Road Trip in Kentucky

Given the famous Kentucky Derby, Fourth Street Live, and the Kentucky Bourbon trail, some might say no U.S. travel is complete without experiencing the numerous amenities the Bluegrass State has to offer.

Yet, before you get started planning your Kentucky road trip, there are a few considerations to make. Are you legal to drive in the state? Are you familiar with the rules of the road? What about actually getting around—do you have reliable maps to point you in the right direction?

Driving in Kentucky

Ready to plan your Kentucky road trip?

The Bluegrass State definitely has a lot to offer, but before you hit the road, make sure you're legally allowed to operate a motor vehicle in the state.

For example, don't leave home without your proof of insurance and registration documents; however, if you're renting a vehicle, the vehicle rental agency will help set you up with these essential forms.

Of course, keep in mind that not everyone can legally drive in the state; in addition to vehicle requirements, you must meet the state's driver's license requirements—whether you're a resident or out-of-state visitor.

Out-of-State U.S. Tourists

Adult out-of-state drivers with valid driver licenses can legally operate a motor vehicle in Kentucky.

However, teen out-of-state drivers with valid permits:

  • Must be at least 16 years old to drive.
  • Must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old.
  • CANNOT drive between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Out-of-state teen drivers are encouraged to contact an office within the driver license issuance department of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and find out how their permits or driver licenses convert regarding Kentucky-issued permits and licenses.

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KY State Traffic Rules

Trust us—you want to know about Kentucky's rules of the road before a law enforcement officer has to inform you.

Kentucky Driver's Handbook

The Kentucky Driver Manual is a wealth of information about the state's rules of the road, including:

  • State traffic laws, including the meaning of signs and signals.
  • How you should handle an emergency situation.
  • What to do if you're pulled over for a traffic violation.

Kentucky Vehicle Code

While the Kentucky Driver Manual gives some helpful highlights on state traffic laws, the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) provide everything you could need to know.

Because legislation can be a bit intimidating to read, we've outlined some of the most important driving and vehicle regulations in our state Vehicle Code section, with state links included; however, you can access the entire KRS online via the Kentucky Legislature.

Major KY Roads

While driving in Kentucky, you'll come across various interstates, county roads, city streets, and rural and secondary roads.

Fortunately, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC) works hard to provide you with information about the state's highway districts and provides numerous maps for most (if not all) roadways throughout the state.

Kentucky Highway Districts

Kentucky divides its highways into various districts, each of which includes information such as:

  • Counties that highways and interstates run through, as well as:
    • The number of miles the roadways cover.
    • Exit numbers.
  • Road closures you might encounter.
  • Structures such as bridges.
  • Travel sites located off the various freeways, interstates, and county roads.
  • Welcome centers along the way.

Refer to the KTC section on Highway Districts to access the information online.

Kentucky Travel Maps

The KTC also provides an extensive number of state maps, including everything from an official highway map to a map of rural and secondary roads.

Each official map is available online on the KTC's section on Maps.

Kentucky Destinations

From cheering on the horses at the Kentucky Derby at historic Churchill Downs to making your way through the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and learning all about the magic that goes into making some of the world's most recognized bourbon, there's something for every road tripper in Kentucky.

The Bluegrass State is bursting with opportunities for those with adventurous hearts, and there's too many hiking, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, and caving options to name.

Of course, for those who seek a little leisure time, the state offers plenty of food and dining, museums and memorials, and music and arts (you can't miss out on Louisville's Fourth Street Live, packed with restaurants, entertainment, and all the shopping you can stand).

For more Kentucky road trip ideas, the state provides Visit the Commonwealth, a website full of suggestions for sightseeing, adventure, and history. Be sure to also check out the Kentucky Travel Guide and Kentucky Tourism as you plan your travel sites.

Of course, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet wants to help with your road trip as much as possible. The state recommends contacting Kentucky 511 or calling (866) 737-3767 if you need any further assistance making plans.

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