5 Family-Friendly Activities in Boone County, KY

1. Boone Cliffs State Nature Preserve

History of the Nature Preserve

In 1964, The Nature Conservancy came to Kentucky with the hopes of beginning a Chapter office here. Boone County Cliffs came to be the Conservancy’s very first land acquisition and since 1975, it has remained untouched by urbanization.

Also known as Kentucky’s “Enchanted Valley,” Boone Cliffs State Nature Preserve offers its visitors both a historical and recreational experience. The 20-40 foot cliffs were formed approximately 700,000 years ago from glacial deposits and provide visitors with beautiful views and an enjoyable atmosphere.

Boone Cliffs’ Flora & Fauna

These 74 acres contain a beautiful variety of tree, bird, and fish species. Tree species commonly found here include white oak, slippery elm, and sugar maple. In the stream, you’ll find redback salamander and dusky salamander. Some common bird species at the preserve are Wood Thrush and Wood Warblers, but besides these two there are more than 90 species of birds found throughout the park!

Hike At Boone Cliffs

The park offers almost 2.5 miles of unpaved trails for visitors to enjoy. Although the park does not allow activities like picnicking and cycling, you and your family can enjoy a nice walk through the preserve and take in the wildlife and forest surroundings. Put this on your calendar for the weekend before it gets too cold!

2. Gunpowder Creek Nature Park

History of The Park

For more hiking trails and scenic areas, come visit Gunpowder Creek Nature Park, located near Burlington! This park is also called Sperti Park, named after George Speri Sperti who bought the land in the early 1930s to conduct his research, which led to the creation of popular pharmaceutical ointments and advancements in cancer treatment. 

Hiking At Gunpowder Creek

The park sits on 122 acres and offers a peaceful hike through the woods. All skill levels and ages can enjoy the hike. It’s about 1.5 miles and part of it runs parallel to the river. Take in the wildlife and flora or do a little bird watching along the way!

The trail is easy to moderate and there are additional mini trails that branch out from the main path that you can enjoy. Take your family out for some wholesome recreation and a little exercise this weekend at Gunpowder Creek Nature Park!

3. Big Bone Lick State Historic Site

Big Bone Lick is located in Union, Kentucky and offers a wide range of activities to do with your family. This attraction offers a valuable educational experience on subjects such as paleontology, the last Ice Age, and Native American history to name a few. Below are just some of the activities you may want to consider when you visit.

See The Bison Herd

Probably the most interesting activity Big Bone Lick offers is the bison herd that can be seen year round. Bison were once hunted so much in the region that they completely disappeared in Kentucky around the late 1700s and early 1800s. The present-day herd found here reminds us of Big Bone Lick’s early history.

Take a Walk Down The Discovery Trail

The Discovery Trail is a unique attraction at Big Bone. It includes prehistoric displays that reflect the events that happened during the most recent Ice Age. During this walk, you can also enjoy Big Bone Creek.


Regardless of the season, Big Bone Lick sees numerous bird species come and go throughout the year. In the cold months, dozens of bird species spend the winter in the park’s forest area. Spring usually brings hummingbirds and different warbler species, in the summer you’ll find hawk species and owls at night, and fall brings migrating flocks. For all the bird lovers, you’ll find a wide variety of bird species all year long throughout Big Bone’s 5 walking trails.


There are almost 5 miles worth of hiking trails at Big Bone Lick that let you enjoy the beautiful wooded areas and Big Bone Creek. One trail takes you to see salt springs! The 5 trails range from easy to moderate. They are Big Bone Creek Trail, Bison Trace Trail, Cedar Run Trail, Corralberry Trail, and Gobblers Trace Trail. If you’re looking for a more easy hike, consider Big Bone, Bison Trace, or Cedar Run. However, if you’re looking for a little more of a challenge, then Corralberry and Gobblers Trace are good options.

Big Bone Lick State Historic Site has something to offer everyone. There’s also a museum featuring exhibits on paleontology, Ice Age mammals, and more! Come explore this unique park and make a day trip out of it!

4. Camp Ernst Lake Park

If you’re looking for a nice relaxing day on the water, consider visiting Camp Ernst Lake Park. Located in Burlington, Kentucky, this 22-acre park offers fishing, boating, picnic areas, and a soccer field!

Spend a few hours here during the weekend and teach your kids how to fish! The lake is stocked with catfish and bluegill. If you’re not a fan of fishing and would rather sit and enjoy the scenery, the park offers small shelters and picnic tables. Bring your friends and have a picnic next to the lake!

This is one of many nature parks Boone County has to offer. It’s perfect for a peaceful afternoon with your family and friends. Come visit this weekend!

5. Boone County Arboretum

Nature & Recreation 

The Boone County Arboretum draws in all ages and people. Whether you’re a plant lover or not, consider visiting the country’s very first arboretum that includes athletic areas. This attraction is also referred to as the region’s Central Park.

This 121-acre arboretum, located outside of Union, Kentucky, is home to over 3,600 different species of trees and plants. It includes a 2+ mile trail for visitors to enjoy the wide variety of beautiful plants, some of which are rare to find. If you’re a sports fan, come and enjoy the 12 athletic fields! This both educational and recreational attraction has something to offer everyone.

The Arboretum’s Autumn Affair 

Each year, the Arboretum holds the Autumn Affair to acknowledge community tree-related achievements and welcome in the new season. Although this event will not be held in person this year due to the virus, keep an eye out for a virtual event coming up in the next few weeks! You can also attend other virtual events hosted by the Arboretum during the holiday season. 

For some of Boone County’s top-rated restaurants, read our post “The Best Restaurants In Florence”!

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