20 Things To Do In Paducah, KY

- This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

Nestled in the middle of western Kentucky’s Four Rivers Basin, the city of Paducah is among the most cultured and historical destinations you can visit in the South. The city was recognised as a UNESCO Creative City in 2013 by the United Nations and is home to world-class institutions such as the National Quilt Museum and the Inland Waterways Museum. Paducah is pretty easy to reach too, situated about halfway between Nashville and St. Louis, with stunning outdoor parks such as the Shawnee National Forest and Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area just a short trip away.

Paducah, Kentucky

20 Things To Do In Paducah

1- Admire Hundreds Of Quilts At The National Quilt Museum

three spools of thread with letters Quilt
Visiting the Quilt Museum is one of the top things to do in Paducah,

Specialising in the collection and exhibition of fibre arts and quilting, the National Quilt Museum has one of the finest and most extensive quilt collections in the world.

The museum was established by Paducah locals Bill and Meredith Schroeder in 1991 and features over 600 unique quilts on display across the museum’s three galleries.

Awarded the title of “National Quilt Museum of the United States” in 2008 by the US Congress, the centre draws over 40,000 visitors every year and is among the leading attractions to explore when stopping by Paducah.

The National Quilt Museum is at 215 Jefferson St, Paducah, KY 42001.

2- Explore Shawnee National Forest

Situated just across the state border in neighbouring Illinois, the Shawnee National Forest is 280,000 acres (113,312 ha) of untouched southern Illinois nature renowned for its stunning beauty and wide range of outdoor activities.

The forest lies about 52 miles (83 km) northwest of downtown Paducah and was declared a national forest by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939.

Home to seven wilderness areas, several miles of hiking trails and several top-notch rock climbing zones, the national forest is a world-class outdoor attraction that boasts some of the region’s best camping and swimming spots.

3- Visit The Whitehaven Welcome Center

paducah on the Kentucky map
Looking for things to do in Paducah, Kentucky?

Nicknamed the “Gateway to the South”, the Whitehaven Welcome Center is an eye-catching cultural and historical landmark along Interstate 24 occupying the Anderson-Smith House, a beautiful example of Classical Revival style architecture.

The centre is the only Interstate Welcome Center in the country housed inside a historic building and contains useful information about Paducah and the surrounding region’s attractions, history and notable landmarks worth visiting.

Built during the 1860s, the welcome centre’s grandiose Southern mansion is decorated with period furnishings and a couple of historic artefacts once belonging to Paducah native Alben Barkley, the US Vice President during Harry Truman’s Presidential term.

The Whitehaven Welcome Center is at 1845 Lone Oak Rd, Paducah, KY 42003.

4- See The Murals At Paducah Wall to Wall

Dividing downtown Paducah from the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers’ confluence, the city’s floodwalls have been colourfully converted from an eyesore into an attraction known as Paducah Wall to Wall.

Paducah Wall to Wall features more than 50 murals depicting everything from local plant life to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, created by a collection of talented Dafford muralists and artists.

Each mural is accompanied by an informative bronze plaque telling visitors a little bit about each mural as well as the artist behind them, and can all be experienced free of charge.

5- Step Back In History At William Clark Market House Museum

The only general history museum in Paducah, the William Clark Market House Museum in the city’s downtown district uses a range of exhibits and artefacts to recount the city’s past.

The museum first opened its doors to the Paducah public in 1968 and is housed inside the former public market building of Paducah which dates back to 1905.

Among the museum’s laundry list of exhibits are displays about the Lewis and Clark-led Corps of Discovery expedition, which passed through modern-day Paducah in 1803.

The William Clark Market House Museum is at 121 Market House Square, Paducah, KY 42001. 

6- Visit Fort Massac State Park

Spanning an area of about 1,500 acres (607 ha), Fort Massac State Park became the state of Illinois’ first state park in 1908 and is a destination steeped in French and Native American history.

Built by the French in 1757, the fort was initially called “Fort de L’Ascension” before being renamed to Fort Massac two years later in 1759 in honour of French Naval Minister Claud Louis d’Espinchal, Marquis de Massiac.

The fort was destroyed by the Chickasaw following the French Indian War before being rebuilt by Colonel George Rogers Clark during the Revolutionary War and is today a fascinating historical landmark to visit that’s just 12 miles (19 km) from Paducah.

Fort Massac State Park is at 1308 E 5th St, Metropolis, IL 62960.

