Kentucky Science Trail


Welcome to the Kentucky Science Trail, your gateway to exploration and discovery across the state! We hope to ignite your curiosity with this curated list of science attractions, ranging from world-class museums to fascinating geological formations. Some sites on the Kentucky Science Trail are free; others cost money. Some are open seasonally or require advance reservations while others are open daily. They all showcase Kentucky's scientific wonders! 

Kentucky Science Trail
Click here for statewide map. Or scroll down to see the full list of attractions!

Know of a site we should add to the KY Science Trail? Send a message to:
Elk and Bison Prairie
Elk & Bison Prairie Road, Golden Pond, KY  42211
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The Elk and Bison Prairie within the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area allows you to witness majestic elk and bison roaming freely across a picturesque native grassland vista. While driving through a one-way loop through 700 acres of enclosed habitat, you’ll also have opportunities to view other wildlife species, including wild turkeys and prairie mammals. This immersive experience offers a glimpse into the vibrant ecosystem of a tallgrass prairie that evokes the rich natural heritage of Kentucky's landscapes. 

Kentucky Down Under
3700 L&N Turnpike Road, Horse Cave, KY  42749
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Explore fields where kangaroos and emus freely roam, while interpreters provide insights into the habits and habitats of Australian animals. Step into an enclosure for an intimate encounter with lorikeets, a vibrant parrot species. Witness exotic animals in shows where you'll learn about their behaviors and environments. You can also embark on a tour of Mammoth Onyx Cave to view at stalactites, stalagmites, and other formations sculpted by water and time.

Kentucky Reptile Zoo
200 L&E Railroad Place, Slade, KY 40376
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The Kentucky Reptile Zoo gives a close-up look at amazing reptiles including snakes, turtles, lizards, and alligators. The venomous snake collection is one of the largest in the world! Check the daily schedule for info on venom extractions, which collect venom for medical research, and "Reptile Talks."

Louisville Zoological Gardens
1100 Trevilian Way, Louisville, KY 40213
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The Louisville Zoological Gardens, the state zoo of Kentucky, exhibits more than 1,100 animals on 130 acres of natural settings representing zoo
geographical areas, specific habitat types or special education areas including: Glacier Run, Africa, Islands, New World Exhibits (North, Central and South America), Australian Outback, the HerpAquarium and the Metazoo Education Center. The Zoo’s award-winning Islands, Gorilla Forest and Glacier Run exhibits have been recognized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for their excellence and innovation.

Salato Wildlife Education Center
1 Sportsman's Lane, Frankfort, KY  40601
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The Salato Wildlife Education Center offers an immersive experience in the state's diverse wildlife. Open seasonally, the center gives visitors opportunities to explore exhibits showcasing native species and habitats. Indoor exhibits include snakes, amphibians, warm and cold water aquariums, and an alligator snapping turtle. The outdoor exhibits give you an opportunity to view a bald eagle, bison, elk, deer, black bear, bobcats, and quail in a naturalized setting.  The Center offers public programs and is operated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Hunting, fishing, and related activities are promoted, along with restoration and conservation initiatives.

Second Chances Wildlife Center
487 Gentry Lane, Mount Washington, KY  40047

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Second Chances Wildlife Education Center is an animal rehabilitation and education center licensed through the the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The center's mission focuses on fostering compassion, conservation and environmental stewardship through education and wildlife rehabilitation for injured, displaced or orphaned animals. Visitors, who must make arrangements in advance, can purchase tickets for a "Learn Understand Visit" with an educational ambassador or a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility.

Woodlands Nature Station
3146 Silver Trail, Golden Pond, KY 42211
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The Woodlands Nature Station at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is an environmental education attraction that serves as a gateway to the 8,500-acre Nature Watch Area. The stations's staff members are the “go to” specialists for wildlife viewing throughout the area. Naturalists offer fun and educational programs to help visitors discover native animals, wildlife habitats, native plants and gardens, and conservation efforts.


Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site
94 Green St., Wickliffe, KY 42087
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Located near the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers, the site preserves an ancient Mississippian archeological site which dates to A.D. 1100-1350. A museum displays prehistoric artifacts excavated onsite, including pottery and stone tools that offer a glimpse into the distant past of Native American cultures along the Mississippi. Visitors can see Mississippian tools and learn about their technology in stone, pottery, weaving, and the natural environment. An Archaeology Walking Trail tour is also available. Additionally, the area is a birding hotspot, offering habitats for the Pileated Woodpecker and shoreline birds like Great Blue Herons and Belted Kingfishers.

Newport Aquarium
1 Aquarium Way, Newport, KY 41071
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The Newport Aquarium gives visitors a mesmerizing journey through
 exhibits featuring thousands of marine creatures, including sharks, stingrays, colorful fish, penguins, and white alligators. Through interactive displays and educational presentations, visitors can learn about marine conservation and the importance of protecting ocean habitats. In addition to stunning aquarium displays that f
eature a variety of marine ecosystems, a new exhibit, Hatchling Harbor, features baby animals who are growing and changing each day.

Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery and Environmental Education Center
50 Kendall Road, Jamestown, KY 42629
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Enjoy a unique up-close view of fisheries management and environmental stewardship at the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery and Environmental Education Center. Tour the hatchery building and raceways and see where an estimated 1 million trout are produced each year. Interpretive displays help visitors understand the importance of conservation efforts and sustainable practices in maintaining local ecosystems. Visitors can also feed fish in the outdoor raceways and enjoy a stroll on the nature trail.


The Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky
500 Alumni Drive, Lexington, KY 40503
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The Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, is a 100-acre public garden located on the campus of the University of Kentucky in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky. It receives over 200,000 visitors annually who enjoy features including the Walk Across Kentucky, the Horticultural Gardens, and the Kentucky Children's Garden.

Baker Aboretum

4801 Morgantown Rd, Bowling Green, KY 42101
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The Baker Arboretum covers nearly 115 acres atop a picturesque ridge of rolling hills. It offers a captivating landscape adorned with an array of flora. The arboretum boasts a collection comprising 88 species of conifers, among them 21 listed on the Red List of Threatened Species, more than 100 varieties of Japanese and other Asian maples, and 153 species of native plants indigenous to Kentucky, including 17 that are endangered, contributing to a grand total of 600 plant species with over 1500 distinctive varieties. The arboretum is on the same site as the Downing Museum, so you can also enjoy art during your visit.

Bernheim Forest and Arboretum
2499 Clermont Rd, Clermont, KY 40110
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Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest offers a unique blend of nature, art, and conservation. Spanning over 16,000 acres, it boasts diverse landscapes, including woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands. Visitors can explore miles of scenic trails, encountering an array of plant and animal species. With 8,000 unique varieties of trees, Bernheim is a "living laboratory" that attracts researchers from throughout the world studying forest ecology and biodiversity. Programs and events for all ages are offered.

Boone County Arboretum
9190 Camp Ernst Road, Union, KY  41091
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The Boone County Arboretum was the nation’s first arboretum within an active recreation park setting. Home to over 3,600 trees and shrubs, it stands as a living museum of woody plants and shrubs, fostering local biodiversity and promoting a sustainable environment. Visitors can stroll through themed gardens, such as the Children's Garden and the Pollinator Garden, each offering distinctive experiences and educational insights. A 3-acre native Kentucky grassland surrounds a bird blind, which overlooks a small wetland area. Scattered around the grounds are several opportunities to leave the paved trail and explore the local forest. One such woodland trail is dedicated to teaching visitors about the threats our environment faces from invasive plants and species.

The Doran Arboretum
300 Hickory Drive, Murray KY 42071
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The Doran Arboretum at Murray State University is a public educational display garden located on the Pullen Farm at Murray State and a favorite destination for people of all ages. You can take a stroll on a 0.8 mile long track and wander through student-maintained gardens while viewing an ever growing collection of annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees. Check out the view of the 40+ acre Pullen Farm from on top of the "Mountain." See how many butterflies you can spot on our Butterfly Garden next to the pond while children enjoy playing on a Butterfly themed Play Pocket. The arboretum is open daily from dawn until dusk.

Wallis Arboretum
616 Pleasant Street, Paris, Kentucky 40361
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The Wallis Arboretum is considered one of the finest old tree collections in Central Kentucky. It provides an educational facility and environment where all may find beauty and a better understanding of the world around us. The first trees were planted in the mid-1850s at a time when having the newest tree introduction was a status symbol. The majority of the planting was under the direction of Nannine Clay Wallis for whom the Arboretum was named. Mrs. Wallis was one of the founders of The Garden Club of Kentucky.

Waterfront Botanical Gardens
1435 Frankfort Ave, Louisville KY 40206
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Waterfront Botanical Gardens has transformed the site of a former landfill into a living landmark. With nearly 5 completed acres within the 23-acre site, the Gardens serve as a living museum for both nature lovers and city dwellers. As an urban botanical garden, WBG gives the region a necessary green space for recreation and relaxation. Visitors can explore diverse pant collections, including Kentucky native species and plants from around the world, offering opportunities for study and observation. Educational programs are offered for all ages, and include topics such as horticulture, ecology, conservation, and the importance of botanical gardens in preserving biodiversity.

Western Kentucky Botanical Garden
2731 West 2nd Street, Owensboro KY 42301
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The Western Kentucky Botanical Garden fosters nature appreciation and environmental education. Through discovery, observation, and enjoyment, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of their relationship with the natural world. A path of Hope and Healing leads visitors into the garden, setting the stage for an exceptional nature experience. The garden features an array of themed areas, including a daylily garden, a children's garden, an herb garden, a rose garden, and a Japanese memorial garden. A monarch waystation attracts butterflies and pollinators.  A pond and native plant area provide habitats for various wildlife species, while a working windmill illustrates the potential of wind power as an alternative energy source. Additionally, the garden offers educational programs held in a classroom attached to a conservatory that offers a lush tropical environment that exudes color all year round, including a variety of orchids. 

Yew Dell Botanical Gardens
6220 Old LaGrange Road Crestwood, KY 40014
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Yew Dell is an internationally-recognized center of gardening, plants and education, all offered in a stunning site of significant historical importance. Originally the home, gardens and commercial nursery of the late Theodore Klein and his family, Yew Dell now offers the public exceptional display gardens, an ambitious schedule of education programs and community events, ongoing garden plant research, hiking trails and event rental opportunities. Yew Dell is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Preservation Partner Project of the Garden Conservancy, a national non-profit dedicated to saving the nation’s most exceptional gardens.

