By Kathy Witt
On any of 15 hands-on Oldham Farm Tours, touching is not only allowed - it's encouraged! Oldham County, Kentucky's, farm tours are not only fun and educational, but offer truly memorable experiences. Go ahead, touch the animals. Feel the alpaca wool. Taste the veggies. Feed the calves a bottle. Touch the braids of a Gypsy Vanner horse. Make a take-home gift. "Come Touch the Memories" just outside the city. We're only 20 minutes from Louisville and 60 minutes from Cincinnati on I-71.
Meet the horse characters from author and horse farm owner Ellie Troutman’s children’s book, The Tails of Windy Meadows, and experience Windy Meadows Horse Farm through the eyes of its animals. You’ll “meet” and learn about many horse breeds on this exclusive tour – and experience a Kentucky horse farm behind the scenes. Windy Meadows is one of the most popular of Oldham County’s 15 hands-on farm tours, but there are many others.
Learn the art of distilling and the use of locally grown grains at Oldham County’s own Kentucky Artisan Distillery, home of Jefferson’s Bourbon and Whiskey Row, on a unique interactive tour that also offers a sneak peek into other guest distillers’ private brands. The official Jefferson’s Bourbon Visitor Center is also located at the distillery, as is a new barrel storage warehouse and other exciting additions on the way!
At Aurora Acres Horse Farm, get to know one of the oldest horses in history – the famous Gypsy Vanner. Known for their lavish leg feathering and long flowing manes, they are recognizable from the covers of many romance novels.
Get an up-close look at bison at Woodland Bison Farm and learn the sustainable story of how they fix their bare fields after the bison graze. The farm is located in the Oldham County town of Goshen and supplies its bison to the Kentucky Bison Company for restaurant distribution. An added bonus on this tour is seeing the gigantic florescent snail and rabbit sculptures used as obstacles during Hermitage International Training Center’s carriage driving competitions.
Farm Tour Capital of Kentucky
These are just a few of the 15 fascinating hands-on farm tour experiences that await in Oldham County, “The Farm Tour Capital of Kentucky.” Located just 20 minutes from downtown Louisville, Oldham County feels like a world removed, with its rich history and reputation for both quality education and for being the healthiest county in Kentucky. Experience beautiful rolling conservation farmland graced by horses, bison, alpaca, sheep, gourmet Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), dairy and grass-fed cows – along with stunning botanical gardens.
There is much more to the Hemmer Hill Sheep Farm tour than meets the eye. Learn the difference between hair and meat sheep, plus learn how to grow Shitake mushrooms on this Saint Croix sheep farm. You’ll also learn and actually see the benefits of joining a gourmet CSA program. Hemmer Hill offers one of the best in the region!
At the 170-acre Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, little ones can toddle about a magical forest play area after visiting the natural history museum. The whole family can enjoy 9 miles of scenic wooded trails and meadows along spring-fed creeks, a frog pond, a new 2-acre woodland garden, a bird blind, waterfalls, picnic areas and camping.
Lush Gardens & Native Habitats
See the Yew Dell castle rising over Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, a nationally-recognized center of gardening and sustainable horticulture. Visitors will find extensive display gardens, as well as having their pick of educational programs and family-oriented community events.
Help yourself to a “Nature and Garden Backpack” and let the kids loose with the bug catchers, magnifiers, nature guides, sketch pads and journals they’ll find inside. Or grab a “Books ‘n’ Blankets” basket and head to a shady garden nook with a handful of nature/garden-themed children’s books to share.
Learn about Kentucky’s native trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses (and find wild-crafted home décor) at Meadowview Farm & Natural Habitat Garden, a sustainable farm whose owners believe in living as close to the land as possible. The farm specializes in heirloom plants, such as rare black popcorn, Native American flour corn and dried beans, plus jams, jellies and baked goods made from heirloom veggies and ground corn flour or meal.
Delicious Dairy & Fine Fabrics
Got milk? Harvest Home Dairy does – artisan cheeses, too. Schedule a tour, watch a working family dairy farm in action and see how dairy cows are cared for. The best time to visit? When there are babies to see! At Bluebonnets and Bluegrass Alpaca Farm, you can learn about raising alpaca and shearing them for wool, and how that wool is then turned into artwork and fine fabrics in farm owner and fine artist Denise Coonley’s fiber studio.
Upon seeing the life-sized bronze horses that greet you in the driveway, overnight visitors can’t wait to check into the luxurious 9-acre Bluegrass Country Estate Equine Bed & Breakfast. With its five gorgeously appointed rooms, a gourmet breakfast greeting you in the morning and an in-ground pool, hot tub and full theater room, you will be planning your return while you’re still there. For those traveling with horses, the inn’s barn has eight comfy stalls and a wash bay for your horse to relax their head and hooves while you enjoy the racehorse community of L’Esprit that surrounds you.
Also a favorite hideaway in Oldham County is the historic Hermitage Farm Main House, where you can experience a unique and luxurious stay. The 19th-century farm estate is perfectly blended with 21st-century sensibilities, boasting an aura of both historic charm and modern refinement. Visited by Queen Elizabeth, this exclusive home is available year-round for rentals.
Train Watching & Dining
Local dining options while train watching on Main Street can only be found in one place in the world ... on Main Street in La Grange, Kentucky. Yes, a train runs through it! A freight train rumbles up and down Main Street up to 33 times a day for a truly unique dining and shopping experience. Savor Rails Restaurant & Bar, with its classic train station decor, chandeliers and white tablecloths, or listen for the word, "Train!" as servers at One Nineteen West Main restaurant alert you to the approaching train passing just outside their restaurant windows. New to the La Grange Crossroads District is the La Grange Observation Tower located next to the railroad tracks at the new Main Street Bourbon and Ale House, which is quickly becoming well-known for tasty beer cheese, garlic knots and hand-crafted flatbread pizzas. Peanut butter and potato chip flatbread, anyone?
Also located on Main Street is The Treasured Child, a tourist favorite with unique toys and life-size stuffed animals, including giraffes. Karen’s Book Barn is a popular spot for browsing new and used books while sipping a cappuccino or frozen beverage from La Grange Coffee Roasters, serving coffee drinks roasted just across the street. Or enjoy Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique, a traditional tea offering guests the whimsical option of dining in their large hats and boas in chic surroundings.
Ready for show and tell where touching the animals is encouraged? Head to Oldham County for a variety of farm adventures you’re not likely to find all in one place anywhere else. Just minutes from such popular Louisville attractions as the Kentucky Derby Museum, Churchill Downs, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Glassworks, an Oldham County getaway will put you right in the midst of more than a dozen hands-on experiences. We offer more affordable Kentucky hotels and much less traffic than in the city. Oldham County is also 30 minutes from the new Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass in Shelbyville and just 90 minutes from the Creation Museum and new Ark Encounter.
Group tours of 10 folks or more who stay in Oldham County hotels enjoy fabulous Oldham Tour Perks and regional trip-planning assistance. Come Touch the Memories in Oldham, Kentucky! For more information about these and other great adventures, visit www.touroldham.com.
If You Go
Oldham County Tourism, 800-813-9953, website