Happy New Year! Hopkins County has some pretty amazing places to explore, foods to eat, stores to shop, and events to attend in 2020. From shows at the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts to picturesque hikes through wooded areas to foodie hot spots, we’ve compiled the ultimate 2020 Hopkins County Bucket List!
As you make your way through the list, share your pictures with us on social media using #readyaimfun to be featured on our accounts!
1. Snap a pic with the #BigMadChair
The #BigMadChair is a over-sized blue Adirondack chair in Beard’s Park in downtown Madisonville. Locals LOVE it and grabbing a pic in the chair has become something of a rite of passage over the years. Naturally, we suggest grabbing your own picture with this local landmark. You may even find special props or decorations as we deck the chair out for different Holidays, like Halloween!
2. Learn more about Madisonville on a Walk Madisonville! Tour
The Woman’s Club of Madisonville has created three self-guided walking tours that highlight the historical, patriotic, and artistic points of the heart of the city. Along the way, you’ll see everything from butterfly murals to the site of the city’s first hospital and more! Stop by our Hopkins County Visitor Center and pick up a Walk Madisonville! map or download a digital copy!
3. Explore Kentucky’s smallest Historic District
Did you know that downtown Hanson is Kentucky’s smallest Historic District? The present buildings in the Hanson Historic District date back to the period of reconstruction in the 1890s to early 1900s after a fire swept through the downtown area. Relish the charm of these turn-of-the-century buildings that today house quaint shops and restaurants.
4. See a show at the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts
Each season, classical and popular music acts, award-winning plays, and top-name entertainers take the main stage at the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts. Last year, we saw acts like America, Hunter Hayes, and more! This year, we have some incredible shows coming up, including the Russian National Ballet, the Kingdom Choir, Jeff Allen, and a special soon-to-be announced show you won’t want to miss! See the Glema’s full event line up and share your experience at the Glema with #onlyattheglema.
5. Hunt for unique items at our local stores
With over 30 local boutiques, shopping centers, and specialty shops, there’s something for everyone in Hopkins County! Find cute southwestern-inspired clothing at Aster & Ivy, gorgeous home goods at the Mark of Distinction, locally made jewelry at God Life Authentic, hand crafted candles and decor at Poppy & Clover, and all sorts of other goodies around our shops.
Keep an eye on our events calendar for special shopping days with the Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce, like the annual Spring Open House and Holiday Open House! We love to #shopmadhop and hope you do, too!
6. Check out the Ruby Laffoon Cabin, home to Kentucky’s 43rd Governor
Hopkins County is home to two Kentucky Governors, including the 43rd Governor, Ruby Laffoon. Tour the log cabin where Laffoon was born, which was originally constructed in the mid-1800s. The cabin is now located on the lawn of the Historical Society of Hopkins County. They’ve set up a pretty cool exhibit inside the cabin, which is open for tours during the week. The exhibit includes period pieces, paintings of the family, and important documents collected surrounding Ruby Laffoon’s time in office. While you’re there, check out an original 1910 Buick Buggybout, one of only three left in the world! Cool, right!?
7. Take a hike!
Hopkins County is home to gorgeous rolling hills, wooded areas, tranquil waterways, and more. Take advantage of this spectacular scenery by hiking through it. Hop on a guided hike at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park or Mahr Park Arboretum. Group hikes not your thing? Explore the trails at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park, Mahr Park, and Madisonville City Park. Trek the Pennyrile Nature Trail, take on the paths around Grapevine Lake, and check out all of our other parks and nature areas! Get outdoors and start exploring.
8. Get a tan at the beach
Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park is home to the most pristine beach in Kentucky! Spend a day having fun under the sun. Dig your toes into the soft white sand, stare out at the water, and get your tan on. They even set up a volleyball court, rent kayaks and canoes, and have special events at the beach during the dog days of summer! The beach is open from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
9. Cheer on the Madisonville Miners
Take your friends, family, or even yourself out for a ball game from late May to July. The Madisonville Miners are a member of the Ohio Valley Summer Collegiate Baseball League and make their home field at Elmer Kelley Stadium in the Madisonville City Park. The games are beyond fun! Tickets are only $5 and children under 12 get in for free. Don’t forget to show your team spirit – deck yourself out with official Madisonville Miners merchandise from our shop at the Visitors Center!
10. Chow down on some Barbecue
If you ask us, we’ve got some of the best barbecue around. And we take it pretty seriously. If you’re a foodie, you need to try the ribs at Dave’s Sticky Pig, the pork plate at Brother’s, or a classic barbecue sandwich from the Hanson Country Market. Check our events schedule and you’ll find other community events throughout summer and fall where barbecue is the star, like the Dawson Springs Bar-B-Q Festival held in July and the Christ the King Old Fashioned Barbebque Picnic held each September.
11. Listen to Live Music
We love being a part of the Bluegrass, Blues, and Barbecue region of Kentucky and love showing off live local, national, and even international talent at our free music events around the county! Throughout the year, head to The Crowded House for live music nearly every single weekend.