Carter Caves State Resort Park
344 Caveland Drive, Olive Hill, KY 41164
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Located within the Carter County region, which boasts the highest concentration of caves in Kentucky, Carter Caves State Resort Park invites visitors to embark on subterranean adventures millions of years in the making. Delve into the park's commercial cave tours and explore the self-guided Horn Hollow Cave system for unforgettable experiences. Appreciate the unique geology of the area with opportunities to see five natural bridges in the park. Nature hikes and living history programs are offered. Excellent birding opportunities are also available for nature lovers.

Crystal Onyx Cave
425 Prewitts Knob Road, Cave City, KY 42127
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Crystal Onyx Cave offers an underground adventure in the heart of Kentucky's karst landscape. The cave, located on Prewitts Knob is a living, growing cave. You will be walking among a vast and diversified array of formations up close throughout the cave on your tour. Guided tours provide insights into the cave's geology, history, and the delicate ecosystems that exist within its depths.

Diamond Caverns
1900 Mammoth Cave Parkway, Park City, KY 42160
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Diamond Caverns has been captivating visitors since its discovery in 1859, boasting over 165 years of welcoming explorers.
Known for its natural beauty and historical significance, the caverns offer a glimpse into Kentucky's geological past. Inside, visitors can marvel at various formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns,
and flowstone, all contributing to the cave's unique charm. With over 165 years of exploration, Diamond Caverns remains a favorite destination for those seeking to discover the wonders of the underground world in a straightforward and awe-inspiring setting. Be sure to check out the "Science" section on Diamond Cavern's website where an ecologist shares the science behind the creation of the caverns. Diamond Caverns is open year-round.
Hidden River Cave and American Cave Museum
119 East Main Street, Horse Cave, KY 42749
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Hidden River Cave and the American Cave Museum offer a captivating journey into Kentucky's underground marvels. Explore one of the state's largest and most picturesque cave entrances, featuring subterranean rivers flowing more than one hundred feet below. Traverse the world's longest underground swinging bridge and view Sunset Dome, one of the nation's largest cave domes. Operated by the nonprofit American Cave Conservation Association (ACCA), the site aims to educate and preserve caves, karstlands, and groundwater resources. While cave tours require tickets, there's no charge for the museum, which offers self-guided tours through exhibits on karst geology, groundwater, archeology, and the multifaceted roles of caves.


Lost River Cave
2818 Nashville Road, Bowling Green, KY 42101
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Lost River Cave, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to its mission of educating and enriching lives through connections with nature. As visitors board the boat for a journey into a historic cave, they become part of a narrative emphasizing environmental awareness and preservation. Beyond the cave experience, Lost River Cave's nature trails offer an opportunity to stroll woodlands and prairie pathways. Visitors can also explore a seasonal butterfly habitat, a man-made wetland system and children will particularly enjoy the Nature Explore Playscape. Through its offerings, Lost River Cave fosters a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of humanity and the natural world.

Mammoth Cave National Park -- See the listing for Mammoth Cave under "National Parks."

Onyx Cave and Rock Shop
93 Huckleberry Knob Road, Cave City, Kentucky 42127
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Onyx Cave invites you to delve into the depths of Kentucky's karst landscape while appreciating stunning formations shaped over millennia by geological processes. Get up close to intricate rock formations, such as cave bacon and cave coral, while gaining insights into the cave's formation, history, and delicate ecosystems. At the rock shop, visitors can browse a vast selection of rocks from around the globe. 

Red River Gorge Underground
2478 Glencairn Rd, Rogers, KY 41365
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Red River Gorge Underground cave tours offer the opportunity to float on a boat, kayak, or stand up paddleboard through a historic mine system near the Red River Gorge. Guides are experts in the geology and history of the mine system, and they’ll share stories about the area and the creatures that call it home. You’ll also learn about the delicate balance of the underground ecosystem and the efforts being made to preserve it.

Pikeville Cut-Through Overlook
9 Bob Amos Dr, Pikeville, KY 41501
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The Pikeville Cut-Though Project began in 1973 and was completed 14 years later at a cost of $80 million. This engineering marvel created a 3/4-mile long channel through Peach Orchard Mountain, providing a path for the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River, railroad tracks, and U.S. Highways 23, 460, 119, and KY 80. The Pikeville Cut-Through spans over 1300 feet wide, 3700 feet long, and 523 feet deep, earning it accolades such as being dubbed "the eighth wonder of the world" by The New York Times. Moreover, the project has liberated Pikeville from floods that afflict many mountain communities. The overlook offers an impressive view of this feat of

Toyota Georgetown Assembly Plant Tours
1001 Cherry Blossom Way, Georgetown, KY 40324
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Tours of this car-making plant are available exclusively for education groups who make arrangements in advance. The experience includes a tram-driven tour through Toyota’s first wholly-owned American vehicle plant to experience. Witness firsthand the seamless synergy between human expertise and cutting-edge machinery as they craft renowned vehicles such as the Camry, RAV4 Hybrid, and Lexus ES 350. 
To schedule a tour, please contact:
Geology and Paleontology
(View the "Caves" category for info on Kentucky's caves.)

Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum -- See the listing for the Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum under the "Museums" heading.

Big Bone Lick State Historic Site 
3380 Beaver Road, Union, KY 41091
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    Big Bone Lick State Historic Site stands as a testament to Northern Kentucky's rich paleontological history. Fossilized remains of mammoths, mastodons, and other Ice Age mammals have been unearthed here. Today, the site offers visitors a glimpse into the prehistoric past. A Discovery Trail reveals the prehistoric drama that unfolded around the salt/sulfur springs during the last Ice Age. Visitors can see still-active salt springs, a re-created Pleistocene marsh, 20,000-year-old fossils, and a bison herd. The site's interpretive exhibits and educational programs shed light on the significance of Big Bone Lick in understanding Earth's history.

