
- Things To Do In Owensboro, Kentucky
- Visit Smothers Park
- Check Out O.Z. Tyler Distillery
- Visit The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum
- Shop Around At Preservation Station Market And Event Center
- Play Some Tennis At Centre Court
- View Some Art At Owensboro Museum Of Fine Art
- Try Some Amazing BBQ At The International Bar-B-Q Festival
- Visit The Owensboro Museum of Science and History
- Visit The River Park Center
- Skate Around At The Edge Ice Center
- Explore The Western Kentucky Botanical Garden
- Visit Reid’s Orchard
- Attend The Big O Music Festival
- Play Some Golf At Hillcrest Golf Course
- Visit The Owensboro Regional Farmers Market
- Roam Around Downtown
Things To Do In Owensboro, Kentucky
In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Visit Smothers Park
One of the best things you can ever do when visiting a new city is to check out their local park.
And here in Owensboro, Kentucky, visitors are able to find one of the best parks to visit being “Smothers Park”.
Smothers Park is named one of the “Top Playgrounds In The World”, and is the heart of the riverfront located in beautiful downtown Owensboro. It was established in 1816 as the first City park and was called the “Riverfront Park”. It wasn’t until 1963 that the park changed its name into Smothers Park.
Visitors who come here will find that the park offers quite a bit for you to see and explore. For instance, there is a cascading waterfall, swinging metal benches, an open air pavilion, concession stand, clean restrooms, free WIFI, and one of the best children’s park in the entire world. All of which makes this place a must-see attraction if you are ever going to be visiting the city of Owensboro.
But the main attraction has to be the three beautiful water fountains found in this park, as there is a show put on by the fountains after every 15 minutes.
Also at this park is the Charles Shelton Memorial, which is a monument to POW’s and MIA’s from all wars located at the east end of the park.
Overall, Smothers Park is a fun filled place that will give you and your family a whole lot of fun. Kids will be able to play around for hours on end while adults can relax and enjoy the day, all while being surrounded in a peaceful nature.
Check Out O.Z. Tyler Distillery
One of the most popular places to visit and one that is always recommended is a place called “O.Z. Tyler Distillery”.
O.Z. Tyler Distillery is the premiere destination for visitors who are wanting to drink some really delicious bourbon Whiskeys that are made on site.
This place has been operating as a distillery ever since 1885 and has seen a good fair share of hard times on numerous occasions and has even had a bunch of different owners come and go. However even with all the things happening around this place, this distillery has stood firmly and has continued to grow with time.
Visitors who come here will be able to grab some hand-crafted specialty drinks from the cocktail lounge and enjoy it in all its glory. Plus, there is a tour where they’ll take you around the distillery and covers every aspect of whiskey production, from grain to mash to beer to distillate to barrels of whiskey. Then once you are done with the tour, visitors will be able to taste through their exquisite bourbon and rye whiskies in their fabulous tasting room.
Not to mention, there is also a gift shop on site where you can find things like branded hats, shirts, glassware, and much more. It’ll make the perfect place for you to find that special gift or souvenir for any and all bourbon lovers.
With all the things you can see and do here, it’s no wonder this place is always highly recommended by many people to visit.
NOTE: They are no longer called O.Z. Tyler Distillery. They are now called Green River Distilling Co.
Visit The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum
If you love listening to various types of music or just learning about the history behind the music, then one place you should definitely visit is the Bluegrass Music Hall Of Fame & Museum.
The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum is the best place to visit as visitors are able to learn about all kinds of things dealing with the music genre “Bluegrass”. It’s located just down the road from the home-place of the “Father of Bluegrass”.
In fact, this museum is dedicated to celebrating and preserving the international history of bluegrass music. It is here where you can find the International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Hall of Fame”. You’ll also find that they pay tribute to various bluegrass pioneers and other legends, enlightening the public and inspiring its future.
Visitors who come inside will see things like interactive exhibits, live performances, art work, costumes, and films for people of all ages to learn about the richness of this original Kentucky art form. Not to mention, you’ll also be able to attend the hall’s wide variety of tours, jam sessions, instrumental lessons and even concerts.
It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Owensboro as this place has even been honored with the Kentucky History Award and is also highly rated by various sites for being a must-see attraction for any and all bluegrass lovers.
Shop Around At Preservation Station Market And Event Center
Do you like shopping? What about eating?
If you like doing both of those things, then one place you definitely have to visit is a place called “Preservation Station Market And Event Center”
Preservation Station Market And Event Center is one of the most popular attractions for people to visit as inside this place you can find all kinds of stores to shop at as well as restaurants to eat at.
