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Take a Piece of Kentucky Home

Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace


Husband and wife Howard and Dee Dee Ford Keene saw a hole in Bardstown’s bourbon experiences. The Bourbon Capital of the World didn’t offer one nondistillery experience that could teach guests about bourbon, sell bourbon-themed gifts and offer bourbon tasting samples. To change that, they opened the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace.

Though the shop recently sold to David Erickson and Stephen Vittitow, guests can still receive an education on bourbon before shopping and sipping. The site can set up demonstrations with master distillers to talk about this history of bourbon-making. Sampling drinks at the site’s Bourbon Tasting Bar also allows guests to try bourbons from various distilleries without visiting each one. The bar offers 120 brands of bourbon and several original cocktails. The Bardstown Bubble cocktail became the official drink of the 2016 Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

At the boutique shop, groups can hunt for bourbon-themed apparel, gourmet foods, cakes, barrelheads, jewelry and accessories. Bourbon balls remain a favorite gift, since even those who don’t like the taste of straight bourbon can appreciate the subtler taste when combined with chocolate.

“They have bourbon-related products of all kinds,” said Mike Mangeot, executive director of Bardstown/Nelson County Tourism. “It’s everything you can think of bourbon themed, from boxer shorts to baseball caps.”

National Quilt Museum


Travelers get to tap into their own creativity to create personalized quilts at the National Quilt Museum. The Museum Experience program lets guests experiment with precut fabrics in a variety of colors. Guides walk them through the process of designing the block, quilting it and framing it.

In the end, participants take home a work of fiber art they made themselves.

“The experience starts with a VIP white-glove tour and then heads into the museum’s classroom,” said Laura Oswald, director of marketing for the Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They are challenged to design and build their own quilt block. That has been an incredibly successful way to share the quilting experience with people who are not quilters. Many types of groups have done this as a way to engage in the art of quilting.”

In the National Quilt Museum’s shop, visitors can browse fiber art made locally and internationally. Fiber-art-themed earrings, postcards, quilt books and other souvenirs reflect the talent on display in the museum. The shop offers other Kentucky-crafted products as well.

The Art Guild of Paducah and the Bricolage Art Collective also sell fiber art and works from local artists. Ceramics, woodworking and paintings are some favorite types of art represented at these two shops.

For another hands-on experience, groups can turn to Make Paducah, founded by mural artist Kijsa Housman. Housman leads art demonstrations, such as ornament-making, for participants of all skill levels.

“In addition to Housman’s mural work, she is very popular on Etsy,” said Oswald. “She has all types of artworks in her shop, including pillows, chalkboards and all kinds of things that are perfect for gift giving. She has turned her Etsy presence into a physical space.”

Eliza Myers

Eliza Myers has worked for The Group Travel Leader since 2007. She is the online editor and associate editor for Select Traveler.

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