Sponsored by: Boyd County Tourism
On the beautifully landscaped riverfront of Ashland in Boyd County, Kentucky, an imposing bronze statue of Vulcan — the Roman god of fire — hoists his blacksmith’s hammer to the sky, symbolizing the region’s rich metal-working history.
Unveiled in 2020, the sculpture reflects the unique marriage of arts and down-to-earth adventure that characterize this Appalachian county on the West Virginia state line.
“Boyd County offers a lot,” says Andrew Steele, executive director of the Boyd County Tourism & Convention Bureau. “We’re close to rail and the river and multiple airports. It’s very affordable to live here, very affordable to visit and within a three-hour drive of a large population base.”
Outdoor enthusiasts will not come up short. At the 7,000-acre Rush Off-Road park, ATV riders can explore more than 100 miles of easy-to-difficult trails with quirky names like Machete and Unfinished Business.
Central Park, a favorite with the locals, includes a popular doggie play area; and numerous elevation changes and dense woodlands make Armco Park a great place for disc golf competitions.
In revitalized downtown Ashland, guests meander art galleries, shops and niche restaurants.
One not-to-be-missed landmark: Paramount Arts Center, an architectural marvel and host to Broadway musicals and concerts.
Another is the Highlands Discovery Museum with exhibits ranging from a 19th-century classroom to a display about Kentucky’s aerospace connection. The museum’s Country Music Heritage Hall highlights regional artists like Billy Ray Cyrus, The Judds and Chris Stapleton.
Fondly known as “BOCO,” Boyd County is also home to King’s Daughters Medical Center and the Marathon petroleum refinery in Catlettsburg, which employs thousands.
Camp Landing, a massive sports complex and hotel in the works, will soon bring even more entertainment options with a bourbon distillery, movie theater and Malibu Jack’s indoor theme park.
“We’re going to be the first stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail,” Steele says. “And when you can offer up a 125,000-square-foot facility, it opens up a lot of doors for basketball, volleyball, wrestling and dance tournaments.”