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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Solar Eclipse Events in Kentucky

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Chances are you've heard about the solar eclipse that will occur on Monday, August 21st. This is a huge event for Kentucky, because parts of the state are in the path of totality, meaning the moon will completely block out the sun as it passes between the sun and the earth. Optimal total solar eclipse viewing will be slightly northwest of Hopkinsville, Ky. It's a once in a lifetime viewing opportunity for many, so thousands of people from around the world will be traveling to see it. A map of totality can be found here. For those living in Louisville, a partial solar eclipse will be seen. NASA has a great website explaining everything! And, an interactive map for locations and times.

Below are events that will be taking place all across the Kentucky.

Please note: regardless of the degree of totality, you WILL NEED solar eclipse glasses for viewing! Some venues will have a limited number of pairs available. Play it safe and buy a pair before the 21st. We've seen them for sale ($1 - $2) at local Kroger, Lowes, Walmart and Heine Bros. locations-- to name a few! 

Louisville/Jefferson County, KY
Big Four Bridge Lawn

E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park

Kentucky Derby Musuem

Kentucky State Fairgrounds

Mint Julep Tours- Solar Eclipse and Bourbon Sips Experience* Tour departs Louisville and travels to Hopkinsville.

PNC Achievement Center in Beckley Creek Park

Spalding University

Ballard County, KY
Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site

Barron County, KY
Barron River Lake State Park

Boone County, KY
Big Bone Lick State Historic Site

Bullitt County, KY
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Christian County, KY
Burdoc Farms

Christian Way Farm

Jefferson Davis Monument

Kelly Little Green Men Festival

Daviess County, KY
Owensboro Museum of Science and History

Western Kentucky Botanical Garden

Fayette County, KY
The Living Arts and Science Center

Floyd County, KY
Jenny-Wiley State Resort Park

Henderson County, KY
John James Audubon State Park

Hickman County, KY
Columbus-Belmont State Park

Hopkins County, KY
American Legion in Madisonville

Downtown Dawson Springs

Elks BPOE #738 in Madisonville
Madisonville City Park

Madisonville Community College

Mahr Park at Hidden Hills Farm

Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park

Marshall County, KY
Kenlake State Resort Park

Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park

McCracken County, KY
Art Guild of Paducah

Brooks Field

Carson Center

McCracken County Library

Silent Brigade Distillery

West Kentucky Community and Technical College

Muhlenberg County, KY
Greenville Summerhouse

Oldham County
City Place Lawn *Pre-register for this networking event.

Spencer County, KY
Solar Eclipse Paddle at Taylorsville Lake

Todd County, KY
Jefferson Davis Historic Site

Trigg County, KY
Lake Barkley State Resort Park

Union County, KY
Caseyville Recreation Area & Boat Dock

Warren County, KY
The A-Frame

Aviation Heritage Park

Bowling Green Ballpark

Chaney's Dairy Farm

Historic Railpark and Train Musuem

Reid's Livery Winery

Rockn B Horse and Carriage Farm


Looking for a fun way to teach your child about the solar eclipse? Check out this short animated video by McGraw-Hill Education:




Know of another eclipse viewing party in Kentucky? Email a link to brandy@louisvillefamilyfun.net.

By Guest Contributor: Brandy
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Review of Cave Run Lake

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We’re a family that LOVES the beach – and water in general. However, with the nearest ocean a few hours away, my kids (ages 10, 9, and 6) and I set out to find what a Kentucky beach had in store and were not disappointed.

After some research, I found Cave Run Lake, which is part of the Daniel Boone National Forrest. Cave Run, about an hour and half east of Lexington and just south of Morehead, is an 8,270 acre lake that was built for flood protection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

There are two main beaches – Zilpo and Twin Knobs. Twin Knobs is larger and somewhat easier to get to. It has a boat ramp, summer amphitheater programs and scheduled campground activities. The campground also has volleyball courts, basketball hoops and horseshoe pits as well as many other amenities.

