With soaring sandstone arches, lushly forested hills and a 60-acre lake, Natural Bridge State Park is a wonderful place to spend a few days taking in the beauty of nature. Go rock climbing or mountain biking with older kids, or enjoy the numerous nature walks and hands-on educational classes suitable for all ages. For a quiet vacation rental in Natural Bridge in a friendly, fun location, here are some nearby towns to check out.

1. Slade, Kentucky

cabin in the woods

Nestled in the hills in and around the park, Slade is a tiny unincorporated community with a surprising amount of amenities. Go out for a bite to eat at one of the several cafes and restaurants that cater to park visitors, or browse through the Nature Gift Shop for fun, nature-themed gifts. During the summer, Hoedown Island offers traditional Appalachian square dancing, complete with instruction to get you up to speed. A quaint, cabin-style rental makes a great way to get in touch with the rustic beauty of the area.

2. Stanton, Kentucky

rocks at the river
Source: Flickr / hspauldi

If you prefer a more central location, head about 15 minutes away to Stanton. This small city retains a quaint, rural feel while providing plenty of modern amenities, including both local and chain restaurants. Several local markets let you pick up dinner ingredients for use in your vacation rental’s kitchen, along with other ingredients. Plan your trip during September to visit the Powell County Fair, or check out the country charm of the Corn Festival, held every year during the first weekend of August. Stanton is also the start of the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway, which lets you and your family explore the beauty of the gorge by car.

3. Clay City, Kentucky

sunlight over the mountains
Source: Flickr / Edgar P. Zhagüi Merchán

Clay City also has a quaint, small-town feel. Historic brick buildings are dotted among cute mid-century cottages for a charming, old-fashioned atmosphere. The family-friendly Mountain Park Dragway is nearby if you want to spend an exciting day watching the races, and the Red River Museum is a must-see stop for history buffs interested in the history of the area. On a nice Saturday evening, be sure to check out Meadowgreen Park Music Hall for a traditional bluegrass concert.

4. Campton, Kentucky

man enjoying the zipline

For a blend of sedate country charm and adrenaline-filled adventures, Campton is a great option. This small town offers a few country-style dining options, a large farmers market where local growers sell their wares and several stores where local craftsmen and artists sell everything from jewelry to sculpture. Some popular local attractions include a zip line tour that takes you and your family above the canopy at speeds of up to 55 miles, and Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure Park, for rock climbing in a safe and fun environment.

5. Jackson, Kentucky

antlers in the forest

Unlike many communities in the area, Jackson has more of a city-like atmosphere. Look for a vacation rental near the city’s historic district so you can easily explore the historic brick buildings and historical markers by foot. There is also a Walmart, numerous restaurants other shopping options. Despite the modern amenities, Jackson is still surrounded by natural beauty. One must-see stop is Southfork Elk View, perfect to give your little one’s a glimpse of the state’s largest elk herd.

6. Pine Ridge, Kentucky

log cabin near the rough road

If you want to get back to nature, Pine Ridge is the place to be. Located just east of Slade, this small, scattered community has a similarly rustic, outdoorsy feel. Homes in this area tend to be a mix of log cabins and cute clapboard cottages. The most notable local business is Sky Bridge Station, a laid-back restaurant that’s a popular gathering spot for hikers and climbers. Although secluded, Pine Ridge houses a gas station with a small convenience store for any last-minute essentials.

7. Mount Sterling, Kentucky

red apples in the baskets

With a population of about 6,000 people and a bustling tourist trade, Mount Sterling has an old-fashioned feel and modern conveniences. This town sits about 40 minutes north of Natural Bridge State Park and offers fine dining, boutique shopping and live music for families that prefer a more modern vacation. The historic downtown area features self-guided walking tours, and make sure to stop by Gateway Regional Arts Center to see the work of local artists in a variety of mediums. Young kids love touring the Ruth Hunt Candy Factory or making a visit to Bramble Ridge Apple Orchard, perfect for picking your own seasonal fruit.

8. Winchester, Kentucky

silhouette of a canon

Conveniently located at the junction of several major highways and about 40 minutes away from Natural Bridge, a Winchester vacation rental house is a great starting point for exploring the region. Winchester’s Historic Downtown neighborhood has elevated sidewalks and old-fashioned globe lights for an authentically old-fashioned look, but it also offers plenty of fine dining and shopping. Just outside of town is the Civil War Fort at Boonesboro, a favorite of history buffs. The fort offers a self-guided tour that shows off both the history and the natural beauty.

9. Beattyville, Kentucky

girl and boy riding their kayaks

Beattyville is a great option if you enjoy water recreation thanks to several rivers that run through town. There are miles of mapped water trails to help you explore the area by canoe or kayak, and several outfitters in town if you need to rent gear. If you find a vacation rental near the water, pack your fishing gear and stroll down and catch fresh bass, catfish, crappie and more. In addition to outdoor activities, there are plenty of local galleries and artist’s workshops to explore, as well as a quirky annual festival is known as the Woolly Worm Festival.

10. Lexington, Kentucky

Source: Flickr / David Ohmer

If small town life isn’t your style, consider looking for a vacation rental in Lexington itself. Although it is about an hour away from Natural Bridge State Park, it offers plenty of other recreational opportunities to help fill your days. Downtown offers plenty of fine dining, live music, and entertainment, or you can head outside of town to tour the rolling bluegrass hills. Lexington is particularly famous for its horse industry, so be sure to catch a few races at Keeneland to get the full experience. Another great stop is the Kentucky Horse Park, a living museum that teaches your family all about horses.