For instance, one of the main attractions here is the shops. It is here where you’ll find around 60 shops selling all kinds of things like antique, unique, boutique, shabby chic, vintage, rustic, and handcrafted finds. There is also a market aspect as well where you can find around 60 to 120 vendors selling things like antiques, vintage, primitive, industrial, rustic, shabby chic, hand crafted, customized, and boutique. It’s basically a shoppers paradise as you are almost guaranteed to find something of value here.
And if you’re in the mood for food, you’ll be happy to know that there is a really good restaurant on site serving some really delicious foods. Some of the foods you might find here includes things like chicken tenders, loaded fries, chicken salad, chuck burger, signature chili soup and more all made fresh for you to enjoy.
Overall, the Preservation Station Market And Event Center is a very fun place to visit. You’ll be able to shop for hours on end, eat some delicious foods, and overall just have a really enjoyable time. This is a place you definitely do not want to miss out on.
Play Some Tennis At Centre Court
If you love playing the sport of tennis, then you’ll be happy to know that here in Owensboro, Kentucky, you’ll be able to find one of the best tennis courts available in the state.
Known as “Centre Court“, it is the premiere area where people can come play some tennis.
Visitors who come here will find that they have an indoor area where they can find up to 6 courts available for people to play. Not only that, but they also teach lessons for people of all skill levels and experiences who are wanting to get into the sport of tennis. There are also adult and youth tennis leagues for people to try as well.
The rates to play are all fairly affordable which is great as that means visitors can come here to play as much tennis as they want.
But tennis isn’t the only sport being played here.
In fact, aside from tennis, pickleball is another popular sport that is played here from time to time as well.
So whether you are a fan of tennis or a fan of pickleball, this place will definitely have you entertained for hours on end.
View Some Art At Owensboro Museum Of Fine Art
If you love art and learning all about it, then one place you’ll definitely love to visit is the Owensboro Museum of Fine Arts.
The Owensboro Museum of Fine Arts is the premiere destination for all art lovers to come and enjoy all there is to know and see about art. For over 40 years, locals and tourists alike all come flocking to this museum to see all the amazing things that are on display.
In fact, this museum presents traveling exhibitions from major museums, galleries and private collections and a rotating exhibition fro the permanent collection. Not only that, but the facility also includes three wings, two of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
The John Hampden Smith House is a fine pre-civil war mansion that houses the museum’s permanent collection of decorative art from all over the world. For instance, inside this place visitors are able to see things like American, European and Asian fine and decorative arts dating from the 15th century to the present; a stained glass gallery of late 19th century German stained glass windows; a collection of contemporary studio art glass; and even a major collection of American Folk Art. There is even a section which houses a collection of works by artists and craftsman who have deep connections with the state of Kentucky.
But the best part about this museum is that they are also a place which helps the local arts and craft community as well. For example, this museum houses a market that offers works for sale by local artists and craftsman from Kentucky as well as the surrounding states.
The Owensboro Museum of Fine Arts is a fantastic place to visit as visitors from all around will be able to see and learn so many different things about the wonderful art culture in the world as well as in Kentucky.
Try Some Amazing BBQ At The International Bar-B-Q Festival
Do you love Barbecue?
Because if you do, then you are in the right place.
For those of you lucky enough to be visiting the city of Owensboro, Kentucky during the months of May, you just might be lucky enough to attend one of the biggest festivals this city is known for.
Known as the “The International Bar-B-Q Festival“, it is a festival where locals and tourists alike all come together and have some really delicious barbecue. What first started out as a small city festival back in 1979, has since grown into one of the largest and most famous festivals around. It’s been featured in many things like the Discovery Channel’s Travelers, Inside Edition and Southern Living.
Visitors who come here can enjoy various different kinds of things. For instance, many cooks from all around the country and world will come to this event with their secret sauces and recipes and try to compete against each other to see which one of them has the best barbecue of them all. Not only that, but this place also has many shops and vendors around who are selling some really delicious foods to eat.
And best of all is that because it is a festival, there are many other things for visitors to see and do that doesn’t include food. With things like musical entertainment, children’s activities, carnival, car show, arts and crafts and more are all available for people to enjoy.
So if you happen to be visiting the city of Owensboro during the month of May, then the International Bar-B-Q festival is definitely something that should not be missed.
Visit The Owensboro Museum of Science and History
One of the best things to do in Owensboro, Kentucky is to simply go visit a museum.
And here in Owensboro, there is no better museum than the Owensboro Museum of Science and History. The Owensboro Museum of Science and History is housed inside a historic building located right in the center of downtown Owensboro. It is a great place to visit as kids and adults alike will be able to see and learn so many new and cool information.
Inside this museum, visitors can find that there are several themed environments inside which includes the Rotary Playzeum where kids under 10 can go have hours of educational fun crawling and playing through these amazing exhibits. Not only that, another really awesome exhibit is the “Encounter” exhibit, where kids will be able to enjoy learning all about science in a really fun and interactive way.
