Two and half hours northwest of Nashville, Paducah, Kentucky is a Unesco Creative City, and once you visit you will understand why. This small city is home to all different kinds of artistic experiences.
Here are list of “must dos” in Paducah, but remember this is definitely not an exhaustive list. The city is host to family friendly festivals throughout the year, and is only 30 minutes away from the Land Between the Lakes. You could easily spend an weekend there and still have things left to see on your next trip.
Things to Do
The National Quilt Museum
Don’t you dare skip this museum! (Unless you have tiny kids or mean husbands.) The National Quilt Museum is home to the most amazing textile art. You cannot begin to understand how intricate and ornate these quilts are until you see them up close.
It’s a small museum so those with mobility issues should have no trouble navigating. The quilt displays change every few months so you’ll see something new every time you visit.
The National Quilt Museum
Address: 215 Jefferson St, Paducah, KY 42001
You can feel the creativity when you walk into Make Paducah. Paint, draw, craft – there are projects and classes for all kinds of activities to make all kinds of creations.
On our visit there was a group making custom vinyl lettered wooden signs. We took a class and created a wall hanging.
Workshops to create a specific item and open studio time are available for all ages. Check out the calendar to find a project you want to create with your family.
Address: 628 Broadway Street
Paducah, KY 42001
River Discovery Center
The River Discovery Center is a small but very engaging museum focused on inland waterways and the history of transportation on the Rivers in the U.S.
It is located in the downtown business district across the street from the flood wall and the Ohio River.
The exhibits are all interactive and have lots of buttons to push and things to listen to.
The highlight of the River Discovery Center is the ship simulator. It is the same kind of simulator that is used to train professional mariners how to pilot barges.
Save a few hours in the afternoon and take your family to learn about the barges we see on the Cumberland River and other navigable waterways throughout the U.S.
River Discovery Center
Address: 117 S Water St, Paducah, KY 42001
Wall to Wall – Flood Wall Murals
Paducah sits on the banks of the Ohio River. To protect the city from flooding, a 12.25 mile long levee system was built in the 1940s. Part of the system is a 14 foot tall concrete wall in the downtown area.
Muralist Robert Dafford began painting the panels of the flood wall facing the city in the Spring of 1996. The project was completed in 2007 resulting in three blocks of murals depicting the history of Paducah from pre-colonial times through the 1950s.
Each mural is full of detail and includes a plaque with information about the image as well as the sponsor of the mural. You can easily spend an hour walking the three city blocks it takes to view all 54 works of art.
A commemorative coloring book was created to celebrate 20 years of the murals. You can get a copy for $10 at multiple locations throughout Paducah. The book makes a great memento.
Flood Wall Murals
Address: 200-298 S Water St, Paducah, KY 42003
Places to Eat
Paducah has restaurants for every palate and budget. From Asian to Italian to Mexican to BBQ, you will find a place in the city. During our adventures we ate at two different local establishments and both were scrumptious!
Located in a tropical themed building near the Kentucky Oaks Mall and Walmart is a tribute to the Caribbean in Kentucky. If you are in the area, make sure you find this place.
Once you walk in the door, you will forget you are in the Paducah suburbs. The fresh tropical dishes will tantalize your taste buds and make you feel like you are on vacation.
The menu has a wide range of options including salads, burgers, and sandwiches all perfect for lunch. There are also seafood and steaks and they all have a tropical twist.
The Tiki Torches (above) are breaded with coconut and served with tangerine honey and not to be missed Lizard Sauce.
The Coconut Grove salad is like a pina colada on a plate. It includes fresh greens, bananas, pineapple, and chicken dusted with fresh toasted coconut. The pina colada yogurt dressing was perfect to meld the tropical fruit flavors.
If you visit, be sure to wander into the bar area and see the Merman wall hanging.
The drool-worthy full menu is on the restaurant’s website. Next time, we are definitely leaving room for dessert. The key lime pound cake was calling my name, but I was so full from my meal, I have to save it for a future visit.
Address: 2640 Perkins Creek Dr, Paducah, KY 42001
If you are a Top Chef fan, you must visit The Freight House. The farm to table restaurant is home to Sara Bradley, Season 16’s runner up. Make sure you make reservations; every table was full the evening we visited.
Freight House is a great choice for a fancy date night or a casual meal with friends. The menu changes seasonally and relies heavily on local ingredients. If it’s available, don’t skip the pork rinds appetizer. Freshly made with a delicious remoulade, these pork rinds are nothing like the packaged product.
Freight House also features an amazing selection of craft cocktails. If you’re a fan of Bourbon, this is the place for you! Try a flight if you can’t decide on just one.
Address: 330 S 3rd St #102, Paducah, KY 42003
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Lauren is a transplant from Texas and has become a local tourist exploring the area with her two children. She loves to discover new places in Nashville to share with others.