What to do in Owensboro, Kentucky? Things to do and places to eat from local experience.

by | Last updated Aug 2, 2023

Owensboro is Kentucky’s fourth largest city and known as the Bluegrass Music Capital of the World. It was founded in 1797 by Bill Smothers. It has a population of about 60,000 residents in the city limits and is now known for it’s Bluegrass and BBQ.

We bought 22 acres a couple years ago outside of the city in Whitesville and now call Owensboro home. There’s so much to see and do here. The numerous parks and playgrounds for the kids keep us all entertained. There’s an event nearly every weekend somewhere in the city, mostly downtown along the riverfront.

If you are traveling in the area and looking for things to do in Owensboro, there’s definitely no shortage. We also recommend checking out the Owensboro City Guide for even more things to do in the city.

In this Owensboro Kentucky travel guide, we’ll go through some of our favorite things to do in the city and what we recommend as locals.

When you first visit Owensboro, you’ll get a taste of what Kentucky has to offer. There’s plenty of museums, artwork, local flavors, bourbon and some of the best BBQ you’ll find in the state.

All of the locals that have been in Owensboro that call the city home are really proud of the area and what the city has to offer.

Living in Owensboro has allowed us to experience many different food genres, parks, attractions and more. Here are the things to do in Owensboro that we recommend.

Eat at Moonlite Inn BBQ

Of course food and BBQ is first on the list and one of my personal favorites in Moonlite Inn BBQ. If you are into buffets and want to sample a wide variety of BBQ meats, sides and desserts, then Moonlite is the place to be.

Moonlite BBQ opened as a roadside restaurant in 1963. It is owned by the Bosley family and today it is a staple Owensboro restaurant as well as the whole Western Kentucky region.

The buffet consists of many different types of meats including pulled pork, sliced brisket, mutton, chicken and various others. Along with the meat, there’s about 15 different side items to try such as mac n cheese, green beans, mashed taters, cinnamon baked apples and more.

And don’t forget about the dessert bar. There’s plenty of sweets to finish off your delicious meal. My favorite is blackberry cobbler with a side if vanilla soft serve ice cream.

Visit Moonlite BBQ, you won’t regret it.

Visit Smothers Park on the riverfront

Who doesn’t like a good walk along a riverfront.

Smothers Park is a large park and playground area downtown Owensboro that sits right along the Ohio River. The boardwalk is a smooth sidewalk, allowing people of all ages to enjoy a walk along the river and see Southern Indiana from the other side.

There are plenty of water fountains, statues and historical signs to enjoy and learn a little bit about the area.

Stop along the boardwalk and take advantage of one porch style swings along the way. You can take a break and enjoy one of the many barges that travel up and down the Ohio River each day.

The park offers a large playground for all ages of kids, a splash pad that’s open in the summer, concession stand and picnic tables as well as restrooms.

Be downtown on Friday evenings during the summer for Friday After Five, a large gathering put on my the city that contains multiple food trucks, live music and shows.

Smothers Park is the best and our personal favorite park in Owensboro. The kids can play on the large tree-style playground and we can enjoy the scenery of the Ohio River. It’s also one of the largest playgrounds in the United States.

Owensboro Museum of Science and History

The Owensboro Museum of Science and History is a historical museum that offers plenty of exhibits that kids and families will enjoy. Plan on about 1.5 – 2 hours to completely walk through the whole museum that has multiple levels of displays, interactive exhibits and toys.

On the top floor, kids can enjoy the many different playground options that include small slides for the little ones and a treehouse for the older kids.

One of the coolest things about the museum is the interactive train set in the lobby. Kids can view a train and interactive with it by pressing buttons that allow the train to move forward, turn lights on and various other things. There’s also a large fish tank up front that kids love to watch.

If you’re looking for something for kids to do in Owensboro, then the Museum of Science and History is a good place to go.

Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum

Although, we have not personally visited the Hall of Fame Museum, there have been plenty of positive reviews of the place.

The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum is a historic museum that offers interactive exhibits, live music and more. If you are hungry, they also have the Kentucky Legend cafe that offers various local eats.

This is on our bucket list this year to visit and we hope to provide a better review at that point.

Yellow Creek Park & Pioneer Village

There is definitely no shortage of parks and outdoor adventures to do in Owensboro.

One of our most recent findings is Yellow Creek Park. This scenic park is 152 acres and offers a whole range of activities for all ages.

There’s a few different areas of playgrounds for the kids to enjoy. There’s also a small splash pad for the hot summer months.

If you are looking for a spot to go fishing in town, then Yellow Creek offers a stocked fishing lake.

One of the most interesting and historical things in Yellow Creek Park is the Jim Lambert Pioneer Village and nature trail.

The village features a host of different log cabins and old historic cabins and buildings from the 1890s.

Other amenities at the park include:

  • Disc golf course
  • Picnic shelters
  • Nature trails
  • Basketball, pickle ball & tennis courts

Yellow Creek is also the location of ROMP fest, a large outdoor musical fest featuring a wide variety of Bluegrass, folks and American musical artists.

Take a coffee and donut break

Owensboro has numerous coffee shops, bakeries and cafes.

If you are needing a place to grab a quick cup of coffee to push you through the afternoon or would like a morning donut or pastry, then Owensboro has you covered.

Rolling Pin

One of the most famous donut establishments and one of our favorites is Rolling Pin Bakery & Donut Shop. Since 1947, Rolling Pin has been making delicious donuts from fresh dough every day of the week.

Niko’s Bakery & Cafe

If you are looking for an Italian/European style bakery, then Niko’s is what you need to try. They have all kinda of sandwiches and pastries. Enjoy a cup of their fresh brewed coffee to go along with it.

Gramps Coffee & Donuts

Another coffee and donut shop in town is Gramps.

They offer uniquely crafted donuts and freshly brewed coffee. If you are in the downtown area, then check out Gramps Coffee & Donuts on Frederica St (the main strip).

Scooters Coffee

Scooters Coffee is a national chain but has become one of our favorite coffee locations on the East side of town.

They have many different flavors of coffees, cappuccinos, nitro coffee and more. If you’re wanting a sweet treat they have a few different options too like cafe pops and pastries.

Scoots Coffee in Owensboro KY

Conclusion

If you are thinking of coming to Owensboro, then I hope this travel guide helped you out.

See ya soon!

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2 Comments

  1. David

    Cool river city

    Reply
  2. Alberto

    Very helpful list of things to do in Owensboro. We are coming for a tournament this year.

    Reply

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Trey Copeland

Trey Copeland

Founder & Editor

Hello folks! I’m Trey Copeland, founder and editor of Stay Bluegrass, along with my wife Kaci. We’ve been fortunate to travel to many countries such as Mexico and Costa Rica, but our true roots remain here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Bluegrass State.

Our goal is to help you live like a local while traveling and exploring the great state of Kentucky. We want to help you find the best places to eat, the must see and do attractions and more.

Hey! I'm Trey

Hey! I'm Trey

I live in Owensboro, Kentucky and have traveled around the Bluegrass state with my wife Kaci.

Read more about us

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