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KENTUCKY 2017 GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE


A thriving artisan community is just the beginning of your Berea adventure. Explore scenic hiking and biking trails, along with southern-inspired cuisine and exceptional live music. Learn more at VisitBerea.com.

Visit Berea.com

Exit 77 or 76 off I-75


CONTENTS 8

KENTUCKY TRAILS

10

OUTSIDE IN THE BLUEGRASS

18

CHARMING TOWNS

26

MUST LOVE HORSES

32

HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS

38

A FAMILY-FRIENDLY STATE ON THE COVER

PUBLISHED BY

Fall is a perfect time to visit Kentucky’s beautiful horse farms and scenic backroads.

NICHE TRAVEL PUBLISHERS 301 EAST HIGH STREET LEXINGTON, KY 40507 888-253-0455 WWW.GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


Our charming small towns are an eclectic mix of beautiful historic architecture and revitalized energy, with shopping, dining and entertainment. You can explore Kentuckyís

diverse music history with a visit to the home places of the

I

H E Y,

want to personally invite you to visit

Kentucky, the front porch of the South!

The memories your group will make in the Bluegrass State will last a lifetime, and your trip will undoubtedly be looked back on fondly for years to come. We are home to some of the finest dining, arts, entertainment, history and outdoor adventures around, all done with that special Kentucky flair. The Kentucky Group Travel Guide will help you discover the many ways to explore the Bluegrass State. Experience the excitement and pageantry of the horse industry, and go behind the scenes to see how those majestic animals live on our iconic horse farms. Bourbon is more than a drink in Kentucky; itís our heritage and an artisan experience awaiting you, whether at a distillery, a bourbon bar or a bourbon-themed hotel. Discover vibrant arts and music, and learn of our history with visits to museums and memorials commemorating everything from the Civil War to bluegrass music to the one known as ìThe Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali.î

father of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, or country music legend Loretta Lynn. Create your own works of art on a visit to Berea, and see artisans working in their studios. Travel to the UNESCO Creative Y íA LL! City of Paducah to tour the National Quilt Museum, the largest museum in the world devoted to quilts and fiber arts. Kentucky is also the perfect retreat for groups seeking adventure and home to Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system in the world, as well as thousands of miles of waterways and trails. The most adventurous groups will enjoy whitewater rafting at Cumberland Falls or rock climbing in the Red River Gorge.

Are you looking to reconnect with nature? Kentucky has 17 resort state parks that offer lodging, recreation and access to some of the most picturesque locations in the country. If you

want to be part of an international event this year, Hopkinsville, in the western part of the state, will be the epicenter of a solar eclipse; there you will be able to view this extraordinary event longer than anywhere else on the planet. From all the things weíre best known for ó horses, bourbon and bluegrass, as well as our culinary delights and hospitality ó youíll find wonderful Kentucky travel itineraries for groups that will be unlike any other experiences. We canít wait to have you in Kentucky, so give us a call, and we can help plan that trip of a lifetime for your group!

Y O U R F R I E N D I N T R AV E L Kristen Branscum Commissioner Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism 866-660-8747 www.kentuckytourism.com

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


TRAILS

NORTHERN

ACROSS KENTUCKY

CENTRAL EASTERN WESTERN SOUTH-CENTRAL

NORTHERN KENTUCKY SUGAR AND SPICE TRAIL

G

roups can follow these trails to sample some of the state’s best cusine, culture and bourbon.

Northern Kentucky has developed a serious sweet tooth, and guests can take advantage of it along the Sugar and Spice Trail from Bellevue to Hebron. The tour starts at Schneider’s Sweet Shop, which ich hasn’t changed much since its opening in 1939. 939. The classic ice cream shop and candy storee offers original chocolates and cream candies developed eloped in the shop, such as its specialty Opera Creams. Several other shops offer local specialties such as chocolate-covered bourbon balls, classic candies, chocolates and fresh spices. A total of seven shops can add tempting goodies into any trip to the area.

SOUTH-CENTR AL KENTUCKY CUMBERLAND CULTURAL HERITAGE HIGHWAY The heavenly aroma of sizzling chicken and pork in barbecue sauce keeps groups coming back to the International Bar-B-Q Festival in Owensboro. The weekend festival raises funds for various charities while serving award-winning secret barbecue and burgoo recipes. Groups attending the 1979 festival can sample a wide range of barbecue styles during the more exclusive Mutton Glutton BBQ Fest VIP Party or the larger Backyard Cook-Off. Music from regional talent, a car show, a pie-eating contest and other smaller events ensure that attendees have something to do while digesting.