Zilpo sits on a peninsula in the middle portion of Cave Run Lake at an elevation of 800 feet deep in the forest with the nearest community 12 miles away. We chose the path less traveled and went to Zilpo.

Since the two beaches are on opposing sides of the lake, the routes are totally different. The road to Zilpo is about 17 miles once you enter the park. There are a couple turns but they are well marked so no worries about getting misplaced. However, with curvy roads and speeds topping out around 45 mph, it does seem to take FOREVER to get back to the beach.

We did pass a couple different picnic areas – and after a long ride in the car – stopped at the Clear Creek area which we were thankful had restroom. We even stumbled upon what we referred to as a Kentucky pyramid, but was actually the remains of an iron furnace – and a history lesson opportunity!

As we continued to drive, there was a clearing which gave us an amazing view of the lake. It was breathtaking and spurred us on to continue the rest of drive through the forest! After we stopped at the guard shack further down the road and paid our $10 vehicle fee (pretty sure it’s cash only so be prepared), we continued through the campgrounds to the beach parking lot. As soon as we parked and the kids saw the beach, they deemed our over two hour drive totally worth it and we got busy having fun!

 photo 093_zpsdyt6ewmf.jpgWe had basic things for a day at the beach – floaties, goggles, snacks, a beach mat and towels. My older son also insisted on having his fishing poles to do some shore fishing (make sure you have your license). We found the beach itself to be really rocky instead of sandy so make sure everyone has water shoes or sandals that can get wet. We charged ahead to the water, which was just about room temperature. It was incredible! There was no adjustment time needed – we all just got straight in! The beach is well defined with buoys and a sea wall to keep everyone well contained and aware of the boundaries. My kids are good swimmers, and we had life jackets on hand just in case, but at no point was I concerned for their safety in the water.

The beach area also had a volleyball court, some park benches, a bathroom facility, and a small general store with cold soft drinks, snacks, goggles, etc.

We were only prepared to spend the afternoon, but it’s a place I’d like to go back and spend at least the weekend. There are campsites, rental cabins, boat launches, boat rentals at the marina, hiking trails, hunting, and so many more activities to explore with family or friends. My kids and I were in total awe of the surrounding beauty and how much fun lake swimming was. They couldn’t stop talking about it. When we go back, we’ll plan on plotting out much more than just an afternoon.

Make sure as you’re planning your trip, you decide on what kind of experience you want, how much time you want to spend and check the surrounding areas for events you can tie in to your trip. Cave Run Lake is a place where you could go back just about every weekend and find something new to explore!


By guest contributor:
Dana
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tipi camping in Kentucky - Homegrown Hideaways

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Looking for a few days away from it all but close to home? Love nature but don’t want to deal with packing a car full of camping gear for just a day or two getaway. Try out Homegrown Hideaways just outside of Berea, Ky.

 photo holler_zpsy53pztil.jpgHomegrown Hideaways is located in a beautiful valley (holler) with a small creek running through a big wide open field surrounded by lush forests and knobs. We spent an overnight on our way home from Red River Gorge at Jessa and Nathan’s beautiful home in the foothills of the Appalachian forest. Homegrown Hideaways is a working farm and member of the National Forest Stewardship program and they have just begun offering "glamping" on airbnb. They offer completely kitted out options such as a treehouse and a yurt, as well as some more rustic options in a bell tent or our choice a 24 ft tipi. You may also pitch your own tent or bring an RV- they have hookups.

The Tipi was amazing- for the kids and us grownups- the idea of sleeping in a tipi was pretty exciting. The construction of the tipi itself is fascinating and the fact that you can safely build a fire inside makes us want to return in the fall to experience that on a cooler night. We brought a couple of tarps for the ground and airbeds and slept very comfortably. We kept the smoke flaps open overnight hoping to see a starry sky- unfortunately clouds had rolled in- but this gives us yet another reason to return.