    Big Mike's Rock Shop
    566 Old Mammoth Cave Rd, Cave City, KY 42127
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    Whether you're a seasoned collector or a curious beginner, Big Mike's Rock Shop offers geologic specimens that add to any rock collection. Browse the shop to view an array of rocks, fossils, minerals, and crystals. The folks at Big Mike's say they specialize in high-end rocks and old-fashioned fun!

    Cove Spring Park/KGS Geological Tour
    100 Cove Spring Rd, Frankfort, KY 40601
    Click here for Cove Spring Park website
    Click here for KGS geologic tour info

    Cove Spring Park offers visitors streams, wetlands, forested ravines, and winding trails. While the park is valued for its natural beauty and recreational opportunities, a deeper understanding of its geological formations can be gained by supplementing your in-person visit with an online tour provided by the Kentucky Geological Survey, accessible by clicking here. The geological tour offer insights into the natural
     forces that shaped this unique park's terrain and history, including the reasons why the features of the land made it the site of one of the nation's first public water supplies west of Alleghenies.

    Geologic Tour of Boone County
    Usual starting point is Big Bone Lick State Historic Site: 3380 Beaver Road, Union, KY 41091
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    Discover the geological history of Northern Kentucky with the Geologic Tour of Boone County, provided by the Kentucky Geological Survey. From ancient seabeds to glacial movements, this tour delves into the diverse landscape shaped over millions of years. Starting at Big Bone Lick State Historic Site and spanning to The Conservancy Park, Middle Creek Park, Dinsmore Woods, and Boone Cliffs State Nature Preserve, each stop offers insights into the region's geological evolution. Prior to embarking, KGS recommends consulting online resources due to limited cellphone service at some sites.

    KGS Geological Tour of Camp Nelson National Monument
    6614 Danville Road, Nicholasville, KY 40356
    Click here for the KGS geologic tour info
    Click here for the Camp Nelson website

    While exploring Camp Nelson National Monument, overseen by the National Park Service, visitors typically immerse themselves in the rich history of this Civil War-era camp. However, another perspective can be gained by delving into the park's geological features through an online tour provided by the Kentucky Geological Survey. By combining an on-site visit to Camp Nelson with insights from the geological tour, visitors gain a fascinating understanding of how the region's geology influenced the camp's history. This exploration unveils insights into the area's karst geology, showcasing the Kentucky River Palisades' role as a natural fortress, and illuminating how sinkholes were strategically utilized as natural fortifications.

    Lower Howard's Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve
    225 Athens Boonesboro Rd, Winchester, KY 40391
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    Lower Howard's Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve serves as an educational hub, a sanctuary for endangered species, and a guardian of the Bluegrass Region's history. Owned by Clark County and spanning 441 acres, the preserve is the home of federally endangered plants, state rare species, as well as historic and archaeological features. The preserve has earned recognition as a "Kentucky Distinguished Geologic Site" by the Geological Society of Kentucky, acknowledging its cultural and geological significance, as well as its accessibility and openness to the public. With picturesque views of a limestone gorge carved by Lower Howard's Creek, the preserve boasts the distinction of hosting the oldest exposed rock in Kentucky, which lines a segment of the creek. To protect its natural and cultural resources, the preserve's John Holder Trail is only open certain days of the week, so check the schedule on the website.

    Mantle Rock Nature Preserve
    1800 Lola Road, Smithland, KY
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    Mantle Rock Nature Preserve is the site of the longest natural sandstone bridge in Kentucky. Managed by The Nature Conservancy, the preserve is known for its exceptional biological diversity, featuring vibrant springtime wildflowers and unique upland forests along with rare and delicate sandstone glades. Visitors can enhance their exploration of Mantle Rock by following an online geological tour provided by the Kentucky Geological Survey. Click here for the geological tour. Moreover, the preserve's 2.8-mile Mantle Rock Trail holds historical significance as a certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

    Middlesboro Meteorite Crater Impact Site
    Middlesboro, KY
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    In Middlesboro, there isn't one specific spot to experience the crater formed by a meteorite impact over 300 million years ago. Instead, the entire city lies within the three-mile-wide circular indentation created by the impact. Numerous vantage points throughout the city offer views of the surrounding elevated terrain, showcasing the crater's geological features. For historical context, a marker detailing the significance of the meteorite impact site can be found near 324 12th St. in Middlesboro.

    Natural Bridge State Resort Park
    2135 Natural Bridge Rd, Slade, KY 40376
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    Located near the famed Red River Gorge, Natural Bridge State Resort Park stands out for its captivating geological features, notably a renowned natural sandstone arch that spans 78 feet in length and soars 65 feet high. As visitors traverse the park's network of
    trails, winding through dense woodlands and rocky outcrops, they encounter the diverse wildlife and rare plants that make up the rich ecological of the region.

    KGS Geological Tour of the Parklands of Floyds Fork - Please view our listing for the Parklands of Floyds Fork in the "Nature and Ecology" section of this page.