EASTERN KENTUCKY

CENTR AL KENTUCKY

WESTERN KENTUCKY

COUNTRY MUSIC HIGHWAY

KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL

WESTERN KENTUCKY BBQ TRAIL

There must be something in the air along Kentucky’s portion of U.S. 23, since numerous country music stars grew up along this scenic and culturally significant route. Loretta Lynn, Dwight Yoakum, Billy Ray Cyrus, Patty Loveless and Crystal Gale all found their love of music while growing up in eastern Kentucky’s Appalachian hills and hollows. Now officially dubbed the U.S. 23 Country Music Highway, the 144 miles from Greenup County in the north to Letcher County in the south offer groups a peak into the lives of many musical legends. Not to be missed along the route are the U.S. 23 Country Music Highway Museum; Butcher Hollow, the childhood home of Loretta Lynn; the Mountain Arts Center; the Paramount Arts Center; and numerous other musical and historical attractions.

What began as a discovery by 1700s frontiersmen that converting their corn crop to whiskey enabled easier transportation to market has led to a thriving distillery scene along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Begun in 1999 by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, the trail has drawn nearly 2.5 million visitors in the past five years to sample an original American-made liquor: bourbon. Guests can travel to one or all nine of the trail’s distillery members to sample the distinct flavors and learn about the science behind each brand of bourbon. Spread across central Kentucky, the members are Bulleit, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Town Branch, Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve and Evan Williams distilleries. The association also promotes a craft bourbon trail for smaller-scale distilleries.

Meat slow roasted over wood coals draws people to western Kentucky year-round. The region’s unique style of barbecue differs from other states in how the meat is cooked, the type of meat typically used, how the meat is served and by the sauce, which is vinegar-based commonly mixed with cayenne pepper or Worcestershire sauce. The trail helps visitors find some of the award-winning restaurants in Paducah, Owensboro, Henderson, Bowling Green and other smaller towns in the area. Groups can eat their way across the western region of the state to compare distinctive flavor differences at each location.

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


ENJOY THE

ELEMENTS KENTUCKY’S OUTDOORS OFFER OUTSTANDING ADVENTURES

BY VICKIE MITCHELL


F

ew of us spend a lot of time tracking elk, climbing rock cliffs or paddling through rugged whitewater. Thankfully, Kentucky’s wise outdoor

experts have devised ways to introduce the uninitiated to adven-

ture in enjoyable, unintimidating ways. Rafting trips aboard rubber rafts are tailored to travelers; Mammoth Cave, one of the state’s oldest attractions, is anything but old school, as it offers tours for everyone from the superfit to the wheelchair bound. A specialized rock-climbing site guarantees safety and independence for those who want to challenge themselves to reach new heights, and a naturalist-led tour promises a safe, easy way to see the state’s growing elk herd.

W HITEWATER R A FTING

AT

CU M BER L A N D FA L L S Most people see Cumberland Falls from behind the protective railings, above and below Kentucky’s largest waterfall. Then there are those who hop into a raft and feel the falls’ power just downriver from its dramatic 68-foot drop as they embark on a whitewater rafting trip on the Cumberland River with outfitter Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort.

G U E S T S C A N D I S C O V E R O U T D O O R A D V E N T U R E I N E V E RY C O R N E R O F K E N T U C K Y, I N C L U D I N G A L O N G T H E S TAT E ’ S A B U N D A N T N AV I G A B L E WAT E RWAY S . Courtesy TourSEKY.com

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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ELK TOURS Sheltowee Trace, in business 33 years, has cabins, a campground and a zip line at its headquarters, five miles from the falls. But it is probably best known for rafting trips on the Cumberland River offered from mid-May to late October. It’s a trip as suited to senior citizens as Boy Scouts, said Dania Egedi, general manager and daughter of founder Rick Egedi. “A couple of things make this good for groups,” said Egedi. “It is entry level, so people don’t have to have any experience to do this. And it is adventurous, but it is something all ages and almost anyone can do.” The first five miles of the guided trip are whitewater. At mile five, the Cumberland Star riverboat appears and takes paddlers aboard for the rest of the five-mile downriver cruise to where the river meets a lake. Lunch is served from a full-size canoe that’s been fashioned into a buffet. The riverboat also allows those who don’t want to raft or who can’t take the trip because of health or age to have fun. People who’ve never rafted worry about the wild raft rides they’ve seen in movies, but that “is not what our trip is about,” said Egedi. Sure, rafts do flip, but usually, only if paddlers request it, said Egedi. “If you want adventure, our guides are going to play hard. But if you don’t, well, your raft will be picking up the adventurous people.” www.ky-rafting.com

