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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Kentucky in 2023

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Kentucky in 2023

Did you know that Kentucky receives more than 70 million tourists a year? Kentucky is a massive travel destination, but what makes it so desirable? Visiting a different region is tricky, as you’ll need to time your visit right.

It’s important to know how the area handles seasons, what temperatures to expect, and what prices you’ll incur. If you’re looking into why you should visit, we’re here to help. Here are some of the best (and worst) windows to visit the state of Kentucky.

Be sure to stay tuned afterward for a list of what to consider while planning your trip. We’ll also go over some of the most frequently asked questions visitors ask when booking a trip to the Bluegrass State.

Why You Should Visit Kentucky

Nicknamed the “Bluegrass State” for its many green pastures, Kentucky attracts visitors worldwide with its charming natural beauties. Notably, Cumberland Falls holds a 65-foot-high waterfall that looks stunning but also offers a rare experience.

It’s one of a few places in the world where moonlight can create a rainbow across the water, called a moonbow. Another renowned attraction is the Mammoth Cave National Park, a massive cave system that stretches for more than 400 miles.

Five levels of this cave have been mapped, but more is discovered and mapped annually. Above the Mammoth Cave park is more than 52,000 acres of woods and nature to enjoy.

If you love the outdoors, Kentucky has countless attractions for you. But what if the outdoors aren’t your thing? The southern comfort food of Kentucky is a culinary delight that you simply can’t miss out on, as there’s bound to be something to your taste.

Catfish, open sandwiches, and various classic pies are just some of the staple dishes. So make sure you’re traveling with a list of restaurants and culinary indulgences that pique your interest.

Overall, there are countless reasons to visit the Bluegrass State, some of which can also help you decide what time to visit. For example, if you want to enjoy the outdoors, you should avoid winter visits.

December through February, the temperatures can dip below freezing at an average low of 23 F. Such low temperatures and potential snowfall make sights like Cumberland Falls harder to enjoy.

Overall Best Time to Visit Kentucky

Winding dirt road leading to a white barn in the countryside pictured during the best time to visit Kentucky

Lexington, KY, USA October 20, A meandering country road traverses a fall landscape in Kentucky’s Blue Grass region near Lexington/James Kirkikis/Shutterstock

Now that you know more about what Kentucky has to offer, let’s take a closer look at the best time to visit to get the most out of your vacation. As stated, the reason for your trip can sometimes influence the scheduling of your trip.

That said, there are still some objectively better times. Most consider the best time to visit Kentucky to be between April and June.

The spring and summer months allow you to enjoy the outdoors and a plethora of beautiful attractions. However, some may find the deep south heat of 85+ F a bit warmer than they prefer.

In that case, you might prefer to visit in the early fall, which is another peak time for tourism. Visiting between August and September will ensure you can enjoy a more subtropical climate while skipping the cold.

Spending your fall in Kentucky will also help you see a new season of the Bluegrass State. Summers across much of the deep south can feel homogenous, but Kentucky’s natural beauty helps fall truly shine.

Cheapest Time to Visit Kentucky

Horses in the middle of a pasture during the summer, the overall cheapest time to visit Kentucky

Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock

The cost of a visit to Kentucky depends on where you’re going in the state. For example, winter can cause lower prices in outdoor attractions. However, you may find cities charging more for indoor entertainment.

Are you visiting Louisville? The price won’t be the same as if you’re visiting Lexington!

In general, the lowest costs in Kentucky come in the first quarter of the year or the end of summer. Mid-January is when prices will begin to fall.

Around the turn of the New Year, prices are often higher for travel. By the middle of January, prices have usually slipped back down. The prices will stay low until mid-March, when they’ll begin rising again.

The cause of the rise in prices is that spring will begin to hit in late March. Many choose to visit Kentucky at this time, especially as April begins, increasing prices. You’ll find February an excellent time to get low rates on travel and a room.

Least Busy Time to Visit Kentucky

Up-close photo of the Louisville Slugger factory pictured during the least busy time to visit Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, USA – JUNE 5 2016 – Hillerich & Bradsby Company Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory in downtown Louisville Kentucky/Thomas Kelley/Shutterstock

Visiting Kentucky between April and June will lead to larger crowds in most situations. It’s best to avoid planning your visit for this gap if you’re specifically looking for things not to be busy.

Instead, consider the second window between August and September. While this is still an excellent time to visit, it lacks the summer crowds.

A good trick is to visit toward the end of September when many have already cut their fall vacations short. You’ll also avoid the incoming holiday crowd that visits during December. Visiting in early August isn’t recommended.

June and July are peak visitation months, which often leak into early August. If you absolutely must visit during this window, visit in late July or early August. The peak of the summer season is during June and July.

You should come expecting to battle high temperatures and crowds. If you’re spending time outdoors, make sure you have what you need to combat the heat. Heat indexes are often in the mid-90s or higher.