    Red River Gorge Geological Area
    Located within the Daniel Boone National Forest, encompassing parts of Powell, Wolfe, and Menifee counties.
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    Carved over millennia by a meandering river, the Red River Gorge is a natural wonderland of towering cliffs, intricate rock formations, and verdant forests. Known particularly for its breathtaking sandstone arches, sculpted by the forces of erosion, the gorge offers visitors a glimpse into the dynamic processes that have shaped the landscape. Diverse habitats within the gorge support a wealth of plant and animal life, from rare wildflowers to elusive wildlife species. Visitors exploring the intricate network of trails are treated to stunning vistas and hidden gems tucked away in its depths. The Red River Gorge is a federally-designated National Geological Area, National Natural Landmark, National Archaeological District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


    Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum
    205 N Walker St., Marion, KY
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    The Clement Mineral Museum showcases the region's mineral wealth and the many collections of mining giant Ben E. Clement. This unique collection is decades’ worth of work, curated over 60 plus years and features fossils and one-of-a-kind mineral specimens you won’t find anywhere else, including the world's largest collection of fluorspar samples.

    The Highlands Museum & Discovery Center
    1620 Winchester Avenue, Ashland, KY 41101
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    Experience the wonders of history and science at the Highlands Museum & Discovery Center. Delve into the natural world in the Discovery Center exhibit, where children can uncover the mysteries of the environment. Step back in time as they explore medical history through vintage doctor's equipment. Venture into Discovery Cavern to discover the secrets of cave animals and geological formati
    ons. Additionally, immerse yourself in the world of aviation with an exhibit dedicated to airplanes and the evolution of flight.

    Inland Waterways Museum
    117 S. Water St., Paducah, KY 42001
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    The Inland Waterways Museum stimulates curiosity and understanding of our nation's vital river system through real stories and interactive experiences for people of all ages. Delve into the engineering marvels behind locks and dams that transformed navigation. Engage in hands-on activities that illuminate the ecological significance of inland water ecosystems. From a pilothouse simulator to a glimpse into the workings of a hydro-electric dam, the exhibits offer insights into river life. 

    Kentucky Museum
    1444 Kentucky Street, Bowling Green, KY 42101
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    Take a journey through Kentucky’s history and heritage at the Kentucky Museum. Encompassing the art, history, and cultures of the Commonwealth, the Kentucky Museum devotes rotating exhibits to science-based topics. “First Farmers of the Barren River Valley” partnered with the Kentucky Archaeological Survey to explore recent excavations of Indigenous Mississippian villages in Warren County. Other artifacts and displays showcase the unique traditions and contributions of Kentuckians throughout history, with annual programs devoted to STEM+Arts topics such as the annual Hammer-In held each October.

    Kentucky Science Center
    727 W Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202
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    Experience excitement and learning at the Kentucky Science Center with interactive exhibits and engaging activities for all ages. Families can enjoy awe-inspiring movies and captivating exhibitions that make science come alive. The center offers innovative education programs and camps designed to inspire curiosity and a lifelong love for learning. Delve into physics, chemistry, biology, and more with loved ones and discover the joy of shared discovery. At the Kentucky Science Center, learning is fun, engaging, and best experienced together!

    Lexington Children's Museum
    440 West Short Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40507
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    The Lexington Children's Museum focuses on being a friendly place for families to learn and play together. As a hands-on learning environment that inspires imagination and creativity, the museum features a wide range of exhibits and activities focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.Whether exploring the wonders of space, conducting experiments in the science lab, or discovering the principles of physics through interactive exhibits, Lexington Children's Museum provides a dynamic learning environment for families and school groups alike.

    Owensboro Museum of Science and History
    122 East 2nd Street, Owensboro, KY 42303-4108
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    Explore the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, where science and history intertwine. Delve into the region's past through local artifacts and historical narratives, while interactive exhibits shed light on scientific phenomena. Discover cultural heritage and scientific concepts within the museum's engaging displays. Enjoy programs like the historic Coal Mine Gallery, the hands-on ENCOUNTER, and the Origins Natural History Gallery. With events year-round and a mission to preserve regional culture and foster scientific discovery, the museum invites visitors to embark on a journey of learning and exploration.

    Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History
    100 W. Broadway, Frankfort KY 40601
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    The campus of the Kentucky Historical Society is a great place for history and science enthusiasts alike. In addition to cultural, social, and political exhibits, the museum features geological displays showcasing Kentucky's rocks and minerals. Visitors can also explore Kentucky's inventions and check out the Orrery, a grand model of the solar system created by a Kentucky innovator. This unique exhibit highlights the Earth's position within our solar system and is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting the museum.


    Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
    91 Bartlett Park Road, Middlesboro, KY 40965
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    Carved by the forces of wind and water, Cumberland Gap serves as a natural gateway through the Appalachian Mountains. This passageway, frequented by animals such as bison, forged a trail that later provided pioneers with entry into Kentucky. There's plenty to explore in the park's 24,000 acres of wilderness. Learn how the geology of the area shaped the gap and impacted animal migration and human exploration. Discover the rich anthropology of early American settlers and indigenous peoples, gaining insight into their cultures and traditions through interpretive exhibits and guided tours. Engage with the park's diverse ecosystems and wildlife, on nearly 85 miles of trails. Children can even become Junior Rangers, learning about the history and features of the area while earning badges.

