About a month ago, we visited Grand Rivers for the first time. It’s a quiet boat-centric town north of Land Between the Lakes, just over the the Barkley Canal, with a population around 380 people. Its yacht club and many docking areas make it a popular vacation area for the nautical types.
However, there’s still plenty to do in town if you’re land-bound. (Not to say I wouldn’t love one of those million-dollar yachts I saw. Anyone wanna hook a girl up?) Throw in the fact that Grand Rivers is a common stop for globetrotting boaters who hop from port to port, and I decided I’d share my cut-to-the-chase travel guide for if you only have one day in town.
1. Stay at the Grand Rivers Inn
If you’re traveling by car, then this is where you HAVE to stay. It’s a cozy, cute 2-story building right on the main road. The owner lives on the bottom floor, and she’s super nice and helpful. She runs the whole inn herself, including cleaning the rooms, which is really admirable. Alongside the inn, there are a few little cabins that you can rent from her as well, if you have a large group. It’s also a block away from the town grocery.
Our room came with a coffeemaker, mini fridge, and microwave. There were all the essential toiletries in the bathroom, which came in handy because I forgot half of mine like always. To top it off, the low rate makes it very affordable.
2. Rent a Golf Cart
Across from the inn is the bait shop, and adjoining cafe. You can rent one of the many golf carts here for $20/hr, or $65/day. (Bear in mind, you have to pay in cash, and put your credit/debit card number for liability reasons.) If you rent it for more than one day in a row, you get to keep the cart overnight. This is essential for the experience! You can buzz all over the town, visit the many little lakes and nature-y areas, and watch the wildlife.
3. Go Antiquing
Yeah, I know. it sounds like a boring, tourist-y thing to do, but in the clump of shops along the main road, there’s a really interesting 2-floor antique shop that’s carries even modern stuff. I found a few shelves of vintage cameras that I loved, and some limited-run colors of Fiestaware downstairs. It’s definitely worth a walkthrough.
4. Visit Patti’s 1880s Settlement
I wasn’t keen on anything that seemed gimmicky, but I’m really glad we went here. The Settlement is a cluster of shops and eateries, overrun with foliage and flowers. It’s like a gardener’s wonderland.
It’s luscious and interesting, and each of the shops is neat in its own way. Which brings me to the next stop…
5. Eat at Grist Mill Cafe
We tried a few other places nearby, but this one was by far our favorite. Really, it was the incredible service and personality of the two people working there that sold us on it when we hadn’t had breakfast and it was pushing noon.
Tabitha, one of the two working, offered to make us custom vegetarian quesadillas consisting of all kinds of fresh chopped veggies and two kinds of cheese. They were SO GOOD.
We sat out on the covered patio, thoroughly appreciating the fans after being in the sun and heat all day. In addition to their menu, Grist Mill has baked goods like cupcakes and pies. We tried the German Chocolate cupcakes. Omg.
Prepare to be jealous, because Grand Rivers showcases some incredible vessels. There are several small docking areas around the town, but if you’re able to visit the Green Turtle Bay Resort and Yacht Club, do it.
The Resort houses some of the biggest personal-use boats I’ve ever seen. Here, there’s everything from large sailboats to party and house boats to the three-story dream yacht that looked like it belonged in Miami with an MTV crew on board.
Green Turtle Bay also rents condos and nicer cabins for vacationers and members, and has an office dedicated to boat sales if you’re looking to buy.
7. Sunset at Lighthouse Landing
Lighthouse Landing begins at a little inlet on the west coast of town, and runs north. This area is mostly frequented by sailboats and pedestrians.
The gazebo at the end of the walk is the perfect place to sit and watch the sunset. Get there early to sit at one of the three benches, or bring a lawn chair. If you’re hungry, grab some fresh pizza or a sandwich from the Village Market & Cafe. Everyone there is super nice, and the food is great.
It’s a very relaxing experience. There’s little noise, aside from the occasional child, or hum of a boat motor. It’s quiet enough to hear the water hitting the rocks just a few feet away.
I hope you find this little guide helpful. Grand Rivers is now one of my favorite places, so I think everyone should have the chance to visit.