Play in "Bourbon's Backyard" in Elizabethtown

By: Kathy Witt

The perfect jumping off point to Kentucky Bourbon Country is Elizabethtown. It is literally surrounded by bourbon experiences, including some of the most famous distilleries in the state – Jim Beam, Four Roses, Maker’s Mark, Barton 1792 – and more than four dozen others.

In fact Elizabethtown, or Etown as the locals call it, sits amidst so many bourbon distilleries and experiences, that this Hardin County burg is now known as Bourbon’s Backyard for its easy access to these signature Kentucky gems.

And like any great backyard, this one has the same goal. It’s a great place to play!

A black and white sign advertises Elizabethtown, "bourbon's backyard"

BOURBON TOURS & RESTAURANTS

After touring bourbon distilleries, tasting a variety of flavor profiles and tracing the origins of America’s Native Spirit, continue the fun in Etown with dinner at the Wicked Eyed Woman Public House. This restaurant not only features 30 bourbons gracing its menu – and the Best. Name. Ever – but the food is outstanding as well.

English pub mainstays like bubble and squeak, Scotch eggs and shepherd’s pie get a Southern twist. Other delicacies, like octopus toes and sloppy Daniel, simply add to the charm of being on Etown’s historic Downtown Square in what the owner affectionately calls “our old lady.”

Bourbon choices seem nearly endless at Bourbon Barrel Tavern, a neighborhood watering hole boasting more than 400 bourbons in stock and voted one of the “Top 99 Bourbon Bars in America” by the Bourbon Review. In addition to the 400-plus whiskey bourbons and ryes (yep, you read that right!) the tavern also has the largest selection of craft beers on tap – 28 at last count. Enjoy live entertainment on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, or join the crowd for a favorite theme night: bourbon, open mic and karaoke, to name a few.

Copper cups brandish the slogan "Bourbon's Backyard"

DISTILLING LOCAL HISTORY

Get a feel for area history on the free, award-winning Charles W. Logsdon Historic Downtown Costumed Walking Tour. Along this route, you’ll meet luminaries like General George Custer and opera singer Jenny Lind, and learn their local connections. Also on the tour: Carrie Nation. Yes! Scary Carrie, a temperance warrior long before Prohibition became a thing, once bragged that she “smashed five saloons with rocks before I ever took a hatchet.”

Kentucky’s own Abraham Lincoln, who ran a tavern in the 1830s in another state, never encountered Carrie Nation. He did, however, consider this region of Kentucky his early stomping grounds.

Just down the road from Etown is the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, home of Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace and the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home.  Explore the sites of our 16th president’s earliest times on the rural frontier landscape that helped shaped the character of the man who would lead a divided nation during the Civil War. The Lincoln Museum, illustrates the "Cabin Years" to "Ford's Theatre" and the years between, visitors of all ages enjoy this close-up experience with one of the world's greatest leaders. 

Get a taste of area Civil War history with a photo-op at the Depp Building in historic Downtown Square. Here, a cannonball fired by General John Hunt Morgan’s forces during the 1862 Christmas Raid remains embedded in the wall. Pick up a “Civil War in Elizabethtown” brochure at the local visitor center to navigate your way around, but be sure to take a break to sip a specialty cocktail named for this iconic site, “The Cannonball,” that can be found at select drinking establishments here in Bourbon’s Backyard.

A bourbon display inside a case in Elizabethtown

GEARING UP & WINDING DOWN

Elizabethtown also shows off impressive automobile history at the free Swope's Cars of Yesteryear Museum. Its timeline includes all makes and models of the horseless carriage. Its collections also trace back to a 1910 Brush, known as the “Everyman’s Car” with an original sticker price of $600, and forward to a 1970 Cobra Torino SCJ, considered to be one of the “most respected and feared competition cars” of the Muscle Car era of the 1960s and 1970s.

More than 20 brand-name accommodations are ready to welcome bourbon aficionados after a day of exploration in Bourbon’s Backyard, including the Hilton Garden Inn with its outdoor fire pits and Springhill Suites, Etown’s newest hotel.

A glass of bourbon sits next to a plaid napkin with the phrase "Bourbon's Backyard"

Not only that, but some 30 restaurants – everything from down-home diners and pizza joints to international restaurants and more – dish up yummies from sweets to the Far East. And shopping includes a variety of locally-owned boutiques filled with unique and made-in-Kentucky treasures you’ll love taking home to remember your trip.

A state awash in bourbon needs a backyard flush with fun and activities, and Elizabethtown is that place!

If you’re planning a visit to Kentucky Bourbon Country and want to base yourself in the middle of it all (and in a place with lots of lodging, dining and down time options) head to Bourbon’s Backyard. Plan your getaway today by calling 800-437-0092 or visiting www.bourbonsbackyard.com.