Top 10 Beaches in Kentucky

Published on July 7th, 2021

What are the Most Popular Beaches in Kentucky?

The Bluegrass State may be better known for its blue-green rolling hills and acres of horse farms than its beaches — but make no mistake about it, those beaches are there! Kentucky is lucky to boast a plethora of beautiful inland rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, many of which offer gorgeous, sandy beachfront access that will leave you feeling as if you’ve traveled much further afield.

Top Beaches in Kentucky

1. Kentucky Dam Village Beach

2. Lake Barkley State Resort Park Beach

3. Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park Beach

4. Lake Malone State Park Beach

5. Rough River Dam Resort State Park

6. Nolin Lake State Park Beach

7. Barren River Lake

8. Green River Lake State Park Beach

9. Buckhorn State Resort Park Beach

10. Carr Creek State Park Beach

Kentucky Beaches

Here are 10 of the most beautiful and popular beaches in the state of Kentucky.

1. Kentucky Dam Village Beach

Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park

The Kentucky Dam is a sight to behold by any measure: a feat of engineering and an important player when it comes to ensuring that all of Kentucky has plenty of water to use in their everyday lives. Controlling the flow from the Tennessee River into the vast reaches of Kentucky Lake, it’s no wonder this dam is a popular road trip destination — and in fact, an inviting resort and marina has situated itself here in its shadow. Along with boat rentals, a golf course, restaurants and three-star accommodations, Kentucky Dam Village also boasts one of the biggest, softest, best-kept beaches in the state. Volleyball nets and shaded picnic pavillions give your family lots of options for enjoying a long day in the sunshine — not to mention, of course, the pristine waters of the lake itself!

Things to do near Kentucky Dam Village Beach: Tucked into the western part of the state close to the Illinois border, Kentucky Dam Village Beach is not far from the city of Paducah, which offers all the resources and amenities you need for your trip. Meanwhile, here are some local RVshare rentals in the area!

2. Lake Barkley State Resort Park Beach

lake barkley state resort park beach
Image via parks.ky.gov

Just across the wilderness that lies betwixt the two (rightfully named the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area), Lake Barkley shimmers in the Kentucky sunlight — and Lake Barkley State Resort Park offers, among many other attractions, a gorgeous beachfront that’s open to the public, even if you’re not staying in the lodge. Golden sands and cerulean waters are backed up by classic Kentucky greenery, and the park is well-outfitted, offering visitors access to a volleyball court, marina, rental equipment including everything from fishing boats to innertubes, and, of course, access to the hotel itself, which is beautiful even just to walk through.

Things to do near Lake Barkley State Resort Park: This resort park also has an on-site campground with more than 60 RV-friendly slots available, including water and electric hookups. Of course, given its proximity to other wildernesses like Land Between the Lakes and Mineral Mound State Park, you may end up driving your RV rental around between a few different destinations while you’re in the area.

3. Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park Beach

Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park Beach
Image via parks.ky.gov

Continuing further inland to the east, explorers will find the not-quite-so-vast, yet no less beautiful, expanses of Pennyrile Lake, which is the site of yet another Kentucky state resort park. This one is known for its well-appointed lodge, of course, but also its sensuously soft sands and turquoise waters, whose shallow depths and infinitesimal wake make it the perfect place for those traveling with small kids who aren’t yet strong swimmers. (Of course, you should always still keep an eye on them, though!) A nearby boat rental marina offers canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and pedal boats for those who want to see the lake from a new perspective.

Things to do near Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park: Like many Kentucky state resort parks, Pennyrile boasts a nearby 18-hole golf course, and is close to the communities of Princeton and Dawson Springs. Click here to browse some local peer-to-peer RV rentals in the area, which could make your vacation even better!

4. Lake Malone State Park Beach

Just an hour west of Bowling Green, Lake Malone State Park, and its pristine lake beach, await locals looking to escape the rush and travelers from further afield alike. This beach is beloved by families thanks to the shallow waters, low wake, and the lifeguard standing by just in case anything does go awry. Along with its sandy lakeshore, the state park also offers camping accommodations, hiking trails, boat ramps, and restrooms, making it an excellent choice for Kentucky locals hoping to create a memorable summer vacation — or even just a weekend getaway.

Things to do near Lake Malone State Park Beach: With a population approaching 70,000, Bowling Green is the third-largest metro in the state of Kentucky, and offers plenty to see, do, eat and explore. Another worthy adventure just about an hour away from Lake Malone: Mammoth Cave National Park, which is not just one of the most interesting national parks of any sort on the east coast, but also the largest known cave system in the world. Here are some local RVshare rentals and campgrounds to check out!

5. Rough River Dam Resort State Park

Rough River Dam Resort State Park
Image via parks.ky.gov

Its name may imply a rugged, treacherous landscape, but Rough River Dam Resort State Park offers a beach with calm, serene scenery and great opportunities for swimming and sunbathing. Soft sands lie in sharp contrast to the place’s name, and create the perfect substrate for relaxing, strolling, or sand castle building. The lake this beach overlooks is a massive 5,000 acres, and is a favorite among local boaters and fisherfolk especially. The lake boasts healthy populations of a wide variety of fish, including large- and small-mouth bass, hybrid striped bass, channel catfish and flathead catfish, and white and black crappie. Along with the state resort hotel, there are several places to camp along the lake’s meandering shoreline.

