Top-Rated Things to Do in Owensboro, KY


By Daniela Howard

Owensboro, Kentucky, is a charming Southern city that offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a food enthusiast, Owensboro has something to offer. From exploring fascinating museums and enjoying scenic parks to indulging in delicious local cuisine, here are some of the top-rated things to do in Owensboro.

If you’re interested in history, a visit to the Owensboro Museum of Science and History is a must. This museum showcases the rich history of Owensboro and its surrounding region, with exhibits spanning from prehistoric times to the present day. You can learn about the area’s Native American heritage, explore the impact of the steamboat industry, and discover the city’s role in the Civil War.

For nature lovers, Owensboro boasts several beautiful parks where you can enjoy the great outdoors. Smothers Park, located along the Ohio River, offers stunning riverfront views and features a waterfall, fountains, and a playground. You can also take a leisurely stroll along the Riverwalk, a paved walking path that stretches along the riverbank and offers breathtaking views of the scenic landscape.

Food enthusiasts won’t be disappointed in Owensboro, which is known for its mouthwatering barbecue. Make sure to try the local specialty: Owensboro-style mutton barbecue. This unique and flavorful dish is made with smoked mutton served with a tangy vinegar-based sauce. You can sample this delicious treat at one of Owensboro’s many barbecue restaurants or attend the annual International Bar-B-Q Festival, where you can taste a variety of barbecue dishes and enjoy live music and entertainment.

These are just a few of the top-rated things to do in Owensboro, KY. From exploring history and enjoying nature to indulging in delicious food, Owensboro has something for everyone. Whether you’re visiting for a day or planning a longer stay, be sure to experience all that this charming city has to offer.

Experience the Best

When visiting Owensboro, KY, there are plenty of top-rated things to do that will ensure you have an unforgettable experience. From exploring unique attractions to indulging in delicious local cuisine, here are some of the best experiences you can enjoy in Owensboro:

  1. Visit the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art: Immerse yourself in the world of art and admire a wide collection of contemporary and traditional artworks.
  2. Explore Smothers Park: Relax by the riverside, go for a refreshing walk, or have fun at the playgrounds and water features in this beautiful park.
  3. Take a tour of the O.Z. Tyler Distillery: Discover the art of bourbon making and learn about the rich history of this iconic Kentucky spirit.
  4. Indulge in local cuisine at Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn: Savor mouthwatering barbecue dishes, including their famous mutton, and experience the authentic flavors of Kentucky.
  5. Go on a riverboat cruise: Enjoy a scenic cruise along the Ohio River, taking in the beautiful views and learning about the area’s history.
  6. Attend the International Bar-B-Q Festival: Join in on the festivities and sample a variety of delicious barbecue dishes from different vendors while enjoying live music and entertainment.
  7. Explore the Owensboro Museum of Science and History: Learn about the region’s history, from Native American artifacts to the impact of the coal industry.
  8. Visit the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden: Wander through stunning gardens, attend educational programs, and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.
  9. Experience live performances at the RiverPark Center: Catch a show or concert at this state-of-the-art venue, which hosts a variety of performances throughout the year.
  10. Take a day trip to the nearby Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum: Immerse yourself in the history and sounds of bluegrass music, and learn about the influential artists who have shaped the genre.

With so many top-rated experiences to choose from, Owensboro, KY offers something for everyone. Plan your visit and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Explore the Riverfront

One of the top-rated things to do in Owensboro is to explore the riverfront. With its scenic views and abundant recreational opportunities, the riverfront is a must-visit destination for locals and visitors alike.

Start your exploration by taking a leisurely stroll along the Riverwalk. This paved pathway stretches along the banks of the Ohio River, offering stunning views of the water as well as the city skyline. You can also rent a bicycle and ride along the Riverwalk for a more active experience.

While on the riverfront, be sure to visit Smothers Park. This beautiful park features a variety of amenities, including a playground, a splash pad, and a cascading waterfall. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the outdoors, especially on a sunny day.

If you’re interested in history, make sure to stop by the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, located on the riverfront. This museum offers exhibits on the area’s rich cultural heritage, as well as interactive displays that are perfect for kids and adults alike.

In addition to these attractions, the riverfront is also home to various festivals and events throughout the year. From live concerts to fireworks displays, there’s always something happening on the riverfront. Be sure to check the local events calendar to see what’s going on during your visit.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a peaceful walk, have a picnic, or learn more about the history of Owensboro, exploring the riverfront is a top-rated activity that you won’t want to miss.

