Louisville to Portsmouth Road Trip Guide


For families looking to enjoy their next RV getaway, a seven-day trip from Louisville, Kentucky to Portsmouth, New Hampshire is sure to be a great time.

Louisville is a metropolitan city in the state of Kentucky. The city rests near the shores of the Ohio River and is found directly on the border separating Kentucky from Indiana. Louisville is best renowned for its yearly horse races known as the Kentucky Derby, an event that occurs each May and draws visitors from across the world. In addition to the horse races themselves, the city is home to a museum celebrating the history of the Derby.

Another popular attraction in Louisville is baseball. The city is home to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, the site where high-quality bats used in the Major League are produced.

Louisville is also a center that enjoys a thriving cultural life. As a prelude to the Kentucky Derby, the city hosts the Kentucky Derby Festival, an event that spans two weeks in total. Other popular events held in Louisville throughout the year include the Humana Festival of New American Plays, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, and the Beatles Festival. September is a popular month for bourbon fans when Bardstown hosts its Kentucky Bourbon Festival, a week-long event dedicated to this rich, amber liquor.

But Louisville is far more than just a place to enjoy arts, culture, and the festival scene. The city is also alive with many beautiful recreational areas to explore including many state parks, national monuments, beaches, and campgrounds.

Getting around Louisville in an RV can be a challenge since the city is a bustling hub of activity. Many RV campers like to park their rig at their campground or in a public lot and take a bus, train, or taxi into town do some exploring on foot.

Among the best places to enjoy an RV stay in Louisville are Louisville South KOA Holiday, Louisville North Campground, and Derby Park RV and Campground.

Share this road trip guide


Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: family

Point of Interest

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Just 103 miles away from Louisville is the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. This popular attraction has earned the distinction of being the fifth-oldest property of its kind in the country. Cincinnati Zoo first opened to the public in 1875.

The zoo is easy to find, nestled within the Avondale residential area in the booming metropolis of Cincinnati. The property was first founded on 64.5 acres in the center of the city but has since grown to encompass more land. In 1987, the zoo was added to the list of National Historic Landmarks.

Found on the grounds are more than 500 animal species and 3,000 varieties of plants. The zoo has played an instrumental role in animal conservation efforts and has a thriving breeding program. Cincinnati Zoo is the first facility that was able to successfully produce offspring from a mating of two California sea lions.

Cincinnati Zoo's most popular resident is Martha, a passenger pigeon reputed to be the last of her species on the earth. It is also a haven for a bird named Incas, the last known Carolina parakeet in existence.

After a day of fun exploring the zoo grounds, RV campers might enjoy a good night's rest before the next day's journey. Consider an RV stay at Winton Woods Campground or Steamboat Bend Campground.

German Village

Columbus' German Village is a 105 mile RV road trip away from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Situated just outside the downtown core of the city, the German Village is a haven of culture and activity for RV campers to enjoy.

German Village was founded by German immigrants that settled in the region in the mid 19th century. The property still contains the original brick homes and shops that have lovingly been restored to their former glory. Great attention was paid to ensure the region remains true to its original roots. Today, German Village is an eclectic mix of hipster vibe and rich historical nostalgia.

Though many residences can still be found in German Village, the area also boasts a vibrant foodie culture and is a center for live entertainment and boutique shopping. The popular Schmidt's Sausage Haus was a favored haunt of both U.S. Senator John McCain and Lindsey Grahm during their presidential campaigns. Katzinger's Delicatessan is a favorite restaurant of former President Bill Clinton, whose name has been bestowed upon a popular burger known as "President Bill's Day at the Deli."

Other popular eateries include Thurman Cafe and the very first Max and Erma's.

German Village is also home to the German Brewery District which boats 29 locally-based craft breweries as well as the Franklin Art Glass Studios, Hausfrau Haven, and the Book Loft, a building containing 32 rooms that pre-date the Civil War.

Tuckered out from a day in the sun meandering through the treasure found in German Village? Park the RV for an overnight stay at Korbel North Campground or Buckeye Lake/Columbus East KOA Holiday.

Ohio State Reformatory

The next day's journey is fairly short with only 71.6 miles separating RV campers from enjoying the day exploring the Ohio State Reformatory. This infamous prison was first erected in 1886. Its unique construction is quite beautiful, making the building more closely resemble a castle than a prison.

Ohio State Reformatory was first used as a reform school for juveniles. Throughout the years, the building has been favored locale for many different Hollywood films including the popular The Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One.

