A different variation of 10 Things Tuesday… The last few days have been unusually cool here in Kentucky for this time of year. It makes me that much more anxious for summer to arrive. With summer on the brain, I’ve compiled a list of 10 things I love about Kentucky summers!
1. The Lake
Our proximity to the ocean may not be ideal (8-10 hour minimum), but we’ve got some killer lakes and marinas. From my central Kentucky location, I can travel an hour or less north or south and be at my choice of Lake Cumberland‘s Jamestown Marina or any number of marina’s on Lake Herrington, plus a few lake houses owned by close friends. Oceans and beaches may scream summer to many, but in this area, we dream about packing coolers for weekends on the lake.
2. Drive-in Theaters
Movies on the big screen are great and, sure, the IMAX is pretty snazzy, but there is nothing quite like a movie under the stars at the drive-in theater. It reflects a simpler time where summer nights didn’t include gadgets and devices. There are two one-screen theaters nearby, one a simple 20 minutes from our middle-of-nowhere Valley in Stanford, Ky. There is another just north of Husband’s place of work in Harrodsburg, KY. Aside from the actual theaters, a lot of parks have movie nights on the lawn. I can’t wait for the kids to be old enough to stay up late for outdoor movies.
I never played any form of baseball or softball, but even I love the ball park in the summer time. You can hit up a MLB game with a drive north to Cincinnati to see the Reds play, but you don’t even have to do that for a good baseball experience in Kentucky. The Louisville Bats and Lexington Legends are both great group/family activities.
4. Bluegrass State Games
No matter your age or your sport of choice, Kentucky gives everyone a chance to live out their dreams for some summer fun and competition and even bring home medals. Seriously, I don’t think there is a sport not offered in the Bluegrass State Games. It even gives the opportunity for numerous ages to come together to compete, as well as boys and girls. I personally have a fond memory of running a medley relay with my brother and dad many moons ago.
5. Farmers Markets & Fresh Produce
Whether you keep your own garden or not, everyone can live like a European, cooking with fresh produce on a nightly basis, because the goods are plentiful in Kentucky. The farmers markets on Saturday mornings hold a great vibe. And if your community does not have one, it’s probably because everyone, or their neighbor, has their own plentiful garden. More or less, Kentucky has a great growing season where you can grow everything from peppers and tomatoes to corn and beans to watermelon and berries.
6. County & State Fairs
Perhaps more crazy than classy, there is nothing quite like hitting up the county fair–and you can basically find one any weekend of the summer across the Bluegrass. And then the big finale comes in August with the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville. Again, it reflects simpler times and I think summer holds a lot of potential for putting away the gadgets and devices and instead making real memories with people you care about. Check out the livestock, ride rides and eat junky food, run into people you haven’t seen in ages, let the kids run. Enjoy being outside.
7. Dairy Dips
The simplicity of this state can be found in the state highways that wind through knobs and horse country. And you never know when you’ll happen upon the perfect summer stop off: a dairy dip with enough soft serve flavors to compete with Baskin Robins. You know it’s summertime when the dairy dips begin to open. What a depressing time when you have to pass them by to see them closed in those frigid months. So when you see one, scrounge the change in your car and grab a tasty treat.
8. Horse Racing
Technically the ponies don’t race all summer, but they race at Churchill Downs into July and in the Bluegrass state, horse racing is a fun exciting event anytime–not just for Derby. Besides, getting a ticket to millionaire’s row or any box seats is actually affordable. So make it a fun day with friends and splurge for the nice seats–maybe even a meal included. Who knows, one right bet and someone will have the day paid for!
9. Lightening Bugs & Late Nights
I won’t say bugs aren’t annoying during Kentucky summers, but we also get the magic of lightening bugs on summer nights. Nothing adds magic to the outdoors like the twinkling of those little bugs. Days are long, and whether they are full or work or play, relaxing with good food and drinks on the porch, backyard or around a fire are the way to end any day, especially on a clear night with those magical bugs twinkling all around.
Being patriotic in the summer time just feels right–especially in a state like Kentucky that shines with small town pride. We love summer and we love our country and priding Old Glory. Seriously, can you imagine if our Independence Day was in February? Bombpops and parades in February? I don’t think so… Freedom and summer go hand-in-hand. We kick off the season with Memorial Day cookouts and camping and carry it straight through to the 4th of July. Even my small town enjoys activities, a parade and a spectacular fireworks show.
BONUS: 11. It’s just long enough
We look forward to summer like crazy. We get the killer snows and freezing temps that make everyone dream of the poolside and backyard grilling, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the hot humidity of June and July didn’t wear us out to the point of being pretty pumped to put on our boots and sweaters to tailgate through fall football season. Summer in Kentucky lasts just long enough to love it but be OK to see it go. And then we are always anxiously awaiting it come January or February
What are some of your favorite parts about summer in Kentucky or summer where you live? Share! I want to know what I’m missing!