Land Between the Lakes is a national recreation area that spans 170,000 acres between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in western Kentucky and Tennessee. Families staying in one of the many Land Between the Lakes vacation rentals can enjoy a variety of activities and attractions, including these popular kid-friendly options.

1. Go Fishing

Source: Pixabay/pinangosilvia

Many anglers consider both Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake excellent fishing spots, making Land Between the Lakes a hot spot for avid fisherman. Fish off the side of a boat charter or from the banks of the lake for bluegill, bass, catfish, and sauger. Kentucky Lake also has a record number of buffalo carp, yellow perch, and white bass. Adults and children ages 16 and over need a Kentucky fishing license to fish in either lake, so order one online or from a local fishing shop before casting your line.

2. Gaze at the Stars from Gold Pond Planetarium

golden pond planetarium
Source: Flickr/Land Between the Lakes KY/TN

Visit the 40-foot dome-shaped Planetarium in Gold Pond to get a great view of the night sky. A projector displays stars and planets on the ceiling of the dome to make visitors feel like they are gazing up at the stars, and astronomers and volunteer guides regale the audience with stories to entertain and educate.

3. Check Out the Kentucky Shores Family Fun Center

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Take the kids to the Kentucky Shores Family Fun Center for an adventure-filled day. Race go-karts around the track, climb the outdoor rock wall and chase each other in bumper boats. If your kids weigh at least 40 pounds, let them take a zip line tour through the grounds while smaller children take a train ride around the park. The center also features laser tag, a 100-foot super slide, a sky swing, and a bungee trampoline. Before heading back to your vacation rental, challenge the kids to a water war, and let them play a few games in the arcade.

4. Feed Camels at Maggie’s Jungle Golf and Jungle Run

camel
Source: Pixabay/paulbr75

Maggie’s Jungle Golf and Jungle Run offers more than a putt-putt golf course. The Jungle Run houses animals from around the world. Enjoy a game of classic-style miniature golf with your family, and then drive a golf cart slowly through the jungle run to see and feed peacocks, camels, horses, and goats.

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5. Swim at The Rock Quarry

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Rent a boat, and drive it out to The Rock Quarry in Kentucky Lake for a swim. The lake is 115-feet deep here, so it’s not a great swimming hole for young children or weak swimmers. Have older children and teens don life jackets before jumping from the boat into the water. While it’s not recommended, many people go cliff jumping here—at their own risk—so anchor your boat in a place that makes it easy to watch.

6. Beat the Heat at Venture River Water Park

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Rent a tube to relax in Venture River Water Park’s hurricane wave pool while the older kids tackle the park‘s massive water slides. Let younger kids splash around in the Pleasure Island Kiddie Pool, which features an interactive water play pad, a castle-themed play structure, and a long walk. Take children age 4 and up and under 4.5-feet tall, to the Frog Hop kids‘ challenge course. Let kids age 7 and up and at least 50 pounds zip line through the water park.

7. Learn About Farm Life in the 19th Century

farm and museum
Source: Flickr/Land Between the Lakes KY/TN

Visit The Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum to see what farm life was like in the mid-19th century. This living history museum features several restored historic buildings, a variety of artifacts, and endangered breeds of livestock. Feel the heat from the wood-burning stove when you walk into the kitchen and watch men in period costumes split rails for fences using tools stored in the historic tool barn.

8. Take a Hike

lake
Source: Flickr/George Pankewytch

Land Between the Lakes is home to several family-friendly hiking trails. The Canal Loop Trail, which spans a total of 11 miles, is divided into three loops. It begins at the North Welcome Station, and the shortest loop is slightly over one-mile long, making it a great option for families with younger kids.

The Central Hardwoods Scenic Trail connects Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake The entire trail spans 11 miles, taking hikers past beautiful rolling hills and vast stretches of hardwood forests. If you have little kids, start on the eastern side of the trail at Lake Barkley. This 2-mile portion of the travel is paved, making it ideal for parents pushing strollers, and it leads you along the shoreline of Lake Barkley.

9. See a Movie at Calvert Drive-in

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End an evening of outdoor fun with a drive-in movie. Calvert Drive-in opens on the weekends, showing a double feature each night. It features an on-site restaurant with an extensive menu, so instead of packing snacks for the evening at your vacation rental, grab a burger, pizza, hot dog, or grilled cheese while you’re there.

10. Race Go-Karts at Forgotten Past

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Spend the day racing go-karts at Forgotten Past. The small recreation center offers old-fashioned bumper cars, go-karts, and 18 holes of classic miniature golf. Before you leave, stop at the gift shop to grab some souvenirs.

11. Tour Lake Barkley on a Yacht

fishing boat
Source: Flickr/Roy Luck

Lake Barkley cruises offer yacht cruises along the Tennessee River and Kentucky Lake, as well as the Cumberland River and Lake Barkley. Throughout the cruise, the captain tells your family about the area and points out native flora along the way.

12. Get an Up-close Look at Bison and Elk

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Drive your car around the 3-mile loop leading you through the Elk and Bison Prairie, a natural wildlife habitat that’s home to wild turkeys, bison, and elk. The animals roam the area freely, and they aren’t fond of the summer heat, so plan your drive early in the morning or in the evening to increase your chances of a sighting.

 
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