Indulge in Local Culinary Delights

When visiting Owensboro, Kentucky, be sure to take some time to indulge in the local culinary delights. This city is known for its delicious food and unique flavors that are sure to satisfy any palate.

Start your culinary adventure by trying the famous Owensboro barbecue. This style of barbecue is unlike any other, with a distinct flavor and tenderness that will leave you craving more. Whether you choose pulled pork, ribs, or chicken, you can’t go wrong with a plate of Owensboro barbecue.

Another local specialty to try is the famous Owensboro burgoo. This thick and hearty stew is made with a variety of meats, vegetables, and spices, creating a rich and flavorful dish that is perfect for a chilly day. It’s a true comfort food that the locals love.

If you’re a fan of seafood, be sure to try the local favorite, the Owensboro fish sandwich. This sandwich is made with freshly caught fish, breaded and fried to perfection, and served on a soft bun with tartar sauce and other toppings. It’s a delicious and classic dish that shouldn’t be missed.

For a sweet treat, don’t forget to stop by one of Owensboro’s famous bakeries. From homemade pies and cookies to decadent cakes and pastries, there’s something for everyone with a sweet tooth. Be sure to grab a treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee or as a dessert after a satisfying meal.

You can’t visit Owensboro without trying the local favorite, the Owensboro mutton. This dish is made with slow-cooked, tender pieces of lamb, seasoned with a flavorful vinegar-based sauce. It’s a unique and traditional dish that has been enjoyed by locals for generations.

As you explore Owensboro, make sure to take advantage of the city’s diverse culinary scene. From barbecue and stew to sandwiches and sweets, there’s something for every taste bud. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to indulge in the local culinary delights that make Owensboro so special.

Visit Cultural Museums

If you’re interested in learning about the rich history and cultural heritage of Owensboro, KY, a visit to the city’s cultural museums is a must. These museums offer a glimpse into the past and provide an educational and enlightening experience for visitors of all ages.

One of the top cultural museums in Owensboro is the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art. This museum showcases a diverse collection of artwork from regional and national artists. From paintings and sculptures to photography and ceramics, there is something to captivate every art enthusiast. The museum also hosts rotating exhibitions, so there is always something new to discover.

For those who want to learn about the area’s history and heritage, the Owensboro Museum of Science and History is a must-visit. This museum offers a range of exhibits that explore the history of Owensboro and the surrounding region. From the coal mining industry to the Ohio River’s impact on the city’s development, you can delve into the fascinating stories behind Owensboro’s past.

If you’re interested in music, the International Bluegrass Music Museum is a must-visit while in Owensboro. This museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the genre of bluegrass music. From exhibits on bluegrass legends to interactive displays that allow visitors to try their hand at playing various instruments, this museum offers a unique and immersive experience for music lovers.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit these cultural museums in Owensboro, KY. Whether you’re an art lover, history buff, or music enthusiast, these museums are sure to provide an enriching and enjoyable experience.

Discover Outdoor Adventures

When visiting Owensboro, KY, there are plenty of outdoor adventures to explore. Whether you’re seeking thrill and excitement or a more relaxed outdoor experience, there is something for everyone in this picturesque city.

1. Visit Smothers Park: Situated along the Ohio River, Smothers Park offers stunning views and various outdoor activities. Take a leisurely stroll along the riverwalk or relax in one of the park’s many green spaces. Enjoy a picnic with family and friends, or let the kids have fun in the playground area.

2. Explore Panther Creek Park: For nature enthusiasts, Panther Creek Park is a must-visit destination. This expansive park features hiking trails, fishing lakes, and even a horseback riding area. Spend a day surrounded by nature, and don’t forget to pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the park’s scenic spots.

3. Go boating on the Ohio River: If you’re a fan of water activities, rent a boat and explore the Ohio River. Cruise along the river, enjoy the fresh air, and admire the beautiful scenery. You can also try your hand at fishing or simply relax and soak up the sun on the boat.

4. Experience the thrill of river sports: Owensboro is an excellent destination for river sports enthusiasts. Try your hand at kayaking or paddleboarding along the Ohio River. Embrace the challenge and excitement of these water sports while taking in the stunning views.

5. Explore Ben Hawes State Park: This picturesque park offers a range of outdoor activities. Take a hike through the wooded trails, play a round of disc golf, or challenge yourself on the mountain biking trails. You can also pack a lunch and have a picnic near one of the park’s tranquil lakes.

6. Go birdwatching at the Audubon State Park: If you enjoy birdwatching, make sure to visit the Audubon State Park. This scenic park is home to a variety of bird species, making it a paradise for bird enthusiasts. Bring your binoculars and camera for a memorable birdwatching experience.

