Whether you’re a grizzled Great Loop vet or still putting pins on your map in preparation for the big adventure, chances are you know of the lively little Kentucky city with the funny name: Paducah.
Kim Russo, the executive director of America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association, calls Paducah (pronounced puh-DOO’-kuh) an emerging hot spot for Loopers. Positioned at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, Paducah offers cruisers a first-class transient dock and enough dining, sightseeing and culture to stay happily occupied for a few days. The city’s proximity to the expansive Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley and the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area are part of the appeal as well.
“Paducah is historic, culturally rich and full of local flavor,” says Laura Oswald, director of marketing for the city’s Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The local flavor in the so-designated UNESCO Creative City includes unique restaurants, coffeehouses, microbreweries, distilleries, art galleries, a mural installation along the floodwall, antiques, boutiques and other attractions. An unusual centerpiece attraction is the National Quilt Museum, showcasing the best of the best in quilt and fiber art. Exhibits include quilts from the museum’s collection and works on loan. Exhibits are rotated 10 to 12 times a year.
The city’s downtown attractions, including the museum, are within walking distance of the Paducah Transient Boat Dock. Completed in 2017, the facility has 340 feet of floating docks. While it does not have showers, restrooms or laundry, it does have fuel, water and shore power hookups. Water and pump-out services are seasonal. Reservation information is available by calling (270) 538-9849 between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Boaters are permitted to stay 14 consecutive days.
If you’re headed south and prefer a more traditional full-service facility, Kentucky Dam Marina is 22 miles down the Tennessee from Paducah. But either way, Paducah and its unique river-town appeal is well worth a stopover.