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We’ve camped a lot and came completely over prepared for our weekend. Jessa told me they want to cater to people who have never camped before as well as seasoned campers. Staying in any of the on-site lodgings, you have access to a full kitchen with fridge, oven, coffee maker, sink with hot and cold water and more. We didn’t need to bring out our gas camping stove, we didn’t need our cooler full of ice, or a table, or plates, or cutlery, no need for pots or pans! The fridge had fresh eggs from the farm. They also have a full and very clean bathhouse with flushable toilets and hot showers, a fire pit, cornhole boards, ultimate frisbee goals, covered picnic tables, a large playing field with swings. The farm also includes a beautiful hiking trail through the woodlands on the property. You can rent canoes for an afternoon on the nearby reservoir. Jessa and Nathan have everything you could need- all you need are your sleeping bags, pillows, and food to cook.

 photo swing_zpspwgrzujh.jpg The kids had a blast on the grounds of Homegrown Hideaways, playing in the creek, campfires, visiting the chickens, and making friends with the dogs who call this beautiful place home. Jessa and Nathan have been building a new secluded Treehouse with huge windows that will give you amazing views of the landscape- definitely on our bucket list. We definitely recommend you check this place out with your kids, extended family, a great location for a family reunion, or an adult getaway- you even have the option of having your food cooked for you.

For more information visit www.homegrownhideaways.org.

From guest contributor
Jennifer
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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Visiting Pulaski County Park - a beach swimming location on Lake Cumberland

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Pulaski County Park is conveniently located off of Rte. 80 in Nancy, Kentucky. This park is on Lake Cumberland in the Somerset area. The park offers an array of options for people who are looking for a day visit or for folks looking to camp or have a gathering. See aerial photos here.

What attracted us to visit Pulaski County Park is we were told that there was a beach area and when traveling with kids ages 2 to 10, that's a perfect option.  The beach was added in 2017. The beach area is easy to find in the park if you keep going right as you enter the park. There is ample parking but it's important to notice, there are no bathroom facilities at the beach area. You must cross the parking area and go up a hill to portable bathrooms at the top of the hill. It wasn't too much of a hike but with little kids, that's important to know. And, the portable bathrooms there were very clean.


There is one large tree on the beach so we were able to grab that spot for the day to have some shade. There are a few picnic tables and a grill in a shady are closer to the parking lot. We brought in chairs, floats and our picnic items and spent hours at this beach.  There are rocky spots close to the shady area but as you go toward the middle of the beach, it's more sandy.  The kids loved collecting rocks and then at the end of the day, swam them back into the lake to sink to the bottom.

Also at the park, there are camping options (less that $80 per night) for any level of camping and there are also cabins. We drove around and found a wonderful trail if you are interested in hiking or biking that trail, many picnic shelters that would be great for groups, a playground, basketball and more activities. The park has quite a bit to offer and we did notice a lot of people camping, fishing and kayaking. The kayaking looked great because of where the park is situated, folks can go in and out of coves in Lake Cumberland.

The park is open dawn to dusk for visitors. They have a small store at the entrance in case you need some fishing supplies, snack or a drink. The folks in the store were also helpful for fishing tips and other information about the park. That store is open normal business hours, not the entire time the park it open. We noticed that the park utilizes an inmate program to clean the park. We had no problems at all but we did notice that they work on the beach in the morning so if you arrive later in the morning and stay for the afternoon, they will likely be finished with their work.

The park is so close to many things to do. If you stay at Pulaski County Park, you won't be bored! Also, it was just down the road from Haney's Appledale Farm which we really loved for treats. 


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Saturday, July 29, 2017

A review of SomerSplash Water Park in Somerset

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 photo IMG_8601_zps2gmmrlfr.jpgSomerSplash is a water park run by the City of Somerset which is located near Lake Cumberland. This water park can be a day trip itself or can be tied in with a trip to Lake Cumberland. If you are visiting the Lake Cumberland area, you may know it's a large lake so it spans a wide area. This water park is located on the northeast side of the lake.

 photo IMG_8588_zpsk3uw1sck.jpgThe water park is open late-May through Labor Day.  You can visit their website to see variations in hours and prices for admission. Admission depends on when you arrive and how tall you are, which determines your level of participation in some of the rides. Also, there's a poolside charge of just $3 if you are not swimming - that's a nice option when you have a grandparent that wants to join and you don't want to pay the full price.  We chose to arrive after 4pm to save money and enjoy shorter lines - three hours of fun was enough for us since we were traveling with a two-year-old.

