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Cruising Kentucky

It's summertime, and the livin' is especially easy if you happen to be aboard a boat in Kentucky.

Sunset over the Grand Rivers Jetty.

Sunset over the Grand Rivers Jetty.

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It’s summertime, and the livin’ is especially easy if you happen to be aboard a boat in Kentucky. The Bluegrass State lays claim to some of the most inviting and accessible waters in all of the eastern U.S. — 170 lakes and more than 89,000 miles of rivers and streams to be exact. From the Western Waterlands to the Northern Kentucky River Region to the Southern Lakes and Rivers Region, cruising here offers incredible venues that mix memorable metropolitan, countryside and historical excursions. What else could a traveler of our Heartland waters ask for?    

This area’s unique geography blends the beauty of sparkling lakes and wonderfully wooded shorelines. Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, which are joined by the 1.75-mile-long Barkley Canal, run parallel for some 50 miles on either side of the vast Land Between the Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area, creating a long and tranquil inland cruising route teeming with wildlife. The Western Waterlands are a magnet for Great Loopers, utilized as a favorite stopover or delightful side trip.

YOU CAN’T MISS Grand Rivers, known as the Village Between the Lakes, which sits strategically on both lakes and at the north entrance to the LBL. Its rustic charm transports visitors back in time with a stroll down Main Street, where they can browse a variety of antique shops, dine at the famous Patti’s 1880’s Restaurant or enjoy entertainment at Badgett Playhouse.

TIE UP AT one of the full-service marinas located on your lake of choice.

Consistently voted a “Must Stop!” by the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association (AGLCA) and recipient of the Five Anchor designation by Quimby’s Crusing Guide, Green Turtle Bay Marina (Cumberland River, Mile 32, Lake Barkley) has a ships store, showers and restroom facilities, laundry, fuel dock and two on-site restaurants. Enjoy a cool dip in the indoor pool or relax with a visit to the spa. The marina office provides internet and business services. Courtesy vans are available to take guests nearby landlocked sites.

Lighthouse Landing Marina (Tennessee River, Mile 25, Kentucky Lake) provides guests with 190 open slips and access to city water, electricity, laundry, internet and self-service pump-out. A best bet, it boasts some of the prettiest sunsets on Kentucky Lake, so don’t miss out on this beautiful perk.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for August 6 and 7 to take in Drag Boat Racing on Kentucky Lake’s Pisgah Bay (Mile 30, next to Rock Quarry). The Grand Rivers Marina Day Celebration (August 17) is a traditional something-for-everyone event, with kids’ activities, entertainment and a brilliant fireworks show at dusk. Mellow out to sounds at the Hot August Blues Festival (August 24-25) at Kenlake State Resort Park in Aurora and enjoy the 38th annual Labor Day Arts & Crafts Festival (August 31-September 2) at Little Lake Park in Grand Rivers.

VISIT NEARBY Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area. This 170,000-acre outdoor playground is the largest inland peninsula in the country, with more than 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline. It’s steeped in history from the Civil War and iron industry eras, with relics scattered throughout the landscape, and is also home to a mega wildlife population: elk, bison, white-tail deer and 200+ species of birds. You can find plenty of courtesy docks, fishing piers, and beach and picnic areas from which to explore 200 miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback-riding trails.

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