No matter what type of outdoor adventure you’re seeking, Owensboro, KY has something for everyone. From serene parks to thrilling water activities, this vibrant city offers a wide range of outdoor adventures waiting to be discovered.

Enjoy Live Music and Events

Owensboro, KY is known for its vibrant music scene. Whether you’re a fan of country, rock, blues, or jazz, you’ll find plenty of live music options to enjoy. From intimate venues to outdoor concerts, there’s something for everyone.

One of the top places to catch live music in Owensboro is the RiverPark Center. This state-of-the-art facility hosts a variety of events and concerts throughout the year. From local bands to national touring acts, you can expect to find a diverse range of music genres here.

If you’re a fan of bluegrass, you won’t want to miss the ROMP Festival. Held annually at Yellow Creek Park, this four-day event brings together some of the biggest names in bluegrass music. With multiple stages and workshops, you can immerse yourself in the sounds and traditions of this beloved genre.

Another must-visit venue for live music in Owensboro is the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Not only does this museum showcase the history and impact of bluegrass music, but it also hosts regular live performances. From talented local musicians to renowned bluegrass artists, you’ll have the chance to experience the magic of live music in an intimate setting.

For those who prefer a more laid-back atmosphere, the Owensboro Convention Center offers regular live music events. From acoustic sets to jazz performances, you can relax and enjoy the music while taking in breathtaking views of the Ohio River. Don’t forget to try some local cuisine and beverages while you’re there!

If you’re visiting Owensboro during the summer months, be sure to check out the Friday After 5 concert series. Held on the beautiful Owensboro riverfront, this free event features live music, food vendors, and a festive atmosphere. Grab a lawn chair or blanket and join the crowd for an evening of fun and entertainment.

Soak up the sounds of Owensboro and immerse yourself in the vibrant live music and events scene. Whether you’re a music aficionado or just looking for a good time, you won’t be disappointed with the diverse offerings in this Kentucky city.

Take a Historic Walking Tour

Immerse yourself in the rich history of Owensboro by taking a historic walking tour of the city. This guided tour will lead you through the downtown area and highlight the city’s most significant historical sites and landmarks.

Start your tour at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, where you can learn more about the city’s past and pick up a map of the walking tour route. From there, make your way to the beautiful riverfront area, where you can admire the Ohio River and take in the views of downtown Owensboro.

As you walk through the streets, you’ll come across various historical buildings and structures that date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. Be sure to stop by the Daviess County Courthouse, a stunning example of neoclassical architecture, and the International Bluegrass Music Museum, which showcases the city’s important role in the development of this genre of music.

Continue your journey and visit the Green River Distillery, one of the oldest bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. Take a guided tour to learn about the distillery’s history and see how their famous bourbon is made.

Along the way, you’ll also find charming shops and restaurants where you can take a break and indulge in some local cuisine. Try some traditional Southern dishes or sample the city’s famous barbecue.

This historic walking tour is a great way to explore Owensboro and gain a deeper appreciation for its rich heritage. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a unique way to experience the city, this tour has something to offer everyone.

Shop Local Boutiques and Galleries

When visiting Owensboro, make sure to set aside some time to explore the local boutiques and galleries. These unique shops and art spaces offer a variety of one-of-a-kind items that you won’t find anywhere else. From stylish clothing and accessories to beautiful artwork and home decor, there’s something for everyone to discover.

One popular destination for shopping in Owensboro is the Main Street district. Here, you’ll find a charming collection of boutiques, each offering its own distinctive selection of clothing, jewelry, and gifts. Whether you’re looking for a trendy new outfit or a special gift for a loved one, these boutiques have you covered.

In addition to the boutiques, Owensboro also boasts a vibrant art scene. The city is home to several galleries and art spaces where you can admire and purchase local artwork. These galleries feature a mix of traditional and contemporary pieces, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or just looking for a unique memento of your trip, these galleries are worth a visit.

Some notable galleries in Owensboro include the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art and the Kaviar Forge & Gallery. At the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, you can explore a diverse collection of artwork from both local and national artists. The Kaviar Forge & Gallery, on the other hand, specializes in contemporary art and often hosts exhibitions featuring the works of emerging artists.

While exploring the local boutiques and galleries, don’t forget to support the local artists and small business owners. By shopping local, you’re not only getting a unique and high-quality product, but you’re also helping to sustain the local economy and arts community.

So, whether you’re shopping for a new wardrobe addition or simply want to immerse yourself in the local art scene, be sure to check out the boutiques and galleries in Owensboro. You never know what hidden treasures you might find!

