10 Most Beautiful Small Towns in Kentucky You Must Explore

Last Updated on July 12, 2023 by Nikki Jain

Thinking of derbies and some of the best fried chicken to ever grace a plate? Think smaller! Not in terms of adventure and the amount of fun you’ll have but think personal instead. Meaning tour guides who know your name, and towns that will never forget you. That’s the life of small towns in Kentucky.

All of the fun of a major hub with none of the stress. And with so many good options to choose from in the great state, we’ve narrowed it down to some of the best.

Check out this list of the top 10 charming small towns in Kentucky.

Best Small Towns in Kentucky

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1: Shelbyville

Flickr/Carl Wycoff

Have some fun in the sun over in Shelbyville! This location is one of the best small towns in Kentucky simply for the ability to do so much in the great outdoors. There are seven parks in Shelbyville great for relaxing, playing, eating, napping, and everything in between. And for those who want a bit more action in their sunshine and fun, check out one of the four golf courses available in the Shelbyville/Simpsonville area. These are pristine and well maintained acres upon acres of the best greens in the state. Prepped and ready for your best game yet.

And that’s just the beginning of Shelbyville. There are also numerous activities for every kind of traveler. Boaters can ride the tide for hours on end, and horseback riders have their wide open space to gallop. There are even distilleries for those who find their fun in discovering new favorites. Everything in Shelbyville is made with that small town charm that makes it authentic, and impossible to find elsewhere. For a vacation that’s as unique as you, spend your days in Shelbyville.

Address: Shelbyville, KY

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2: Bardstown


Bardstown is primarily known as the best place in Kentucky for Bourbon distilleries. This is the perfect place to go on a bit of wine and more tour, or just to sample some of the greats on your next vacation. What's especially lovely about Bardstown is that it still holds onto that small town charm, meaning tours and visits to title attractions won’t be crowded and impersonal.

This is the kind of place you go for individual, engaging, and memorable experiences at any number of home-loved attractions. Go from museums to parks and end the day with distilleries, and do it all in the lovely Bardstown.

Address: Bardstown, KY

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Vacation in color! Berea is a hidden gem art haven, where all the best in Kentucky come to celebrate expression. Berea is best known for it's welcoming and engaging art festivals--- that include the kind of attractions all ages will be talking about for years to come. Try your hand at some of the arts, or simply marvel at the wonders created around you: Berea invites all! And if art is just a pit stop in your dream vacation checklist, choose Berea for history. This is one of those premiere cities that integrates the past with their future. There are historic restaurants and buildings that have lost none of their charms, but gained years of comfort.

And for the young traveling crowd, be sure to check out some of the local liberal arts college hotspots. As a town that invites so much individuality, you’re going to want to get in on the action. Check out some theme nights at the local bars, or find the gallery exhibits that are seldom seen elsewhere. Berea is just as intriguing as its citizens.

Address: Berea, KY

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4: London


A little bit smaller than the one you're thinking of, but no less stunning! London is one of the top places in Kentucky that is known for drawing in outdoor adventurers. Be it resident or tourist; everybody knows London is the town to stay in. Here you have access to a vast number of Rivers, Lakes, Parks, and so many other outdoor adventure attractions that make this small town a work of art.

London is a great place to stay if you enjoy the call of the wild during the day and a pleasant, relaxing homey stay at night. It's the kind of place where you'll meet a friendly local while picking up your coffee, spending the day hiking in sweet serenity, and then returning to a town where the choice is yours. Visit a bar for a night out on the town or curl up with a good book in the pleasantly paced London.

Address: London, KY

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With nearly 5,000 residents, Greenville is one of the best representations of a small town that still has things to do. Greenville is a tight-knit community of locals who are more than happy to help tourists enjoy their little slice of life in the great state of Kentucky. There are numerous attractions where small crowds congregate to share the night and some truly unique adventures in a town specializing in making their guests feel like family.

Some of the best things to do in Greenville include visiting Thistle Cottage, hiking through Brizendine Brothers Nature park, and catching a show at the local theatre. There are several other historical homes dotted around town, and some mom and pop attractions that can only be found by wandering. And with so much warmth at every corner, you’re going to want to see it all. Make Greenville your next great adventure.

Address: Greenville, KY

For a little bit bigger of a population and subsequently, more buzz: Owensboro is the place to go! This is a great place to bring the whole family as fun meets affordability meets small town relaxation. The Owensboro Museum of Science and History is one of the best educational exhibits in the state and features a wide array of things to keep all ages interested. For those who like to see that famed Kentucky sunshine, check out the Western Kentucky Botanical Gardens and watch Owensboro blossom.

While Owensboro may not be the smallest of Kentucky towns, it is an excellent option for those who want something between the most famous town in a state and a locals-only establishment. Owensboro is a great mixture of the two, where they are ready to accommodate all tourists with true vacation comforts without seeming like they are catering only to travelers. It has that hometown vibe with the accessibility of a major city, and that’s what makes Owensboro so remarkable.

Address: Owensboro, KY

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Also Read: Best Places to Live in Kentucky

But make it Kentucky! Glasgow is one of the most beautiful small towns in Kentucky because of its ability to preserve history. As a significant plot in the civil war, there are numerous artifacts and relics that can be viewed throughout the city. There are cultural centers, and battlefields, and the kind of tour guides who have grown up around these sites for years and can answer all questions that may come to mind.

Some of the title attractions lie in the Fort Williams Civil War Battlefield and Cemetery, as well as the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center. Both of these are oasis’ of knowledge in the state, and only come at the highest of recommendations for travelers all over the world.

Address: Glasgow, KY

Come for fun! Somerset is the perfect small town to choose for the kids to release some of that energy, and for you to gain some back. Take the family to the SomerSplash Waterpark and leave with a tan and a smile, knowing your kids spent the day playing their little hearts out.

And for a little bit of intrigue, check out the International Paranormal Museum, found in the heart of Somerset's homey town center. Or check out some of the local parks! Maybe even take a photo with the famed Elgie Woods Piano, and enjoy all that Somerset has to offer.

Address: Somerset, KY

9: La Grange

La Grange
Flickr/Becky McCray

La Grand stay is more like it! La Grange is one of the warm, welcoming hearts of Kentucky. As a beautiful, stunning green landscape of parks and history, La Grange is one stop you won't want to miss. Here you can visit the La Grange Railroad museum that features some of the iron giants of the olden days, still bright with color and purpose. Or check out some of the preservation in architecture, like the Oldham County Historical Society building that speaks of the years that built this town. Make your history in the stunning La Grange.

Address: La Grange, KY

10: Hurstbourne


For pure beauty, go where Mother Nature blossoms! Hurstbourne is a gorgeous landscape of Kentucky charm, where some of the best sites are found just by walking down the street. Bright flowers can be found upon entrance to the city, and secluded, serene walking paths are scattered all about the city for leisure and fun.

As a small city, the charm is mostly found in the possibility of the day. Hurstbourne is truly the place to go to do a little soul searching, adventure with the family, or maybe just get away for a weekend. You're always home when you're at Hurstbourne.

Address: Hurstbourne, KY

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