Saturday 19 November 2022
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We know what you’re thinking: Kentucky is all about bourbon and horses, right? There’s no denying many memorable days do include these storied activities, but they’ve also got a lot more up their sleeve. Whether you’re into live music, craft beer, chef-driven cuisine, American history, family fun or exploring the outdoors, there’s a Kentucky experience for you.
Horses & Bourbon
No other place in America – or indeed, the world – is as synonymous with horses as Kentucky, home to both the Horse Capital of the World in Lexington and the American Saddlebred Capital of the World in Shelbyville. There you’ll find legendary horse-racing tracks, a wide variety of equestrian activities and pretty-as-a-picture farms where the most magnificent horses in the world graze on our famed bluegrass. Even if you don’t travel to Kentucky a horse lover, you’ll almost certainly leave as one. It is, after all, the home of Keeneland, Churchill Downs and the famed Kentucky Derby.
The Bluegrass State is also Bourbon Country, where you can immerse yourself in a grand tradition hundreds of years in the making in the place that produces 95% of the world’s bourbon. Soak up its spirited culture with a tour and tasting at iconic and upstart bourbon distilleries, where you can stroll landscaped grounds, watch master distillers at work, hear fascinating stories and breathe in the “angel’s share.”
If you want to discover (and taste) the true spirit of Kentucky, you come to Bourbon Country. Take a distillery tour or learn about America's native spirit with a Bourbon 101 class. Experience restaurants creating a buzz with bourbon-infused dishes. Visit during National Bourbon Heritage Month (September) to take part in festivals, concerts and bourbon-soaked events. And if you're thirsty for outdoor adventure, too, you can even run the 200-mile Bourbon Chase relay race along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.
The sight of rickhouses stacked to the rafters with spirits. The taste of fresh-from-the-barrel bourbon. A visit to a Kentucky bourbon distillery will be imprinted on your senses forever. Many of Kentucky’s nearly 70 distilleries offer tours and tastings, each one of them a unique experience. Take a Hard Hat Tour at Buffalo Trace to see everything from cooking to fermentation to distilling up close. Hand-dip your own bottle of Maker’s Mark in the distillery's famous red wax. Or take a curated cocktail class and taste bourbon straight from the barrel at Bardstown Bourbon Company, one of Kentucky’s newest and most technically advanced distilleries.
In Kentucky, bourbon is much more than a drink. It’s a way of life. Whether you’re new to bourbon or an aficionado, whether you prefer your bourbon neat or on the rocks, whether you want to eat your way through Bourbon Country or bike along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, there’s a bourbon experience for you.
With their interest in distilling, it’s no wonder that Kentuckians are also becoming brewmasters. Over the last few decades the state has become a part of the craft brewery movement that is spreading across the nation.
The first microbrewery in Lexington was actually a distillery. Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company took some distillery space, brewed a batch of beer, and aged it in Bourbon barrels for a brew that is uniquely Kentucky. Now, craft breweries are located throughout the central part of the state, combining fruits and bourbon with beer to create ales, lagers and porters with a Kentucky twist.
The best way to explore this growing scene is to follow Lexington’s Brewgrass Trail, a spinoff on the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® that goes through central Kentucky and visits the nation’s Bourbon distilleries. Tap into Kentucky’s ever-growing craft beer scene.
Bluegrass Music and so much more
The shimmer of an Appalachian dulcimer. The woody lilt of a fiddle. Even the burble of a mountain creek or the rhythmic clip-clop of a horse's hooves. Music knows no bounds in Kentucky. As the birthplace of Bluegrass, Kentucky's impact on American music is profound, and its musical roots extend all around the Commonwealth – from Owensboro, home of “Father of Bluegrass” Bill Monroe, to the Country Music Highway, a tuneful stretch of Eastern Kentucky where more than a dozen country legends got their start. If you want to get to the soul of Kentucky, all you've got to do is open your ears.
Every day of the week, you can find a live music or theater performance taking place on one of Kentucky’s many stages. Amazing venues like Renfro Valley Entertainment Center and the Madison Theater in Covington are great places to catch Kentucky bands like Cage the Elephant as well as other national touring acts and up-and-comers. WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour is recorded weekly at the Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center in Lexington, and the nearby Lexington Opera House is the home stage for many local groups.
When the weather turns warm, Kentucky's outdoor stages come alive. Must-see productions include The Stephen Foster Story in Bardstown and Louisville's Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. And don't miss outdoor venues like the Jenny Wiley Theatre. To paraphrase the Bard: all of Kentucky is a stage.
If it’s outdoor fun you want, we’ve got it! Kentucky invites visitors and locals alike to explore the outdoor wonders of the Bluegrass State. From Mammoth Cave National Park and Kentucky State Parks to Daniel Boone National Forest, Red River Gorge Geological Area and Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, adventures await for everyone in your crew.
As the world’s longest-known cave system, Mammoth Cave is one of the state’s most-visited attractions, offering a variety of tours below ground and countless adventures above it. With 45 State Parks, 30 of which feature campgrounds, the Bluegrass State is the ultimate summer outdoor destination. At these gems nestled throughout some of the state’s most scenic spots, you’ll find hiking, biking, paddling, boating, horseback riding and more.
Mountains & Lakes
Daniel Boone National Forest in Southeastern Kentucky is spread across 21 counties, with more than 708,000 acres managed by the National Forest. Visitors can hike, camp, rock climb, boat, hunt, fish, ride, target shoot and relax in gorgeous surroundings. The portion of the Appalachian Mountains that stretches through Eastern Kentucky is also one of the most scenic areas in this part of the country.
In the same area, Red River Gorge Geological Area offers several natural outdoor attractions that draw visitors from near and far. World-renowned for rock climbing and rappelling, Red River Gorge also lets you soar through the air on a zipline for the ultimate adventure tour. There are plenty of trail opportunities in the area, too, as well as some great sites to camp or rent a cabin. While you’re here don’t miss Natural Bridge, a beautiful 78-foot-long sandstone arch within the Gorge that is one of the most-visited attractions in the state. Or take a nature hike to one of the area’s many stunning waterfalls!
Miles of shoreline along lakes around the state also offer water recreation for the whole family at spots like Buckhorn Lake, Dale Hollow Lake, Grayson Lake, Lake Cumberland, Nolin Lake and others. Another can’t-miss outdoor destination is Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Western Kentucky, which features wildlife viewing, nature hikes, paddling and kayaking through waterways, plus fishing adventures and more.
Plan Your Trip
Ready to plan your trip? Visit www.KentuckyTourism.com and individual attraction websites for the latest travel information and inspiration!
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