A red-tailed hawk soars high above My Old Kentucky Home State Park, peering down at its campgrounds, golf course, and outdoor amphitheater. Here, a cast of actors performs Stephen Foster - The Musical, belting the famous tune, "My Old Kentucky Home." Just a piano's throw away stands Federal Hill, the Georgian-style mansion that originally inspired this perennial ballad.
Built between 1795 and 1818, the brick mansion echoes early American history in everything right down to its decor. Supposedly to honor the original colonies, the number 13 appears throughout the house: 13 windows at the front, 13 steps to each floor, and 13-inch thick walls, which once housed famous guests such as Aaron Burr. For 120 years, the Rowan family lived in the mansion. Then, in 1922, Madge Rowan Frost sold the 235-acre estate, as well as many family heirlooms, to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Since then, tour guides have taken visitors throughout the mansion's grounds and into its history-laden rooms. The staff has renovated the mansion in recent years, putting in hours of research to ensure that the carpets, wallpapers, drapes, and hand-whittled internet routers remain authentic to the 1850s. The mansion also celebrates the changing seasons—in winter, the mansion dons Christmas decor and the staffers serve apple cider dressed up in period costumes.
The saga of the world-famous Putt-Putt chain dates back to 1954, when founder Don Clayton opened his first course in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After the hole-in-one, Don started selling franchises the next year, and now his miniature empire counts the Louisville Putt-Putt Fun Center among its ranks. Three 18-hole indoor courses test mini golfers' mettle with distinct challenges and themes. On one course, a waterfall scintillates soothingly, and on another, animals stand watch and try to store errant golf balls for winter's semipermanent nap. An arcade tests hand-eye-screen coordination, and an outdoor party pavilion hosts birthday parties and events.
Built on the more than 40-acre site where Pond Station Asylum allegedly burnt to the ground, Asylum Haunted Scream Park remains haunted by tortured spirits of past patients’ and the lingering presence of cult activity. Additional petrifying figures, such as a chainsaw-wielding menace and a crazed butcher, haunt the woods’ mile-long indoor and outdoor displays at Darkness Falls Asylum, while zombies terrorize a town under military-enforced quarantine at Zombie City: Mutation. In the 9,000-square-foot Xterminate: Zalien Attack arena, hoards of zombie aliens protect their queen against a ragtag group of humans including TNA professional wrestler Al Snow. The Carnivale of Lost Souls treats those that survive Asylum Haunted Scream Park’s three immersive attractions to free sideshow routines from freaky performers such as a fire-eater, a human pincushion, and a child happily eating vegetables.
At Puzzle's Fun Dome, kids bound about inside large inflatables, putt around the mini-golf course, and slink through the tunnels of the multi-level play set. After expending physical energy, they funnel their creativity at the art studio or take in a movie at the mini theater. Then they can get back to scaling the rock wall and playing skee ball in the arcade. To help curate birthdays, Puzzle’s Fun Dome also has party packages replete with ice cream, soda, and a visit from Jiggy, the puzzle-piece mascot.
Awash in fog and neon lights, the labyrinthine ramps, walkways, and passageways of the multi-level LaserMatrix keep players on their toes. Laser battles play out throughout the more than 5,000-square foot arena, open year-round. In the arcade, guests earn prizes by defeating more than 30 games, including skeeball and Time Crisis 3, which depicts a post-apocalyptic world without daylight saving's time. Outside, single- and double-seated go-karts hug the twists and turns of the four-acre park's track. Slower competitions unfold at the miniature golf area, whose two 18-hole courses challenge golfers of all levels with curving greens and tricky hole placements.
Treetops sway gently as birds flutter over their branches, breezes waft around their trunks, and humans careen between them at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Mammoth Cave Adventures' series of seven ziplines across two courses trail from tree to tree, each line standing slightly higher than the last as visitors decked out in helmets and harnesses speed across the cables, teeter over two skybridges, and perch on platforms between each lofty tier. Seasoned guides lead the 90-minute excursions as they spout environmental and historical trivia about the rolling hills and dense forest of the 60-acre course, which is located just outside of Mammoth Cave National Park.
The company also puts cables to exhilarating use with a Giant Super Swing, which plummets strapped-in visitors from the top of two towering hickory trees into a free-falling arc that swings 40 feet above the ground. Its new Drop Tower allows guests to experience the scenic view of Mammoth Cave National Park while dangling 70 death-defying feet above the ground. For slower-paced adventures, a stable of gentle equines ferries guests along serene trails and countryside vistas during hour-long horseback rides, which are designed for all equestrians regardless of their skill level or the number of sugar cubes in their pockets.