By Nathan Gardner–
With half the semester down, students will get to enjoy the midterm break this weekend. And with seven weeks of intense classes, homework and term paper writing, a long weekend is just what the doctor ordered. However, this prescription will only work if you take it. Take a trip. Take some friends. Take time off. Just make sure you take a break.
If you’re unsure of how to best utilize your time off, we’ve got you covered. We have compiled a list of places to go and things to do both near and far, so you have no excuse to still be suffering from the midterm blues come the Wednesday morning following fall break.
If you don’t have the time or means to get out of town (although we highly recommend it), there’s still plenty to do here in Louisville. Below is a list of places to go and things to do that are within, or just outside of, the city limits.
Louisville Metro Parks: Louisville has plenty of parks that offer something for everyone. Many have a golf course, basketball courts, hiking trails and are a great place to take pets. Iroquois Park boasts a great disc golf course and horseback riding trails.
Museums: Louisville features lots of museums, of all different varieties. The J.B. Speed Art Museum, Frazier Historical Arms Museum, Louisville Slugger Bat Factory and Museum, Kentucky Derby Museum and Glassworks are just a few of Louisville’s many museums.
Kart Kountry (Shepardsville): Located just south of Louisville off I-65, Kart Kountry offers a mile and a half long go-cart track, a newly renovated putt-putt golf course and a huge indoor arcade.
Lazer Blaze: Grab some friends and head to St. Matthews for some intergalactic laser wars. Get in the huge laser tag arena and out-shoot, out-hide and out-wit your friends. Lazer Blaze also offers an arcade and concession stand.
Deam Lake (Borden, Ind.): About a 45 minute drive from campus, Deam Lake is a great weekend getaway to get in touch with your inner outdoorsman. Deam Lake is a 194 acre lake with fishing and boating opportunities, as well as hiking and camping. Rowboats can be
rented for a small fee.
Huber’s Family Farm (Starlight, Ind.): Most people think of picking pumpkins when they think of Huber’s Farm. Pumpkin picking is definitely a reason to venture up to the farm, but there’s a lot more than just pumpkins. Huber’s Restaurant offers great country cooking, the winery boasts some of the wine in the area, and the gift shops sell tons of goods made with food grown right on the farm.
Below is a state-by-state breakdown of great destinations in Kentucky and some of the surrounding states.
Keeneland: Although there won’t be any horse racing in Louisville this weekend, that doesn’t mean you can’t place your bets. A short drive down I-64 to Lexington will bring you to Keeneland, where there will be live horse racing all weekend, in the horse capital of the world.
Red River Gorge/Natural Bridge State Park: About 45 minutes past Lexington lies a whole other world that seems like it belongs several hundred miles west. The Red River Gorge National Geological Area and Natural Bridge State Park are part of the Daniel Boone National Forest and offer some of the best hiking and sight seeing in this region of the country. With numerous natural rock arches and countless rock formations, this is a hiker’s paradise.
It’s hard to believe such amazing landforms are almost in our backyard. Pitch a tent at one of the many campgrounds or take a big group of friends and rent a cabin for the weekend.
Mammoth Cave National Park: Yes, Kentucky has a national park. Located just a couple of hours southwest, Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the world with 390 miles of explored cave.
Elkhorn Creek: Just a few miles to the east in Frankfort runs the Elkhorn Creek, a tributary of the Kentucky River. The Elkhorn offers great, untouched scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities as well as some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the country. Canoe KY is a canoe rental business on the creek that can get you set up with a canoe or kayak and a great day on the water.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trial: If you are 21 or over, this is an excellent way to learn about Kentucky heritage and history while seeing the time and skill that goes into the art of bourbon making. As always, be responsible and make sure you have a designated driver.
Bernheim Forest: Bernheim is a great place to spend the day outdoors. Have a picnic, go for hike, take a bike ride, fish or bring your pets. With lots of outdoor opportunities, Bernheim Forest is a great getaway that’s fairly close to campus.
Madison/Clifty Falls State Park: A little over an hour up the Ohio River lies Madison, Ind. The town of Madison features historic buildings and a plethora of great restaurants and shops. Just outside of the town is Clifty Falls State Park. With several waterfalls and hiking trails, Clifty Falls offers a great chance to see the beautiful scenery of southern Indiana’s rolling streams and the Ohio River.
Canoe the Blue River: Just a short drive west on I-64 (with additional time for the bridge detour) to Corydon will bring you to the beautiful Blue River. Rent canoes or kayaks and set sail down the Blue River. The Blue runs through the Harrison-Crawford State Forest, which has a campground, hiking trails and horseback trails.
Turkey Run State Park: Explore the ravines and sandstone gorges that show 300-600 million years of nature’s handiwork. Another breathtaking park with scenery that doesn’t seem like it should be so close to home. Explore the many covered bridges of Indiana that surround the area.
Shopping in Edinburgh: Being a college student means having a tight budget. Visit the outlet mall in Edinburgh to get great deals on just about anything. Some of the stores include Banana Republic, Under Armour, Calvin Klein, ADIDAS, Puma, Coach and much more. There are also some great restaurants to get some extra fuel for a marathon shopping day.
Kings Island/Cincinnati: With the closing of Kentucky Kingdom, roller coaster rides, cotton candy and carnival games are a little more scarce than in the past. Make the short trip up to Cincinnati to ride The Beast, Vortex and Drop Zone to get the thrills you’ve been missing. While you’re there, you can take advantage of all the shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, such as the Newport Aquarium.
Hocking Hills State Park: Yet another gorgeous natural wonder within a few hours’ drive, Hocking Hills features plenty of activities. The park has waterfalls, caves, lakes and more for you to explore. Activities include canoeing/kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping and ATV riding.
New River Gorge: Fall is here and with fall comes the beautiful hues and colors of nature and the changing leaves. The Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia present some of the best displays of fall color in the nation. The New River Gorge is a deep gorge created over millions of years that winds through the mountains. The gorge is a mecca for rock climbing, white water rafting and other outdoor activities.
Blackwater Falls State Park: In the far northeast corner of West Virginia lies another gem. Blackwater Falls is another destination ideal for witnessing the fall color. Many falls and cascades of the Appalachians create an excellent backdrop for the changing leaves.
Gatlinburg/Smokey Mountains: Gatlinburg is truly the destination for everyone. Everything from outlet shopping to go-carts and putt-putt to wacky museums to the scenic national park are all within close proximity. Shop one day, hike the next and visit some of the museums the next. Everyone will find something they enjoy in Gatlinburg.
Nashville: Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame then see the General Lee and other Dukes of Hazard memorabilia at Cooter’s Place. At night, a stroll through downtown will take you to establishments featuring live music, great food and a fun weekend. Unlike Louisville, downtown Nashville always has something going on. Just about every establishment has live musical artists and every turn offers something new.
Photos: Nathan Gardener/The Louisville Cardinal