Celebrate our bicentennial: 200 things to do in Harlan County
In honor of Harlan County’s Bicentennial, a “200 things to do in Harlan County” list has been organized. How many of the items have you completed? Or plan to complete? The list includes:
1. Experience the thrill of a lifetime at the highest, fastest, longest zipline in Kentucky at Black Mountain Thunder Zipline!
2. Off-Road at Black Mountain Off-Road Adventure Area where you can ride your ATV, rockcrawler, dirtbike, side by side and more in Evarts!
3. Visit the highest peak in Kentucky at Black Mountain.
4. Stroll through downtown Harlan and visit each of the plaques on the downtown walking tour.
5. Take a swim at the shore at Martins Fork Lake .
6. Interact with animatronic exhibits as they tell you the story of coal in Harlan County and how it helped shape the world at Portal Thirtyone in Lynch.
7. Visit Kentucky Coal Museum and see some truly great exhibits focused on the industry that helped develop Harlan. For a extra fun experience — be sure to visit the Loretta Lynn exhibit on the top floor.
8. Visit Camp Blanton, the oldest Boy Scout camp in Kentucky, by strolling the grounds, relaxing by the pond, and absorbing the surreal beauty of this camp located in Kentucky’s oldest old-growth forest.
9. Visit one of the geological wonders in Harlan County at Knobby Rock. We guarantee you won’t regret it after standing atop this mountain marvel with it’s stunning views.
10. Go for a walk or a run at one of our many parks across Harlan County some featuring some impressive walking/running tracks!
11. Hike the Cumberland Shadow Trail at Martin’s Fork.
12. Visit Kentucky’s highest elevated state park at Kingdom Come State Park with a wide array of activities to do
13. Hike to Ravens Rock.
14. Visit Harlan County during the last week of March and take advantage of #harlanchowsdown – where you’ll find delicious deals at your favorite restaurants.
15. Visit the Labor Day Festival in Evarts for a family-friendly event in the birthplace of adventure.
16. Have fun with the whole family in the paddle boats at the pond at Kingdom Come State Park!
17. Head over to the Black Mountain Off-Road Adventure Area for their Southern Shine Crawl in May and see all of the impressive Rock Crawlers as they traverse the off-road park!
18. Visit Pine Mountain Settlement School and participate in their unique place based education that is bursting with Appalachian experiences and surrounded by mountains.
19. Have the most fun you could ever have running a 5K in the heart of downtown Harlan with the Harlan County Run with Color 5K
20. Visit the Poke Sallet Festival the first weekend of June for nationally touring bands, a carnival, a car show, local bands, local food, history, culture and so much more!
21. Visit the the Festival of the Mountain Masters where you can see all handcrafted and home baked items as well as traditional Appalachian Arts that have inspired generations of Appalachian folk.
22. Go sightseeing for Black Bear (from a safe distance) in Kingdom Come State Park. Do not feed the bears.
23. Enrich your Appalachian heritage by visiting the Kingdom Come Swappin’ Meetin’ and see cool arts, crafts, history, food, entertainment, and more!
24. Visit the historic Benham Schoolhouse Inn and check out their gift shop for some Harlan hand made items.
25. Visit the Lamp House in Lynch and sip on some delicious coffee.
26. Eat at The Portal and try a slice of the Raylan or Jordan Smith pizza!
27. Try a shake or an ice cream cone at one of our three Dairy Huts — Harlan, Cumberland and Evarts!
28. Have you ever heard of ramps? If not, be sure to check out Ramp Festival in Evarts in April which includes a meal with ramps and a guided ATV ride!
29. Have a picnic and feed the ducks at Kingdom Come State Park.
30. Kayak or take a canoe trip down the Cumberland River. Did you know the Cumberland River headwaters is located in Harlan County?
31. Check out the Harlan County Farmers Market for locally grown vegetables, fun, entertainment in more! Tell Woody we sent you!
32. Visit Wildflower Weekend at Pine Mountain Settlement School. In mid-April, the James E. Bickford State Nature Preserve on the campus of Pine Mountain Settlement School is in full bloom with over 100 species of wildflowers across the forest, including several species of trillium, showy orchids, dwarf crested iris, and more!
33. Stand along the crowded streets of downtown Harlan as the Harlan County Christmas parade pulls through town! You’re guaranteed to see lights, friendly faces, and maybe the big man in red!
34. Check out the impressive light display at the Shriners Park in Putney during the Christmas season put on by Harlan County Christian School.