Aside from all the hands-on exhibits, there is also a special area called the “Coal Mine Gallery”, which is one of the best places inside this museum to visit. Everyone who comes will be able to learn about the deep history and safety of coal mining here in Western Kentucky, as well as being able to be fitted with a “hard hat” while going down a coal mine elevator.
It’s a very affordable museum as admission is only around $5 dollars, free for museum members and kids under the ages of 2. There are also special group and family rates which can be found on the Owensboro Science & History Museum website.
If you ever have the time to spare, visiting this museum will definitely be a really joyful experience as both you and your family will be able to learn so many amazing new things.
Visit The River Park Center
If you love the performing arts, then one place you would definitely want to come visit is the Riverpark Center.
Riverpark Center is beautifully located right next to the Ohio River, and is the premiere place where you can watch some truly great performances.
This center is able to host nearly 200,000 visitors each and every year, including nearly 50,000 students from the Tri-State region. Being as how it is so popular, visitors will find that there are hundreds of different activities taking place here at the Riverpark Center at all times.
Some of the things visitors might find here include things like professional Broadway tour productions, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra concerts, free family movies on a gigantic outdoor screen, Friday After 5 music concerts all summer, Bluegrass & gospel concerts, hundreds of educational programs, and many other events.
In addition to these beautiful performances, this center is also used as a springboard for National Broadway Tours as well. During these times, the Owensboro residents will be treated to some world class performances that they will enjoy for hours on end.
It would be a shame if you were to visit the city of Owensboro and not be able to watch any one of their hundreds of performances. Which is why, if you ever have the time to spare, try to catch at least one show. You will definitely not regret it!
Skate Around At The Edge Ice Center
One of the most thrilling things you can ever do while visiting the city of Owensboro is to simply visit the Edge Ice Center.
The Edge Ice Center is basically a huge ice rink where you can skate around all you want. Especially during the hot summer months, the ice center provides a nice change of pace as everything is so cool and refreshing here.
The ice ring is a good quality rink as it spans over 42,000 square feet with an ice surface of around 17,000 square feet. Visitors who come here are able to skate around, take lessons, rent some equipment, maybe even shop around at the pro shop and more. They have everything you’ll ever need for ice skating.
But that’s not all!
In fact, this ice center is also home to the Owensboro Youth Hockey Association and the Owensboro Figure Skating Club, Which means you are able to come here and watch some quality performances or games going on at all times.
It’s definitely a fun activity to do and one that will definitely help pass the time if you are bored and wanting to do something fun.
Explore The Western Kentucky Botanical Garden
Located near the heart of Owensboro, Kentucky, visitors are able to find one of the most scenic and beautiful places in this city.
Known as the Western Kentucky Botanical Gardens, it is a must-see attraction for any and all nature lovers. This garden is simply filled with so many beautiful things and so many plants and flowers all around you.
Imagine over 12 acres of bustling nature, historic buildings and beautiful garden art. It is here where visitors are able to see things like the rose garden, children’s garden, historic country doctor’s office and a record setting basket sculpture. In fact, just the collection of hybridized daylillies will have you gazing in amazement of how beautiful nature really is.
The best way to enjoy this garden is to simply download the portable map and go on a self-guided walking tour around the entire place. It doesn’t matter when you decide to come as there will usually always be something lovely and in bloom all throughout the year.
Plus, all throughout the year, this garden will be host to a variety of different events for kids and adults to participate in.
It’s no wonder gardeners come from all over the place to these gardens in order to seek inspiration and plants to take home with them from the on-site nursery. Definitely one of the coolest places you’ll ever visit here in the city of Owensboro.
Visit Reid’s Orchard
Who doesn’t love picking apples?
If you are lucky enough to find yourself visiting the city of Owensboro, Kentucky during the month of October, then you might just be able to par take in one of the best activities around here.
Because as you know, October is the month where apple harvesting is at its peak here in Kentucky. Which is why the best place to come harvest apples is at Reid’s Orchard. In fact, this place holds an Apple Festival on the third weekend of the month with dozens of food and vendors around. There will also be plenty of kid’s entertainment as well! For instance, there will be a children’s play area which offers pony rides and even has a petting zoo too!
Now technically this place is open all year round, except for January and February as the orchard are closed during that time. But even if they are closed, visitors are still welcomed to visit the Apple House all year round to buy some really delicious fruits and vegetables and even flowers to bring home.
But it’s not just October. If you happen to be visiting during mid to late May, you might be able to enjoy the U-Pick Strawberry season or peaches during the month of August.
Whatever the case may be, visiting Reid’s Orchard is definitely something that the entire family will enjoy.
Attend The Big O Music Festival
If you love listening to music and attending all kinds of music festivals available, then you are in luck.
The city of Owensboro, Kentucky is home to one of the biggest music festivals in the entire state of Kentucky.