Sample Kentucky Bourbon

If you’re visiting Owensboro, Kentucky, you can’t miss the opportunity to sample some of the finest bourbon in the country. Known for its rich flavors and quality craftsmanship, Kentucky bourbon is a true American spirit.

There are several distilleries in and around Owensboro that offer tours and tastings for visitors. One popular option is the O.Z. Tyler Distillery, where you can learn about the bourbon-making process and try their award-winning spirits. The distillery is located in a historic building and is known for its attention to detail and traditional methods.

Another great distillery to visit is the Old Forester Distillery, which is located just a short drive from Owensboro. As one of the oldest bourbon distilleries in Kentucky, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of bourbon production. During your visit, you can take a tour of the facility and sample their signature bourbons.

If you prefer a smaller, artisanal distillery experience, head to the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn and Distillery. This family-owned business combines its famous barbecue with small-batch bourbon production. You can enjoy a meal at the restaurant and then take a tour of the distillery, learning about their unique approach to making bourbon.

No matter which distillery you choose to visit, make sure to sample some of Kentucky’s finest bourbon. Whether you’re a bourbon aficionado or new to the spirit, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste. Cheers!

Attend Festivals and Fairs

One of the top-rated things to do in Owensboro, KY is attending the various festivals and fairs that take place throughout the year. With a rich cultural heritage and vibrant community, Owensboro hosts a variety of events that offer something for everyone.

One of the most popular festivals in Owensboro is the International Bar-B-Q Festival. Held annually in May, this event showcases a wide variety of mouthwatering barbecued dishes from renowned pitmasters and local chefs. Visitors can sample different flavors, participate in cooking competitions, and enjoy live music and entertainment.

Another festival that draws in crowds is the ROMP Festival. Celebrating the roots and branches of bluegrass music, this four-day event features performances by world-class musicians, workshops, and jam sessions. Music lovers can immerse themselves in the sounds of banjos, fiddles, and mandolins, all while enjoying the beautiful outdoor setting.

The Owensboro Pumpkinfest is a family-friendly event held in October. This festival offers a plethora of fall-themed activities, including pumpkin carving contests, hayrides, a petting zoo, and live entertainment. Visitors can also indulge in delicious seasonal treats, such as pumpkin spice ice cream and warm apple cider.

For art and craft enthusiasts, the Owensboro Art Festival is a must-visit. Showcasing the works of local and regional artists, this festival offers a diverse selection of paintings, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, and more. Attendees can browse through the booths, meet the artists, and even purchase unique pieces to take home.

Overall, attending festivals and fairs in Owensboro provides a fun and immersive experience that highlights the city’s rich culinary, musical, and artistic traditions. Whether you’re a foodie, music lover, or art enthusiast, there is always something exciting happening in Owensboro.

Play a Round of Golf

If you’re a golf enthusiast, Owensboro offers several top-notch golf courses where you can enjoy a round or two. One of the most popular options is the Ben Hawes Golf Course, which is located in scenic Ben Hawes Park. This 18-hole course, designed by Bill Newcomb, offers a challenging experience for golfers of all skill levels. With its rolling terrain, tree-lined fairways, and well-maintained greens, Ben Hawes Golf Course is a must-visit for any golfer.

If you’re looking for a more upscale golfing experience, the Owensboro Country Club is the place to go. This private club features a beautifully landscaped 18-hole golf course that offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. In addition to golf, the Owensboro Country Club also offers other amenities like tennis courts, swimming pools, and fine dining options, making it a perfect destination for a day of relaxation and recreation.

For those who prefer a more casual golfing experience, the Windridge Country Club is a great choice. This public golf course features a 9-hole layout that is perfect for beginners or those looking for a quick game. The course is well-maintained and offers beautiful views of the rolling Kentucky countryside. After your round, you can relax at the clubhouse and enjoy a drink or a meal while taking in the picturesque scenery.

No matter which golf course you choose in Owensboro, you’re sure to have a great time. So grab your clubs, practice your swing, and get ready to tee off in this charming Kentucky city!

Explore the Surrounding Nature

Owensboro, Kentucky is known for its beautiful surroundings that offer a variety of outdoor activities. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, or simply taking a leisurely stroll, you’ll find plenty of options to explore the nature around Owensboro.

If you’re looking for a peaceful escape, head to Ben Hawes Park. This 3,700-acre park sits on the outskirts of the city and offers miles of trails that wind through forests, meadows, and creeks. Explore the park’s diverse ecosystem and keep an eye out for wildlife along the way. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it at one of the park’s many scenic spots.