    Mammoth Cave National Park 
    1 Mammoth Cave Parkway, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259
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    Rolling hills, deep river valleys, and the world's longest known cave system. Mammoth Cave National Park is home to thousands of years of human history and a rich diversity of plant and animal life, earning it the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. Cave tours offer opportunities to marvel at the underground rivers, unique rock formations, and rare cave-dwelling creatures that call this vast labyrinth home. Above ground, the park offers scenic hiking trails, serene river valleys, forested land, and abundant wildlife, providing endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. It's also an excellent place for stargazing at night, as the park has been certified as an International Dark Sky Park.


    In addition to the Kentucky State Parks in our listing, many other state parks also wonderful opportunities to appreciate the outdoors. See the complete list of state parks by clicking here.

    State Nature Preserves also offer opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in exceptional natural sites. Please note that public access differs across the preserves, with access to some limited to scientific research. A complete listing of Kentucky Natural Lands -- which includes State Nature Preserves, Wild Rivers, and Heritage Lands --  is available by clicking here.

    Berea College Forestry Outreach Center
    2047 Big Hill Rd,, Berea KY 40403
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    The mission of the Forestry Outreach Center is to provide a space in which people of all ages can learn about the natural world and, specifically, the Berea College Forest. Using a model of community education in which each person participates as both a teacher and a learner, the Center serves as a bridge between College and community, fostering an attitude of stewardship of the ecosystems and watersheds that sustain us.

    Bernheim Forest and Arboretum -- Please see our listing for Bernheim Forest and Arboretum in the "Arboretums and Botanical Gardens" section of this page.

    Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
    Located southeastern Kentucky and northeastern Tennessee. Refer to website for info on the portion you'd like to visit.
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    Encompassing 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, Big South Fork protects the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries. The area boasts miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs, is rich with natural and historic features and has been developed to provide visitors with a wide range of outdoor activities. Visitors can enhance your understanding of Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area by taking part in a ranger-led program. Night sky and astronomy programs are also offered.

    Blackacre State Nature Preserve and Historic Homestead
    3200 Tucker Station Road, Louisville, Kentucky 40299
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    Blackacre State Nature Preserve and Historic Homestead offers a sanctuary for native flora and fauna, miles of trails, and historic landmarks. Discover the rich biodiversity that thrives within this scenic preserve with a stroll on the Waterfall Trail, the preserve's most popular trail. Enjoy a close-up look at pond life at the Dragonfly Pond. Marvel at one of Kentucky's oldest White Oak trees. Feed farm animals, visit a historic home, and more!

    Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary
    1305 Germany Road, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
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    Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary, managed by the Life Adventure Center, is dedicated to protecting the integrity of the sanctuary, its birds, wildlife, and habitats by developing strong support, sound management, and excellent educational programming. The Buckley property includes over 370 acres dedicated to environmental education activities, public trails, and nature conservancy. Interactive lessons and workshops are site-specific and are aligned with Content for Next Generation Science Standards. Participants discover and explore the interconnectedness within the natural world, including their own importance.

    Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
    7351 Highway 90, Corbin, KY 40701
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    Cumberland Falls State Resort Park features a spectacular waterfall, often dubbed the "Niagara of the South," for the curtain of water that cascades into a picturesque gorge. Another park highlights is the occurrence of a moonbow, a rare natural phenomenon akin to a rainbow, visible for a few days around the full moon. Hiking enthusiasts can explore the park's network of scenic trails that lead to scenic vistas, distinctive rock formations, and wildlife sightings. For a fun-filled activity, children can enjoy gem mining at the gemstone flume, where they can sift through sand and gravel in search of precious gems and fossils.

    Floracliff Nature Sanctuary Floracliff is not open to self-guided visitation. It is open for guided hikes and scheduled programs or by appointment for small groups.
    8000 Elk Lick Falls Road Lexington, KY 40515
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    Floracliff Nature Sanctuary is a 346-acre nature preserve located in the Kentucky River Palisades region in southern Fayette County. Floracliff promotes native biodiversity through hands-on stewardship of the land, nature-based programming, and participation in local and global community science projects. The sanctuary is also available for approved research projects. Scheduled programs include wildflower and tree hikes, bird and butterfly walks, golden hour hikes, art in nature sessions, seminars, workshops, and more.

    Jenny Wiley State Resort Park
    75 Theatre Ct., Prestonsburg, KY 41653
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    Located in the heart of the Appalachians, this mountain resort is named for a legendary pioneer woman. Elk tours offer an opportunity to see animals that were re-introduced in 1997 after being gone from Kentucky for nearly 150 years. Birding is another popular activity, especially for those who want to observe spring warblers. Hikingt trails cover more than ten miles. The park's nature center offers informative displays on the natural, cultural, and historic facts of the area.

    John James Audubon State Park
    3100 US Highway 41, Henderson, KY 42420
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    Explore the woodlands where famed naturalist John James Audubon studied various birds from 1810 to 1819. A museum interprets Audubon's life through his art and personal memorabilia, while the nature center features a wildlife observatory leading to secluded boardwalks and trails. Environmental and art education programs are conducted by park staff. Those who want to get close to nature can enjoy 6.5 miles of trails and a boardwalk that overlooks the cypress slough.

    Lilley Cornett Woods Appalachian Ecological Research Station -- (Make arrangements in advance! Calling ahead to schedule a tour is recommended.)
    91 Lilley Cornett Branch, Hallie, KY 41821
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    Lilley Cornett Woods (LCW) encompasses 554 acres of mixed mesophytic forest. A portion of the total acreage, 252 acres, is designated as “old-growth” forest; a forest which has not undergone any man-made changes in 150 years. Biodiversity of plants and animals abound at LCW. There are over 530 species of flowering plants and an estimated 700 breeding pairs of birds present. In addition, a variety of small mammals, amphibians and reptiles call Lilley Cornett Woods home. Public access to Lilley Cornett Woods’ two designated trails is by guided tours only. Calling ahead to schedule a tour is recommended.