We explored and tried most of the water features. I found the place to be very clean and noticed the abundance of lifeguards.  I also likes that there were so many options for a variety of ages. For example, even in the wave pool area, there were little kids playing because the pool was zero entry and had spray features.

The water park has the following:
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  • Shallow water playground area with small slides and dumping bucket
  • Kiddie area exclusively for the little ones
  • Some covered seating
  • One steep body slide
  • A lazy river
  • Two tube slides the enter into the lazy river - one with a big bowl
  • Three body slides, some tunnel, some open. Less steep.
  • A wave pool
  • Multiple spray features
  • A shop and locker rooms
Tips: Arrive early to get covered seating if you plan to be there all day! Bring in your picnic to save money. Check their Facebook page for weather closings. They have special events throughout the summer.

The kids loved the wave pool the best. The tube slide that has the bowl was a close second!


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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Splash 'n' Dash 5K Run/Walk - Louisville

This post was made in support of this event as a media partnership.

Make a big splash to help kids at Norton Children’s Hospital during the Splash ‘n’ Dash 5k Walk/Run, presented by Texas Roadhouse.

The Splash ‘n’ Dash is a family-friendly fundraising event supporting the life-saving care available through the three Norton Children’s facilities which treated more than 177,000 children last year.

Runners and walkers can choose to splash their way through a 5k course or a 1k family fun run filled with fun and refreshing ways to cool off in splash zones.

Participants will be able to designate their funds raised to the area of their choice within Norton Children’s Hospital. Designate a specific illness such as cancer or heart, or support your favorite group such as Brave Hearts or Type 1 Club.

After the race, enjoy family-friendly activities in the “Just for Kids” Zone, presented by Hwang’s Martial Arts:
o Water balloon toss
o Rock climbing wall
o Face painting
o Water slides
o Music and more!

ABOUT THE EVENT:
Saturday, August 5
9 a.m. (1k Family Fun Run begins at 10 a.m.)
Louisville Waterfront Park, Big Four Lawn

REGISTRATION:
Register at SplashNDash5K.org
5k registration: $30 for adults and $15 for children age 17 and under
1k registration: $20 for adults and $15 for children age 17 and under

Visit SplashNDash5k.org to register or for more information
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Monday, July 24, 2017

A day trip to Perryville Battlefield

 photo 20170626_134622_zpshzx3kdua.jpg photo IMG_8948_zpsbwqfm5ne.jpgI recently took my sons, 10 and 6, to the Perryville Battlefield. According to the website, the battlefield is one of the most untouched Civil War sites and still looks very much like it did when the Union and Confederate armies met there in October 1862.

 photo IMG_8944_zpsa5ttncs1.jpgWhen we arrived, we headed straight for the small museum to get some information. Admission to the museum is very reasonable – adults $4, children 7-12 $3, and free admission for children under age 6. There are special rates for groups, military and seniors.

Part of the museum admission includes a 28 minute film about that fateful day in 1862. While I was really interested in the movie and learning about the area, it was a little long for my boys who had just spent 2 hours in our van. However, since the movie was in the same room, they were able to walk around the museum and look at all the artifacts. For such a small space, there are so many pieces of history! Old uniforms and weapons in cases as well as pictures of and quotes from soldiers capture the feeling of what it was like in Perryville over 150 years ago.

 photo 20170626_132116_zps94up7iww.jpgAfter we went through the museum at our leisure, we got a map of the grounds from the staff. The gentleman in the shop was very helpful and very glad to answer questions about the park. He showed us two different routes through the park – a walking trail that was just under a mile and a half along with a route we could take in our van on a gravel road.