Another great way to experience the natural beauty of Owensboro is by visiting Panther Creek Park. This 30-acre park is home to a lake, rolling hills, and a variety of wildlife. Take a walk along the park’s trails and admire the stunning views of the lake. You can also bring your fishing gear and try your luck at catching bass, crappie, or bluegill.

If you’re an avid birdwatcher, make sure to visit the Greenbelt Lake and Trail. This 15-mile trail follows the Ohio River and offers excellent birdwatching opportunities. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, great blue herons, and a variety of waterfowl. The trail is also great for biking, so if you want to explore the area on two wheels, this is the perfect spot.

For a more challenging outdoor adventure, head to the Redbud Trail. This 4-mile trail is located in the nearby Redbud Woods Nature Preserve. The trail takes you through a wooded area with hills and valleys, providing a great workout and beautiful views along the way. It’s a popular spot for trail running and mountain biking.

Finally, if you’re in the mood for a relaxing day on the water, head to the Ohio River. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the river at your own pace. You can also join a guided tour and learn about the history and wildlife of the area while enjoying the peacefulness of the river.

No matter how you choose to explore the surrounding nature, Owensboro has something for everyone. So grab your hiking boots, pack your camera, and get ready to experience the natural beauty of this Kentucky city.

Discover Unique Art Installations

Owensboro is home to a vibrant arts scene, with many unique art installations that showcase the creativity of local artists. Whether you’re a fan of contemporary art or prefer traditional pieces, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the top-rated art installations in Owensboro:

  • The “River of Dreams” sculpture is a must-see for art enthusiasts. Created by artist John McComas, this bronze sculpture features a series of intricate figures and represents the dreams and aspirations of the community.
  • The “Bluegrass Mural” is a stunning mural that celebrates Owensboro’s music heritage. Painted by artist Tim Stark, this vibrant piece depicts famous musicians from the bluegrass genre and captures the energy and spirit of the music.
  • The “O.Z. Tyler Distillery Mural” is a large-scale mural located on the side of the O.Z. Tyler Distillery building. Created by artist Andee Rudloff, this colorful mural showcases the history and process of bourbon production in Owensboro.
  • The “RiverWalk Art Plaza” is a public art space that features a rotating collection of sculptures and installations. This outdoor gallery provides a unique opportunity to experience art in a natural setting and offers stunning views of the Ohio River.

In addition to these installations, Owensboro also hosts regular art festivals and events throughout the year. From the Owensboro Art Museum’s exhibits to the street art found throughout downtown, art lovers will find plenty to explore in this vibrant city.

Whether you’re a visitor or a local, taking the time to discover Owensboro’s unique art installations is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. So grab your camera, put on your walking shoes, and immerse yourself in the vibrant art scene of Owensboro, Kentucky.


What are the top-rated things to do in Owensboro?

Some of the top-rated things to do in Owensboro, KY include visiting the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, exploring the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden, taking a stroll along the Riverwalk, visiting the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, and checking out the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

What can I see at the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art?

The Owensboro Museum of Fine Art features a diverse collection of American and European art, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions showcasing different artists and art styles.

What is there to do at the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden?

The Western Kentucky Botanical Garden is a beautiful outdoor space with various gardens, including a rose garden, a butterfly garden, and a Kentucky native plant garden. Visitors can enjoy nature walks, attend gardening workshops, and even participate in yoga classes held in the garden.

What can I learn at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History?

The Owensboro Museum of Science and History offers educational exhibits and interactive displays about the history, culture, and scientific discoveries of Owensboro and the surrounding region. Visitors can learn about local industries, explore the timeline of Owensboro’s history, and even see a real mastodon skeleton.

Why should I visit the International Bluegrass Music Museum?

The International Bluegrass Music Museum is a must-visit for music lovers and fans of bluegrass music. The museum showcases the history and evolution of bluegrass music through interactive exhibits, displays of instruments, and live performances. Visitors can even try their hand at playing a banjo or mandolin in the museum’s instrument petting zoo.

What are some of the top-rated things to do in Owensboro?

Some of the top-rated things to do in Owensboro include visiting the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, exploring the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden, and taking a tour of the O.Z. Tyler Distillery.


25 BEST Things To Do In Kentucky 🇺🇸 USA

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Daniela Howard

Daniela Howard, a dedicated Harpers Ferry resident, serves as the foremost expert on West Virginia. Over a decade in travel writing, her work for Family Destinations Guide offers in-depth knowledge of the state's hidden treasures, such as fine dining, accommodations, and captivating sights. Her engaging articles vividly depict family-friendly activities, making your West Virginia journey truly memorable.

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