3. Paducah, Kentucky
Located at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, Paducah has been a hub of trade and tourism for almost 200 years. Paducah is also within striking distance of the Cumberland River and the Mississippi River and is sometimes referred to as the Four Rivers Area. Once the railroad was established, Paducah had the advantage of being both a waterway and a railway hub. The community thrived until the American Civil War. Several important Civil War battles were fought in and around Paducah.
After the war, commerce and tourism began anew. Paducah continues to hold a place as an important port in Kentucky.
Whether you cruise into Paducah on a 400 passenger paddle wheel steamer or quietly sail up on a smaller 100 passenger cruise ship, the approach to the dock is beautiful. Perhaps you will be reminded of a time when a leisurely river voyage was the primary means of travel, rather than a frantic, frenzied car trip.
After docking, you will want to spend time exploring Paducah. There are many worthwhile attractions to visit, but here are my favorites:
Let’s start by understanding the critical role that the rivers have played in the history of Paducah by visiting the River Discovery Center. At the River Discovery Center you will have the opportunity to examine artifacts from the area and even take a towboat through different situations using a river simulator. The Center also has a myriad of other interactive exhibits which will appeal to your inner child.
Speaking of simulators, there’s one at the Paducah Railroad Museum. Remember that the railroads played an enormous part in the historical development of Paducah. At the Museum, you will have the opportunity to examine some of the accoutrements that made rail travel luxurious in a past age and you will also see scale models of the various trains that have traversed the area.
You may also wish to visit the Lowertown Arts District which houses the Paducah School of Arts and Design or get a flavor for the Civil War history of the area at the Lloyd Tilghman House & Civil War Museum.
I have totally saved my favorite attraction for last, the National Quilt Museum. This wonderful museum showcases the art of quilting and textiles with its changing exhibits and precise attention to the history of one of America’s leading means of artistic expression. You will see all types of quilts, from the simplest log cabin pattern to the most complex landscape, all works of art in their own right. Oh, did I mention the bookstore? If you aspire to quilt, want to study about quilts or just like to look at pictures, the bookstore has the publication you need on it’s shelves. DO NOT MISS THIS STOP ON YOUR TOUR!
Paducah is beautiful in the spring, summer or autumn. Make sure your cruise has it as a port of call.