Henderson, Kentucky is located on the bank of the Ohio River and has a population of more than 27,000. One of Henderson’s most famous former residents was painter John Audubon, known for his detailed illustrations of birds in nature. Henderson’s riverfront location makes it an ideal place for families with children looking to enjoy all kinds of water and outdoor activities.
John James Audubon Museum contains not only original artwork, but also artifacts that once belonged to Audubon himself. Displays include paintings, drawings and some of Audubon's personal memorabilia, such as art supplies and furniture. The museum also has a bookshop and nature center. It is a great place to take the family to learn about this famous wildlife artist’s work. Henderson is just a short 18 minutes away from the Children's Museum of Evansville, where kids can explore more than 18,000 square feet of exhibits and galleries. The museum, suitable for children ages 5 to 12, offers exhibits such as “Work Smart” -- where kids can build things, giving them an idea of the mechanical side of our world – “Freedom Gallery” that focuses on the freedom of expression through stories, and “Live Big” where kids can learn about the human body and how it works.
Animals and Wildlife
Sloughs Wildlife Management Area, near the town of Geneva and just 12 minutes from Henderson, offers more than 10,000 acres of wetlands and is home to migratory ducks and geese. Several observation platforms offer excellent views of local wildlife, which includes everything from bald eagles and herons to beavers, swamp rabbits and coyotes. Other habitats include hardwood forests, grass fields and permanent ponds. Less than 20 minutes away, the nearby Mesker Park Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Evansville is a great place to have a family adventure. Featuring over 700 different animals, from rhinos and lions to exotic South American species, the zoo is sure to be a delight for the entire family. Besides the animals, lush gardens and an indoor rainforest tempt the senses.
Other Outdoor Activities
John James Audubon State Park, located just south of the Ohio River and 11 minutes away from Henderson, was Audubon’s favorite natural area and a place he often visited when he needed inspiration for his work. Today, families can take part in many activities here, including camping, hiking, picnicking, boat rentals, fishing and even tennis. The Riverfront Fountains in downtown Henderson are a must-see during the warmer months. Here, kids can jump into a large area full of spray jets and get wet as they run through the maze of water bursts. Toddlers can enjoy the smaller playing area, where the jets are gentler. After some refreshing water fun, the whole family can sit by the park and watch the boats roll by in the Ohio River.
Tours and Events
The annual Ohio Valley Birding Festival, held every March, although exact dates vary from year to year, is a good event to join if your family is interested in learning more about birds and bird habitats. The birding festival is at various locations throughout the area, with the main activities centered on James Audubon State Park. Kids and parents can join bird walks to learn about the nesting habits of local and migratory birds or try a hands-on banding seminar to learn about the importance of banding birds to track migration. If the kids need to burn off some energy, take them on the self-guided Audubon Sculpture Walking Tour, where you can find the eight life-size bird sculptures spread throughout the town. The birds were sculpted, based on paintings by Audubon himself.