About Bowling Green, KY

Here's the Gist

Located 60 miles north of Nashville and 110 miles south of Louisville off Interstate 65, Bowling Green is the third-most populous city in the state of Kentucky after Louisville and Lexington. The 2020 U.S. Census Bureau total for Bowling Green is 72,294, and the population of Warren County is 134,554. In 2003, Bowling Green and its surrounding communities were designated as a "metropolitan area" but separate city and county governments remain. Significant companies in Bowling Green include the GM Corvette Assembly PlantFruit of the Loom/ Russell AthleticsHouchens IndustriesHolley Performance Products, Bowling Green Metalforming, and Camping World. The third largest Kentucky public university, Western Kentucky University, is situated upon a hill in central Bowling Green. Its athletic teams are called Hilltoppers, and the Men’s Basketball program is the 14th winningest Division 1 program in the country. The city of Bowling Green and the county of Warren (as of January 2019) are both ‘wet’ allowing establishments with alcohol licenses to serve and sell liquor, beer and wine seven days a week.

Brief History

Warren County consists of 546 square miles and was named for General Joseph Warren, a hero of the famous American Revolution Battle of Bunker Hill. The area was first settled in 1785 when Andrew McFadin built McFadin's Station on Barren River. Shortly afterward, another explorer, Robert Moore, paused for a few days at the station before deciding to build in the area. Brothers George and Robert Moore may not have realized how forward-looking they were when they selected a site on the Barren River in south central Kentucky for a new settlement in 1796. At the first county commissioners meeting in early 1798, the pioneers decided that the new town would be "called and known by the name of Bolin Green." This name was after the Bowling Green Square in New York City, where patriots had pulled down a statue of King George III and used the lead to make bullets during the American Revolution. In laying out the town, the Moore’s designed two acres for the construction of public buildings. Those same two acres today make up Fountain Square Park in the heart of downtown. This is symbolic of the city of Bowling Green whose central location allowed it quickly to become a major agricultural community and river port, and later, an important commercial and educational center. Today Bowling Green is a regional entertainment hub for more than 275,000 people in 11 surrounding counties.


We’re humbled and honored to have been:

  • Named one of The South's Best Cities on the Rise 2022 by Southern Living readers
  • Designated one of National Geographic'World's Best Cities with inclusion on its 10 Best All-American Cities list
  • Ranked by MONEY Magazine as The Best Place to Live in Kentucky in 2018 (Learn more from our Chamber of Commerce here)
  • Named a Dozen Distinctive Destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Selected as an All-America City Finalist in 2010 by the National Civic League
  • Chosen as a Top Ten Great Public Space (Downtown Fountain Square) by the American Planning Association
  • Included in ForbesTop 25 Places to Retire list in 2014 and 2015, and regularly appear on its list of Best Small Places for Businesses and Careers (highest placement of #5 in 2011)
  • Tabbed as one of the Fifty Best Adventure Towns in the country by National Geographic Adventure magazine - 2007 '50 Best Places to Live and Play' issue
  • Named by SportsEvents as a "Destination to Watch" and recipient of a Readers' Choice Award based on our high standard of professionalism and quality service in hosting events
  • Picked as a top 25 Best Place to Launch a Small Business by CNNMoney.com
  • Ranked among the top metropolitan areas with populations less than 200,000 for its number of industry expansions and locations by Site Selection magazine
  • Included in the 2020 Top 100 Places to Live list by Livability.com, coming in at #89

Notable recognition for some of our attractions include:

  • The National Corvette Museum was honored as the Best Attraction for Car Lovers in the 2020 USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice awards and was previously named one of the Top 10 Automobile Museums by Edmunds.com
  • The NCM Motorsports Park was named as the 2014 Outstanding Facility of the Year (the track opened in August 2014!) by the Race Track Business Conference
  • The Historic Railpark & Train Museum has been recognized numerous times with a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence for consistently receiving great traveler reviews
  • The Club at Olde Stone has been included in Golfweek Magazine's Best Residential Golf Course, Best Modern Golf Course, Top 100 Modern Courses list as well as ranking #8 in Golf Digest's ranking of America's Best New Courses when it opened
  • Beech Bend Amusement Park is consistently recognized as one of the Top 5 Friendliest Parks and its Kentucky Rumbler is one of the Top 20 Best Wooden Roller Coasters by Amusement Today readers 
  • The Professional Disc Golf Association rated Kereiakes Park Disc Golf Course a National Top 25 Disc Golf Course
  • Chaney’s Dairy Barn was named the Best Ice Cream Parlor in Kentucky by USA Today in 2010
  • Western Kentucky University (WKU) has been the fastest growing university in Kentucky for fourteen years and is one of three universities in Kentucky listed in “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition," making its third appearance in the guide
  • WKU is one of 25 Safe Communities in the U.S. as accredited by the National Safety Council, becoming the fourth academic institution worldwide to receive the designation.

Some well-known former and current residents include:

  • Duncan Hines, the travel writer turned packaged foods and cake mix king, was born, lived and is buried here. Learn more.
  • John Carpenter, the horror film writer, producer, and director of Halloween fame, grew up here. Learn more.
  • Newgrass Revival members Sam Bush, a world-renowned mandolin player and "Father of Newgrass," and Curtis Burch, an award-winning dobro player, are from Bowling Green.
  • Members of Nappy Roots, a platinum album-selling rap group, and indie rock band Cage the Elephant (Grammy-award winners!) and Sleeper Agent are from Bowling Green.
  • United States Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky. and U.S. Representative Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., reside in Bowling Green.
  • Broadway leading actor Bronson Norris Murphy is from BG and a graduate of Greenwood High School and Western Kentucky University. Prominent roles include the Phantom in Love Never Dies: The Phantom Returns.
  • Miss Kentucky 2011, Ann-Blair Thornton, is a Bowling Green native and WKU student. Ann-Blair won the Quality of Life Award at The Miss America Pageant in 2012.
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