Land Between the Lakes Vacation Itinerary
Land Between the Lakes is an excellent vacation spot for Louisville families with lake and land fun for everyone
If you are looking for a destination that is not far away but gives you that sense of relaxation and time together, disconnected….. Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake are really great options.
This Land Between the Lakes vacation itinerary will help you get away with less planning and driving. Also, it won’t cost a fortune!
Sometimes it’s nice to make summer which don’t require air travel, go with a closer option. This vacation was less than $1,000 thanks to that. As vacations go, with renting an entire house and entertaining ourselves for about a week, that is an amazing price tag. Of course, it all depends on the house you rent.
If you go fancier/bigger/directly on the water, you will definitely see the price tags go up. And, if you find something right on the water (limited availability these days), it will for sure cost more. But, if you are willing to be up in the forest and get something just big enough to fit your needs, you should be able to find something budget friendly.
We stayed at the 2-bedroom cottage pictured below. It had a great deck and living area. The kitchen was just enough to make everything and had ample supplies. The kids loved their bunkbed room and all of the games and movies!
Land Between the Lakes Vacation Itinerary
Things to bring:
Food for the week – meal plan ahead and shop. Bring things in coolers. Plan to pack lunches and grill for dinner! Simple breakfasts too. Lots of snacks!
You favorite smores ingredients
Water bottles for everyone plus a big jug for your car, fill with water and ice when you leave the house
Paper maps! I’m serious. Phone service is spotty so you need maps. Screen shot maps of things on our Land Between the Lakes Vacation itinerary before you go and store the images on your phone.
Fishing equipment and bait
Nets for fishing along the edge of the lake
Sunscreen and strong bug spray!
Hats with brims all around
Old shoes for hikes
Lots of towels, old ones you don’t care as much about
Arrive and get settled in your place. Let the kids explore and relax as you unpack and get ready for the days ahead. Organize so you are relaxed during the week and can cook easily, find your things, keep everything tidy so there is less stress.
In the evening, take a ride to Linton Recreation Area for an evening swim. There are less people there on the weekdays and in the evenings. There’s a sandy beach with room to spread out, there are restrooms. Bring floats and let the sun set. We really liked this spot.
Stop in at the Golden Pond Visitor’s Center and pick up brochures and maps. These will be very helpful. They also have a small educational area that you can tour in minutes to learn about the area.
Do you think you want to see the Elk and Bison Prairie multiple times? Ask the visitors center about the $10 pass that gets you in 3 times (pricing as of 2020). After the center, pop into the Elke and Bison Prairie road to check the sign for when they animals will most active for best viewing.
Go for a hike around Hematite Lake in Land Between the Lakes. This trail is very family-friendly and so beautiful. It’s easy to find with signage.
It’s just over 2 miles around the lake with gorgeous lily pads and flowers. They have a restroom near the parking lot and ample picnic tables if you want to eat after your hike. This place is a MUST.
Picnic at Hematite Lake or outside of the Woodlands Nature Station. Visit the nature station (fee, reasonable) and see native Kentucky animals and a very cool hummingbird area.
Take time to talk with the staff, they were so knowledgeable and friendly. Take home a souvenir from their shop. They have indoor/clean restrooms.
Head home to freshen up, play games, cook and enjoy dinner. Most rentals have firepits. Break out the smores and spend time with each other. A Land Between the Makes vacation itinerary must include some time to chill at the house!
The Elk and Bison Prairie is something you do not want to miss. No Land Between the Lakes vacation itinerary is complete without it. But, you must go when they are most active. Remember we told you to check the sign? Head back at that time!
It’s $5 to enter with credit/debit (pricing as of 2020). There’s a loop and if you go during that recommended time, you will likely see the animals. Look hard, sometimes they are in the trees. And, if you see the bison in a heard far away, loop around again and I bet they will have moved. We went twice during the recommended times and both times we saw animals close up!
Rent Kayaks from Fish Island Resort. This place is right off of Lake Barkley and kind of a hidden gem, if you ask me.
The marina at the resort park told us about this place. The people were so helpful and really wanted us to have a great experience. Definitely ask them for ideas.
We rented a double kayak for 4 hours for just $35! Full day is just $10 more (pricing as of 2020). I would totally do a full day next time, so I recommend you make a day of it. If you pack a bag with what you need, you can do it.
We ventured out into the lake and saw so much interesting wildlife, the details of the edge of the lake, pulled our kayak up on the side for a lunch break and swim on different sandy areas.
We had private beaches, really! For me, this was the highlight of the vacation. And, when we came back, the shop has local popsicles for sale (poptown) that were perfect for after our trip.
If you do not make a day of kayaking, Lake Barkley State Resort Park is right around the corner. There is a swimming beach, hiking trails, and a restaurant. You can spend some time there for sure.
Day 4Spend the day at the beach! Moss Creek Beach is a rocky beach on Kentucky Lake so wear those water shoes. It is in the northwest area of Land Between the Lakes, not too far from Grand Rivers. It has shady spots and clean water for swimming.
Families had plenty of room to spread out and everyone had their floats out in the water. Many boats came by and made small waves, they kids liked that. We also had nets and the kids caught little minnows on the edge of the water.
There are picnic tables and grills to use if you want to bring your charcoal and meal supplies. Bring chairs just in case you don’t get a table – it’s a rock beach.
A beach day has to be on the Land Between the Lakes vacation itinerary and this was our favorite one. We went twice. There is a restroom available. If you pack for the day, you can definitely spend a lot of time here relaxing and swimming.
Maybe you have worked up an appetite? Patti’s 1880’s Settlement is not far at all from Moss Creek day use area so you can drive just a bit north and enter Grand Rivers. They are known for their pies. There’s shopping around the area, outdoor dining for nice days, and lots of photo opportunities.
Let’s go fishing! There are so many places to fish. We went fishing at Energy Lake and you can also go fishing at Devil’s Elbow – these are easy to find within Land Between the Lakes if you follow the signs and have your handy maps.
Both of them have bank fishing spots and Energy Lake day use area also had a dock for boat that you can fish off of and a levee. Energy Lake day use area also has a restroom. And, at Devil’s Elbow, many people like to take a dip in the water as well.
Head across the bridge to Aurora to a classic local dive of a place, Belew’s Dairy Bar. They bring everything up to your car. Fill up on burgers, shakes, fries, and onion rings. It was delicious.
End your day back at the Elk and Bison Prairie again because it really is worth going twice. And, it’s never the same each time you go. The second time we went, we happened to get a better view of the elk. You just never know.
Prizer Lagoon inflatable obstacle course on the water
Horseback riding with Rocking U Stables
We hope this post is really helpful! If you go for fewer days, you can still pack in the fun and choose from what we listed to make the most out of your nearby vacation.
These are definitely the highlights of a Land Between the Lakes vacation itinerary so you can have fun on Lake Barkley and on Kentucky Lake!
For more family fun travel ideas, click here.