35. Jingle all the way as you run a 5K at the Jingle Bell Jog 5K.
36. Go fishing at the Stone Mountain Boat Dock.
37. Harlan County features multiple parades across the county on different days in December. Be sure to also visit the Cumberland Christmas Parade.
38. Peruse the eclectic findings at one of the Mountain Markets hosted at the Harlan Center.
39. Check out the legacy trail in the Tri-Cities.
40. Get up early enough to catch the sunrise at Creech Overlook at Kingdom Come State Park. This is truly a sight to behold.
41. Cheer on all of the rock crawlers and side by sides at the Fall Crawl! This public event takes place in October and is an impressive display of off-roading while being surrounded by the fall foliage.
42. Get an Appalachian Hand Sandwich from Taco Holler while enjoying the mountain aesthetics.
43. Take a short excursions down 522 and see all of the beautiful Redbuds in the Spring.
44. Catch a performance of Higher Ground. To find out more about performance be sure to follow them on social media.
45. Visit Sassy TRASH LLC in downtown Harlan and find a cool unique gift as this upcyclers dream not only boasts the arts and crafts of the owner but also features 30 artisans from across Harlan County!
46. Visit The Perfect “ten” Event Planners/Perfect Ten Boutique and try on some beautiful gowns!
47. Check out Nerdy Needs and catch some of the best deals in your favorite fandom in Harlan County.
48. Await the Great Pumpkin at the Cumberland Library during October.
49. Spend Halloween in downtown Harlan or Cumberland for Trick or Treat on Main.
50. Check out one of downtown Harlan’s oldest storefronts at Sonwoods for some great clothing!
51. Check our the firework display in Cumberland for the Fourth of July.
52. Try the best BBQ in town by following Hog Heaven Pit BBQ Mobile on social media and finding their next location!
53. Hunt for Pokemon in downtown Harlan!
54. There are a ton of geocaches in Harlan County — download the Geocache app and see if you can find some of our hidden geocaches all around Harlan.
55. Did you know that there is a confederate cemetery near Cawood?
56. Do some good in this world and volunteer at Christ’s Hands.
57. Come to the Harlan County, Ky. Chamber of Commerce’s Awards Gala and have a great dinner and dance the night away!
58. Purchase a ticket to the Harlan County Boys and Girls club reverse raffle. Not only is this a fun event supporting a good cause but you also have a chance to win a $5000 prize!
59. Try the chicken salad at Sports Cafe & Catering in downtown Harlan.
60. Shop for gifts and home decor at Angelia’s Florists and Gifts in downtown Harlan.
61. Try out some local flavors at Charlottes Hoagie Shop.
62. Head over to the 1-UP Game Room for some great arcade games, pool, and delicious food. Try the 1-UP burger!
63. Visit Panda Garden for some authentic Chinese flair while in our beautiful mountain hometown.
64. Try the salsa and the Pollo Harlan at our local Mexican restaurants: Sazon and El Charrito.
65. Catch a movie at the AMC in Harlan.
66. Support a great cause and come out the Harlan County Relay For Life in June! This celebration of life always features entertainment, food, fun, plenty of activities and more!
67. Be sure to check Henson’s for a unique piece to add to your home decoration or a great gift!
68. Find the perfect piece of jewelry at the Jewelry consignment store.
69. Relax with a massage from Harlan Massage.
70. Get your significant other some flowers or another great gift from Coming Up Roses.
71. Have a dog day with your furriest family member at Happy Tails Dog Park.
72. Take your dog or cat to Fionna’s Grooming Boutique, LLC. & FGB’s Equine Dental Services in Benham and pamper them!
73. Check out the Above Suspicion Display inside the Harlan Center.
74. Check out the Justified Exhibit in the Harlan Center.
75. Watch the Prom walk ins at the Harlan Center for Harlan County High School and Harlan Independent High School.
76. Take a yoga class at Harlan Yoga Studio & Events! Namaste!
77. Commemorate the life & death of Christ with the community wide Way of the Cross Service on Good Friday. You can always visit one of our many churches across Harlan County (we hear there’s over 400!).
78. Check out the firework display in downtown Harlan for the Fourth of July.
79. Visit Rax Restaurant Harlan, Ky and try one of the famous BBCs!
80. Spot bald eagles nesting among the rock faces of the mountains.
81. Enjoy the summer reading program at the Harlan County Public Library.
82. Take the entire family to the Harlan HauntFest and meet some celebrities and have a ton of fun with the more haunted side of things!
83. Visit the Loyall Flea Market.
84. Try one of the Jazzercize classes at Loyall Gym.
85. Make the soul happy by visiting the Blessing Boxes established by Withlovefromharlanin Harlan County and fill them up.
