Looking for adventure in Henderson, Kentucky?
I’m sharing more about the best things to do and the best places to eat great food during your visit.
This article is written in partnership with Stellar. All opinions are my own.
Where is Henderson, Kentucky Located?
Henderson, Kentucky is located in Western Kentucky, 10 miles south of Evansville, Indiana, and 30 miles west of Owensboro, KY.
The city of Henderson is the 15th largest city in Kentucky with a population of more than 27,000.
Explore Audubon State Park
Audubon State Park, 3100 US HWY 41 N, Henderson, KY
Audubon State Park is a great destination for outdoor lovers offering plenty of opportunities to appreciate Henderson’s nature scenes both inside and out.
Visit the John James Audubon Museum
You can learn more about the life of John James Audubon, a nature enthusiast and painter who is most known for his “Birds of America” book compiled of 453 life-sized paintings of North American birds.
Visitors can view his complete set of The Birds of America in addition to many original artworks.
The museum contains three galleries with more than 200 objects and artifacts on display. There is also an Audubon family tie to the area with the family’s residency in Henderson from 1810-1819.
John’s impact and legacy continue today with Audubon Societies all over the country dedicated to protecting birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. You can find an Audubon Society near you here.
The Nature Center is located in the same building as the museum. There is even an area where you can comfortably observe birds from inside during the colder months.
During the summer months be on the lookout for registration for the WILD Wednesday Kids Nature Series at the park.
The 1.5-hour program uses nature activities, animal encounters, games, science experiments, and more to help kids ages 6-12 learn and connect with nature in a fun way.
Outdoor Adventures at Audubon State Park
There are more than 6 miles of trails available for guests to hike during their visit.
Hiking Trails at Audubon State Park
- Audubon Wetlands Trail / Island Loop Trail – 1.5 miles – (Easy hike)
- Backcountry Trail – 1.6 miles (Moderate hike)
- Deer Ridge Trail – .3 miles (Easy-moderate hike)
- Eagle Glen Pet Trail – .9 miles (Moderate hike) *This is the only hike where pets are allowed on the trail.
- Kentucky Coffeetree Trail – .4 miles (Easy-moderate hike)
- King Benson Trail – .3 miles ( Easy hike)
- Museum Trail – .25 miles (Easy hike)
- Pawpaw Valley Trail – .23 miles (Easy-moderate hike)
- Scenic Overlook Trail – .22 miles (Easy hike)
- Warbler Road – .7 miles (Moderate hike)
- Wilderness Lake Trail – 1 mile ( Moderate hike)
Additional Family-Friendly Activities and Recreation at Audubon State Park
The park has a 28-acre lake filled with catfish, bluegill, and largemouth where park guests can fish from the banks.
Make sure that you check with recreation staff for where to check out free fishing gear.
Picnicking & Playgrounds
If you want to relax by the water there are shelters within eyesight of the lake which make a nice spot for a picnic lunch.
The Sycamore, Lakeview, Cardinal, and Campground shelters in the park also have a playground nearby.
The state park has a 9-hole golf course.
Lodging and Camping at Audubon State Park
There are several lodging options at Audubon State Park:
- (5) one bedroom cottages
- (1) ADA accessible 2 bedroom college
- (69) – site campground
Tasting at the Henderson Brewing Company
737 2nd Street, Henderson, KY
Henderson Brewing Co. is Henderson’s first craft brewery and the first commercial brewery in Henderson in over 80 years.
The brewery was started by 5 local families that wanted to bring craft beer to Henderson.
Their beers are currently available exclusively in the taproom in a variety of styles.
The design of the taproom is a nod to one of the building’s former businesses as the “Bright Spot Tavern” in the late 1800s.
Find Out Why Hometown Roots Is a Local Favorite
136 2nd Street, Henderson, KY
Enjoy southern comfort food in the heart of downtown Henderson at Hometown Roots.
After you experience a meal there, you’ll understand why this restaurant is a local favorite.
The limited-time specials in addition to the regular staples give you an excuse to come back again and again.
Hometown Roots is a farm-to-table restaurant serving delicious food and fresh produce that is grown as locally as possible.
They don’t have to go far for the Bibb lettuce in their salads thanks to the hydroponic system displayed inside the restaurant.
Hometown Roots offers seasonal cocktails, an extensive bourbon list, craft beer on tap, and more.
You know you’re off to a great start when warm cornbread is delivered to your table with a generous portion of butter on top.
Starter Recommendations at Hometown Roots
I’ve got a few recommendations for appetizers.
First, start with the Pimento cheese fritters made with house-made pimento cheese, deep fried & topped with red pepper, and bacon marmalade.
Next, try the Deviled egg duo made with 6 deviled eggs.
3 of the deviled eggs have sweet sorghum topped with red pepper bacon marmalade and 3 of the eggs are spicy, deep-fried with a house rub.
Meatloaf You’ll Want to Try
If you’re looking for an entree recommendation you can’t go wrong with the Smoked meatloaf. It’s honestly not a dish that I would typically order but it’s their top seller and their very first recipe.
The smoked meatloaf is made using local peach wood smoked ground beef and pork, loaded with smoked gouda, and topped with caramelized tomato BBQ sauce.
The dish is seared which gives it the perfect texture of firm and tender.
Sides at Hometown Roots
Be forewarned that it’s going to be a challenge to narrow down all of the great options when it comes to sides.
- Hashbrown casserole
- Jalapeno creamed corn
- Southern-style green beans
- Pimento cheese grits
- Low-country greens
- Smashed potatoes
- Brussel sprouts
- Red beans & rice
I’m a big fan of sharing table style if you can find a few other willing participants.
Save Room for Dessert
For dessert, we shared the seasonal strawberries and cream chess bar.
