We made a quick trip up to Kentucky to enjoy a day at Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area. This park is a long strip of land, straddling the border of Kentucky and Tennessee, that sits between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The two lakes are not large and often get mistaken for more of a river than a lake. But this piece of land between them has become a popular destination. It has places to camp, hike, and get in the water but it also has a variety of other experiences that set it apart from any other park.
Visit The Homeplace- the Living History Farm
At the far end of the park is the Living History Farm where visitors can walk through an actual working farm from the mid 1800’s. This farm was inhabited until the 1960’s maintaining all of the original rustic charm that it had when it was first built. The only real change that this farm has seen since the beginning was the addition of electric lights. Visitors can wander through the farm and get a glimpse into what daily life was like back in that time. The people who work there offer demonstrations on candle making or iron stove baking or wool spinning. We were there near the end of the day and we thrilled when they said we could help feed the chickens and pigs and bring the sheep out from their pasture to the barn. It was so interesting to see the buildings and furnishings and reflect on such a simpler time.
See Rescued Wildlife at the Woodlands Visitor Center
At the Woodlands Visitor Center you can get up close to some of the animals that are in the care of the park. These animals can’t survive on their own so the park has created a place for them to be cared for. Visitors can take the short loop and see a coyote, a red wolf, an opossum, a bobcat, and an assortment of owls and hawks. There are even a few giant turkeys, but don’t get too close to them because they will bite your fingers. The park aims to educate people about the wildlife that calls this area home and offers a multitude of short programs for all ages. One program that they offer is a guided canoe tour of the lake as you look for animals.
See the Stars at the Planetarium- Golden Pond Visitor Center
The park has its own planetarium and observatory and invites visitors to come and see the stars. The planetarium gives visitors a front row seat to seeing the galaxy through one of their many interactive programs. With so many different showings throughout the day you could easily spend the whole day there watching and learning from each one. They also host star gazing parties where visitors can go and use the telescopes to locate different constellations.
Drive Through the Elk and Bison Prairie Preserve
This park is home to elk and bison (or buffalo) and visitors can take a drive through the large protected area to see them. The loop takes you through a few miles of wild grasses and trees and has a few places to stop and get out of the car to read more about the animals and keep watch to see them pass. Because September and October are mating season for the elk, we could hear their bugling calls to each other through our drive through the park. The best times to drive through are either in the morning or around dusk because that is when the animals are more active. We saw quite a few elk and one bashful buffalo as it peered out of the trees. Remember that even though they are in a park they are still wild and unpredictable so be sure not to get too close to them.
Go Horseback Riding Along the Trails
The park is home to its own horse stables and offer visitors a unique perspective of the park as seen from the back of the horse. Start out at the Wranglers Campground and they will soon have you up on your horse and ready for a great ride. Especially in October when the leaves are in their full fall color, taking a trail this way is an amazing way to see the park and the lakes.
Go Off- Roading at Turkey Bay
If you are looking for a little more exciting way to see the park then why not see it from the front seat of an off- roading vehicle. Make your way to Turkey Bay with your four wheeler, dirt bike, or jeep and take the trail for a bumpy wild ride through the park.
Eat at Patti’s Place and Visit Patti’s 1880s Settlement
While this last one is not technically within the park, it is an absolute must when visiting Land Between the Lakes. Located just outside the park Patti’s 1880s Settlement is a charming collection of shops and gathering places. A small wedding chapel has been the setting of many couples weddings and vow renewals. The old windmill still pumps water through the rest of the place. And if shopping is not your thing, you can instead play a game of mini golf through the area. But at the center of the buildings is the restaurant Patti’s Place and it is nothing short of amazing. The building is bursting with rustic charm and each dining area is carefully and elaborately decorated. We were in the Peacock Room and were blown away by the detail in the theme. With large portions of comfort home cooking kind of food, and their signature flower pot bread with strawberry butter, you are sure to be happily stuffed by the end of the meal. If you want to eat here then be sure to make a reservation in advance because it is a local favorite for anyone who is comes to the park.
I had never heard of Land Between the Lakes before this weekend. But now I can understand why this is such a favorite place to visit. Not only is it a beautiful area but they have so much to do that fits any age or interest. I think it safe to say that we will be back soon. Until then, I’ll just be dreaming about the food at Patti’s and wishing for a roll with strawberry butter. Thanks for joining me today!