Though the Ohio State Reformatory fell into disuse in 1990, all of the indoor structures are still intact today. Tours are operated by a variety of bus companies for RV campers wishing to park their RVs and let someone else do the driving.

In its earliest years, the Ohio State Reformatory was praised for its excellent rehabilitation program. However, throughout the years, care and conditions began to decline until it reached a state renowned for abuse, torture, and violence. Its closure in 1990 came as a result of the tireless efforts of human rights activists campaigning for the facility to be permanently abandoned.

In 1995, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society gained permission to conduct "ghost tours" of the prison. Today, it is believed to be a ripe ground for spirit activity.

For more information about hours of operation, tour schedules, and any associated fees, consult the reformatory's websites.

Thinking an overnight stay is a good idea after a nighttime ghost tour of the reformatory? Why not do some RV camping at Charles Mill Lake Park or Shelby/Mansfield KOA Resort?

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

For the chance to enjoy some of the finest outdoor recreation in the state, the 64.8 miles will fly right by with the excitement of enjoying Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the day ahead. The Cuyahoga, a body of water often referred to as the Crooked River, plunges through over 33,000 acres of diverse terrain whose topographical features include immense forest, gently rolling hills, and wide expanses of pastureland. This popular recreational area is a natural haven for many species of plant and animal life. Its quiet air of tranquility makes it an excellent spot for enjoying some R&R.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park was first designated as a recreational center in 1974 and was declared a national park in the year 2000. The property boasts of many outdoor activities for families to enjoy including hiking, golfing, train rides, kayaking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.

The park rests at the midway point between Cleveland and Akron, making it a great place to enjoy a quiet getaway while still enjoying the benefits of being near to two of Ohio's most popular cities.

Feeling zen and thinking an overnight stay might be the perfect ending to the perfect day? Catch up on your zzz's with an RV stay at Countryside Campground or Akron Canton Jellystone Park.

Seven Tubs Nature Area

After a good night's sleep, RV campers will be primed and ready to tackle the 339 miles to enjoy the day at Seven Tubs Nature Area. This popular recreational center consists of over 500 acres of ground. The property takes its name from the glacial cover that melted, filling all of the potholes in the grounds with crystalline water to form unique tubs.

One of the most beloved attractions at this public recreational center is called the Wheelbarrow Run. The Wheelbarrow Run is a stream that traverses through each of the tubs, connecting them together through the bedrock beneath them. The run can be accessed from one of the many hiking trails found on the grounds.

A trip to Seven Tubs Nature Area feels like a day at a luxurious outdoor spa. The landscape lends itself to an air of peace and tranquility, making it the ideal spot to relax and reflect. The hiking conditions are quite easy here. Meander the grounds at leisure then take a dip in one of the tubs to cool off at the end of the day. What could be more fun?

Feeling like a million bucks after a day enjoying the serenity at Seven Tubs Nature Area? Finish the day off with an RV stay at How Kola Campground or Clayton Park Recreational Area.

Steamtown National HIstoric Site

It's a very quick trip at only 18.5 miles for families to spend the day exploring the popular Steamtown National Historic Site. Located in the town of Scranton, this popular attraction records the historical importance of the steam-powered railroad system in the United States.

RV campers can enjoy the experience of viewing decommissioned steam-powered locomotives as they learn more about the people who built and ran this vital transportation network in Pennsylvania. Also found on the grounds are several trains that are still operational. Train rides can be enjoyed throughout the year when the weather conditions permit.

A visit to Steamboat National Historic Site is an opportunity like no other, allowing families to enjoy a snapshot of what transportation was like in the heyday of the state. Other amenities found on the grounds include a Visitor Center, History and Technology Museums, and a theater that screens the steam railroad documentary known as "Steel and Steam." Walking tours of the premises are conducted daily.

Steamboat National Historic Site is also a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch. Bring along a packed meal or snacks from home to share.

Thinking of spending the night in Scranton? Consider an RV stay at Highland Campgrounds or Susquehanna Shores Campground.

Candlewood Lake

Thinking a refreshing dip is in order? Just 135 miles from Steamboat National Historic Site is Connecticut's Candlewood Lake, a great place to enjoy an afternoon of sun, sand, and surf.

Candlewood Lake has been designated the largest body of water of its kind in the state. A manmade lake, Candlewood Lake is a reservoir that was constructed by the Connecticut Light and Power Company in 1926. Originally intended to serve as a water storage facility, the lake takes its supply from the Housatonic River whose power was harnessed to create electricity for neighboring towns.