You can’t go wrong with any variation of their “chess bar” dessert ( a gooey butter cake with a cream cheese mixture on top) that is generous enough to share or the “Banana Puddin” topped with toasted meringue.
If you enjoyed your meal at Hometown Roots, you’ll also want to check out Homer’s Barbecue around the corner, and Roots Coffee Bar which are additional restaurants by Hometown Roots owner Casey Todd.
Breakfast at Sidewalk Café
228 2nd Street, Henderson, KY
Sidewalk Cafe is another great spot in downtown Henderson for breakfast or lunch.
There is plenty of seating inside or you can take your order to go.
We opted for the breakfast burrito and the French toast.
My friend and I decided to split two dishes for the best of both worlds with sweet and savory.
Coffee Stop at Roast Coffee Bar
136 2nd St Suite 100, Henderson, KY
Roast Coffee Bar is a popular spot for a morning coffee or afternoon pick-me-up featuring coffee, lattes, and teas.
It’s also hard to miss the tempting baked goods in the display case when you order so you might want to try one in the name of “research.” You’ll want to get there early for first dibs.
If you’re looking for a latte recommendation, try the Kentucky syrup.
The coffee at Roast Coffee Bar is sourced from Frothy Monkey Roasting Co. out of Nashville, TN.
Enjoy the Henderson Riverfront
N. Water St., Henderson KY
The Henderson Riverfront provides scenic views of the Henderson Bridge and the Ohio River between Audubon Mill Park and Sunset Park.
Audubon Mill Park on 123 N. Water Street has several bronze sculptures in the park in honor of its namesake.
One sculpture is of John Audubon and there are a few bird sculptures that are part of the Audubon Bird Walking Tour.
15 of the 16 sculptures are in downtown Henderson and 13 of the 16 sculptures include hidden critters.
The parks have access to a boat ramp, dock, interactive water feature, playground, amphitheater, restrooms, and picnic tables.
This is one of the great spots to stop and enjoy the view on a summer night.
You may even notice locks on one of the railings at the park where couples have pledged their love.
Walk Through the Oldest Park in Henderson
10 S. Main St. Henderson, KY
Henderson’s Central Park is centrally located and features a beautiful fountain, gazebo, toddler play structures, swings, and picnic tables.
Central Park was previously known as Transylvania Park dating back to 1797. In the park, you’ll see a plaque that states that it was “The first municipal park west of the Alleghenies.”
The park is lit by string lights providing a romantic setting, perfect for an evening stroll.
Worth the Drive –Farmer and the Frenchman Winery & Cafe
12522 US Hwy 41, Robards, KY
The Farmer and the Frenchman Winery & Cafe is a great spot for a gathering with friends or a date night.
The winery, cafe, and event venue are the fusion of passion projects of owners with very different upbringings.
One of the owners is from Paris, France, and the other was born and raised in Henderson County.
Patrons will appreciate the stylish and approachable blendings of European-style recipes that are based on Kentucky ingredients. Popular menu items include bread, pasta, and artisan pizzas.
Ingredients on the menu are sourced as locally as possible starting with produce on their farm along with products from other local Kentucky Proud farmers.
Patrons can sample the local wines that include both reds and whites. There are also wines from California, Italy, Spain, and France on the menu available by the glass or bottle.
The venue has become a very popular destination for weddings, private parties, and special events.
Be on the lookout for upcoming special events on their website or Facebook page.
If you want to extend your stay, there are three solar-powered cabins available for rent within steps of the restaurant/ tasting room.
Additional Things to Do in Henderson, KY
- Preston Arts Center (formerly Henderson Fine Arts Center) – located on the campus of Henderson Community College at 2660 S Green St, Henderson, KY. This venue is used for live music and special events.
- Atkinson Park and Swimming Pool- 1801 N Elm St, Henderson, KY- Disc golf course, pool, skate park
- John J. Audubon State Park Golf Course – 3100 US Highway 41, Henderson, KY – Nine-hole golf course
- Sandy Lee Watkins Park – 16040 Highway 351, Henderson, KY – 500+ acre park
- Ellis Park Racing & Gaming – Ellis Park Race Track, 3300 US Hwy 41 N, Henderson, KY.
- OVAL (Ohio Valley Art League) – 101 N Water St, Henderson, KY – Promoting visual arts events
Annual Special Events in Henderson, KY
You’ll want to add these special local events to your calendar.
- WC Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival – One of the largest free music festivals in the nation.
- Sandy Lee Watkins Songwriters Festival – Learn more about the stories behind the songs.
- Bluegrass in the Park Folklife Festival – Featuring live music, folklife displays, children’s activities, and more.
Learn More About Upcoming Events in Henderson, KY
You can find more upcoming events on Henderson County Tourist Commission website.
Need a Place to Stay in Henderson, KY?
223 2nd Street, Henderson, KY
During our visit, we stayed at The Nest Loft in downtown Henderson.
The Nest Loft is the perfect spot to stay if you enjoy being within walking distance of local restaurants, fun events, and local shops in downtown Henderson.
The loft sleeps 4 people and has a large bedroom with a king-size bed and a second bedroom with a queen-size bed.
There is a fully equipped kitchen with an island, utensils/cookware/dishware, refrigerator, stove, and microwave. For extended stays, guests will appreciate the washer and dryer next to the bathroom.
The kitchen connects to a private patio with stairs that connect to the back lot for parking. There is also a staircase to the loft at the front of the building.
*Please note that there isn’t an elevator to take you to the second floor where The Nest is located.
Additional parking options are in front of the building or the parking lot next door.
The large living room and open floor plan make it a nice spot for gathering or relaxing.
Looking for Additional Things to Do in Western Kentucky?
Check out these destinations within driving distance of Henderson.