River Discovery Center


How much do you know about the river industry in the United States? Did you know that the US has over 250,000 rivers, with a total of about 3,500,000 miles of rivers*? On our recent visit to Paducah, Kentucky, we learned about the significance of the river industry in the state of Kentucky and across the entire United States with a visit to the River Discovery Center.

This post includes affiliate links. Hobbies on a Budget received tickets or discounts as part of a sponsored visit to the city of Paducah. All opinions are my own. No monetary compensation was provided.

River Discovery Center Paducah, Kentucky

River Discovery Center

Before our visit to the city of Paducah, we didn’t realize that the city sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers and has strong historical and industrial connections. Our visit to the River Discovery Center gave us the opportunity to learn about the rivers and the impact they have on the city of Paducah and the development of the United States.

River Discovery Center Paducah KY

The inland waterway system spans 25,000 miles throughout the central United States. The largest part of this network is the Mississippi River System, which includes the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.

The River Discovery Center is housed in the only surviving antebellum building in Paducah’s commercial district. The house known locally as the Petter House has undergone many phases of restoration to bring it to the museum it now is. There are different galleries in the museum that allow you to learn about the river industry.

Restoration Story - River Discovery Center

In the main entrance room when you enter the museum, you can check out the river system in the United States and get a visual sense of the magnitude and impact the riverboats play in our commerce.

River Discovery Center

One of the highlights of the River Discovery Center is the state-of-the-art audio visual experience where you can “captain” a speed boat, a towboat or a Coast Guard vessel in a variety of scenarios, including daytime or nighttime.

Tip: If you want to go fast and feel the virtual spray of the water as you captain the vessel, make sure you choose the speed boat.

Boat Simulator River Discovery Center

As you walk through the Discovery Center you can discover how the lock and dam system works, learn about the history of diving and the way the riverboats worked.

River Discovery Center

Kids Area

If you have young kids in your group, make sure you give them time to play in the River Discovery Center area specifically designed for them.

Kids Area River Discovery Center

Don’t miss the Founders Room

When you are done with the first floor museum exhibits, make sure you go upstairs and enjoy the period appropriate pieces and view of the Paducah Wall Murals and Ohio River in the Founders Room. This room is available for rent for special occasions. There are no museum exhibits on the second floor, but you still need to take the time to go upstairs.

Steps at River Discovery Center
River Discovery Center

One of the highlights of historic Paducah downtown is the FloodWall Murals! Stay tuned for a full post talking about these amazing pieces of art!

Paducah Murals

Things to Know

    • There are restrooms available for museum guests.
    • The gift shop offers souvenirs and unique gift ideas.  (You can even make an e-coin to take home for a souvenir!!)
    • The museum offers exhibits for all ages, not just kids.
    • You can rent the facilities for special occasions, birthday parties or events.

Find the River Discovery Center

117 S. Water Street
Paducah, Kentucky, 42001

Connect with the River Discovery Center: Website | Facebook | Admission Fees

Have you visited the River Discovery Center? What do you love learning about local history? I’d love to hear!

Looking for more creative opportunities in Paducah? Don’t miss a day of art at the MAKE studio!

MAKE Paducah Explore your creative side

*Information taken from Enchanted Learning website

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