When Kentucky picks up a statewide hobby, it does so with style.
Lots of states have distilleries, but the tradition and class of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is hard to match. Other places also allow gambling, but the sophistication and beauty of horse racing draws those who would never otherwise set foot in a casino. At various locations across the state, groups can explore the state’s love of quilting, nature, history and down-home cooking.
Kentucky Horse Park
Guests can see majestic horses munching on grass amid 1,200 acres of rolling bluegrass farmland at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The park offers daily equine presentations of different horse breeds and former racing legends like Funny Cide. Groups can learn about horses from centuries past at the International Museum of the Horse. The horse-related attractions continue outside the park at nearby horse farm tours, the Keeneland Racetrack and Louisville’s Kentucky Derby Museum.
National Quilt Museum
Contemporary quilt designs are a far cry from the typical homemade family quilt. Groups can discover the creative approaches to fiber art at the National Quilt Museum. Hands-on workshops include participants designing their own quilt blocks. The museum is located in Paducah, a designated UNESCO Creative City.
Big South Fork Scenic Railway
The natural wonders of the Appalachian Mountains go by mile after mile at the Big South Fork Scenic Railway in Sterns. The historic track winds through wide-open vistas, raging rivers and deep forests. The three-hour, 14-mile train ride traverses the Daniel Boone National Forest and the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, with a stop at the Blue Heron Coal Mining Camp.
Up and Coming
Waterfront Botanical Gardens
Once a landfill, the Waterfront Botanical Gardens in Louisville opened in 2019. The 23-acre urban garden features the Pollinator Garden and the Kentucky Native Garden, among other blooming displays. An accompanying education center is slated to open soon.
Freshwater Falls at the Newport Aquarium
The Freshwater Falls exhibit recently opened at the Newport Aquarium in Newport. Visitors can discover what lies beneath freshwater streams with plants, animals and other creatures living in 13 tanks. One tunnel showcases the hidden habitat beneath a typical Kentucky waterfall.
Wilderness Trail Distillery
The newest stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is the Wilderness Trail Distillery. Set on a 163-acre campus in Danville, the distillery was one of the first destinations on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. The 2012 distillery later expanded its production to graduate to the iconic Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn
Opened as a 30-seat roadside restaurant in 1963, the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn was a favorite local establishment for years before growing into a 350-seat, world-renowned restaurant. The acclaimed eatery in Owensboro offers a buffet, homemade sides, burgoo and desserts.
Mona’s Creative Catering and Fine Foods
Family recipes handed down from one Kentucky family to the next have made their way onto the menu at Mona’s Creative Catering and Fine Foods. The Pikeville favorite serves soups, salads, sandwiches, daily specials and plenty of tasty dessert options.
Inn at Shaker Village
Rooms that reflect both the needs of the modern world and the simplicity of the Shakers lie spread across 13 historic Shaker buildings at the Inn at Shaker Village. The Harrodsburg inn features 72 rooms, suites and private cottages; all are part of the the larger Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. The site sits on 3,000 acres, with 34 original Shaker structures, live demonstrations and seasonal Kentucky dishes at the Trustee’s Table restaurant.
A downtown Louisville staple, the Brown Hotel offers Old World elegance with a Georgian-revival facade and opulent interiors. The hotel is known for its fine dining and is the birthplace of the Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich.