From horse farms to an active cultural scene, Louisville has just about everything you can dream of to keep you entertained, but sometimes, you just crave a change of scenery. Whether you’re looking for a weekend of hiking, fishing, and biking, or new historical sights to see, there are some great vacation rentals within easy driving distance from Louisville for a break from the norm. To start planning, check out this list of the seven best weekend getaways from Louisville.

1. Boonesborough, Kentucky

wooded hiking trail
Flickr / Jim Bauer

With a mere two-hour drive, you can settle into a vacation rental in Boonesborough, next to the Fort Boonesborough State Park that was once the site of the state’s second settlement. Spend the entire weekend touring, enjoying activities, and exploring this state park. There are replica cabins, and locals put on period reenactments, so you experience life as it was in the past. There is a mini-golf course in the park where you can let your highly competitive kids play a game. While in the area, learn more about your state at the Kentucky River Museum.

2. Pigeon Forge

Dollywood theme park
Flickr / Todd Van Hoosear

In less than five hours, your family can arrive in the Great Smoky Mountains and the exciting resort town of Pigeon Forge. In the summer months and during school breaks, Dollywood, an Appalachian-themed amusement park, is the hot spot for kids with its wooden roller coasters and a variety of kiddie rides. Dollywood’s Splash Country is the attached waterpark to cool off while you zoom down the slides or lay back on the lazy river and let the current take you away. The Island in Pigeon Forge is a center for shopping, restaurants, and entertainment, including Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen and the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, an enclosed pod Ferris wheel that moves slowly so you can enjoy the amazing views.

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3. St. Louis, Missouri

st louis skyline
Flickr / Ron Reiring

Explore St. Louis, a mere four-hour drive from your home. See for miles around when you take a ride up to the top of the Gateway Arch. For the older members of the family, a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery factory, one of the oldest breweries in the nation, is at the top of the list. Go wild at the St. Louis Zoo, and schedule a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about the care of these zoo animals. Close your eyes and pretend you’re Mark Twain as you chug down the Mighty Mississippi on one of the Gateway Arch Riverboats.

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4. Bowling Green, Kentucky

vintage model carA short two-hour drive brings you to Bowling Green. As a college town, this small city offers a young, hip vibe and a great food scene. The National Corvette Museum is the place to take the car lovers in your group, with tours that include the history of this unique American muscle car and some older models on display. Located in an old train station, the Historic Railpark and Train Museum explores Kentucky’s rich history with the railroad. Your kids can enjoy climbing up into train cars and pretending to be passengers or a conductor. Afterwards, enjoy dinner at Novo Dolce, a small pub with all your favorite Italian dishes.

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5. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

shopping area downtownLess than six hours from downtown Louisville sits the mountain town of Gatlinburg, where you can get in some skiing in the winter months. Get the lay of the land when you arrive with a ride up to the observation deck of the Gatlinburg Space Needle. At the base of it, an arcade offers all the latest games for your kids to play. Take your skis and snowboards to Ober Gatlinburg for a day on the mountain, or visit the dedicated tubing area. On a rainy afternoon, spend time at the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to see the fresh and saltwater aquariums. Kids love watching the penguins waddling around and swimming in the water.

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6. Red River Gorge, Kentucky

gorge waterfall nature
Flickr / Karen Roussel

In the spring or fall, gather the family in the car for the two-hour ride to Red River Gorge and a cabin hideaway. Red River Adventure rents kayaks and canoes for you to navigate the river. They offer a pickup service at the point you leave the river. If you want a guided tour, then Red River Outdoors provides you with a knowledgeable guide and the equipment for the trip. In the Daniel Boone National Forest, you can find more than 100 miles of hiking paths and sandstone cliffs that offer stunning views. Enjoy your favorite bar food at Sky Bridge Station, and choose a night when they offer live music.

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7. Nashville

nashville music hallGet your toes tapping with a weekend away in Nashville. After arriving in town, stop by the Grand Ole Opry for a tour, or book tickets for one of the live performances. Learn more about the history of country music and its greatest artists at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. When the weather is nice, head over to Centennial Park to enjoy the green space and take a tour of the Parthenon. Yes, just like the one in Athens, Greece. It’s an exact replica of this stunning piece of architecture.

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