 photo IMG_8984_zpsqauxno15.jpgWe set out first on the walking trail and we were all amazed at the absolute unspoiled beauty of fields of black eyed susans and white daisies. The trails are very well defined, and there are interpretive markers littered through the fields explaining a part of the battle and pointing out significant areas. The boys thought the cannons on our hike were awesome and even they couldn’t stop talking about how pretty everything was. The driving tour down a gravel road was equally beautiful and informative.

 photo IMG_8945_zpsblr9ne1b.jpg photo IMG_89541_zpsr5d25npl.jpgTip: My only regret was not having a map of Kentucky with me and relying solely on Google maps. I couldn’t reestablish a signal when we were ready to head for home, so we got somewhat misplaced and ended up going about half an hour out of our way! Next time we visit, I will also pack a lunch as there aren’t any close places that have food.

Onsite are restrooms, a pavilion, and picnic tables. Everything is very clean and very well maintained. In October, the park puts on a reenactment of the battle with historic lectures and battlefield tours. There are military demonstrations for two days. Also, downtown Perryville has a street with historic buildings that are mostly unchanged since before the Civil War.

I just can’t say enough about how strikingly beautiful the landscape is. A visit to the battlefield is a day well spent!


~Dana

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hats Off Day at the Kentucky Horse Park

Free day of family fun Event is July 29 at 
the Kentucky Horse Park

Enjoy free, family-friendly events designed to celebrate the horse on Saturday, July 29, from 4 to 10 p.m. at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The 2017  Hats Off Day theme is “Memories of Man O' War” celebrating what would be his 100th birthday!

Hats Off Day is the only day of the year that admission to 
the Horse Park is free. 


Free admission to the Horse Park is offered all day, with Hats Off Day festivities (all free) starting at 4 p.m. Activities include:
  • Horse rides for adults and pony rides for children
  • Face painting
  • Inflatables
  • Educational booths
  • Interactive equine stations including mechanical race horses
There's even a chance to receive free horse farm hats, provided by area horse farms and businesses, if you are among the first attendees!

The featured entertainment of the event is the $50,000 Rood & Riddle Grand Prix show jumping competition at 7:30 p.m.

Hats Off Day is also a fundraiser for the Kentucky Equine Humane Center and the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, so it's a great way to support these causes and have fun at the same time!

Visit www.hatsoffky.com for a full schedule of events!
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A day trip to Fort Knox

We were hosted for the purposed of review.

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The Fort Knox MWR staff invited us for a visit to showcase all that Fort Knox has to offer to the public. It's really like it's own city but unique in its rich history and active military base status.  There's a lot of hustle and bustle around the base so it makes for an interesting visit because not only can you eat there and find entertainment, but you also witness the work that's taking place on the base.  Let me tell you a little more about our visit and highlight some tips for you.


Access
 photo IMG_7991_zpsoldknbut.jpgWe were able to access Fort Knox with no problem.  When we arrived at the Chaffee Gate, you simply pull into the Visitor's Center building that's on the left before the main gates.  This will allow you to get a pass to go in and out of the gates. You can get a day pass or an annual pass. The passes are free.  We gave our drivers licenses to check in and there was no line.  Anyone 16 years old or older has to check in with a proper ID.  Younger children check in with the adults.  Once we had our passes, we drove to the gate and showed the passes to enter. And, with the passes, we can now enter through any gate, not just the Chaffee Gate.

Tip: Get an annual pass. You never know when the moment hits that you want to go for a special event or to swim and if you already have the annual pass, it makes entry even that much easier.

Playgrounds
 photo IMG_3942_zpsy6bpunll.jpgThere are playgrounds all around Fort Knox. Our favorite was by the Starbucks because they had a covered seating area that's great for enjoying a latte while the kids play.  They also have a fantastic playground near the amphitheater that sits atop a hill for great views and it's near a bathroom.  This playground is also near the aquatics center so when that reopens soon, combine the playground and picnic with some swimming. All of the playgrounds are open to the public, they were clean and updates.......so take a tour around Fort Knox for playground fun.

