By Kathy Witt
Stretching from the Ohio River to the heart of the Bluegrass with its rolling pasturelands – from cosmopolitan to country, savvy to sleepy – the 15-county Bourbon, Horses and History Region is one of superlatives.
Here lies Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville, and one of its smallest, Hodgenville – the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and one of nearly 20 sites you can explore on the Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail that figure significantly into the life and legacy of the 16th president.
It is home to Oldham County, the Farm Tour Capital of Kentucky. See where the buffalo roam – horses and alpaca, too – on one of 14 different farm tours. It’s also home to Bardstown, the Bourbon Capital of the World with legendary distilleries Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Heaven Hill and others on (and off) the famed Kentucky Bourbon Trail®. And it is home to Shelbyville, the American Saddlebred Capital of the World. Its 80-plus Saddlebred farms includes the famous Undulata Farm, where Civil War veteran Harry Weissinger and his sons once bred the great stallion, American Born.
Fun Indoors & Out
Outdoor enthusiast? You’ll hear more than 8,500 acres of lakes calling your name for boating, kayaking, pontoon riding, waterskiing and fishing in such places as Brandenburg’s 2,600-acre riverfront park Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, the fabulous falls at Rough River and the calming vastness of 3,040-acre Taylorsville Lake. Bird watchers, nature lovers, hikers, bikers and photographers will also find their bliss in these serene places.
Indoors, you’ll have your pick of museums for hands-on exploration, from the newly-renovated interactive General George Patton Museum in Fort Knox to iconic Louisville landmarks like the Muhammad Ali Center and Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. And speaking of icons, catch your breath for the excitement of Churchill Downs and the greatest two minutes in sports – the Kentucky Derby, the first jewel of the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Triple Crown.
These bigger-than-life attractions are joined by irresistible hidden gems, too. Tucked quietly into Louisville’s landscape are Kentucky’s only urban winery, the funky Old 502, and the American Printing House for the Blind. Love Victoriana? You’ll want to stroll America’s largest Victorian neighborhood in architecturally beautiful Historic Old Louisville.
And if shopping or shoes are your thing, don’t miss the Zappo’s 6pm.com Outlet in Shepherdsville, offering deep discounts of up to 75% off daily!
History & Entertainment
Sitting in small-town splendor and ready to be enjoyed are the preeminent Civil War Museum of the Western Theater in Bardstown; Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique, a pink retreat in Buckner; Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood; and the Hermitage Horse Farm in Goshen.
In such a diverse region, you would expect equally varied dining experiences – and you won’t be disappointed. You’ll find everything from five-star restaurants to singularly unique eateries here, including Louisville’s mainstays Jack Fry’s, Lilly’s Bistro and Pat’s Steak House, among others.
Then there’s Shelbyville’s homey charmer, the Claudia Sanders Dinner House (yes, she’s Mrs. Colonel Sanders); the atmospheric Old Talbott Tavern in Bardstown – the oldest western stagecoach stop in America; and Glendale’s Whistle Stop with its made-from-scratch goodness.
Kentucky Wine & More
Wine with your dinner? Take your pick of sips from the proliferation of wineries that have taken root in the region. With Kentucky holding the distinction of having the country’s first commercial vineyard, it’s not surprising there are 14 wineries in this region alone, including the award-winning Smith Berry Vineyard & Winery, where you can enjoy a picnic under the pergola, catch a concert and shop for books and made-in-Kentucky souvenirs.
Name your pleasure: Bourbon. Horses. History. You’ll find it all here in the Bourbon, Horses and History Region – everything from Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace to the signature evergreen Serpentine Garden at Yew Dell, wineries and distilleries, farms and horse tours, bourbon and more.
For more information on places to go and things to do, visit www.BourbonHorsesHistory.com.
If You Go
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site and Boyhood Home, 270-358-3137, website
Abraham Lincoln Museum, 270-358-3163, website
American Printing House for the Blind, 800-223-1839, website
American Saddlebred Horse Farm Tours, 502-633-6388, website
Belle of Louisville, 502-574-2992, website
Churchill Downs, 502-636-4400, website
Civil War Museum of the Western Theater, 502-349-0291, website
Claudia Sanders Dinner House, 502-633-5600, website
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, 502-584-2114, website
Frazier History Museum, 502-753-5663, website
General George Patton Museum, 502-624-3812, website
Heaven Hill Distilleries, 502-348-3921, website
Hermitage Horse Farm, 502-228-1426, website
Historic Old Louisville, 502-637-2922, website
Jack Fry’s Restaurant, 502-452-9244, website
Jim Beam American Stillhouse, 502-543-9877, website
Kentucky Artisan Distillery, 502-241-3070, website
Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, 502-875-9351, website
Kentucky Derby, 502-636-4400, website
Kentucky Derby Museum, 502-637-7097, website
Kentucky Kingdom, 502-813-8200, website
Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail, website
Kentucky Science Center, 502-561-6100, website
KentuckyShow! 502-562-7800, website
Lilly’s Bistro, 502-451-0447, website
Lincoln Legacy Museum, 859-335-5410, website
Louisville Mega Cavern, 502-855-6342, website
Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, 877-775-8443, website
Maker’s Mark Distillery, 270-865-2881, website
Muhammad Ali Center, 502-584-9254, website
Pat’s Steak House, 502-893-2062, website
Phil Simms Museum, 859-335-5412, website
Old 502 Winery, 502-540-5650, website
Old Talbott Tavern, 502-348-3494, website
Oldham Farm Tours, 800-813-9953, website
Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, 502-942-5052 (trails), website
Rough River State Resort Park, 270-257-2311, website
Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique, 502-222-6420, website
Smith Berry Vineyard & Winery, 888-845-7091, website
Taylorsville Lake, 502-477-8713, website
Taylorsville Lake State Park, 502-477-8713, website
Whistle Stop, 270-369-8586, website
Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, 502-241-4788, website
Zappo’s 6pm.com Outlet, 502-921-3939, website