Maysville, Kentucky’s, Small-Town Charm – Quimby's Cruising Guide

Maysville, Kentucky’s, Small-Town Charm

Historic river communities like Maysville, Kentucky, mix small-town charm with trendy culture, and boaters can wind through the town with tranquil ease. Coast along the Ohio River and spend a day or two exploring the culinary delights, the arts and entertainment scenes, and the outdoorsy offerings throughout the city. 

Situated right along the Ohio River, downtown Maysville and its Entertainment Destination Center (EDC) have plenty to offer. To learn about what makes Maysville so magical, all the stories of the region are told visually at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center. This space is brimming with dynamic exhibits, collections, and even a genealogical-historical library filled with books and documents from the past 300 years. The Regional History Museum sheds light on the past through award-winning dioramas, thousands of regional artifacts, and a gallery of fine art related to Maysville and the entire state of Kentucky.  

Its Place in History

Photo courtesy of The Old Pogue Distillery

And what would a trip to Kentucky be without a bit of bourbon history? The Old Pogue Experience, housed in the historic Limestone Building (adjacent to the Museum Center), delights visitors with a look at the spirit’s rich history and the mystique of The Old Pogue Distillery. Little-known fact: before Kentucky was a state, the community at the mouth of Limestone Creek was formed where the first bourbon barrels were shipped down the Ohio River. The village of Limestone was later incorporated as Maysville in 1787. 

So much has changed since those early days – namely, the population snowballed and, with that growth came a plethora of places to eat, drink, and recreate. Several restaurants and bars in the EDC offer a vast sampling of bourbons, such as Kenton Stories with Spirit and Crowe Bar. There are plenty of hotels overlooking the Ohio River, public access points to the river and pier, quaint bed and breakfasts, galleries, and gift shops citywide.  

Historic Old Washington is also integral to Kentucky’s frontier history. This sweet little town is famed for its numerous firsts: Washington was recorded in the first federal census in 1790 as having only 462 inhabitants; the town had the first postal station west of the Allegheny Mountains; Simon Kenton planted the first corn in Mason County; and Washington was the first county seat. 

Photo courtesy of Kenton Stories with Spirit

Washington’s role in the settlement of America’s frontier was so significant, in fact, that the National Park Service included its entire historic district and several of its individual buildings in its Historic American Buildings Survey Program. Today, visitors can tour multiple museums throughout the village that reflect the rapid growth from pioneer log cabins to impressive brick homes in the Federal and Georgian townhouse styles. The visitor center is open seasonally and offers information through guided and self-guided tours. For a more independent touring experience, Maysville has its own complimentary bike program that takes reservations. 

Opting for a tour on foot? Try the Downtown Maysville Walking Tour at 2 East Third Street (which takes about two hours) or the Downtown Maysville Culinary Walking Tour (which starts at the same location and invites guests to spend four hours sampling some of Maysville’s most famous dishes, all while discovering the history and evolution of the area’s cuisine). There is also the Maysville Trolley Tour through downtown Maysville and Old Washington.  

Eventful Attractions 

Downtown Maysville has a vibrant calendar of events throughout the year: Summer Sounds Concerts on the first Friday of the month from May to September; Late-Night Shopping Third Thursday, year-round; farmers’ markets every Saturday from May to October; and seasonal live productions from the Washington Opera House and The Maysville Players. 

After all the events, walking tours, and visits to various attractions, why not take a peaceful break to get back into nature and unplug? Just the spot for this is the Cummins Nature Preserve a 110-acre recreation area located minutes from the heart of Maysville. There are hiking and walking trails, animal habitats, and even free guided hikes throughout the season. The preserve is open year-round for foot traffic, and there are classes available (covering topics ranging from plant identification to edible plants). Try a few primitive camping spots during the main season from March to November. 

The Maysville-Mason County Recreation Park is another stunning spot for unwinding. It is the largest park in Maysville, located outside the pioneer village of Old Washington. This 57-acre area has a swimming facility, a dog park, a par-three golf course, a putt-putt golf course, two tennis courts, four pickleball courts, two softball fields, five picnic shelters, several playgrounds, and a one-mile walking trail. Play sand volleyball and corn hole onsite and check out the 12-acre fishing lake.  

And, while relishing all the sights, don’t forget to experience the covered bridges that were built across Kentucky’s rivers and creeks in the late 1700s. These “timbered tunnels” sheltered travelers and their cargo before the days when automobiles were the norm. Some of these bridges decayed or burned down during the Civil War, while others have been replaced by more modern structures. All the remaining covered bridges in Kentucky are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, so be sure to make time to see these magnificent relics. 

In Maysville, there is clearly no shortage of adventures. And when every sight has been seen and every corner explored, hop back on the boat, reflect on all the good times had, and start planning another visit. 

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