Kentucky has an extensive state parks system that protects some of the most beautiful scenery and historic locations in the state. Here are five must-see state parks that also feature lodging, fun outdoor activities and beautiful meeting venues.
Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park
Less than an hour’s drive from Lexington, Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park is in northeastern Kentucky. The park commemorates the final battle of the American Revolutionary War, which took place in Kentucky on August 19, 1782. A group of settlers and militia led by Colonel John Todd and famous frontiersman Daniel Boone fought and lost against the British and Native Americans during the battle, which is reenacted annually at the park.
Blue Licks has attracted groups for thousands of years, from prehistoric animals and Native Americans to early frontiersmen and 19th century vacationers who flocked to the area to stay at the popular Blue Lick Springs spa and resort.
In addition to the war monument, the park has five miles of hiking trails, miniature golf, canoeing, fishing and naturalist-led activities. Meeting planners wanting to utilize the park for their conferences or events have several lodging options on property. There are 32 lodge rooms, including two suites, one of which can be used as a hospitality center for meetings or reunions, as well as two two-bedroom cottages and 51 campsites.
The park has three meeting rooms that offer their own unique settings. The Arlington Room boasts wide windows and can hold 300 theater-style or 143 for a banquet. The room is adjacent to the Hidden Waters Restaurant, which can seat up to 172 people. The Daniel Boone Room, which is 2,130 square feet, has a beautiful stone fireplace and a private patio with a view of the woods. The smaller Pavilion Room is next to the Daniel Boone Room and can accommodate 123 people for a banquet.
Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park
Located in south-central Kentucky, Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park is in the Cumberland River Basin on the Obey River. The Dale Hollow Dam created a large reservoir that covers nearly 28,000 acres in Kentucky and Tennessee. The Resort Park is located on the Frogue Peninsula on the northern shore of the reservoir, offering forest-covered hills and excellent fishing opportunities. There is a marina and dock with boat slips, as well as a restaurant and gift shop. The park also has a pool, playgrounds and picnic areas. The park also boasts an 18-hole golf course, 15 miles of hiking trails, mountain bike trails and Cindy Cave tours.
The clifftop Mary Oaken Lodge was built of limestone and timbers overlooking the lake and surrounding woodlands. It has 60 guest rooms with private balconies and patios. There also is a 145-site campground with six cabins and a country store next to a miniature golf course.
The Ray Mullinix Convention Center at Dale Hollow can accommodate up to 300 for a reception and 225 for a banquet. The meeting space can be split into three different meeting areas, and a covered terrace provides beautiful views of the reservoir. The convention center is connected to the main lodge, which has a private dining room that can be rented by the hour for meetings or meals. A large picnic shelter offers another opportunity to hold special events.
General Butler State Resort Park
Located along Interstate 71 in Carroll County, General Butler State Resort Park is situated between Louisville and Cincinnati. The 53-room hilltop resort sits where the Ohio and Kentucky rivers meet and is named for General William Orlando Butler, whose family participated in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War and the Civil War. The lodge features an oversize stone fireplace, hardwood floors and large windows overlooking the surrounding forest. The park has 24 one-, two-, and three-bedroom cottages and 111 campsites.
Groups wanting to host events at the park can rent pedal boats, kayaks and canoes at the boat dock on the lake; play miniature golf or a nine-hole golf course; hike six miles of nature trails; mountain bike along 4.5 miles of trails; or play tennis. There is an outdoor swimming pool, as well as many team-building opportunities such as scavenger hunts, pedal boat races or cornhole tournaments. Croquet is available on the lawn of the park’s Butler-Turpin Historic House.
The General Butler Conference Center offers 7,500 square feet of space that can be divided into three separate rooms. It features a gas fireplace for colder weather and a covered outdoor terrace with wonderful views of the surrounding scenery. The combined space is large enough to host 400 for a banquet or 750 theatre-style. The lodge has some smaller meeting rooms that can host breakout sessions of 50 to 70 people each or smaller banquets of 24 to 40 people.
Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park
Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park is located on the shores of Kentucky Lake, not far from Paducah. It is also near Land Between and Lakes National Recreation Area, a 170,000-acre wooded peninsula bounded by Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The park attracts people who love boating, water skiing and fishing. It has one of the largest marinas in the state offering watercraft rentals, overnight and permanent slip rentals and a fish-cleaning station.
The Harbor Lights Restaurant is near the water and offers fine dining for up to 200 people. There is an outdoor pool and six outdoor event or picnic shelters.
The 72-room Village Inn Lodge has a beautiful lobby featuring a copper-plated fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the marina that makes a wonderful location for a welcome reception. There’s also a smaller meeting space just off the lobby.
The conference center, which is next door to the main lodge, has 6,336 square feet of meeting space that can accommodate 500 people theatre-style or 525 for a banquet or reception. The conference center can be split into three separate spaces that can host groups of 100 to 192 for a banquet or up to 160 theatre-style.
For smaller groups of 50 to 75, the Village Green Lodge offers 14 lodge rooms and a small meeting space that sits close to the championship-style Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park Golf Course.
Pine Mountain State Resort Park
Pine Mountain State Resort Park was Kentucky’s first state park, situated in the southeastern portion of the state. The citizens of Pineville donated 2,000 acres to the project in 1924. The park has 15 miles of hiking trails that wend their way past beautiful ferns and wild flowers, boulders and rock arches. Pine Mountain still contains some of the original park features, including the Herndon J. Evans Lodge, nine log cabins and several stone and log picnic shelters. Since its founding, the state parks system has renovated and expanded the lodge, adding a wing of 30 guest rooms, each with either a private patio or a balcony to enjoy the surrounding scenery, as well as 11 cottages, a swimming pool, Wasioto Winds Golf Course and a nature center.
It also has one of the best conference centers in Kentucky’s State Park system, the C.V. Whitney Convention Center, which sports 3,900 square feet of meeting and event space that can host groups of 250 for a banquet and 300 theatre-style. There are three smaller meeting rooms that can host more intimate events from 25 to 75 people for a banquet, and the Mountain View Restaurant can seat 145 people.
Pine Mountain has two outdoor amphitheaters, the most popular being Laurel Cove Natural Amphitheatre, which sits in a natural forest cove that was converted into an open-air event space with seating for 489 and additional bench-style seating for 500. The outdoor theater is ideal for concerts, picnics, reunions, weddings and theatrical productions. The facility comes with public restrooms, a 1,200-square-foot portable stage and access to a large picnic shelter.