Tip: The playground by the amphitheater has a wonderful covered picnic area.  Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy!

Special Events
I was amazed to learn that there is such extensive programming on Fort Knox that is open to the public. I made the assumption that it is all just for military families but that is not the case.  They have a wide array of community events from outdoor movies to large festivals.  Just take a look at their community events page to keep tabs on events and on some of the program pages, they list the special events taking place at those locations like at the water park.

Tip: Follow their Facebook page because they will keep everyone updates about special events via social media.

Summer Fun
 photo IMG_3995_zpsbu892bvr.jpgSummer is definitely the time when most families are on the move to find fun. The Fort Knox water park is great for families with kids of all ages.  It is very affordable at just $8 per person (civilian rate) and you can purchase a combo card for access to the water park and mini golf to save some money if you plan to do both (they are very close to each other).  The water park features areas for changing and showering, lockers, a snack bar, a playground, a zero-entry area with a spraying water feature, a standard pool, two slides (one tube, one open), a floating obstacle course and a covered (yes, covered!!) and gated child's pool for little ones. There were amble chairs around and even some in the shade.  My children said that they enjoyed the obstacle course the best and I loved the zero-entry area for getting just a little wet to stay cool myself......without the full commitment of jumping in! Also, it is big enough to not feel crowded but at the same time, I could sit anywhere and see my kids all over the park - that's nice and more relaxed than huge water parks.

 photo IMG_3997_zpszb8rgtnr.jpgFalls Landing Mini-golf is just across the street from the water park and if you area going to spend the day, I do recommend it because it's so close. By the way, the all day golf and swim package is $8 so it's a no-brainer since it's basically free with the water park. Just be sure to mention that when you check in. The mini-golf was not an over-the-top experience like you would see at a beach destination, it was a simple course that allowed for a fun experience and you can't beat the deal.

Aquatics Center
The Anderson Aquatics Center is currently under renovation but let me tell you, when it opens, you have to go. It has a GIGANTIC indoor pool......seriously, it's HUGE. There's also an indoor splashpad.  During the summer months, there is an outdoor sprayground and snack shack as well.  It will likely all reopen in October 2017 and day passes are less than $5, you can even rent the place out for large groups for just $225 for 2 hours.

Golf
If you have family members that like to golf.............real golf..........the Lindsey Golf Course on Fort Knox is open to the public.  It's a full 18-hole course with a grill, golf shop and driving range. It's open seven days a week and the most expensive it gets for a round of golf is $25. I don't know much about golf beyond the fact that golf carts are mighty fun but I think $25 is quite reasonable. So, even if you aren't very good, at least you had a fun day riding around in the cart and you can say you golfed near the gold.

Indoor Fun
 photo IMG_3979_zpsvozmlix2.jpgThe Houston Bowling Center on Fort Knox is a clean, retro-style bowling alley that's really affordable.  It is a large center so availability is plentyful.  They also have a cafe that is very popular. It was under renovation there but everyone we spoke to raved about this cafe. That's a hidden gem you need to remember when you visit and you are looking to eat!

Tip: If you pick up one of the Fort Knox MWR magazines around Fort Knox, there will be a coupon in there for bowling.

Movies
They have a movie theater on base and they host a free movie once a month on a Sunday. Keep tabs on the calendar of events to coordinate your visit and catch one of these movies.  Otherwise, most of the time, this theatre is not open to the public.

Dining
We ate at two different locations during our day trip.  First, the golf course cafe - the Lindsey Grill.  This cafe is quick service and has everything you would want from a grill menu and I thought the prices were quite reasonable. The portions were generous!  At the golf course cafe, there's a covered patio for dining outside in the shade, which we really enjoyed. Or, for more action, you can take a seat right at the grill counter - kids always love that.

 photo IMG_8040_zpsgwfgq3ww.jpgFor dinner, we ate at Sam Adams Brewhouse. This restaurant is a family-friendly bar and grill that features an all-American style menu, a spacious dining area, a full bar and lots of TVs. Most of us had sandwich baskets that were filling and delicious but one of our hosts had the wings and he said that everyone goes there for the wings!  I was very surprised at the prices since the venue seemed higher-end at first glance but the sandwich baskets were all priced under $8 and the kids meals under $3. I definitely recommend a visit to this restaurant when you are on Fort Knox.

