Kentucky offers a truly one of a kind vacation experience, with all the romance, history and charm to be found south of the Mason-Dixon Line. To fully appreciate its magnificence, rent a car and prepare to be amazed by one of the least appreciated states in the Union!
When thinking of the stereotype many people have of the Bluegrass State, Lexington fits the image perfectly. Gently rolling green fields, sweepingly grand horse farms and long, picturesque country roads will do nothing to detract from what one expects from a visit. The horse farms alone are enough to fill a photo book full of wonderful memories.
The state capital, Frankfort, is as cosmopolitan, as it is romantic to explore. Its many historic buildings, parks landscaped in a style reminiscent of Frederick Law Olmsted and surprisingly good restaurants all within a small area make it an easy city to happily get lost in long walks. Even a visit to Daniel Boone’s grave in Frankfort Cemetery can be an inspiring experience. The cemetery and his grave overlook the city from high bluffs. Frankfort is also an excellent starting point for several short day trips to visit one of the greatest gems in the crown of Kentucky Bourbon distilleries.
Spend even the briefest time walking through the whiskey warehouses of a Kentucky distillery, with wafting smells of vanilla and toffee, and you will think you were in a candy shop. This perfectly describes the warehouses at any of the historic distilleries around Franklin County, Kentucky. Just two hours from Cincinnati, Franklin County is home to 19th Century manors and Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace and other famous distilleries along what is known as the Bourbon Trail. Distillery tours are offered most days, providing a detailed explanation of the history and process of making fine bourbon, and are often followed by a free whiskey tasting. For those who may not appreciate fine bourbon, the scenery surrounding the distilleries is breathtaking and even non-imbibers will be fascinated by the process which generates the ‘angels’ share’. With such other notable distilleries as Jim Beam, Makers Mark and Heaven Hill along the Bourbon Trail, a whole week can be spent just exploring active distilleries. The old abandoned distillery sites are as equally fascinating for the great photo opportunities provided.
As a final destination in a visit to Kentucky, your trip is not complete without going to the hallowed of the most hallowed horse racing tracks, Churchill Downs in Louisville. To gain a little inside track over other visitors, the locals pronounce the name of their fair city ‘Lou-a-ville’. The Kentucky Derby, held in the early part of May each year, offers the perfect excuse for ladies and their accompanying gentlemen to dress up in their better than Sunday best, sip mint juleps and get caught up in the excitement of one of the greatest horse racing experiences since Ben Hur raced chariots in the Circus Maximus.
While mapping out the best vacation destinations in Kentucky, you may come for the whiskey but you will end up staying for the Southern hospitality, many romantic restaurants and scenic wildernesses surrounding these last trappings of a timeless Scots-Irish heritage.