Worst Time to Visit Kentucky

Image of heavy crowds walking around Louisville Downs during the summer, the worst time to visit Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky: May 7, 2016: Walking around churchill downs on Derby Day among finely dressed crowds/Kelly vanDellen/Shutterstock

Now, you know the cheapest, best, and least crowded times to visit. So, when’s the worst? As you might expect, the worst time to visit would be whatever time doesn’t fit any of these perks.

However, you should also consider what you would find as the worst conditions. Do lively crowds and busy nightlife appeal to you?

Heading to Kentucky during peak visitation offers more chances to experience a party atmosphere, especially downtown. Louisville is known for its nightlife entertainment, in particular.

Do you want to enjoy the hot outdoors while you watch the moonlight dance off a waterfall? Coming during the previously-mentioned summer window of June, July, and August is ideal!

Generally speaking, the worst time to visit is during peak summer.

The rates are as high as you can expect them to get, both in terms of travel and a hotel stay. The crowds are also at their peak, making dinner reservations or entertainment options hard to snag.

You’ll find a similar problem if you come during the December holidays. Christmas and New Year’s are both crowded times to be in Kentucky, especially in the city. Prices of your travel will also rise dramatically.

Things to Consider

Misty view of Cumberland Falls pictured in the Spring, the best time to visit Kentucky


What else should you consider before packing your bags? Naturally, your considerations should include whatever specific enjoyment you’re planning on.

Keep this list in mind when planning your upcoming trip to the Bluegrass State:

  • Do you know where you’ll be staying?
  • Are you focusing on city entertainment or natural attractions?
  • How long will you be in Kentucky?
  • Will you be staying in one place for your visit?
  • Will you be taking advantage of the camping in Kentucky?
  • If camping, do I have everything you need to enjoy the trip?
  • Have you brought the proper safety supplies for an outdoor visit?
  • What will the weather be like during your visit?
  • Do you have a list of the restaurants you intend to visit?
  • Will you need reservations for any of your planned entertainment?

Frequently Asked Questions

Bourbon barrels pictured rolling along a path outside of a stone wall with metal doors

Thomas Carr/Shutterstock

With so much information, there are always a few more questions lingering. Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding a visit to Kentucky:

What is the wettest month in Kentucky?

Kentucky sees the most rainfall in May. Around this time of year, Kentucky sees as much as five inches of rain across the state. These rainstorms aren’t daily, but you can expect at least one a week. If you’re trying to avoid the rain, you should visit during October.

The beginning of fall marks a lower amount of rain. September is also low in precipitation. However, November will see precipitation increase again. August, September, and October combine into three months of low rainfall.

What months does Kentucky get tornadoes?

Kentucky, unfortunately, deals with a considerable amount of tornadoes. The state gets about 21 tornadoes annually and is considered part of Hoosier Alley. The majority of these tornadoes happen between April and May.

The tornadoes are typically dispersed equally among these three months rather than one seeing more than the others. Still, while dangerous, you shouldn’t plan your trip around a possible storm.

Winter sees blizzards and snowstorms, and summer sees increased torrential rains. Understand possible weather events, but don’t let them scare you out of a fantastic trip.

What is the most popular tourist attraction in Kentucky?

The most popular tourist attraction in Kentucky is Mammoth Cave. Mammoth Cave stretches for hundreds of miles and has multiple levels. You can take a guided tour to experience the caves in all of their wonder.

If you’ve never experienced a cave of this magnitude, these safe guided tours are a great way to see sights that don’t exist anywhere else.

One of the most jaw-dropping parts is when they extinguish the lights so you can see how dark and quiet the cave truly is. While this sounds spooky, it’s an amazing perspective that you’ll have to experience to enjoy.

What is the nicest city in Kentucky?

Bardstown, Kentucky, is often considered the prettiest city in the state. It’s also famous for being a highly-walkable city. Bardstown is great if you don’t want to use a ridesharing app or taxi to get everywhere. Renting a vehicle can also increase the cost of your trip.

Planning a visit to a walkable city can help keep costs down. Bardstown provides much of the nightlife, entertainment, and cuisine without raising your bill for travel.

Where is the best weather in Kentucky?

Madisonville, Kentucky, is said to have the best weather in Kentucky. The region brings an average summer temperature in the mid to high 70s, clean air, and comfortable winters.

Winters will still get within the snowing temperature, and you should expect some rainfall. While the weather may not be perfect every day, Madisonville is arguably the nicest place in all of Kentucky.

So, When Should You Go to Kentucky?

Kentucky is best visited in spring or early fall to avoid crowds and high prices. While in the Bluegrass State, focusing on cuisine and the natural beauty can help your vacation become unforgettable.

Keep an eye on upcoming weather events, particularly if you intend to spend much of your vacation outdoors. So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip today!