    Louisville Nature Center
    3745 Illinois Ave., Louisville KY 40213
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    The Louisville Nature Center strives to teach people about the natural world and provide a place where everyone can enjoy nature—without even leaving the city! Facilities include a sensory garden, a rain garden, a nature play area, a bird blind, and a nature library. Louisville Nature Center manages the Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve, which offers 41 acres of urban forest with nearly two miles of public trails.

    Maywoods Environmental and Educational Laboratory
    447 Maywoods Road, Crab Orchard, KY 40419
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    Maywoods is a 1,700 acre natural area and wildlife refuge nestled in Kentucky's Knobs Region. As EKU’s Environmental and Research Laboratory, the facility provides research opportunities for the University’s students and faculty, as well as environmental educational opportunities for the university community, surrounding county schools and community groups. Maywoods is open to the public from dawn to dusk every day (refer to website for details.) To provide teachers and environmental educators resources that enhance their group’s experience at Maywoods, EKU's Division of Natural Areas has developed a Leader’s Manual and educational activity kits.

    McConnell Springs Park
    416 Rebmann Lane, Lexington, Kentucky 40504
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    McConnell Springs is a 26-acre natural pocket within an industrial area. The park is home to unique karst features such as the sinking artesian springs that give the park its name. McConnell Springs is also a historic site that is celebrated as the location where Lexington was named in 1775. The park regularly offers programs that focus on nature and teaching visitors about the features they can encounter at the park. An education center offers opportunities to learn about protecting and promoting the natural and historical diversity and integrity of McConnell Springs.

    Morgan Conservation Park
    1200  KY-524, La Grange, KY 40031
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    Uncover the wonders of Morgan Conservation Park, a haven for nature lovers in Oldham County. This former cattle and tobacco farm offers 217 acres of scenic trails winding through forests and meadows. Encounter the riparian ecosystems along the park's streams and ponds and keep watch for the array of amphibians, birds, and mammals thriving within this sanctuary.

    Northern Kentucky University's Research and Education Field Station
    99 Harrison Ct., Melbourne, KY 41059
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    Northern Kentucky University’s Research and Education Field Station (REFS) facility provides scholars an operations base for a wide range of field research and offers students across disciplines opportunities for field-oriented curricula, independent research, and close interactions with professionals. REFS also serves as a center for the community to connect and learn about the environment. Please check the REFS website for info on public Talk-&-Walk events and other activities. The website also features details about the St. Anne Woods and Wetlands natural area, which offers visitors trails and informational kiosks that showcase one of the finest wetland areas along the Ohio River in the region.

    The Parklands of Floyds Fork
    Network of parks in Jefferson County - check website for locations
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    With four major parks covering over 4,000 acres in Louisville, The Parklands is a sprawling network of parks and preserves along the scenic Floyds Fork Creek. It is one of the largest donor- and visitor-supported public park systems in the country. The Parklands preserves native meadows, riparian forests, and other wildlife habitats. With its extensive trail system, lush woodlands, canoe launches, and pristine waterways, this expansive park offers endless opportunities for outdoor exploration.  Visit The Parklands' website for info about each of its parks, activities, and program -- all providing wonderful opportunities to connect people with green spaces and the natural world. You can also gain greater understanding of the area's landscape through an online geological tour of The Parklands provided by the Kentucky Geological Survey by clicking here.

    Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
    3885 Raven Run Way, Lexington, KY 40515
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    Lexington’s Raven Run Nature Sanctuary offers a serene escape with its array of habitats and numerous trails for exploration. Wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the diverse bird species and other wildlife that call sanctuary home. A nature center offers hands-on activities and educational programs, allowing visitors to learn about the local flora and fauna. A sanctuary highlight is the Kentucky River overlook, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Raven Run also preserves remnants of early settlers, adding historical depth to its natural beauty.

    Thomas More University Biology Field Station
    8309 Mary Ingles Hwy., California KY 41007
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    The Thomas More University Biology Field Station is located on the historic site of the former Lock and Dam 35 along the Ohio River. Today, it serves as both a research facility and an educational center, equipped with state-of-the-art labs and a classroom to offer hands-on learning opportunities about the river ecosystem and environmental responsibility. In addition to an array of research projects, the Field Station monitors ecology and water quality. It regularly hosts outreach programs, teacher workshops, field trips, and camps. A summer seminar series shares insights on topics of importance to environmental conservation, education, and stewardship efforts. The Field Station's campus includes an Education Center & Lodge, a multipurpose facility available for workshops, corporate retreats, overnight activities, and social events.


    The Living Arts & Science Center
    362 N. Martin Luther King Blvd., Lexington, KY 40508
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    The Living Arts & Science Center reaches over 45,000 Kentuckians with innovative educational programs that engage the community in participation in the arts and sciences through education, discovery, exploration, and creativity. From experiential learning in cooking and pottery to astronomy and digital painting, the emphasis on both arts and science recognizes the value of hands-on, interactive experiences to learning, understanding, and creativity. The center features a digital planetarium featuring shows that cover topics from astronomy and the history of space exploration to stories of dinosaurs and the beautiful network of life on Earth.

