Murray is the perfect destination to immerse yourself in the warmth and friendliness of a true Kentucky town. With a population of approximately 17,000 residents, serves as the county seat of Calloway County. The town’s welcoming atmosphere reflects the genuine hospitality of its inhabitants, making visitors feel right at home.
Murray has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century, with its roots firmly planted in agriculture and transportation along the nearby Tennessee River.
The area around present-day Murray was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Chickasaw Nation. European settlers began arriving in the late 18th century, and by the early 19th century, the land was being surveyed and sold.
The city of Murray was founded in 1822 when a courthouse and jail were established on a plot of land donated by William Murray. The city was officially incorporated in 1844.
One of the defining moments in Murray’s history was the establishment of Murray State Normal School and Teachers College in 1922, which later became Murray State University. The university has played a significant role in shaping the city’s character and economy.
Murray is perhaps best known for being home to Murray State University, a prestigious institution of higher education. With its picturesque campus and strong academic programs, Murray State University has earned a reputation for excellence.
Things to Do in Murray, KY
1. Visit Murray State University
Start your journey in Murray by exploring the stunning campus of Murray State University.
MSU was established as Murray State Normal School and Teachers College in 1922. Its primary focus was to provide teacher education and training. Over the years, it expanded its academic offerings and became Murray State University in 1966.
Take a leisurely stroll through the grounds, admire the beautiful architecture, and soak up the vibrant energy of this esteemed institution.
2. Explore the Murray-Calloway County Park
The park is situated on the outskirts of Murray, providing easy access to both city residents and those from the surrounding areas.
Spend a day surrounded by nature at the Murray-Calloway County Park. Enjoy a picnic by the lake, go fishing, or take a peaceful walk along the scenic trails.
This park offers a serene escape and is perfect for families, nature enthusiasts, and those seeking tranquility.
3. Discover the Murray Art Guild
The Murray Art Guild hosts a series of rotating art exhibits throughout the year. These exhibits feature the works of talented local and regional artists, showcasing a diverse range of artistic styles and mediums.
From paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media, you’ll have the opportunity to appreciate and explore various forms of art.
Check their schedule for workshops or art events, and perhaps even bring home a unique piece of art as a memento.
4. Explore Kentucky Lake
Start your adventure at the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park, located approximately 15 miles southeast of Murray.
This park is nestled along the shores of Kentucky Lake and offers breathtaking views, hiking trails, picnic areas, and recreational opportunities such as boating and fishing.
Spend a few hours exploring the park and enjoying the natural surroundings.
5. Attend a Show at the Playhouse in the Park
If you’re a fan of performing arts, make sure to catch a show at the Playhouse in the Park. This community theater offers a range of productions throughout the year, showcasing local talent and providing entertaining performances for all ages.
6. Learn at the Wrather West Kentucky Museum
The museum is named after its benefactor, Kathryn “Kate” Stout Wrather, who had a deep passion for preserving the history and heritage of the region. It was established in 1964 and has since become a hub for educational and cultural exploration.
Discover fascinating exhibits that highlight the cultural heritage and development of western Kentucky. From Native American artifacts to exhibits on regional industries, this museum offers a captivating educational experience.
7. Shop at the Downtown Murray Farmers’ Market
If you are in town on Saturday mornings, be sure to visit the downtown area to shop, socialize or just walk around the square. Here you can experience the vibrant community spirit at the Downtown Murray Farmers’ Market.
Explore the stalls filled with fresh produce, local crafts, and homemade treats. Engage with local vendors, learn about their stories, and support the local economy.
8. Taste Local Flavors at Murray’s Restaurants
Indulge in the local culinary scene by dining at Murray’s unique restaurants. From charming cafes to cozy diners, you’ll find a variety of flavors to satisfy your taste buds.
Known for its delicious steaks and hearty American fare, The Keg Steakhouse & Bar offers a warm and inviting atmosphere. Enjoy their signature steaks, seafood dishes, and a selection of cocktails.
Craving Thai or sushi? Jasmine Thai & Sushi House is a popular choice in Murray. They serve a range of flavorful Thai dishes, fresh sushi rolls, and other Asian specialties.
Whatever you crave, here you can find! Don’t miss the opportunity to try regional specialties like catfish, barbecue, and homemade pies.
9. Attend Murray’s Annual Freedom Fest
If you happen to visit in early July, make sure to attend Murray’s annual Freedom Fest.
Held each year to celebrate Independence Day in the United States, the festival typically takes place on or around July 4th, the day commemorating the nation’s independence. This vibrant event brings the community together for a day of festivities, entertainment, and patriotic celebrations.
This lively event celebrates Independence Day with a parade, live music, food vendors, and a spectacular fireworks display. Join the community in commemorating this patriotic holiday with joy and excitement.
10. Connect with Nature at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area
A short drive from Murray will take you to the breathtaking Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
Explore the vast wilderness, go hiking or biking along scenic trails, and enjoy various recreational activities such as boating and wildlife watching.
This natural gem provides endless opportunities for outdoor adventures and is a true paradise for nature enthusiasts.
Things to do in Murray, Kentucky with kids
If you are planning a family trip, but you are not sure if this city is good for your children, I have put together a list of the top 5 good and suitable activities for kids to enjoy in Murray, Kentucky:
- Murray-Calloway County Park: Explore playgrounds, and walking trails, and enjoy the splash pad at this expansive park.
- Racer Arena Ice Skating: Have fun ice skating at the Racer Arena, offering public skating sessions.
- Playgrounds and Parks: Visit local parks like Central Park for outdoor play and recreation.
- Murray Art Guild Workshops: Join kid-friendly art workshops to nurture creativity and imagination.
- Jesse D. Jones Park and Nature Center: Learn about nature through interactive exhibits and nature trails.
Frequently Asked Questions
Murray, Kentucky is known for being home to Murray State University, offering a vibrant college atmosphere, diverse cultural events, and a charming small-town feel.
Murray, Kentucky features a range of stores including local boutiques, grocery stores, department stores, and national chain retailers, providing various shopping options.
One of the most famous individuals from Murray, Kentucky is musician John Prine, renowned for his folk and country music contributions.
Murray, Kentucky boasts a good quality of life with its friendly community, access to education and healthcare, outdoor recreational opportunities, and a balance between small-town living and university amenities.