Also, there's a grill at the bowling alley that gets rave reviews. I noticed that there were some chain fast-food restaurants around the base for convenience and remember, there are great picnic areas near the playgrounds so you are welcome to bring your own food in to enjoy.  You can find other restaurants here.

Accommodations
Fort Knox does have a hotel on the base - a Holiday Inn - so if you are looking for a getaway, you can stay there because there's plenty to do over the course of a few days!
Fort Knox is not far from Radcliff, Elizabethtown or Brandenburg so you can also consider staying in hotels in these areas if you are planning a day trip or longer to visit Fort Knox. Then, you can also enjoy what these other areas have to offer. Check out Comfort Suites, it's usually where we stay for great space and breakfast included.

Here are more photos:


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Monday, July 17, 2017

Rusty Wallace Racing Experience at Kentucky Motor Speedway

 photo 20170617_115131-1_zpsi9dmfyks.jpgMy husband got me a Rusty Wallace Racing Experience ticket for my birthday! We loaded up the kids and headed out to the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky. Thrill-seeking parents - this review is for you.

The email we received the day before the racing experience said to wear comfortable clothes (to be worn on under a fire suit), closed toed shoes, and arrive half hour before the start time to register.

We parked and got to the registration desk at 9:30am, waited on line, filled out our forms, and made it across the parking lot to the classroom 5 minutes before my 10am class was to start. If you miss too much of the class, you have to wait for the next one. Be there early.

 photo 20170617_115336_zpsvzfe2aqj.jpgYou have 3 options: ride along while a professional drives, drive the race car for however many laps you pay for, or ride along and then drive the car. They (and I) recommend riding along and then driving. When you ride along, you get to see the rules in action that were explained to you in the 45 minute class (if you are just riding along, there is no class needed). On the ride along, you also realize how fast the car can really go. (I'm not 100% positive, but I think it is cheaper if you buy the ride along with your previously purchased drive experience on-site. They were really trying to talk all of the drivers into riding first, and the additional ride along was cheaper than I saw advertised online).

After the class, you go back across the parking lot to the race track. One line is for ride-alongs, the other line is for drivers. They are first come, first served, not specific drive times, so you may be waiting for a while. Bring water and snacks (and something to occupy the kids) for while you are waiting.

 photo 20170617_111604_zpsi51sdhxo.jpgOnce it's your turn, you swing your legs in the car and they take your picture. You put on your helmet and neck-brace, slide into the car, they strap you into your 5 point harness, you put in the steering wheel, and you're ready.

 photo 20170617_092230_zpsnszyhh4x.jpgYou drive by yourself, alone in the car, but your spotter talks through your earphones. You get the car up to 4th gear before you leave the pit lane for the race track, and you never shift the car again (so not to blow up the engine). The spotter directs you through getting on and off the track, passing or being passed, or any other information you need as you accelerate and decelerate around the track. There are race lane markers for your path and markers where you can floor it or need to lift off the gas. The first couple laps you get used to the course. After that your just trying to get around the track faster and faster.

It was a great experience. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable, and I felt safe and well prepared. I would definitely do it again, and would highly recommend looking for discount online tickets for your experience. They offer mounted pictures, video, and insurance for extra fees. My husband and kids were able to come right next to the track with me to take lots of good pictures and video of half the track. There's not a lot to do other than watch the cars, but my kids did well through the 45 minute class and wait for the drive.

After the race track, we went a half hour up north to Bone Lick State Park for the kids since it was relatively close and we could do that in the same day.