7- Learn Something New At The Inland Waterways Museum

Previously known as the “River Discovery Center”, the newly renamed Inland Waterways Museum is a hands-on educational venue where visitors can learn more about the important history, ecology and economic impact of America’s inland waterways.

The museum is situated just across the Paducah Wall to Wall floodwalls in the city’s downtown heart and first opened its doors to the public in 2003.

Housed inside a Federal-style building that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum’s biggest attractions include an interactive steamboat simulator and the annually held Paducah Dragon Boat Festival.

The Inland Waterways Museum is at 117 S Water St, Paducah, KY 42001.

The Maiden Alley Cinema and Gallery, or “MAC” for short, is an art house situated in central Paducah which hosts weekly screenings of indie and foreign films, as well as your typical Hollywood hits and blockbusters. 

Established in 1991, the venue has grown to become one of the leading cultural institutions in the region and regularly hosts special events and even international film festivals.

The cinema aims to promote visual literacy and the art of filmmaking in western Kentucky and is the ideal spot in town for catching films and productions not available at any other cinema in the country.

The Maiden Alley Cinema and Gallery is at 112 Maiden Alley, Paducah, KY 42001.

9- Hike Or Bike The Clyde F. Boyles Greenway Trail

Spanning a length of about 7 miles (11 km), the Clyde F. Boyles Greenway Trail connects Paducah and its surrounding neighbourhoods with the Perkins Creek Nature Preserve, the Ohio Riverfront and three public parks.

The trail makes it possible to explore the city and some of its most scenic outdoor attractions on foot or bicycle without having to rely on a car.

Created in 2001, the trail is due to be extended to reach even more Paducah landmarks soon and is a delightful outdoor attraction and useful transportation method rolled into one.

10- Try The Simulator At The Paducah Railroad Museum

Opened in 1996, the Paducah Railroad Museum uses a varied collection of photographs, historical artefacts, vehicles and train sets to tell the story of rail travel throughout western Kentucky’s history.

The museum is in the centre of downtown Paducah and is home to a train simulator, which lets visitors of all ages experience the thrill of getting behind the wheel of a locomotive and guiding it safely along the tracks.

The Paducah Railroad Museum can be found along Washington St & Marine Way, Paducah, KY 42003.

11- Enjoy The Great Outdoors 

Covering some 170,000 acres (68,797 ha) of land between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley near the Tennessee state border, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is a premier destination in the south for camping, fishing, wildlife watching and hiking.

The area contains one of the largest uninterrupted and undeveloped forests in the eastern United States and can accommodate outdoor recreational staples such as horseback riding, hunting and boating along the area’s surrounding lakes and waterways.

Situated just 28 miles (45 km) southeast of the streets of downtown Paducah, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is ideally suited for escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, even if it’s just for a weekend.

The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is at 238 Visitor Center Dr, Golden Pond, KY 42211. 

12- Wander Around The LowerTown Arts District

Developed in 1836 to attract artists and performers to a derelict Paducah neighbourhood near the city’s downtown heart, the LowerTown Arts District has flourished into one of the city’s most vibrant districts.

The district is today among the oldest parts of the city and boasts some of Paducah’s best cafes, restaurants and art galleries, as well as dozens of preserved examples of 19th and early 20th-century architecture.

Best explored on foot, the district is among the most popular tourism hubs in the city due to its accessibility, range of attractions and unique creative edge.

13- Go Wine Tasting At Purple Toad Winery

hand choosing bottle of wine
Going wine tasting is one of the things to do in Paducah Ky.

Owned and operated by the Dossey family, the Purple Toad Winery is the largest winery in the Kentucky Commonwealth and has been producing its award-winning wine varieties in Paducah’s backyard for well over two decades.

The winery got its start in 1998 following a Dossey family vacation to California’s Napa Valley, where they got inspired to plant 2,500 Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir vines back home to produce wines with a unique Kentucky twist.

Continuously expanded over the years, the winery has blossomed into a popular tourist attraction and regularly opens up its tasting room to the public for exclusive wine tastings throughout the year.

The Purple Toad Winery is at 4275 Old US Hwy 45 S, Paducah, KY 42003. 

14- See The Collection At Yeiser Art Center

Originally established in 1957 as the Paducah Art Guild, the Yeiser Art Center is an intimate cultural institution situated in Historic Downtown Paducah that specialises in developing and promoting visual art mediums throughout the western Kentucky region.