Known as the “Big O Music Festival“, it is an annual festival that takes place on Reid’s Orchards during the month of August and provides people with some of the best music they have ever listened to. People from all over the state and country descend down to this city just to catch this amazing event each and every year.
Music lovers can rejoice as they’ll be met with some high energy shows with a powerhouse lineup of artists. For instance, some of the past artists included people like Billy Currington, .38 Special, ark Chesnutt, Lauren Alaina, Sundy Best, Big Smo, Adam Wakefield from the NBC’s The Voice, and many more all for you to enjoy.
Plus, during the event there will also be lots of vendors nearby selling some really delicious foods for you to eat. So you won’t have to leave this place as everything you’ll ever need to have fun is all here ready for you.
So why not come on down during the month of August and enjoy one of the best festivals the city of Owensboro is able to put on. It’s a fantastic experience that you do not want to miss!
Play Some Golf At Hillcrest Golf Course
If you’re wondering what you should do for fun around the city of Owensboro, Kentucky, then one thing you might like to do is to simply play some golf.
And here in the city of Owensboro, there are a bunch of different areas for you to play the sport of golf at.
For instance, one of the most popular places for you to play golf at is a place called “Hillcrest Golf Course“. Hillcrest Golf Course was actually a farm known as the Whitely Deer Farm before. It was then purchased by the Owensboro Jaycees and later constructed the Hillcrest Golf Course back in the late 1930’s. And eventually the city came along and purchased the area from them back in 1969.
Today, this golf course is known to be a beautiful place for locals and visitors alike to come along and play some really amazing games of golf. This course features a year round 9-hole municipal golf course, practice green as well as a chipping green. The bermuda fairways, tees and bent grass greens are all in wonderful playing condition which will make the entire experience so much more enjoyable.
Plus, this place also has an on site pro shop so that you can get any and all golf equipment you’ll ever need. From golf clubs to balls or even shirts and bags, they have it all.
So if you’re ever in the mood to hit up a golf course and play some golf, then the Hillcrest Golf Course is definitely the spot for you to visit.
Visit The Owensboro Regional Farmers Market
One of the best things you can ever see or do while visiting a new city or town is to simply go pay a visit to the local farmers market.
And here in the city of Owensboro, there is no better market than the Owensboro Regional Farmers Market.
The Owensboro Regional Farmers Market is one of the only farmers market available in the greater Owensboro area and is one of the most popular attractions to visit. It is here where you can find a variety of goods for you to buy and take home.
For instance, this farmer market sells a whole bunch of grown vegetables and fruits like apples, cucumbers, pineapple, cabbage, lettuce, and any other thing you can think of. Not only that, but they also sell cooked foods too like hot dogs, pie, cake and more all ready for you to eat.
But that isn’t all this market is known for.
In fact, this market doesn’t only sell fresh foods or cooked foods, they also sell a variety of other household items as well. For example, you can find towels, gourds, homemade soaps and lotions, potholders, and so much more.
It’s a fun filled place where you can find so many interesting things to buy. Whether its food or household items, you are bound to find something of value here in this market.
Roam Around Downtown
If you ever have the time to spare, one really fun and interesting thing you could do is to simply explore the area of downtown Owensboro, Kentucky.
After all, the city of Owensboro is filled with so many amazing things for you to see and do. And with the majority of things being located in the downtown region, you’ll be able to find all sorts of things that might be of interest to you.
For instance, just roaming around the area of downtown, you’ll see many amazing cafes, restaurants, galleries, shops and more all waiting for you to go in and explore.
David P. Taylor Antiques for example, is just one of the places you can go in and explore. Inside the shop you’ll be able to find various antique items dating back many years ago and will make for a fun event to do with the entire family. Or if you have a sweet tooth, you might be interested in visiting Andria’s Candies, which is a shop where you can find all kinds of delicious sweets for you to eat.
With so many things around this area, visitors will be able to spend hours on end just going to shop by shop exploring all that there is to offer. So come on down and check things out, you never know what you might find that’ll be of interest to you.
Overall, the city of Owensboro in Kentucky is definitely one of the best places you can ever visit. Once you come, you’ll notice that this city offers so many things for you to see and do.
So hopefully this post about the “16 Best Things To Do In Owensboro, Kentucky” was able to help you out in some sort of way. This way if you ever find yourself visiting the city of Owensboro in Kentucky, you will know exactly what things you are able to do for some fun.
Also, if you’re going to be visiting Kentucky anytime soon, then you might be interested in some of my other Kentucky posts:
Or if you are interested in reading some of my other posts about traveling, you can do so by clicking these links:
- Essential steps for planning a trip
- How to find cheap flights
- There is no such thing as a perfect time to travel
Or you can check out all my blog posts by click this link.
Have fun traveling and let me know how it goes~