Planning Your Loop Trip

March 2020 Feature Web Exclusive

Northerners who boat know two things: 1) not to get their hopes up about an early start to the boating season 2) make the most of the off season by planning out every minute of summer ahead of time. With these two truths and a severe weather warning on our minds this weekend, we’ve set our summer schedule and are now working through some possible Great Loop itineraries for the Fall. Desperate times call for desperate measures!

In our plotting, we found the city of Paducah, Kentucky has recently opened their own 340-foot transient boat dock in an effort to welcome Loopers to the area for a pit stop. Amenities of the transient boat dock include both diesel and marine grade gasoline and free temporary mooring every day between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Reservations for an overnight stay can be made here.

As a designated member of the UNESCO Creative City Network (UCCN), Paducah is poised to be an engaging and relaxing stop on the Loop. UCCN was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 180 cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level. Step off the boat for a short walk into historic downtown Paducah or tour the Lower Town neighborhood, known for his art galleries and beautiful homes.

After intense Googling and some phone calls to locals… here’s our musts in the three most important categories when trip-planning:


  1. Celebrate Paducah's maritime legacy and lore with interactive water-filled exhibits, including a working model of a lock and dam at the River Discovery Center. Captain a towboat, pleasure watercraft or Coast Guard buoy tender through various scenarios in the new pilothouse simulator. Take a turn behind the pilot wheel to experience the river traffic at the Port of Paducah.

  2. Grab a beer at the Paducah Beer Werks, located in the old Greyhound bus terminal, or at the Dry Ground Brewing Company in the historic Coca-cola plant. For alternatives to beer and cider, enjoy a craft cocktail at Silent Brigade Distillery or a moonshine tasting at Paducah Distilled Spirits: The Moonshine Company.

  3. Sit down for a cup of coffee at Ect and Ect2. With two locations, you can perk up with a cup of caffeine in the Lower Town neighborhood or downtown.



  1. Walk along the “Wall to Wall” Floodwall Murals that protect Paducah from any rising water during a storm. These walls have been covered in more than 50 life-sized murals as part of a public art display. Renowned artist Robert Dafford painted the beautiful walls, and they can be viewed any time of day or night.

  2. Browse local art galleries. From the National Quilt Museum to the Yeiser Art Center, or from the PAPA gallery to the Bricolage Art Collective, art is everywhere in Paducah, so you can hop back on your boat with new inspiration.

  3. Walk through the Lower Town Arts District to see Paducah’s oldest residential neighborhood. Famous for its Artist Relocation Program that prompted its colorful revitalization and continues today with the Paducah School of Art & Design campus.

  4. Watch a film at the Maiden Alley Cinema & Gallery. More than a typical theater, their goal is to enhance culture through film with festivals, live music events and cult classic screenings.


  1. Paducah prides itself in its local restaurants with nearly a dozen within walking distance from the river in Historic Downtown. Swing by Shandies for some gourmet pub food, including hand-cut and marinated steaks and homemade lemonade.

  2. Or try the fluffy biscuits and Belgian waffles at Gold Rush Café & Catering for a breakfast you won’t forget. Brunch runs until 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

  3. End the day with ice cream made on site at the Ice Cream Factory at Riverplace or at Curls & Cream. Have your flavor made to order and rolled right on the slab in front of you.

What do you think? Are you coming with us or do you have your own off-the-beaten-path stop you make on the Loop? Leave a comment and we’ll see if we can add it to our itinerary!

Photos Courtesy of Vick Patel and JT Crawford

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