I thought it would be fun to document our little mini-vacation to Kentucky and share tips along the way! If you’re coming from the Nashville area you may want to plan for 2 nights away! It was a long drive! But, if you only have the budget for one night, here is my 2 day/1 night itinerary!
Day 1 – Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Creation Museum, and Ark Encounter!
Leave early, early, early! We left around 6:30 am and drove to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace in Hodgenville, KY. It was a spontaneous stop but a perfect area to stretch our legs and get some history! It is one of the National Parks so if you have a nifty parks passport, you can get a stamp in the visitor’s center!
Christian was really cute when he saw the memorial! He recognized the Lincoln Memorial from Washington, D.C. in movies/shows and thought when he walked in, he would see a statue of Abe! We told him that this memorial was different (built in 1909!) and housed Lincoln’s birthplace cabin, not his statue. The disappointment didn’t last long when we headed up the stairs to check it out! I found it interesting to learn about Abraham Lincoln’s family history – especially his dad, who was almost killed by a Native American when he was 10! Christian also thought it was really neat to find out he is distantly related to Lincoln! My father’s genealogy (Hooper/Curtis) traces back to Lincoln’s family as 14th cousins. One day I’ll break out the ancestry pages from the safe and show him the timeline! I was always proud to know that fact when I was a kid!
We hit the road again to travel up to the museum. My friend recommended that we do the museum first before we go to the Ark. I’m glad we did! We spent from about 2:00-5:00 outside in the botanical gardens and petting zoo! Christian wanted to do the zipline but it was for ages 8 and up. They had a smaller ropes course for younger kids but it was $25 an hour. (The single zip line ride is about $10.) We were blessed with gorgeous weather! The gardens are so pretty and the petting zoo area was cute! If you can go during a time that they give camel rides I think that would be fun for the kids! Those camels are huge!
The kids enjoyed seeing the dinosaur sculptures around the gardens! And the various species of plants and trees was impressive! I loved the feeling of walking through what felt like a jungle! And the suspension bridge over the little river was fun for the kids!
Another kid feature they have is a mining station. For $6 you get a large bag of sand that has gemstones and rocks hidden inside. It comes with a rock identification card so it can be a neat educational activity if you’re studying about rocks and minerals! We are actually going to start that unit in a few weeks (Term 2 on Ambleside Online!)
Around 5:00 we packed up to go to the Ark encounter and spend time there until closing at 8. The drive is 45 minutes away from the museum so plan accordingly! We had packed a lot of food for the trip so we had snacks, lunch, and dinner in the car while going place to place!
My kids were so excited to arrive at the Ark! I truly believe it was a God ordained trip for them to experience this attraction! They loved every minute including the bus ride to the site entrance! LOL! When you park you go up to the ticket shed to buy your tickets or show your combo ticket confirmation. Once you get a wristband you load up on a bus that takes you to the enterance of the ark. It is so enormous. It really takes your breath away to see such a huge wooden structure! I loved the smell entering the ark and you could tell that everything was engineered and planned very artfully. The typography and graphic design on all the signs, the video demonstrations at some of the exhibits, the animal sculptures, sound and lighting media, and the animatronic models were top notch!
I have a personal story to share that melted my heart. At one point while we were all walking around, Christian started tearing up and said “I feel bad for myself.” I knew right away that the Holy Spirit was working in his heart! Nick and I talked to him about what was going on, and he communicated that a little earlier, he had been impatient with me while I was reading a sign and rushed me along to go to the next level of the ark. I guess after walking around some more he had time to reflect on how that made him feel and he felt really bad about it and needed to confess!!! It was hard not to laugh it off because I didn’t think anything of it (how many of us grew up trying to move our parents along when they were reading some boring sign?!) But my mama heart was touched that he would feel that guilt and want to apologize. We both ended up crying – me because I saw the Holy Spirit working in his heart, and him – for realizing he shouldn’t have bossed his mama!
