Submitted by Kerri Bonner, curator of @cityofpaducah
"Spend your money on experiences, not on things" - that seems to be prevailing advice these days. Even better is to spend your time, and not your money, on experiences that don't cost a dime and can be found in your own backyard. For the Jackson Purchase region, Exhibit A for such an experience is the Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area -- affectionately shortened to "LBL" by the locals. Take a look at your calendar. Do you spot a weekend free of commitments and obligations? Then take advantage of a clear, winter day by hiking LBL's Canal Loop Trail (beginners welcome!). Canal Loop is a mere 30-minute drive east from Paducah and extends 11 miles (there are abbreviated routes as well) over hills, creeks and bluffs that feature beautiful sweeping views of Kentucky Lake. It's just one of many hiking trails within LBL, which also offers a range of other activities for adventurers who might find themselves in western Kentucky. Choose from hiking, biking, boating, camping, or even viewing a 700-acre "Elk & Bison Prairie" that allows intimate access to these majestic, massive creatures right in their own element. Sound like a safari? Well, it kind of is...in western Kentucky's own special way. Go explore LBL on a cool Saturday morning, and then refresh yourself with lunch in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. A good hike, followed by some hot soup and coffee, and you've still got the rest of the weekend ahead of you.