You don’t have to be a horse enthusiast to enjoy a holiday in Kentucky. The rich forests and clear blue waters of the state’s lake are just the icing on the cake when choosing a Kentucky vacation rental in a rustic cabin or modern condo. Spend your New Year’s Eve on Lake Barkley as fireworks light up the sky, or head to Bowling Green for a chilly outdoor festival complete with family-friendly activities. When making your travel plans for the new year, consider these cities in Kentucky.

snowy forest
Flickr / Carolyn Sugg

1. Lexington

Lexington is rich in history with the site of the Mary Todd Lincoln House and the Ashland mansion, but this horse-racing city also knows how to ring in the new year in modern style. After a relaxing day in your vacation rental cabin or condo, retreat from the country to the city for an evening toasting champagne at midnight at Trust Lounge or Parlay Social. Enjoy the beats of the DJ and live bands when reserving a ticket for Soundbar, an eclectic club offering party favors and up to five balloon drops when the clock strikes midnight.

2. Livingston

Nature enthusiasts flock to Livingston for vacation rentals hidden in the woods and surrounding Lake Barkley. When the holidays roll around, this city comes alive with New Year’s Eve festivities for the entire family. Take a hike through the Livingston Trail before waiting for the fireworks display on the lake at midnight. Get some southern fare at Bingham’s Country Kitchen, or stop in at Lil’s Place for a country diner experience. The late night crowd can join in the fun of the Lake Barkley Big City Nights Bash, featuring a dance party and a late-night breakfast buffet.

3. Louisville

Downtown Louisville thrives as the new year approaches with a family-friendly downtown festival known as Lou Year’s Eve. This New Year’s Eve party begins with a parade in the downtown area followed by an artist exhibit, food trucks, and live entertainment. Adults can continue the festivities at the Haymarket Whiskey Bar, offering beats by the DJ until the midnight toast. Have a chill evening at the Chill Bar to ring in the new year, or head to old Louisville for a wild west experience at the Mag Bar.

4. Hardin

Count down the hours to midnight at the Kenlake Kount Down Festival in Hardin. Located within the Kenlake State Park right on the banks of Kentucky Lake, this scenic celebration includes dinner and dancing for a quaint evening. Warm up for the celebration with a visit to the LBL Moonshine Museum, or take an afternoon cruise with Kentucky Lake Boat Charters. If you’re unsure of where to go in Hardin for fireworks, just step out onto the terrace of your vacation rental to see the fireworks over Kentucky Lake.

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5. Bowling Green

Bundle up and head outdoors for a chilly New Year’s Eve celebration on the plaza in Bowling Green. Hosted by 643 Sports Bar, this special event offers live music and concessions, as well as outdoor heaters. Snack on American cuisine while sipping craft beers and whiskeys. Micki’s on Main is also a popular hotspot for party-goers seeking dining and dancing into the wee hours of the night. If you’re wondering where to go in Bowling Green for a mellow New Year’s Eve celebration, take the family to Mellow Mushroom for some stone-baked pizza.

6. Carlisle

Opt for a humorous time on New Year’s Eve when you attend the Comedy in the Parks event in Carlisle. The Blue Licks Comedy event includes nationally-known as well as local comedians as well as musical performances, dancing, and extravagant dining. Keep up with the other celebrations in Kentucky on the large projection screen during the evening’s festivities before the champagne toast at midnight.

7. Paducah

Fill up your bellies and dance the night away at the New Year’s Eve party at Fat Moe’s in Paducah. This popular hotspot in Kentucky offers locally brewed beers, appetizers, grill favorites, and, of course, live music on Dec. 31. For a more refined festival, head over to the Silent Brigade Distillery New Year’s Eve celebration, where you can sample various liquors before retreating to your vacation rental for the night. Spend some time during your holiday driving through the beautiful Christmas in the Park Holiday Light Display that runs through the first week of January each year.

8. Owensboro

Find plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy when spending your New Year’s Eve holiday in Owensboro. Take the kids to the Owensboro Museum of Science and History for the day to check out the exhibits, or enjoy a hike as you admire the nearby wildlife at Smothers Park. Get in touch with nature when you take a stroll through the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden, then head out for an exciting evening of dining and toasting the new year at Taylor’s Tavern or the Sandbar Sports Grill & Bar.

 
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