Smithland is a rural township and the county seat of Livingston County. It sits on the confluence of the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers. The landscape is one of quintessential Kentucky with horse farms, woods, and beautiful rolling countryside that is rare this far west in the state. The history of Smithland is interesting! It began as a trading post on the Ohio River, then began to grow as it established hotels and taverns for travelers. Lucy Jefferson Lewis, the sister of Thomas Jefferson, was buried in Smithland at their family home named Rocky Hill. Unfortunately her grave has been lost since, but a memorial for her stands at the intersections of U.S. Hwy 68 and KY Route 137 that can be seen today. Livingston County was majorly flooded in 1884 and again in 1937 from a overflowing Ohio River. A fun fact about this town is that it appeared in the movie “How the West was Won” starring Jimmy Stewart and Debbie Reynolds! Local Smithland residents were cast as extras beside these golden-age movie stars, and the town was used to set Albany, NY. in this classic film!
While Smithland is very rural, it is centrally located between Paducah and Eddyville which is nice with all the shopping and entertainment they offer. Across the I-69 bridge over the Tennessee river, Calvert City, has a large manufacturing and chemical industry that supplies jobs to people who live across the region. One of the nearest towns is also one of the most charming ones, that is the lakeside village of Grand Rivers. This lively tourist community is between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, and has much to offer! Set sail on a sailboat at Lighthouse Landing Marina and stay in one of their cabins overlooking the lake for “picture perfect” views each morning. Green Turtle Bay Marina & Resort on Lake Barkley is an upscale resort with very nice condos to rent overlooking the lake, an indoor swimming pool, Jade & Earth Salon and Day Spa, and Docker’s café over the water. It also has a yacht club with a fine dining restaurant at their clubhouse. The main thoroughfare of Grand Rivers is home to shopping, award-winning food, and first class entertainment! Craig’s Dairy Dream is a walk-up style eatery that stays very busy in the summer months. They serve delicious grilled burgers with classic sides done really well, and their milkshakes are an absolute must! Eat on one of their picnic tables or drive to the lake and enjoy your food with a million dollar view! The Badgett Playhouse has been putting on exciting shows that rival those of Branson! They put on sixteen impressive shows per year featuring top-notch entertainers with incredible music in a theater with state-of-the-art sound and lighting. The jewel of Grand Rivers has to be Patti’s 1800 Restaurant and Settlement. Patti’s has been a staple, not only for the town but for the region for over 40 years now. After a fire in 2018, the restaurant has been completely rebuilt from the ground up, and is now nicer than ever before! From the period appropriate employee apparel, the décor throughout, table settings, and the large water wheel on property, Pattis is more than just a meal — it’s an experience that takes you back in time! The restaurant is famous for their juicy, two inch pork chop made with their house seasoning, flower pot bread with strawberry butter and “mile high” meringue pies! Their food has been highlighted in Southern Living Magazine multiple times over the years. Be sure to walk around the beautiful gardens and browse through the gift shops. No time for a sit down meal, but still up for fun? Get some ice cream at Hamburger Patti’s ice cream stand and play a round at their 19th Hole Mini Golf Course. Patti’s is a place that leaves a wonderful impression that will be sure to bring you back. Across the street is Patti’s sister restaurant, T.Lawson’s Grille. This newer establishment serves up the same quality of food, but with their own specialties like the Grand Pretzel, an oversized, buttery pretzel served with house-made beer cheese sauce. They bring their A-game with the crispy battered fish tacos topped with cilantro-lime slaw and southwest sour cream and homemade guacamole and the shrimp and grits made with house made cheddar grits—so satisfying! The meat lover will enjoy Mabel’s Smokehouse Chicken that’s topped with applewood smoked bacon, pulled pork and BBQ sauce. Finish the meal with the ultimate dessert—the Badger Skillet Cookie— a chocolate chip skillet cookie for two, topped with ice cream, chocolate & caramel sauce! With a beautiful bar, a cozy and stylishly decorated atmosphere with the same attention to detail that Patti’s always offers, this restaurant is quickly becoming a favorite with the locals. As if those options aren’t enough, Knoth’s Bar-be-que is a mom & pop BBQ joint that has been serving up amazing food for decades! Get some mouthwateringly good brisket and pulled pork, along with home cooked sides with ice cream or pie for dessert. Hurry up because they run out of meat most days since this place stays busy!
Just a couple miles south of Grand Rivers, is the North entrance of Land Between the Lakes (LBL) Recreational Area. With miles of trails throughout, and a number of nature, science and historical attractions, you will find days worth of outside adventures. Better yet, stay in LBL at one of their campgrounds. Hillman Ferry Campground is nearby and is nice, large campground with a beach, hiking and biking trails, a general store and bicycle rentals on property. This Kentucky lakeside campground has everything from full-hookups to primitive campsites available. For the horse enthusiast looking for a peaceful getaway, Wranglers Campground and Horse Trails in the heart of LBL is a place to go! Experience the solitude of nature with horseback riding or wagon driving on their 100 miles of trails. They have primitive cabins available and camp sites with hook up for large motor homes and horse trailers. They have a blacksmith onsite to repair, as well. What a great way to spend a beautiful weekend! Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley have over 3,000 miles of shoreline combined and some of the best catfish, crappie, and bass fishing this side of the Mississippi River! Have fun in the water with water skiing and tubing, or canoeing and kayaking in one of the quieter bays around. No boat—no problem! There are many fantastic resorts on the lake that offer boat rentals for whatever style of cruisin’ you would want!
Smithland is conveniently located near so many places to adventure and explore this side of the state. It’s setting is truly peaceful while shopping and good eats are a short drive away. This community on the river is a beautiful place to experience life to the fullest!