Caryn
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Monday, July 10, 2017

Review of Kentucky Dam Village/Kentucky Lake

 photo SavedImage_20170528_190437_02-1_zpscspodpvy.jpgThe extended family (all 7 of us) were lucky enough to secure an executive cottage for a short family vacation to a Kentucky Dam Village.  Be sure to book well-in advance for a holiday weekend because we were only able to get our cottage because of a cancellation....that's how we were lucky!  The cottages, while still adorned in vintage aesthetics, had Wi-Fi & cable, and were clean, spacious and very nice overall. Also nice is the towel service that comes around every morning to see if you need clean towels.

 photo IMG_1375_zpswz5bq7ko.jpgWe loved that each cottage had a camp-style outdoor grill, and ours had a seating area just outside of the kitchen door. Just down the executive cottage street was a small, but functional playground for the kids (my children are ages 7 & 10). We brought the kids’ bikes and our oldest actually wrapped up his learning of how to ride a bike and figured out how to ride on his own just by riding around the cottage drive.

 photo 20170528_113615_HDR_zps54cqax97.jpgSaturday morning, the boys went fishing on the lake while the girls visited the Arts and Crafts Show on the property. On Sunday, the boys went fishing while the girls went to a local antique mall (Twin Lakes Antique Mall) which was very nice. The boys caught enough fish for a fish fry that evening and it was wonderful to have us all around a big round table for conversation and connection!

 photo 20170527_090033_zpsgocisalj.jpg photo 20170528_182953_zps37lcdhqp.jpgWe were able to get some pool time in as well. I was able to take my morning runs while folks were still asleep and found the perfect loop (even though it was hillier than I am used to – ouch). The weekend had lots of rain too, so I planned ahead and took a bag full of crafts and activities for the kids, including painting rocks for the new hide and seek painted rock trend.

My brother- and sister-in-law had a little more time to explore and visited a local bakery (Liteside Bakery & Garden Café) and shared a few yummy muffins. They visited the Village gift shop and commented how welcoming the people were, and on the variety of merchandise. They also took a 5 mile hike and really enjoyed that experience as well! Like everywhere though, make sure you are protected from ticks, and watch for itchy plants.

We didn’t get to the beach (yes, there’s a beach!) or eat out anywhere, but just down the road is the famous Patti’s 1880’s Settlement restaurant. The only costs for the weekend were the cottage rental, food costs for eating in, and what we spent shopping and on gas and bait for fishing.

We had a great time and would definitely go back!

By guest contributor
Saundra
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Monday, July 3, 2017

Big Bone Lick Discovery Day

 photo 20170617_133722_zpsq1zd4udh.jpg photo 20170617_140815_zpsyi1ikvzn.jpgMy kids and I went to Big Bone Lick State Park for their Discovery Day in June, and the next (and last) Discovery Day is July 15th. The free event is from 11am to 3pm. We arrived around 1pm, and there was still a lot going on, and no one was out of supplies. Many of the state park sites have events throughout the year and so many are also free. Be sure to explore the events page for Kentucky State Parks so you don't miss out.

 photo 20170617_134533_zpssqjzob9j.jpgThere were a few tents set up with volunteers discussing historical times and activities. This state park is an historic site so it's always great to combine learning with family fun. My kids made necklaces, threw an atlatl (spear-thrower), and even made fire with flint.

 photo 20170617_133218-1_zps5dmfpujm.jpgThere were a couple of tables inside the museum with activities that cost a few dollars, but my kids were easily turned away with more interesting things to look at so we did not do those activities. And, as Dana mentioned in her review of the park, the gift shop is very reasonable, and sells ice cream so be sure to check that out!
 photo 20170617_130132_zps5qtarsuz.jpg
After going through all of the activities and events of the day, we went by to look at the bison herd, played at the playground, and headed home. The gift shop is open until 4pm, and the playground is open later than that if you want to make a longer day of it. There are many spots to picnic, so pack a lunch to keep the day free except for gas to get there!

~Caryn
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