Good things come in small packages; or in this instance, small places.
At first glance, Bardstown, Ky
., looks and feels like your typical small southern town. As the second oldest city in the state, you'll discover a charming historic downtown area, complete with a circular Courthouse Square, over 300 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places with almost 200 of them located downtown and more.
A lot more.
Spend one weekend here, and you'll find out that Bardstown is anything but typical.
: Known as the “Bourbon Capital of the World,” Bardstown is home the Barton 1792 Distillery
, Willett Distillery
, Heaven Hill
, Maker's Mark
and Jim Beam American Stillhouse
and Four Roses
(the last four are listed on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
.) Offering tours to the public, you can get an in-depth view of how the spirit is crafted and partake in complimentary tastings. However, if it's tastings
you want, make reservations at the Chapeze House
and let Colonel Michael Masters (the Kentucky Bourbon Master) introduce you to the proper way to enjoy bourbon and its many nuances. The experience ends with a handcrafted Mint Julep, using mint from his garden. You can step up the experience at the Chapeze House's Kentucky Bourbon House Dinner
. Complete your bourbon excursion by stopping in the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
: Bardstown is home to one of the top four Civil War museums in the country. The Civil War Museum of the Western Theater at Old Bardstown Village
houses numerous collections and exhibits related to the War Between the States. A few things that make the area interesting is the collection of museums that include Old Bardstown Village and a one-of-a-kind Women's Civil War Museum that details their involvement during the war. There's also a pioneer village on-site opened to visitors and host events
throughout the year.
: View and tour the house that is said to have inspired Stephen Foster's “My Old Kentucky Home.” The historical site and state park
is also home to the “Stephen Foster Story
,” a summer musical production that pays homage to Foster.
Like many southern towns, you're not at a lost for a good meal. The hard part is deciding what and where to eat. Enjoy a Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich at Kurtz Restaurant
. Create your own bourbon flight at the Rickhouse
, and then order one of
their cuts of steak. Enjoy a cup or bowl of Kentucky Burgoo at The Old Talbott Tavern
. Do the downtown thing with a burger at Pat's Place
, coffee at Java Joint Cafe
and for dessert, a milkshake from Hurst Drug Store
. Have a sweet tooth? Be sure to drop in Hadorn's Bakery (early or you'll miss out) for muffins, donuts and the like.
: From hotels to bed and breakfasts, you find accommodations that'll fit your taste and budget. If you're looking for something that's worthy of a dinner conservation topic when you tell everyone you spent the night in a jail, consider Jailer's Inn Bed and Breakfast
. Yes, it was
actually the old county jail
. Request the Jail Cell
, or any of the other six rooms
. Another option is the Red Rose Inn
, within walking distance from downtown. The Bourbon Manor Bed and Breakfast Inn
includes a day spa and features a bourbon-themed breakfast.
Did you know.
..Bourbon isn't the only spirit found in Bardstown. The small town is home to many haunts. Find out for yourself by taking the Bardstown Ghost Trek
, a two-hour guided tour, or the Chapeze House's Spirit and Spirit tour
photos: personal collection