The project was grueling, taking over 26 months to come to fruition. Among the tasks to be accomplished during that time were the construction of the dam, flooding of both habited and uninhabited tracts of land, and the clearing of over 4,500 acres of ground. There were 1,400 workers employed to complete the project.

At the time 35 different people had homes on the land that was to be flooded. Many opted to sell their homes to the company, but some retained their ownership, making sections of the lake still under private ownership.

The original plan was to name the body of water Lake Danbury after its nearest city. In the end, it was named for the mountain range which was a ripe ground for pine trees, whose branches were often removed and used as candles by settlers within the region.

Today, Candlewood Lake is a beautiful recreational area with much to offer visitors. The most popular outdoor activities here include fishing, hiking, swimming, boating, and other water sports.

Among the best places to enjoy an RV stay in Danbury are Cozy Hills Campground and Branch Brook Campground.

Mark Twain House and Museum

Only 62.9 miles from Candlewood Lake is a property that was home to one of America's most definitive literary heroes: Mark Twain. The Mark Twain House and Museum rests inside the building which was once the home of the famed author. The facility has been restored to its original splendor when it was the residence of the Twain family from 1874 through 1891.

During his time in the home, Mr. Twain wrote two of his most celebrated novels: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He also wrote A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court during his time in Hartford.

Today, tours are offered daily of the former Twain home, a facility that has been declared a National Historic Landmark. Throughout the year, many cultural and educational activities are also housed on the grounds for the public to enjoy.

Among the features of the Mark Twain House and Museum are a grand hall, a glass conservatory, a vast library, and a billiards room, the area of the house Mr. Twain favored for writing. The building contains 25 grandiose rooms in total. The museum was declared to be one of the ten best historic homes in the world by National Geographic magazine. TIME magazine has called it "Downton Abbey's American cousin."

Inspired to do some reading after a day exploring the Mark Twain House and Museum? Park the RV for an overnight stay at Bear Creek Campground or Markham Meadows Campgrounds.

Tower Hill Botanic Garden

The last day trip before the final leg to Portsmouth is 74.7 miles away. This quick little trip brings RV campers to the beautiful Tower Hill Botanic Garden. A property managed by the Worcester County Horticultural Society, this incredibly picturesque green space is dedicated to providing education about the hobby of gardening and its benefits.

In 1840, the annual cattle show was held, and a group of 24 agricultural professionals decided to include an exhibit comprised of fruits and vegetables alone. The presentation was such a success that it was decided to develop a local society dedicated exclusively to horticultural preservation and education.

Over time, a building was constructed to provide office space, a horticulture-themed library, and room for exhibitions. During the summer months, weekly shows were hosted on the grounds to bring attention to the incredible flowers, plants, and fruits and vegetables produced locally.

In the 1940s, the culture shifted from an interest in indoor exhibitions to gardens. Gardens were first planted on the grounds in 1986 at what is known as Tower Hill Farm in the Massachusetts town of Boylston.

Visitors to Tower Hill Botanic Garden can enjoy horticultural displays throughout all four seasons of the year. An emphasis is placed on the cultivation of plants commonly found in New England.

After a day enjoying the beautiful blooms at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, consider an RV stay at Boston Minuteman Campground or Sutton Falls Camping Area.


The final leg of the journey to Portsmouth won't take long at only 81.6 miles. RV campers will be delighted to finally park their RV to enjoy an extended stay in their desired locale.

Portsmouth, a coastal New Hampshire city, was founded in 1623 and has earned the distinction of being the third oldest city in the country. A small and sleepy haven, Portsmouth has that true New England feel, making families feel at home. A city renowned for its history of fishing, shipping, and brewing, Portsmouth has a prosperous food scene.

Though Portsmouth isn't a big city, it has immense charms to offer. The best way to explore the city is on foot. The city is alive with many walking paths lined with brick that lead through a unique maze of souvenir shops, gourmet food stores, and eclectic boutiques.

But Portsmouth has more to offer than a historic harbor, a rich food culture, and shopping. The city is home to several state parks, beaches, and campgrounds that are well worth the effort to explore.

Traveling through Portsmouth in an RV is not hard to do. For those that prefer to park their rig and take public transportation into town, there is an excellent network of buses and taxis RV campers can use.

Among the best places to enjoy RV stays in Portsmouth are Great Bay Camping and Wakeda Campground.

Share this Road trip guide