86. Golf at the Harlan Country Club.
87. Visit any of our local parks with your family and have a fun filled day outdoors!
88. Travel 421 the first weekend in May and participate in the 421 Yard Sale!
89. Have a picnic at the Harlan County Courthouse.
90. Take a moment to honor the coal miners who lost their lives in the mines at the Coal Monument in downtown Harlan around the courthouse.
91. Try out the Sunday Buffet at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn.
92. Find stardom as an extra in one of the film projects that visit Harlan County.
93. Kayak Martins Fork Lake.
94. Glide on the ice rink in downtown Harlan during the Christmas season.
95. Explore the mountain melodies of the downtown Harlan church organ trail through the interactive organ tour.
96. Support Kentucky’s second oldest Little League organization by taking in a game at Huff Park. Harlan Little League
97. For another display of Christmas cheer be sure to attend the Evarts Christmas Parade in December!
98. Cross Log Rock in Kingdom Come State Park!
99. Follow Hello Harlan for monthly lists and daily reminders of downtown events.
100. Take the stage and tell a true story at a story slam.
101. Participate in the annual mini-golf tournament hosted by Kingdom Come State Park in April.
102. Bargain hunt at the Annual Community Yard Sale hosted at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn in March.
103. Join the battle of the brains with trivia nights hosted by Harlan Yoga.
104. Join Harlan’s premiere trail run at the Raven Rock Run at the Kingdom Come State Park for a challenging 5K trail with some breathtaking views.
105. Register for one of the guided hiking tours hosted by Harlan Tourism and receive a limited edition “Harlan Hikes” tee while experiencing the natural beauty of Harlan County.
106. Visit The Apple Tree for local apples and some unforgettable apple cider.
107. Visit Pine Mountain Settlement School during May for their Black Mountain weekend where they celebrate the unique and important ecosystem of Black Mountain!
108. Impress your mom with a special Mother’s Day event at Benham Schoolhouse Inn.
109. School pride is forever. Make time to participate in your alma mater’s local reunions.
110. Return to old fashioned fun with Pine Mountain Settlement School’s Fair Day & Sorghum Stir Off.
111. Experience a nativity play unlike any other at Pine Mountain Settlement School in December for a live performance recounting the tale of the birth of Jesus Christ in one of the most breathtaking places you can ever visit.
112. Feel the excitement of fall football by cheering on the Dragons or the Black Bears.
113. Take pride in your community by participating in one of #withlovefromharlan’s community clean-ups or the Team Up to Clean Up hosted by the city of Harlan Street Department and Harlan Tourism.
114. Relax in a creekside hot tub at one of Harlan Campground – Putney Trailhead cabins.
115. Experience art in downtown Harlan at one of the Gallery Hops hosted throughout the year!
116. Learn a new skill and skate at the Sue Ford Skate Park at the Blue Courts.
117. Take a stroll next to the Martins Fork of the Cumberland River on the walking path.
118. Come by and say, “Hello!” to your Harlan County welcome crew at the Harlan Civic Center!
119. Preserve your favorites memories in Harlan County in the form of a tattoo at Ink’d Up LLC!
120. Pick up a new craft by visiting Craftin’ Around and picking up some cool materials for that new skill.
121. Wander through Resale 101 and pick through their vendor’s booth to find that item you didn’t even know you needed!
122. Check out the firework display in Evarts for the Fourth of July.
123. Find your favorite southern items like Simply Southern, Vera Bradley and more as well as unique gifts at Buff’s Bows & Gifts in Cumberland!
124. Marvel at modern engineering as you check out the tunnels and levees that protect us from floods.
125. Visit the Poor Fork Arts and Crafts Store in Cumberland and find a handcrafted Appalachian item as a keepsake or a gift!
126. Take a trip to Benham and shop Hill & Holler’s inside the old Benham Hospital for handprinted tees! We can guarantee you you’ll find one to match your Appalachian roots!
127. Investigate the history found in old graveyards scattered throughout the mountains.
128. If you’re looking for literature from local storytellers be sure to shop Kilgore’s in Evarts! Their store features local authors, novels about Harlan County legends, and more!
129. Learn everything you need to know about successful mountain agriculture through classes from the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service.
130. Shop the vendor’s booths at the 421 Vendors Mall and find a second hand treasure!
131. Follow the Listen Locally Presents: Mountain Voices Open Mic events in Harlan and listen to Mountain Musicians perform in Harlan.
132. Worship with Harlan County’s oldest congregation at Wallins Baptist Church.
133. Watch as young women compete to be Miss Harlan County in the Miss Harlan County Pageant which takes place the week of Poke Sallet Festival. It’s always a touching experience for a young lady yo get her crown.
