15 Best Things to Do in Williamsburg, KY

Williamsburg is situated in southeastern Kentucky, near the border with Tennessee. It is the county seat of Whitley County and it lies in the Appalachian region, surrounded by picturesque mountains and forests. The town is known for its captivating natural attractions and picturesque landscapes.

Among its most renowned features is Cumberland Falls, affectionately referred to as the “Niagara of the South.”

Now a bit of history. The city was established in 1818 and named after Colonel William Whitley, a Revolutionary War hero. It played a significant role in the Civil War as a strategic location along the Cumberland Gap, a pass through the Appalachian Mountains.

Over the years, Williamsburg has developed into a quaint and charming town with a rich history.

Historically, Williamsburg’s economy was centered around coal mining and timber, but over the years, it has diversified into various industries, including education, healthcare, and small businesses.

From historic landmarks and cultural experiences to thrilling outdoor pursuits, Williamsburg offers a diverse range of attractions that captivate the imagination.

Join me as I share the best 15 things to do in Williamsburg, Kentucky, revealing the hidden gems that make this city a remarkable destination.

Things to Do in Williamsburg, Kentucky

1. University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands
Image source: ucumberlands.edu

The University of the Cumberlands is a private, Christian liberal arts university located in Williamsburg, Kentucky. Established in 1889, the university has a rich history and has grown into a prominent educational institution in the region and beyond.

The campus of the University of the Cumberlands is spread across a picturesque area, surrounded by the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.

This scenic setting offers a serene and conducive environment for learning, encouraging students to connect with nature while pursuing their academic goals.

The university places emphasis on its Christian identity, infusing faith and values into its educational programs.

2. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Image source: tripadvisor.com

Stepping into Cumberland Falls State Resort Park was like entering a realm of natural wonder. The breathtaking Cumberland Falls, often referred to as the “Niagara of the South,” cascades down the Cumberland River, creating a mesmerizing display of beauty and power.

Hiking trails meander through the park, allowing visitors to discover panoramic views, and pristine forests, and even witness the enchanting phenomenon of a moonbow on a clear night.

3. Kentucky Splash Water Park

Water Park

This place is a popular family-friendly water park located in Williamsburg! This family-friendly destination offers thrilling water slides, lazy rivers, and splash pads for kids of all ages.

Kentucky Splash is a seasonal water park, typically operating during the warmer months from late spring to early fall and the price is just 10$ dollars each for the entire day!

The park offers a wide range of water attractions suitable for visitors of all ages. From thrilling water slides that cater to adrenaline seekers to the serene lazy rivers perfect for relaxation, there’s something for everyone.

4. Go for a hike at the Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail

Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky

The Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail is a spectacular hiking destination that traverses through the picturesque Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky.

Stretching for over 120 miles, the trail offers outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers an unforgettable hiking experience with its breathtaking views, diverse ecosystems, and abundant wildlife.

The trail meanders through dense forests of oak, hickory, and pine, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere. During the spring and summer months, wildflowers adorn the path, adding a burst of color to your hike.

5. Historic Downtown

Downtown Williamsburg KY

Strolling through Historic Downtown Williamsburg felt like taking a journey back in time. The well-preserved buildings and charming streetscape exude a quaint ambiance, inviting exploration.

As I wandered along Main Street, I discovered local shops offering unique crafts, antiques, and delicious Southern cuisine.

6. Colonel Sanders Cafe and Museum

Colonel Sanders Cafe and Museum
Image source: Tripadvisor.com

Located about 10 miles away from Williamsburg, this quaint establishment preserves the legacy of Harland Sanders, the iconic founder of KFC. This unique museum is situated at the original site of Sanders’ first restaurant, where he perfected his famous “Original Recipe” of fried chicken.

The Colonel Sanders Cafe and Museum is a significant historical attraction dedicated to honoring the life and legacy of Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

The museum features a recreated 1940s-style restaurant, allowing guests to see what the original eatery looked like when the Colonel first served his signature fried chicken to hungry travelers.

The charming ambiance and historical ambiance take visitors on a nostalgic trip, evoking a sense of the past and the humble beginnings of the global fast-food chain.

7. Williamsburg Whitley County Historical Museum

Williamsburg Whitley County Historical Museum
Image source: tripadvisor.com

For history enthusiasts, the Williamsburg Whitley County Historical Museum provided a treasure trove of information and artifacts.

Situated in the heart of Williamsburg, the museum serves as a valuable resource for locals and visitors interested in delving into the past and learning about the region’s historical development.

The museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, photographs, and exhibits that chronicle the history of Williamsburg and Whitley County. These items provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives of early settlers, the growth of the town, the development of industries, and significant events that shaped the community over the years.

8. Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park

Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park
Image source: theoutbound.com

The Wilderness Road was a historic route used by early pioneers to journey through the Appalachian Mountains and into Kentucky and beyond.

It was an essential pathway for westward migration in the late 18th century, allowing settlers to explore and settle in the vast frontier lands of Kentucky and the western territories.

The park features a reconstructed section of the original Wilderness Road, complete with log cabins and other historical structures.

The park also offers various recreational opportunities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, and playgrounds.

9. Cumberland College Park

Since this College covers a significant part of the city, for some leisure and relaxing time you could take a walk around Cumberland College Park.

When you get tired you can stop, sit on the grass and admire local teams compete in friendly matches and embrace the vibrant energy that permeates the park.

10. Visit the Old Fashion Trading Post

Old Fashion Trading Post
Image source: thekentuckydaily.com

Visiting the Old Fashion Trading Post is a delightful and unique experience in Williamsburg, Kentucky. Old Fashioned Trading Days, held every September, transforms the lawn of Courthouse Square into a town of its own.