The exhibits in the Ark are breathtaking! To imagine that the Ark might have looked like that and that GOD had given Noah the instructions on how to build everything really gave you a better understanding of the scripture! And every exhibit points back to the redemptive story of God’s love through Jesus. The ministry they have at Answers in Genesis is such a gift! I think the kids favorite exhibit was the animatronic Noah that interacts with you through a computer touch screen! You can “ask” Noah questions and he answers you! It’s so sweet! They have a smaller scale exhibit like that in the museum too! Definitely a favorite for the kids! My mom’s favorite exhibit was the living quarters on the Ark. I loved seeing the artistic attention to detail in the clothes, food, and lifestyle that might have been common for that time in history. A lot of engineering exhibits to show how the functions of the Ark would have worked. There is so much to learn!
Not everything is about the Ark as well. There is a lot to learn about other cultures and periods of history with the effects of the flood. I enjoyed the cultural walk through of several countries and was again, impressed with some attention to detail and educational information!
I have to say that in reading a lot of online reviews of the park, there are a lot more naysayers that I would expect! Brent Hanson (sp?) at Way FM tweeted a snide remark about the expense it took to build the attraction. For me, I didn’t mind the price tag of admission. The park was well built, thoughtfully engineered, cheerfully staffed, and intentional about pointing back to Jesus in everything they do. I guess if you go into it with a negative outlook you will always find something to look down on. My purpose was to plan a fun trip that could be educational and make memories for the kids all while encouraging them in their faith.
Annnnywhooooo….. back to the trip!!! We closed up shop at 8:00 and rode the last bus back to our car in the parking lot! We went straight to our host home from Airbnb (see the link at the bottom of the post!) and enjoyed some delightful conversation with Dan and Neva before going to bed! The next morning we got up around 8:00 and got ready to go to the museum for the planetarium shows and main exhibits!
Day 2 – Creation Museum only then drive home!
We got the combo ticket for the planetarium and saw the Created Cosmos and Aliens Fact vs. Fiction! Both shows were great for kids! We also saw the Last Adam in the multi media room. It was a wonderful show but I wouldn’t say it’s a “must see” attraction. Again, I love how they are always pointing back to how much God loves us and sacrificed himself for us. I truly pray that the salvation message is received by all who hear it! If I could make one recommendation to the parks, it would be to have some sort of available staff that was easily accessible to talk and pray with anyone that feels the need to respond to the message. Maybe there is? I just didn’t see it while we were there today!
After seeing the shows, we spent the rest of the time in the main exhibits! I loved having my phone to listen to the audio tour in each stop! I linked the media file below with some tips! There is free wi-fi in both the museum and the Ark so you won’t use up your data!
The story time was cute for the kids – maybe a little long though! They started to get squirmy – but I am really glad that they schedule and plan things for the little ones!
We left the museum around 3:00pm and got home at 8:30pm. It was a much longer car ride than our mini-vacations to Chattanooga, but I feel like it was well worth the time and money to say we did it! That’s what I love about homeschooling! We made memories and the kids enjoyed learning something new about Creation and science!
- If you can, book your overnight rooms with Dan and Neva on Airbnb! He is a former pastor and they are wonderful hosts! Their home is gorgeous!
- Buy the combo tickets to save money! We didn’t have to pay for parking at the Ark but don’t quote me on it.
- Take your smart phone/wi-fi tablet and follow the audio tour in the museum! (Check it out here) Headphones would have been smart, but we didn’t think of that and just held our phones up close to our ears.
- Plan for 2-4 hours at the Ark. They will continue to add attractions since it just opened this year, but there is PLENTY to see and experience!
- Utilize the 2 day passes for the museum. On the day you share with the Ark, maybe spend your time at the museum exploring the gardens outside. On the day you devote only to the museum take your time to go through the main exhibits and see some of the planetarium and special effects shows.
I hope that was informative and fun for you to read! There are a lot of reviews online that you can ask Miss Google about that may have more information that you’re looking for! I look forward to taking my kids again in the next few years!