What I did on my summer vacation

Pitched a tent along water’s edge and watched the sun rise each morning.

Paddled 450 million years back in time to a cliff-lined gorge hiding caves and harboring rare plants.

Learned how to dip candles the way the pioneers did near the original site where Daniel Boone built a fort.

Spent family time sharing ghost stories around the campfire and making memories beneath the stars.

This could be how your travel journey reads at summer’s end with visits to some of Winchester’s favorite vacation getaways. Here are four:

Red River Boat Dock and Campground: Laidback, leisurely and lots of fun—the kind of place made for families longing to escape for a long weekend that combines together time with downtime. This peaceful retreat spread out along the shoreline of the Red River offers tent sites, RV hookups and air-conditioned cabins and plenty of active fun: camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, cornhole tournaments and more. But when it’s time for peace and quiet, there’s plenty of that, too.

Red River is hosting an Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, July 6—and tent spots are still available for Friday and Saturday nights. The fun kicks off at 1 p.m. on Saturday with activities for kids, including a patriotic scavenger hunt, duck races on the river and kids’ watermelon eating contest. From 4-8 p.m. chow down on cheeseburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, nachos, chips, Red River Baked Beans and 2 Rivers Mac & Cheese. Live music by Canvas takes place 6-9 p.m. with fireworks beginning at dark. Call 859-533-7840 or visit for more details, entry fees, etc. Note: Red River is a cash-only venue.

Three Trees Canoe – Kayak Rental and RV Park: Friendly owners, clean and well-maintained campground, close proximity to Fort Boonesborough State Park and canoe and kayak rentals for paddling excursions to the Kentucky River Palisades—an ancient geological marvel that exposes the oldest rock layers in the state. Really old layers. Like 450 million years old and dating to the Ordovician period. 

Can’t ask for much more than that for a weekend winddown to family fun on the water. Except maybe full hook-up RV sites with picnic tables and fire rings, onsite restrooms and showers and boat dock and river access. It’s all there at Three Trees. Call 859-749-3227 or visit for more information about camping and rental rates.

Fort Boonesborough State Park: History, hiking, heritage. This park aims to please and hits the mark. In fact, so many locals find their way to the site of the original fort of Daniel Boone that, according to Park Manager Jack Winburn, Fort Boonesborough is the busiest campground in the Kentucky State Park system.

“We offer a full-scale replica of the fort to tour with living historians demonstrating pioneer crafts,” said Winburn. “There are three small hiking trails, a boat ramp and fishing on the Kentucky River, miniature golf, playgrounds and basketball courts—plus, we offer a full schedule of recreation activities for families every weekend in the campground.”

In fact, from July 3 to 7, the park is holding a Fourth of July weekend celebration for registered campers, featuring a camper decoration contest, crafts, free tours, games, a parade and more.

The campground sits on the banks of the Kentucky River and features a mix of full hookup, electricity and water hookup and primitive sites. From restroom and laundry facilities to grocery and gift shop, campers find everything they need for an activities-filled weekend. Find more details about activities and events at Fort Boonesborough at

Red River Gorge Geological Area: Like dispersed camping? Head to the Daniel Boone National Forest and find your backcountry bliss at Koomer Ridge Campground, located in a forested setting and offering semi-private camping and amenities such as bathhouse, toilet facilities, picnic tables and parking. Note: Campers must purchase a backcountry camping pass, available at Forest offices and many local vendors.

Sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis; reservations are not accepted. Koomer’s campground amphitheater opens Memorial Day weekend and features a program each Saturday through Labor Day. For more information about the do’s and don’ts of dispersed camping in Daniel Boone National Forest in general and camping at Red River Gorge specifically, visit