Lots to see and do in Appalachian area of Kentucky


Editor’s note: The 750,000-member Kentucky Baptist Convention will hold its annual meeting this November in the heart of Appalachia. This article is part of a series looking at some of the things Kentucky Baptists might want to see and experience in the days before and after the annual meeting.

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (KT) – The city of Pikeville is an unexpected vacation gem tucked deep inside eastern Kentucky with the perfect vantage point for day-trippers to explore all the Appalachian mountains have to offer.

Setting up a home base for your getaway is easy to do in Pikeville with several modern high-rise hotels from which to choose. But if you’re looking for something quainter, check out the Historic Mansion Bed and Breakfast on College Street. Either option makes walking to local attractions and eateries a breeze.

At nearby Breaks Interstate Park, guests have a variety of options for places to stay ranging from woodland cottages to campsites, from lakefront log cabins to lodge rooms with breathtaking views.

“We have a lot happening in the city,” said Pikeville tourism director Tony Jackson. “Our downtown is revitalized and very progressive and we have a lot going on for visitors to take advantage of on a short or long stay.”

Among the points of interest are several historic Hatfield and McCoy sites, Heritage Hall, the Stone Heritage Museum and Pauley Bridge. From the Pikeville Cut-Through Project, the second-largest earth removal project in U.S. history, visitors can take a selfie at a scenic overlook of city before heading out to other adventures.

Think of Pikeville as the hub of a wagon wheel with spokes fanning out to destinations celebrating the region’s rich culture, natural beauty and its homegrown country music superstars. Educational and entertaining locations like the Coal Miner’s Museum in Harlan, Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg and Loretta Lynn’s childhood home near Van Lear.

Visitors to the Coal Miner’s Museum are greeted by a two-ton block of coal and can walk through a real-life underground coal mine. There’s a 1940s model electric locomotive that once carried men into the mines and touching letters to loved ones at home from miners trapped far below.

Other curated bits of the past can be found at the U.S. 23 Country Music Highway Museum in Paintsville and Mountain Homeplace, a living history farm in nearby Staffordsville. For artisan crafts, there is the Kentucky Folk Art Center run by Morehead State University, the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman and Pikeville’s Big Sandy Heritage Center.

Being outside more your speed? The region has all the zip, paddle and saddle visitors can handle. From hiking up trails to ziplining back down, outdoors adventures are all around courtesy of four state parks – Kingdom Come in Harlan, Yatesville Lake in Louisa, Jenny Wiley in Prestonsburg and Paintsville Lake in Paintsville. Each offering a place to lay your weary head whether the preference is luxurious lodges or rustic cabins.

Getting hungry thinking about all there is to do? The Blue Raven, located on Main Street in Pikeville, is considered a modern farm-to-table restaurant serving only the freshest seasonal ingredients. Other recommended spots include Pikeville’s Pig in a Poke for barbecue, the Lamphouse Coffee Shop in Lynch, and the Dinner Bucket in Harlan at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn.

The list of places to stay, play and eat is boundless only by imagination – and a full tank of gas.


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