During the summer, the city of Madisonville sponsors Friday Night Live, a free concert series in downtown Madisonville. Past years have brought in groups like Sister Sledge, WAR, Tracy Lawrence, and more. We can’t wait to see who comes to Madisonville next! Madisonville 4th Fest is a major event that kicks off on July 4th with a massive free concert (2019’s star was the Charlie Daniel’s Band!) before continuing with Praise in the Park, a free Christian music festival.
12. Go off road
Hopkins County is home to two ATV parks. With over 30 miles of trails over a combined 1,456 acres, the ATV parks are perfect for any adrenaline junkie. The Earlington Loch Mary ATV Park is open year round and has ATV and dirt bike paths that will challenge beginners and enthusiasts alike! One and three day passes are available and can be bought online or at Earlington City Park. The West Kentucky ATV Trails are free to visit and are open on Saturdays and Sundays spring through fall.
13. Hit the Green
You may have heard of a little spot called golf, but did you know that Hopkins County is home to four different versions of this classic game? Our four traditional golf courses at Lakeshore Country Club, Madisonville Country Club and Golf Course, Madisonville City Park, and Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park make for round after round of fun. For fun for the whole family, head to the Mini-Golf courses at Madisonville City Park and Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park.
Hopkins County is home to some of the best disc golf courses in the country. Our courses at Mahr Park Arboretum and Madisonville City Park are enjoyed by those just starting to play the game and disc golf professionals!
14. Spend a day on the water
Hopkins County is home to several lakes, rivers, and other waterways. A favorite warm-weather past time for locals and visitors alike is kayaking! Spot land and aquatic wildlife, catch some rays, and enjoy relaxing on the water. No kayak? No problem! Two local favorite kayaking spots have nearby rentals. Lake Peewee is easily accessible via the kayak launch at Mahr Park, where you can rent kayaks by the hour. Take a scenic trip down the Tradewater River after renting a kayak or canoe from Tradewater Canoes and Kayaks in Dawson Springs. Choose from a 2-mile, 5-mile, or 7-mile trip with ferry service available. Check out the full list of kayak-friendly waterways and get paddling this year!
15. Find a new favorite food
From burgers at Ferrell’s to over-the-top milkshakes at Gather to the Sunday lunch at Sissy’s, many of our restaurants have dishes loved and held dear by locals. A visit to Hopkins County isn’t complete without finding your favorite dish. Get hungry and head to our full list of local restaurants, visit the ones that catch your eye, and fall in love with local food!
16. Solve a puzzle and Escape
Did you know that Hopkins County has our very own escape room? Escape Mad City is an escape room venue where you and your friends work together to find clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish themed tasks to escape the room in under an hour! Their current room theme is “Detention,” which is fitting since Escape Mad City is in the former Anton School!
17. Eat local
Hopkins County has more eating options than just restaurants. With many local farmers, we have all sorts of delicious fruits, vegetables, and meats grown and raised locally! Be sure to get delicious, locally grown produce from several of our local small farms at the Hopkins County Farmer’s Market, open May-October. Stop by the Brumfield Farm Market, open year-round.
There’s more than just row crops! Visit Reclamation Acres, a 200-acre farm in White Plains, for grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, spices to compliment the flavors, and baked goods to top it all off. Don’t miss their annual craft fair, Handmade Market, held in October.
18. Try a new activity
Hopkins County offers the largest variety of outdoor recreation & adventure in Kentucky, with a variety of out-of-the-box sports and activities to try! Footgolf combines two beloved sports (soccer and golf) to create a challenging but fun activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. Madisonville City Park has their very own foot golf course for anyone wanting to test their skills. Pickle Ball is a paddleball sport that combines tennis, badminton, and table tennis. You can play it as singles or doubles; grab a friend (or 3), head to Cherry Park, and give Pickle Ball a whirl!
Geocaching is an international phenomenon that uses GPS, mobile apps, or other forms of navigation to find hidden objects (called geocaches) at specific coordinates. It’s essentially the world’s largest treasure hunt. There are 85 geocaches around Madisonville alone! Learn more about Geocaching and get to exploring today.
19. Go Roll
Melody Lanes has been Madisonville’s bowling spot since 1959! Whether you’re playing competitively or just a friendly round with friends, Melody Lanes is an awesome way to spend an evening. With over 20 lanes, arcade games and pool, amazing food, and a great atmosphere, you’re guaranteed to have a great time at Melody Lanes.
20. Admire some art
Hopkins County is full of talented artists! From amazing galleries to astonishing public art, there’s something that everyone can admire. The Anne P. Baker Gallery at the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts regularly features regional and national art exhibits of textiles, sculpture, photography, oil paintings, and more. They’ve even displayed juried exhibits featuring local talent in recent months! Admission to the gallery is totally free, so why not admire something that catches your eye?
Downtown Madisonville is home to several art parks, murals, and even sculpted trash can covers. Art is everywhere you look! Two of our favorite murals are the butterfly murals behind Big City Market & Coffee Bar and in the alley behind the Sugg On Main Shops.
We can’t wait to see all of the places YOU explore in Hopkins County this year! Share your photos, stories, and more with us by sharing them on social media with #readyaimfun, tagging us, or via email!