It’s the peak of summer and with soaring gas prices, you might be looking to do some in-state travel to save on money. Luckily, Kentucky is home to numerous hidden gems, including a host of places, some less than an hour away from Louisville, in the Frankfort area.
In addition to being the state capital of Kentucky and a place that holds some of the oldest Kentucky history, Frankfort is also the home to the grave of pioneer Daniel Boone, Kentucky State University, and a historic business district. From a four-generation owned and operated chocolate shop and a museum rich with Kentucky history to a boat-based bourbon tour showing the history of the state’s iconic spirits industry (and ghosts!), the city of Frankfort is a unique travel destination with timeless architecture and rich heritage.
Here are 10 things to do and see while in the Frankfort area:
113 Great Buffalo Trace, buffalotracedistillery.com
Throughout the challenges of floods, fires, tornadoes, and even Prohibition, the American family-owned Buffalo Trace Distillery has never compromised. Its tireless dedication to respecting the past while fearlessly innovating for the future has served the distillery well for more than two centuries. No matter the challenge, the people at Buffalo Trace have been part of the story that shaped America and the spirit industry. Explore 200 years of history along the bourbon trail with a visit, where the tours and tastings are always complimentary. Registration is recommended at buffalotracedistillery.com/visit-us.html
325 Ann St., capitalcitymuseum.com
Explore more than 200 years of politics, architecture, and everyday life in Frankfort. Located across from the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, the Capital City Hall Museum is in the heart of downtown Frankfort. The museum is handicap accessible and motor coach parking is available next to the museum. Admission is free and you can tour on your own. Join the Capital City Museum on an interactive journey through time exploring the history of Frankfort and Franklin County. The museum is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Several tours are offered and tickets are available at capitalcitymuseum.com/tours.html
4445 McCracken Pike, castleandkey.com/
The buildings and grounds of the “Old Taylor” distillery, abandoned for decades, were crumbling and giving way to nature’s hold when Will Arvin and Wes Murry bought it in 2014 and Castle & Key was born. Castle & Key, which sits on 113-acres on the outskirts of Frankfort near Millville, uses local ingredients to inspire its products and everything sold is picked from carefully selected grains. In March of this year, it released its first bourbon. Open from Thursday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 12-5 p.m. Sunday. Join Castle and Key for tours and other series by purchasing a ticket at app.anyroad.com/carolineb.
You might like: Castle & Key Distillery finally launches its inaugural bourbon
Located at the northern city limits off US 127/Holmes St., frankfortparksandrec.com/Parks/Cove_Spring
This park/nature preserve consists of approximately 240 acres of wetlands, streams, springs, waterfalls, forested ravines, and other natural and historic features. Open from 8 a.m. to dusk, the park is intended for activities such as walking, hiking, nature observation, environmental education, picnicking and other passive activities. Purchase a shelter or pavilion at secure.rec1.com/KY/frankfort-ky/catalog.
116 E. 2nd St., rebeccaruthonline.com
No trip to the Frankfort area would be complete without a stop at Rebecca Ruths, most famously known for investing the Kentucky delicacy, the “Bourbon Ball.” Invented by Ruth Booe in 1938, it is still the most popular piece of candy served at the chocolate shop. The famous Bourbon Ball candy consists of a creamy bourbon center with the kick of real bourbon, covered in dark chocolate, and topped with a Southern pecan. Now a fourth-generation family-owned Kentucky Proud business, Rebecca Ruth’s, is happy to serve customers with the same time-tested recipes and candy-making techniques taught by Ruth Booe. Visit the factory to learn about the candy-making process and 100-year-old history. Tours run Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in 30-minute increments. Schedule a tour at rebeccaruthonline.com.
1 Sportsman’s Lane, fw.ky.gov/Education
The Salato Wild Life Education Center offers indoor and outdoor exhibits featuring Living Bee Trees, Snakes of Kentucky, Warm Water Aquarium, Alligator Snapping Turtle, Bald Eagles, Bison, Black Bear, Elk, Deer, Turkey, Bobcats, Monarch Waystation, and more. Hiking trails and fishing lakes are also available along with picnic tables with charcoal grills. Reserve tickets at app.fw.ky.gov/SOTS
243 West Broadway St. serafinifrankfort.com
Join Serafini’s on the historic St. Clair Mall, across from the old State Capitol, for an intimate meal in the dining room, or for a special event or celebration in one of the private party rooms. Serafini’s creates dinner and lunch specialties using local ingredients that range from Tenderloin Cognac and lasagna to pesto chicken and fried catfish, combining the best of Italy with Kentucky’s southern food traditions. Serafini’s is open from Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday from 4-10 p.m.
Kentucky River View Park, located at around 600 Wilkinson Blvd, adventurecentral.com
Enjoy the only “After Dark” cruise offered on the Bourbon Boat and learn about the murder and spirits that live on the Kentucky River. Some of these spirits are “Spirit Spirits,” meaning they come from the bourbon world, including the ghost of Col. Albert Blanton of Buffalo Trace who still roams the halls of his famous Warehouse H. Or Margaretta Varick, the ghost of the Gray Lady, who can be seen descending the steps of the historic Liberty Hall. You might also hear the tale of the murders on the historic Singing Bridge. The tour is offered on Fridays at 8 p.m., tickets can be purchased at adventurecentral.com.
5711 McCracken Pike, kentuckyprojects.wixsite.com/thestaveky
A Kentucky Bourbon Trail restaurant and bourbon bar on the bank of Glenn’s Creek, featuring elevated Kentucky-inspired cuisine, a full bar with specialty cocktails, and a beautiful covered patio. Ideally located (within a 4-mile span) between Woodford Reserve Distillery, Glenns Creek Distillery and the newly opened Castle & Key Distillery on McCracken Pike. Enjoy a beautiful Kentucky day at The Stave, open Sunday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
100 W. Broadway, history.ky.gov/visit/thomas-d-clark-center-for-kentucky-history
This multi-million dollar learning and research center, attracts curious tourists, genealogists and academicians who want a deeper understanding of Kentucky’s rich heritage. The Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History includes interactive exhibits that tell the stories of Kentuckians, from its prehistoric inhabitants to modern-day leaders. The Center also provides tours of the Old Capitol, a National Historic Landmark, and the Kentucky Military History Museum. Reservations are recommended for large group tours. The center is open on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Purchase tickets at secure.kentucky.gov/formservices/KHS/OnlineAdmissions
Reach Features Reporter Genesis Malone at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky getaways: 10 things to do in and around Frankfort