Situated at a geographical crossroads, Kentucky blends the South’s graceful living, the West’s frontier attitude and the North’s industrial spirit. At the heart of this mix is its capital city of Frankfort, where bourbon, bluegrass, horses and history coalesce in a big way. More relaxed than its larger neighbors of Louisville and Lexington, Frankfort is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the best parts of the Bluegrass State.
Divided by 14 locks along its 255-mile span, the Kentucky River, which runs through the heart of the city, is more like a series of connected lakes than a fast-flowing waterway. This means it’s perfect for anglers looking to cast a line for bass, muskie and catfish. It’s also perfect for a relaxing canoe or kayak excursion, all of which can be organized at outfitters like Canoe Kentucky, located on the banks of the river in Frankfort.
Load Up for Hunting
Hunters should head north of the city to the numerous wildlife management areas on the banks of the river operated by the state. Deer and waterfowl are plentiful in the floodplain and inland hickory forests. Make sure you acquire a Kentucky state hunting license before heading out for game.
A local saying asserts that there are more barrels of bourbon than people in Kentucky. A trip to the Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve distilleries certainly supports that impression. The sprawling, historic estates offer free daily tastings, as well as tours that follow the bourbon-making process from grain delivery to distillation and bottling. Each of the distilleries — and there are far more than just two in the area — offer a touch of unique history, with copper stills, Spanish-style roofs, expansive farmland and ghost tours available at the different locations.
Have a Ball
After seeing how America’s “native spirit” gets made, make the trip to the Rebecca Ruth Candy Tours & Museum in downtown Frankfort, where you can try the liquor in one of its finest forms — the bourbon ball. The shop’s original owner invented the classic confection, treasured by sugar addicts for generations.
As the state’s capital, Frankfort has a long history of grand and impressive architectural feats. Completed in 1910, the Capitol building showcases a lavish French decorative style complete with ornate flourishes. Self-guided walking tours feature the gaudy reception rooms, grand corridors and enormous tapestries that deck the walls of the stately building. Continue to the Old State Capitol, completed in 1830, for a glimpse into the state’s earliest legislative days. Now a museum run by the Kentucky Historical Society, tours include the history behind the state’s great lawmakers in the actual rooms where they deliberated on slavery and the Civil War.
For More Information
Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist and Convention Commission
Kentucky Department of Tourism