The centre occupies a spot in the historic Market House alongside the William Clark Market House Museum and features a permanent art collection spanning some 200 different artworks from artists across the United States.

Art classes and workshops tailored to young visitors can regularly be joined throughout the year, making the Yeiser Art Center more than just a small-town art gallery.

The Yeiser Art Center is at 200 Broadway St, Paducah, KY 42001. 

15- Stroll Along Historic Main Street

Recognised as one of the United States’ most beautiful Main Streets by Architectural Digest, Paducah’s Historic Main Street is the cultural, economic and historic heartbeat of the city and ideal for a leisurely stroll one Sunday afternoon. 

The area surrounding Main Street features more than 160 shops, restaurants and cafes, not to mention one of the liveliest entertainment and arts scenes of any city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Free to enjoy and easily accessible, Main Street is Paducah’s unequivocal hub where visitors can expect to come across something cool and unique around virtually every corner.

16- Hunt For Hidden Gems At Antique Galleria

The Antique Galleria is a quirky one-stop shop for picking up unique items and old antiques that’s become a popular tourist attraction in Paducah among in-the-know bargain hunters.

Owned and managed by antique expert and appraiser Tonya Weddington, the Antique Galleria currently has over 20,000 trinkets and items for sale, with knowledgeable staff on hand to assist and inform shoppers.

The store currently occupies a 3-story building in downtown Paducah, placing it within walking distance from several other Paducah landmarks as well as a couple of the city’s best dining experiences.

The Antique Galleria is at 401 Jefferson St, Paducah, KY 42001.

17- Shop At The Paducah Farmers’ Market

woman choosing oranges at a farmer's market
One of the things to do in Paducah is to shop at the local farmer’s market.

just a short walk from the National Quilt Museum and the Paducah Wall to Wall floodwalls is the Paducah Farmer’s Market, the city’s go-to spot for picking up fresh produce and tasty homemade treats.

The market takes place every Saturday morning between April and October and usually lasts until about 1 p.m.

Most of the market’s vendors are recurring local businesses and family-run farms, allowing visitors to build a relationship with their favourite baker, butcher or farmer.

The Paducah Farmers’ Market is at 306 N 2nd St, Paducah, KY 42001.

18- Browse Troutt Old Time General Store

The Troutt Old Time General Store in downtown Paducah is a unique shopping destination where travellers get to browse and shop homemade delicacies and décor pieces in one convenient location.

Situated right next door to the National Quilt Museum, the general store is an established venue in Peducah, having first opened its doors almost a decade ago.

What started as a small stall at the local Paducah Farmers’ Market has grown into a fully-fledged store and one of Paducah’s biggest success stories, offering the same farm-fresh produce and tasty treats in a more permanent location.

The Troutt Old Time General Store is at 433 N 4th St, Paducah, KY 42001.

19- Relax In Bob Noble Park

paducah bob noble park
Relaxing in Bob Noble Park is one of the things to do in Paducah.

The Bob Noble Park is one of Paducah’s most popular urban outdoor recreational spaces and is situated on approximately 135 acres (55 ha) of prime western Kentucky nature.
Established during the 1920s, the park is named after Captain Robert H.

Noble, who was one of the park’s major benefactors and an instrumental figure in its creation.

Connected to several other Paducah attractions via the Clyde F. Boyles Greenway Trail, the park offers visitors access to amenities such as an Olympic-size swimming pool, a gazebo, a fishing pier, basketball courts and an amphitheatre.

Bob Noble Park is at 2801 Park Ave, Paducah, KY 42001. 

20- Visit Lloyd Tilghman House & Civil War Museum

Situated just outside downtown Paducah near the McCracken County Public Library, the Lloyd Tilghman House & Civil War Museum is housed inside the former residence of General Lloyd Tilghman of the CSA.

The Tilghman manor was built in 1852 and features an eye-catching Greek Revival-style design.

Among the museum’s vast military collection are statement pieces such as antique firearms and uniforms, as well as carefully curated exhibits detailing the illustrious military career of General Tilghman.

The Lloyd Tilghman House & Civil War Museum is at 2801 Park Ave, Paducah, KY 42001.

Previous articleWhere To Stay In Mallorca
Next article20 Things To Do in Saugatuck
cropped Jessica Shaw.jpg
Jessica Shaw is a storyteller who has lived in four U.S. states - Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and Illinois - and has visited many others. She loves history and nature and is a big fan of road tripping.