Beyond the merchandise, the Old Fashion Trading Post also serves as a hub for locals to gather, share stories, and connect with one another.

It fosters a sense of community and camaraderie, making it more than just a store—it’s a cultural hub that reflects the spirit of Williamsburg and its welcoming hospitality.

11. Visit the Red Bird Mission

Red Bird Mission is a Christian mission located in southeastern Kentucky, near the town of Beverly. It serves as a significant community outreach and social service organization, offering various programs and assistance to the local Appalachian population.

The mission’s primary focus is on providing education, healthcare, and other essential services to improve the quality of life for the people in the region.

The mission was founded in 1921 and has a long history of dedicated service to the people of the Red Bird River Valley and surrounding areas. It is located in a rural and picturesque setting, surrounded by the beautiful Appalachian Mountains and lush greenery.

Red Bird Mission’s facilities include schools, a medical clinic, a dental clinic, a community center, and a craft shop. These facilities play a crucial role in supporting the needs of the local community, particularly in areas where resources and opportunities might be limited.

12. Enjoy nature at the Jellico Creek Lake

Kentucky Lake

If you want to spend some time outdoors, Jellico Creek Lake provides several opportunities. Here you can go fishing, picnicking, hiking or simply admire the beauty of nature.

If you choose hiking, the good news is that Jellico Creek Lake has kid-friendly routes. Make sure you check the weather in advance and dress properly.

13. Go for a hike at the Daniel Boone National Forest

Daniel Boone National Forest
Image source: kentuckybb.com

The forest is named after the legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone, who played a significant role in exploring and settling the region during the late 18th century.

Covering over 700,000 acres it is characterized by its diverse landscapes, including rugged mountains, lush valleys, waterfalls, and abundant wildlife.

One popular hiking trail in the forest is the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail, which stretches over 300 miles and offers various access points for day hikes or multi-day treks.

Other notable trails include the Cumberland Falls Moonbow Trail, Red River Gorge Trails, and Natural Arch Scenic Area Trails, among many others.

14. Go rafting at the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Image source: tripadvisor.com

The Big South Fork River offers various sections with different levels of difficulty for rafting. Some sections have Class II and Class III rapids, suitable for beginners and families seeking a milder adventure.

More experienced rafters may find sections with Class IV and higher rapids, providing a more thrilling and challenging experience.

The best time for rafting at the Big South Fork is typically during the spring and early summer when water levels are higher, offering more exciting rapids and better rafting conditions.

The cost of rafting at the Big South Fork can vary based on the length of the trip, the section of the river, and the services provided by the outfitter. Prices might also include shuttle services from Williamsburg to the starting point.

15. Enjoy local art at the Williamsburg Art Gallery

Art museum

Aiming to promote and support the arts within the community and beyond, Williamsburg Art Gallery is a prominent artistic hub in Williamsburg. It serves as a platform for local and regional artists to showcase their talent and creativity.

The Williamsburg Art Gallery features a diverse range of artistic styles and mediums, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography, and more.

Just go there and visit the gallery and see what exhibitions they have, as this changes regularly.

5 Things to Do in Williamsburg, Kentucky with kids

  1. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park: Explore the majestic Cumberland Falls, known as the “Niagara of the South.” Enjoy scenic views, hiking trails, and the chance to see the Moonbow phenomenon, a rainbow created by the moon’s light.
  2. Sanders Park: Visit this family-friendly park with playgrounds, walking trails, and open spaces for picnics and outdoor play.
  3. Thrillsville Adventure Park: Experience outdoor adventure with activities like ziplining, rock climbing, and rappelling suitable for older kids and teenagers.
  4. Kentucky Splash Water Park: Cool off and have fun at this water park featuring water slides, pools, and splash areas perfect for a day of family water play.
  5. Hiking and Nature Exploration: Take advantage of the area’s natural beauty with hikes in nearby forests, such as the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, where you can learn about history while enjoying the outdoors.

5 Things to Do in Williamsburg, Kentucky for couples

  1. Sunset at Cumberland Falls: Witness a breathtaking sunset at Cumberland Falls, where the natural beauty and serene atmosphere create a romantic setting.
  2. Romantic Dining: Enjoy a romantic dinner at one of the local restaurants, such as cozy cafes or intimate eateries that offer delectable cuisine and a charming ambiance.
  3. Couples’ Spa Retreat: Treat yourselves to a relaxing spa day, where you can indulge in couples’ massages, facials, and pampering treatments.
  4. Stargazing at Daniel Boone National Forest: Find a quiet spot in the Daniel Boone National Forest for stargazing, taking in the beauty of the night sky with your loved one.
  5. Couples’ Hike: Explore the scenic beauty of the area with a romantic hike, perhaps at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, where you can connect with nature and each other.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Williamsburg Kentucky known for?

Williamsburg, Kentucky is known for its proximity to Cumberland Falls, a majestic waterfall often called the “Niagara of the South,” and its beautiful natural surroundings.

What is the history of Williamsburg Kentucky?

Williamsburg, Kentucky, founded in 1818, has a rich and storied history. It was initially settled by Anglo-American pioneers, and its early economy revolved around agriculture and logging. The town played a significant role during the Civil War, serving as a Confederate supply depot.

Incorporated in 1882, Williamsburg grew as a center for education with the establishment of Cumberland College, which later became the University of the Cumberlands. The town’s economy diversified with coal mining in the early 20th century, and the railroad played a crucial role in its development.

What county is Williamsburg Kentucky in?

Williamsburg, Kentucky is located in Whitley County.

What’s the zip code for Williamsburg KY?

The zip code for Williamsburg, Kentucky is 40769.

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