134. Make sure you mark you calendar for Kid’s Fun Day the week of Poke Sallet Festival where kids can have a blast at Huff Park — and it’s all FREE!
135. Hike to Sand Cave in Blanton Forest.
136. Learn some local history by visiting our historical plaques around the Harlan County Courthouse.
137. Visit Gerri’s in Cumberland and find your next favorite wildcat T-shirt!
138. Take a step back in time as you visit Lynch — while you are there check out their dulcimer factory, Letty Viann’s gift shop, and the mushroom factory!
139. Take home a living piece of Harlan County by collecting a clipping of flowers, plants, and trees growing wild. Hint: Old homeplaces are the perfect place to find old rose bushes.
140. If you have ever been curious about mine safety training or the preparedness to face any any obstacles in the coal mines come by Cumberland Tourism’s Harlan County Safety Days in July. This event is open to the public and 20+ teams compete to be the most prepared.
141. Keep your eyes open for wild turkeys strutting through the mountains.
142. Take a stroll on the Looney Creek Trail to get a view of the Tri-Cities unlike any other. If you’re feeling really adventurous take you cycle on the trail.
142. Search mountaintop rocks & boulders for carvings made by Harlan County’s earliest settlers.
143. Stop off in downtown Cumberland and visit with Cumberland Tourism. While you’re in town, check out the newest mural in Harlan County featuring native Harlan County flora and fauna.
144. Launch your boat into the Cranks Creek Lake for a relaxing boat trip or for some fun fishing!
145. Kick off the Christmas Season with a community celebration at the Annual Christmas at the Center event hosted in downtown Harlan. This event features vendors, an ice rink, pictures with Santa, and more!
146. Take a ride on Kentucky Highway 1679 better known as “Little Shepherd Trail” for a breathtaking 38 mile drive on the crest of Pine Mountain. A 4×4 vehicle is recommended but hiking and biking is also highly encouraged!
147. Camp at one of our many camping locations including Cranks Creek Lake, Cumberland Shadow Trail, Martins Fork Lake, Kingdom Come State Park, or even the Off-Road Park!
148. Take your hammock on a hike, attach it to two Harlan County trees, and fall asleep to the sounds of beautiful Harlan County nature.
149. Local children in grades K-12 come together at Pine Mountain Settlement School for the Annual Day Camp featuring activities in environment and culture, crafts, and hikes.
150. Closely examine coal displays for fossils from pre-historic Harlan County.
151. Celebrate spring with a hunt for hickory chickens on the forest floor.
152. Ask a neighbor to teach you how to plant by the signs in exchange for helping him plow his garden plot.
153. Notice the unique architecture of Harlan County’s downtowns including the cut stone in churches, buildings, and walls.
154. Skip the Smoky Mountains crowd and experience the unadulterated Appalachian fall beauty at Fall Color Weekend at Pine Mountain Settlement School.
155. While finding your favorite spot in Harlan County, take a picture using snapchat and use the Harlan County geofilter.
156. Handcraft your own rustic winter wonderland with pine cones you harvested yourself.
157. Visit any of our state parks or even locally owned parks and watch for wildlife. Harlan County has a plentiful stock of critters and creatures such a deer, elk, bears, beavers, eagles, hawks, squirrels, and so many more.
158. If you are a hunter, take advantage of the plentiful wildlife in Harlan County. Harlan County is even one of the few counties in Kentucky that has a Black Bear hunting season — this does require a tag drawn from a lottery given by Kentucky Fish & Wildlife.
159. Try some of our Appalachian desserts across the county such as Apple Stack Cake, Pies, Poke Cakes, and much more. You can these desserts all over the county at festivals and events as well as some restaurants may have them available lik the Corner Cafe, Benham Schoolhouse Inn, Sports Cafe, and others.
160. Examine fresh mud for bear, deer, and turkey tracks while taking a break from the real world and experiencing true Kentucky nature.
161. Take a drive up Ivy Hill to capture the shot from the the opening credits of Justified.
162. Browse all of the past issues of the Harlan Enterprise now housed at the Harlan Public Library.
163. Fish from the floating dock at Highsplint lake.
164. For a homemade Appalachian meal, head to Corner Cafe in Evarts on Sunday after church.
165. Are you brave enough to attend the adults only true spooky tales Halloween event at the Evarts Public Library.
166. Decorate your yard for autumn with pumpkins, mums, straw, gourds, & corn stalk from Matt’s Feed & Seed at Ages.
167. Pay tribute to Cloverfork veterans at the Evarts Veteran’s wall.
168. Support the young performing artists in Harlan County by attending a performance put on by students at Harlan Independent High School or Harlan County High School.