Things to do near Rough River Dam Resort State Park: Another beach that’s only about an hour away from Mammoth Cave National Park — arguably the most different geological and ecological environment you could think to visit — Rough River Dam Resort State Park is fairly remote, though small surrounding towns like Leitchfield offer all the amenities you need. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider.

6. Nolin Lake State Park Beach

Nolin Lake State Park Beach
Image via parks.ky.gov

Another sprawling central Kentucky lake, Nolin Lake State Park — and its gorgeous beachfront — are extremely popular options among vacationers in town to see the national park. That’s because it’s located almost immediately north of the caves! Its beach offers brightly colored sand with plenty of room to roam and spread out, and the clear, cool waters make for a great refreshing dip after a long day of hiking or exploring. This beach offers a great combination of developed amenities, like grills and picnic areas, and serene natural beauty. Case in point: it’s a favorite among bird-watchers, who come to see great blue heron, sandhill cranes and bald eagles, among many other feathered friends.

Things to do near Nolin Lake State Park Beach: We’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating: if you’re this close to Mammoth Cave National Park, you absolutely have to go check it out… though do be sure to book your cave tour ahead of time, because you can only go down with a guide and the tours often sell out. Meanwhile, here are some local RVshare rentals to consider to call your topside home away from home.

7. Barren River Lake

Female Kayaker on Barren River Lake

Its name may suggest a boring, deserted landscape, but make no mistake about it, Barren River Lake is teeming with opportunities for fun. The soft, golden-white sands and crystalline blue waters are just the start; surrounding the lake, you’ll find acres of dense Kentucky forest waiting, along with many different campgrounds, marinas, boat launches, and other vacation developments. There are many places to access Barren River Lake, but one of our favorite beachsides is at Barren River Lake State Park, which also offers camping, playgrounds, and other well-thought-out amenities. You can also check out Bailey’s Point Campground and The Narrows to get several different views of this beautiful body of water.

Things to do near Barren River Lake: Less than an hour east of Bowling Green, Barren River Lake and its many beaches are within easy reach of many other Kentucky adventures both urban and rural. Here are some local RVshare rentals and campgrounds to consider for your journey.

8. Green River Lake State Park Beach

Green River Lake State Park Beach kentucky
Image via parks.ky.gov

Okay, let’s set the record straight: the water here is blue, and a beautiful blue at that. But it’s true that this river is tucked right alongside a gorgeously green preserved wilderness at Green River Lake State Park, and what’s more, this nature preserve offers several beautiful beachfront access points to the water. The rolling blue-green hills in the background create some of the most beautiful and iconic views in the state of Kentucky, and the larger state park offers plenty of amenities and attractions including on-site camping, a marina, and even a stables so those who have horses can go horseback riding along the beach. This is Kentucky, after all — hard to think of a more fitting experience!

Things to do near Green River Lake State Park Beach: Located just south of the small city of historic Campbellsville, this state park offers plenty of nearby opportunities for the culturally curious. Check out the Hiestand House-Taylor County Museum to get a feel for what life was like here in the mid-1800s and how it came to look as it does today. Here are some local RVshare rentals in the area.

9. Buckhorn State Resort Park Beach

Buckhorn State Resort Park Beach kentucky
Image via parks.ky.gov

Another lake that spreads like a beautiful, water-filled canyon through the reaches of eastern Kentucky, Buckhorn Lake is an important reservoir of over 1,200 acres of surface area — and all that water makes for some excellent beach access, too! This one stands out from the crowd for its particular attention to the needs of parents: the beach is outfitted with a playground and jungle gym to keep the little ones happy even after a long day along the water, and nearby hiking trails are great for older kids hoping to stretch their legs. Wildlife lovers, take note: in this area, eagles nest in the winter, and warblers make their famous migration through in the spring. Great blue herons and kingfishers are also commonly spotted along the water, so keep your eyes peeled!

Things to do near Buckhorn State Resort Park Beach: Just about exactly an hour away, Mine Made Paradise Adventure Park and Campground offers a comprehensive resort option for RVers — though cabins and tent sites are also available. Looking for the perfect rental vehicle to call home for the evening? Check out these cozy RVshare options!

10. Carr Creek State Park Beach

Carr Creek State Park Beach kentucky
Image via parks.ky.gov

How can we entice you to make your way to Carr Creek State Park and its beautiful beach? Well, suffice to say that this stretch of the Kentucky landscape has been drawing visitors for a long, long time: pioneer settlers started calling it home as early as the 1770s. Today, this sprawling state park, which straddles the shimmering waters of Carr Creek Lake, is a bit of a hidden gem amongst Kentucky vacationers… making it the perfect opportunity for you to soak up some beach time, sans crowds. The park also offers an on-site marina with rental equipment, campground accommodations, and plenty of space to spread out.

Things to do near Carr Creek State Park Beach: Located close to the Kentucky/Virginia border, Carr Creek State Park is fairly remote… which is exactly why you won’t have to worry about elbowing your way through a crowd of people once you arrive. You can maintain your privacy in an RVshare vehicle when you’re away from the beach, too!

Planning an RV Trip to Kentucky

Now that you’re convinced about Kentucky’s beaches, we’re here to tell you that there’s even more worthwhile stuff to see in the Bluegrass State. This calls for a road trip!

Want to do it up right? Check out these Kentucky RV rentals, as well as the best state parks and campgrounds in the state to see, explore and stay in. We’ve also written guides to Louisville, Kentucky’s biggest city, as well as its world famous Mammoth Cave National Park.

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