    McDowell House Museum, Apothecary & Gardens
    125 S 2nd St, Danville, KY 40422
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    The McDowell House Museum, Apothecary & Gardens resides within the historic home where pioneering surgeon Dr. Ephraim McDowell performed the world's first ovariotomy. Designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark for its pivotal role in this groundbreaking surgery, conducted by McDowell in 1809, the site offers visitors a journey into medical history. Explore restored rooms adorned with period furnishings while gaining insight into McDowell's medical achievements. Visitors can also tour the apothecary, restored by the Kentucky Pharmaceutical Society in the 1950s, and enjoy gardens in the yard. Through guided tours and interactive exhibits, visitors gain insight into the medical practices of the early 19th century and the impact of Dr. McDowell's work on the field of surgery. Visitors can see the room where medical history took place as well as McDowell’s medicine kit and a photograph of the “Pioneer Patient,” Jane Todd Crawford.

    Thomas Edison House
    729 E. Washington St., Louisville, Ky 40202
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    The Thomas Edison House, located in a historic Louisville neighborhood where Thomas Alva Edison resided in the 1860s, offers insight into the early life and innovations of the famed inventor. At the age of 19, Edison arrived in Louisville in 1866 to work as a telegraph key operator. Edison's fascination with improving the telegraph led to a number of early inventions. Despite leaving Louisville in 1867, he continued his inventive pursuits, eventually securing over 125 patents related to telegraph technology. In 1879, he Edison invented the incandescent light bulb. Notable artifacts at the Thomas Edison House include cylinder and disc phonographs, Edison Business Phonographs, and the groundbreaking Edison Kinetoscope, the first home motion picture projector.


    The Aviation Museum of Kentucky
    4029 Airport Road, Lexington, Kentucky 40510
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    The Aviation Museum of Kentucky as spreads public understanding and enthusiasm for aviation and educates young people about aviation career potential. Exhibits focus on the science of flight and it's history. On select Sundays, visitors can experience flying while being safe on the ground with the museum's Flight Sim Exhibits, featuring a multi-screen helicopter simulation as well as a fully immersive VR/Motion experience. 

    Berea College Planetarium and Digital Theater
    271 North Main Street, Berea, KY 40403
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    The Berea College Planetarium offers an immersive journey through the cosmos. The fully digital 4k planetarium opened in 2018 with a mission to provide a high quality educational and entertainment experience that inspires curiosity and wonder about the natural world. The planetarium provides educational and entertaining programs for visitors of all ages. With state-of-the-art technology, visitors can explore the wonders of the universe and gain a deeper understanding of astronomy and space science.

    East Kentucky Science Center and Varia Planetarium
    1 Bert Combs Dr, Prestonsburg, KY 41653
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    Looking for an educational experience that is out of this world? Look no further than Big Sandy Community and Technical College. The East Kentucky Science Center and Varia Planetarium serves as a hub of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education in eastern Kentucky. The facility offers an exhibit hall with hands-on STEM activities and visuals, along with the Varia Planetarium, a 40-foot dome with a Spitz Sci-Dome projection system, the state's only GOTO Star Projector, and a laser light music show system.

    Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium -- This University of Louisville planetarium has been closed since the start of the pandemic. A decision on its future is expected in summer of 2024.

    Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory
    238 Visitor Center Drive, Golden Pond, KY 42211
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    When you visit the Golden Pond Planetarium, you will enjoy a variety of entertaining and educational programs presented with the NEW SkyExplorer Digital Planetarium Software combined with 2k Hi-Resolution Laser Projection system which displays stunning, realistic images on the 40-foot dome of the theater. Friends of Land Between the Lakes provides qualified interpreters at the Planetarium who supplement the automated presentations with live, personal interactions with the audience. “Tonight’s Sky Live” is a live presentation which allows visitors to learn about planets, stars, and constellations in the night sky of the coming evening. The Observatory, which is open on select Saturdays, offers a chance to look through a computerized, Meade 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope to view the wonders of the universe.

    Haile Planetarium
    409 Natural Science Center, Highland Heights, KY 41099
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    Haile Planetarium is one of the hidden gems of Northern Kentucky University. As stated on the planetarium’s website, “Astronomy is our starting point; from there we spread into the wider universe of the sciences and reach into literature, art, music, and beyond.” Haile Planetarium is open to the public several times a month for free shows. The largest use of the Haile Planetarium is for the thousands of P-12 students who visit each year for a free field trip. 

    Hardin Planetarium
    1501 State Street, Bowling Green, KY  42101
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    Hardin Planetarium offers free, public, live, interactive planetarium performances three times each week, year-round, and most shows are exclusive to Hardin Planetarium.  Explore the museum area before a show, which includes meteorites and a terrarium of the surface of Mars.  School groups may also schedule free field trips during week days.  More information on shows, other free events, and field trips available at

    Star Theater
    Ronald G. Eaglin Space Science Center, 235 Martindale Dr., Morehead, KY
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    The Space Science Center's Star Theater at Morehead State University is a state-of-the-art digital planetarium serving the surrounding area of Eastern Kentucky. It serves as a classroom and planetarium for the region's educators, Morehead State University students and the public. “Planetariums offer experiences you can’t get anywhere else,” said Director of Star Theater Pamela Clark in a Kentucky Living article. “What you see at a planetarium doesn’t just teach science. It makes science accessible because it is also beautiful.”