Travel is a gift. The privilege of taking a vacation is even more special when you have a one-of-a-kind experience that stays with you long after you return home.
For remote workers, travel may occupy a larger share of your lifestyle these days. Some remote workers are extending their stays in rural America’s hidden gems to keep it affordable. It’s all about finding those unique locations with all the amenities, culture, and activities you need for an unforgettable visit.
There’s a region in the Southeast that checks all these boxes — and more. Those who live, work, and visit this place will tell you it’s one of the most beautiful places in the US — if not the world.
Discover Appalachia’s hidden gem: Eastern Kentucky
If you enjoy outdoor activities, authentic dining experiences, family-friendly events, and charming downtowns, you need to visit Eastern Kentucky. From sweeping sandstone canyons to some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, it’ll be a trip you’ll never forget — and keep you coming back for more.
What makes Eastern Kentucky a top destination for travelers and remote workers? Let’s explore the top 5 reasons why. We’ll share some itinerary tips along the way, too.
Reason #1: Outdoor adventures
Eastern Kentuckians have good reason to believe they live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Eastern Kentucky is made up of nearly 2 million acres of forest land. Year-round, the rolling Appalachian hills seem to sparkle from sunrise to sunset. They’re blanketed in a dense cover of more than 120 species of trees, particularly white oak and hickory, which transform spectacularly in the fall.
Locals and visitors flock to the extensive trail networks to immerse themselves in Eastern Kentucky’s forest lands. Hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers come from around the world to experience them.
The outdoor adventures here can be as tame — or thrilling — as you choose.
Reason #2: Vibrant food scene
Did you know that respected chefs often visit rural American towns for inspiration? They’re on the hunt for authentic recipes born in someone’s grandparents’ kitchen.
Vibrant food scenes are born in communities with a rich sense of history. So if you’re curious to sample dishes that share the story of a place, you must visit Eastern Kentucky. Food traditions run deep here. Repeat visitors will tell you that the culinary experiences keep them returning for seconds.
Reason #3: Cultural experiences
The quintessential rural vacation is all about Main Street — shopping, dining, and community events. And Eastern Kentucky is experiencing a downtown renaissance.
Experience the region’s most charming Main Streets, featuring local retail and boutique shops, concerts, festivals, and community events that reflect the local culture.
Some towns even have their own moonshine and craft spirit distilleries that reach back into history.
Reason #4: Friendly locals
If you like to visit a place with an authentic sense of culture, Eastern Kentucky is your place. While each town throughout the region is unique, each shares similar community values.
Eastern Kentucky is a place where the community helps each other out. That means you’ll find locals supporting their neighbor’s new small business, volunteering for town events, and stopping for a chat after crossing paths downtown.
It’s a tight-knit community with some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. And they’re excited for visitors, families, and remote workers to experience their way of life.
Reason #5: Resources for remote workers and entrepreneurs
For the remote workers considering a longer stay, it’s worth noting that coworking spaces are on the rise in Eastern Kentucky.
Many charming, long-term lodging options (such as Airbnbs) are immersed in the downtown scene or tucked away near the trailheads.
The Eastern Kentucky Travel Guide
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Eastern Kentucky destinations to help you plan your visit.
If you have 10-14 days, you can visit all 4 of them in one go. Maybe narrow it down to one or two if you have a 3-4 day weekend. Either way, you’ll want to plan on coming back next year to check out what’s new.
The Grand Canyon of the South: Pikeville, KY
In Pikeville, you can truly have it all. Look no further if you enjoy a travel experience that blends city amenities with world-class recreation.
With a population of over 6,000, Pikeville is one of the largest cities in Eastern Kentucky. And it’s situated next to one of the best-kept secrets in the US: The Breaks Interstate Park, otherwise known as the Grand Canyon of the South.
Take a hike on the Prospector’s Ridge trail that winds around sandstone outcroppings — and through clusters of wildflowers in the spring. You’ll be able to look over the Big Sandy River cutting through the landscape over 350 feet below you.
You can still enjoy the outdoors here if you don’t like to hike — or if you have a fear of heights! Take a guided ATV or horseback tour and learn some trivia about Pikeville’s rich history of exploration.