169. Prepare for Decoration Day by ordering David’s House of Flowers in Evarts.
170. Take advantage of Evarts’ ATV friendly ordinances to ride your off road vehicle from the Black Mountain Off Road Park to all shopping and dining in Evarts.
171. Kingdom Come State Park is a full of natural beauty but they always have an event going on. The park is home of the Tour De Kingdom Come Bicycle Rally a 36-mile road bike event as well as Harlan’s only marathon.
172. Hike the Martins Fork Wildlife Management Area and search for Quadrule Falls, a scenic high-quality mountain stream that originates in the higher elevations of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Bell County, Kentucky.
173. Visit GOOD EATS for some home cooking or some delicious BBQ! Good Eats offers a 10% discount for all law enforcement and military.
174.Get civically engaged by attending one of the City Council meetings in our six cities or attending a Fiscal Court meeting. Find out how to get involved in making Harlan a better community for all of us!
175. If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, the Cranks Creek & Stone Mountain Wildlife Management Area features steep, mountainous terrain. Atop Stone Mountain is the unique Wagon Road Tunnel.
176.= If you’re interested in genealogy as well as your family connections to Harlan County, visit with the Harlan Funeral Home to track down cemeteries. The Harlan Public Library allows you free access to Ancestry.com as long as you’re on their WiFi!
177. Walk throughout our six cities of Benham, Cumberland, Evarts, Harlan, Loyall, & Lynch to view stunning architecture, interesting buildings, and friendly faces. Each city is interesting and unique in it’s own way.
178. Come out to the outdoor summer movie series hosted by Harlan Christian Church for fun for the whole family.
179. Pick up one of Hello Harlan’s Guide to Downtown brochure and spend the day shopping, eating, and having fun in downtown Harlan.
180. Improve your health at Core Fitness or participate in one of their events.
181. Take a picture in front of one of our “Welcome” signs in Harlan County.
182. For a wide array of shirts and gear to represent your favorite teams, schools, or just general Harlan County inspired clothing visit the Shirt Shack in downtown Harlan or VIP Sports on Suki Ridge!
183. Pick up a postcard or a Harlan County inspired tee shirt at the Harlan Center!
184. Harlan County is full of legends, tall tales, and stories. To hear some of them, be sure to check out the archives at Southeast Community College.
185. Appalachian Regional Hospital regularly hosts informative sessions and luncheons regarding health, wellness, and much more. Be sure to check with ARH often to be a part of these great events!
186. See a movie at the Benham Theater!
187. Attend a local Harlan County Chamber of Commerce meeting and see what’s up in the business community in Harlan! These meetings take place at the Portal, so you’re in for a good meal as well!
188. The Appalachian Program of Southeast Community and Technical College always has an event going on. Check out some of their festivals and events like Crawdad or the Punk-Chili-Zine Fest.
189. Take a walk alongside the Cloverfork river at the north Evarts Park.
190. Become a better leader by becoming a participant in the Harlan County Leadership Program.
191. Harlan County is 200 years old, which means that there’s a lot of history in these mountains. Take some time to talk to local ghost hunters and paranormal groups to discover some haunted Harlan history!
192. Did you know that there are some explorable caves in Harlan County? Try spelunking!
193. Order a cake from Miss Rita! You’re not a true Harlan Countian if you haven’t had Rita Cake.
194. Try out for the Voice of Poke! Jordan Smith was one of the first winners of this fun competition during the Poke Sallet Festival (then titled Poke Idol) — we’re not saying he became famous from winning this competition – — but we’re not not saying it either.
195. Visit some of the more impressive feats of human accomplishment in Harlan County. Check out the cut-through in Loyall or the dam at Martins Fork Lake. Did you know Martins Fork Lake is a man made lake?
196. Make your way to downtown Harlan during Harlan Tourism’s Fourth Fun Fest! We know we’ve mentioned the firework show but did you know that Fourth Fun Fest features a 4th of July parade, vendors, a 5k, entertainment, and food?
197. Watch Harlan County USA and then visit some of the sites and cities that were featured in the documentary.
198. Find the hidden cemetery in downtown Harlan featuring the grave of one of the founders of Harlan.
199. At the start of August, be sure to load up the whole family and bring them out the the fairgrounds at Putney for the Annual Shriner’s Horse Show & Fair.
200. Invite your friends to join you on your next visit to Harlan County or if you’re a local — invite your friends to come join you at all of your favorite places in Harlan County!