Before venturing into Deere Farms’ labyrinthine corn maze, visitors are equipped with a map, a short orientation, and—as a last resort—the farm’s cell-phone number. Groups work together to seek out all the checkpoints scattered across 8 miles of twists and turns. Even with an acute sense of direction, adventurers usually take about 45 minutes to navigate their way to freedom.
The checkpoints are one of many ways that Deere Farms infuses traditional fall activities with creative twists. Shortly after Halloween, the farm hosts an annual pumpkin-smashing festival, inviting visitors to drop overripe pumpkins from a 50-foot platform. And at the concession stand, chefs serve gourmet treats such as apple-cider slushes and pumpkin-caramel cheesecake.
The farm also hosts classic fall adventures on its 170 acres. Visitors can take an idyllic hayride through the woods or hop aboard an antique tractor and ride into the 20-acre pumpkin patch in search of the perfect gourd for carving or stomping into a pie. Before departing, they stop to see the menagerie of farm animals, including ducks, chickens, turkeys, geese, pigs and goats.
With more than 8,000 square feet of exhibit space and more than 80,000 artifacts, some of which date back to 1886, the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola hoists a glass of reminiscence to the iconic soda and its fizzy culture. Take a tour through Schmidt's sea of red-swathed relics, including a plethora of vintage delivery trucks, stylized serving trays and signage, and a recently expanded collection of Coca-Cola's signature Santa Clauses. Visitors can peek at bygone refreshments with Schmidt’s soda fountain from the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago or pay respect to the Diet Coke can that ran for president in 1968.
A loud whistle sounds off in the distance, signaling the arrival of a steam locomotive. The train pulls past dozens of trees and into the station. It’s just another day at the Kentucky Railway Museum, where new and restored trains take visitors on nostalgic journeys through the New Haven countryside. The area’s scenic landscapes encompass 17 miles of track that meander around scenic Mount Vernon. The stationary exhibit hall—a replica of the original New Haven depot—houses a collection of railroad artifacts and memorabilia ranging from rail carts and dining cars to steam whistles and the discarded mustaches of malevolent railroad barons.
The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft collects and displays works by the state’s artsy residents and nurtures creative inclinations with art classes for kids and adults. A family membership grants free access to the museum's permanent collection, which holds works by such Kentucky artists as Marvin Finn and Rebekka Seigel. Members can also attend openings of special exhibits, such as the upcoming Big Idea : small package challenge, which dared and, in some cases, double-dared local artisans to craft a tiny piece of art no larger than one cubit cubed. At a discounted rate, budding Botticellis can enroll in creativity-sparking classes such as textiles and origami courses as well as children’s summer camps and special-needs classes for adults on bookmaking and watercolor painting. A 10% discount in the gallery store, meanwhile, lets members support local artists and acquire conversation-provoking pieces with which to adorn coffee tables, mantles, and inflatable sideboards.
A lone tree, its trunk wrapped in colorful knit creations, marks the location of Friends and Fiber, a warmly lit shop that brims with handpicked yarns, knitting needles, home décor, and jewelry. Inside the brick-red storefront, co-owner Vicki Kinser helms interactive knitting classes, open knitting hours, and local benefits. Friends and Fiber’s monthly newsletter keeps customers up to date on upcoming events, interspersed with inspirational quotes from eloquent balls of yarn.
While Daniel Boone busied himself gallivanting about the wilderness in search of the perfect hat, his brother led a much more peaceful life. Squire Boone surrounded himself with caverns filled with waterfalls and stalagmites and a tranquil pioneer village. Now named for him, Squire Boon Caverns and Village not only accommodates tours deep within its caves, but high above its forested floor through Squire Boone Caverns Zipline Course.
Designed for ages seven and older, each 90- to 120-minute treetop trip begins on the ground for a brief training session and equipment fitting. Once snugly secured in full body harnesses and adequately disguised as squirrels, participants embark on journeys that climb up to five stories above terra firma. Tours traverse a swinging suspension bridge and glide on six ziplines over the caverns and village, as well as acres of neighboring forests and ravines.