After your outdoor adventures, it’ll be high time to grab a bite to eat. Enjoy microbrews and local music performances at Broken Throne Brewing. And when it comes time for your first meal of the day, Tudor’s Biscuit World will have you jumping straight out of bed.
Come for antiquing and adventure: Whitesburg, KY
Antique collectors have to add Whitesburg to their list. An antique row along Route 7 cuts through town and gives this place next-level country charm.
The outdoor recreation activities are also top-notch in Whitesburg.
The Pine Mountains Overlook helps visitors appreciate stunning panoramas of the region’s natural beauty.
Boating and ATV riding are very popular in this area. Fishpond Lake is a former mining camp that offers 45 acres of opportunities for watersports enthusiasts, bird watchers, and camping.
Local character is a part of every step you take in Whitesburg. The Tanglewood Trail offers hikers and bikers 5 miles of exploration on a former railroad bed through town and along the Kentucky River. Locals have reclaimed this trail with art, retail, restaurants, and the town’s first legal moonshine distillery.
Eat to your heart’s content: Hazard, KY
Come to Hazard for the sweeping views of the Appalachian mountains — and you’ll discover many reasons to stay a few extra days (or for good).
Nearby Buckthorn Lake State Resort Park offers hiking and biking trails, watersports, and all sorts of fun.
Hazard features all sorts of unique lodging options. Cozy up in the charming Harmony House Victorian Bed & Breakfast. Stay inside the state park at the Buckhorn Lodge. Or pack up your camper van (or tent) to post up in one of Hazard’s many campgrounds.
And the Mother Goose house is located here, too. It’s an imaginative landmark featured on Oprah, Home and Garden Television’s Extreme Homes, and The New York Times.
Stroll through one of America’s most charming downtowns: Prestonburg, KY
Known as the Star City of Eastern Kentucky, Prestonburg is a small town that shines bright with festivals, shows, and events.
The Mountain Arts Center is home to the Kentucky Opry, an authentic cultural experience of the region. When the sun is shining, you’ll have many outdoor events to choose from: Star City Day on July 4th each year, a paddlefest on the Levisa River, and more.
Prestonburg’s Eastern Kentucky Science Center and Planetarium is one of the world’s most technologically-advanced planetariums. You’ll enjoy some of the nation’s clearest night skies for stargazing.
Wildlife lovers will feel at home here. You can spot majestic elk herds migrating through Jenny Wiley State Resort Park at certain times of the year. Sign up for a guided elk tour between September and March, then sit down to a plate of locally-caught catfish or hot brown at the Music Highway Grill.
And, of course, be sure to leave plenty of time to stroll through downtown Prestonburg. It’s dotted with family-owned shops and restaurants bursting with charm and hospitality.
Play the 3 most unique golf courses in America: Eastern Kentucky Golfing
Golfing is as good an excuse as any to take a vacation. And when you can play a round at some of America’s most unique golf courses in one trip, the question isn’t if you can go — it’s when you can go.
We’ll make it easy for you: 3 rounds of golf, breathtaking views, and endless adventure — all on one seamless itinerary. You in?
You’ll visit 3 courses: Eagle Ridge Golf Course, Raven Rock Golf Course, and StoneCrest Golf Course. Each location features sweeping panoramas of rolling Appalachian hills that change with the seasons.
Once you wrap for the day, you’ll be entertained and well-fed along the Country Music Highway.
Only 10 spots are available. Reserve the Eastern Kentucky Golf Package today to secure your spot!
What are you waiting for? Book your visit to Eastern Kentucky today!
Your next vacation could be just around the corner. And when it’s this easy and affordable to plan your stay, now’s the perfect time to get your trip on the calendar.
After reading this guide, which location(s) appealed to you most?
If you want to learn more about staying in one or more of these 4 places in Eastern Kentucky, submit a form on your favorite destination’s page. A local representative will help you get started with planning your visit:
If you’re interested in a once-in-a-lifetime golfing experience, reserve your spot today.
Some visitors who experience Eastern Kentucky for the first time have even decided to stay. Discover why Eastern Kentucky is the ultimate home base for remote workers — thanks to affordable homeownership, world-class healthcare, and true work-life balance.