C U M B E R L A N D FA L L S W H I T E WAT E R R A F T I N G

By Jim Johnson, courtesy Jenny Wiley State Resort Park

ELK WATCHING

AT

JENNY WILEY STATE RESORT PARK One thing is guaranteed on elk tours that depart from Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg: You will see elk. “We have had a great success rate on elk tours,” said Trinity Shepherd, park naturalist. “Normally, we have 100 percent success.” Elk were reintroduced to the mountains of eastern Kentucky beginning in 1997. From the 1,500 animals brought to the state in the first five years, the population has mushroomed to an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 elk. Tours began in 2002 and, at first, were offered only in the early morning. “After a few years, people said, ‘You know, if you didn’t have to get up at 5:30 in the morning, you’d probably have a lot more people,” said Shepherd. Now tours are also offered in the late afternoon. Early morning and dusk are when elk are most active, though. Tours are seasonal, from September to March. September to October is rutting season, when males give their mating call or bugle. In the late fall and winter months, when trees are bare, it is easier to see the elk. Tours last four to six hours, depending on where the elk are grazing. Breakfast sandwiches provide sustenance for early morning tours; sandwiches are toted along for afternoon trips. Groups of all sizes can be accommodated in the park’s varied fleet of vehicles. In addition to learning about elk and the reintroduction program, guides explain how elk benefit from the reclaimed surface mine land where they graze. They require a lot of grass — about 40 pounds a day. “The reclaimed land is the only place that can sustain that type of grazing without a negative impact or without supplementing,” said Shepherd. www.parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/jenny-wiley

“IF YOU WANT ADVENTURE, OUR GUIDES ARE GOING TO PLAY HARD. BUT IF YOU DON’T, WELL, YOUR RAFT WILL BE PICKING UP THE ADVENTUROUS PEOPLE.” — DANIA E G E D I, S H E LT O W E E T R A C E

Courtesy Sheltowee Trace

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


BOU RBO N

BUZZ

BOURBON PRODUCTION AND TOURISM BREAKING RECORDS The Kentucky Bourbon Trail and affiliated Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour set all-time attendance records in 2015. Nearly 900,000 guests toured participating distilleries, which means the tourism attraction has more than doubled its attendance in five years. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail alone saw 762,000 visitors that year, a 22 percent increase from the previous year’s record numbers. Tourists came from all 50 states and 15 countries. Bourbon production across the state also continues to climb with 1,886,000 barrels of bourbon produced in 2015, breaking records dating back to the previous all-time high in 1967. Since 2000, Kentucky’s bourbon production has exploded by more than 315 percent. Currently, there are one-and-a-half barrels of bourbon for every person living in Kentucky. www.kybourbon.com

Courtesy Kentucky Bourbon Trail

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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C AV ING

IN

M A M MO T H C AV E W I L D C AV E T O U R

Courtesy Mammoth Cave National Park

K AYA K I N G O N T R A D E WAT E R R I V E R

Courtesy Tradewater Canoes and Kayaks

Guides have been leading tours of Mammoth Cave since 1816, when Kentucky was the leading edge of the western frontier. “I’ve heard it [Mammoth Cave] called the Granddaddy of Tourism,” said Vickie Carson, public information officer for Mammoth Cave National Park near Cave City. Two centuries of tours have paid off for visitors to the national park, which has carved out cave tours for people of all abilities and interests. Those who are fit, flexible and not claustrophobic can spend six hours crawling through narrow passageways. Tours by lamplight are a flashback to the 19th century. And, starting in October, those who can’t climb stairs will once again be able to tour the cave, thanks to the $2.3 million repair and restructuring of an elevator that descends 267 feet to a paved accessible trail through a section of trail that sparkles with gypsum. Carson is thrilled that the Mammoth Cave Accessibility Tour is returning. She has spent the past 14 years answering letters and emails from people who were disappointed that they could not see the cave. In the meantime, one of the best tours for a general audience is the Frozen Niagara. “It is sort of the everyperson’s tour,” said Carson. “The walking is mostly level, and it lasts an hour and 15 minutes, but it is limited to 38 people.” From the fall until Memorial Day, the park’s Historic Cave Tour will be on hiatus because of improvements being made to that trail; as a substitute, the hardy might try the Domes and Dolomites trip, which requires climbing 500 steps. Carson said although fewer tours are offered in the fall, winter and spring, the offseason is a nice time to visit because crowds are smaller. The park also has lodging options once again following renovations of cottages and guest rooms at the Mammoth Cave Hotel. www.nps.gov/maca

Experience Muhammad Ali’s

Greatness & Explore Your Own!

144 44 North 6th Street Louisville, Ky 40202

502. 584. 9254 HOURS: For information about our temporary exhibits & events, please visit us at

alicenter.org

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

Sunday: Noon - 5 pm Monday: Closed Tuesday — Saturday: 9:30 am - 5:00 pm

C A NOEING

AT

T R A DE WAT ER R I V ER A quiet paddle in a canoe or kayak is one way to see abundant wildlife along a stretch of the Tradewater River, between Pennyrile Forest State Park Resort and Dawson Springs. Hank Mills, who runs outfitter Tradewater Canoes and Kayaks, saw a deer and two fawns on a recent paddle. “You come up on them before they even realize you are there. I have seen beaver and otters, all kinds of birds — eagles, blue heron, ducks, geese — fox and even a couple of mink.” The Tradewater, a tributary of the Ohio River, is slow and calm, sheltered by a canopy of trees, sometimes bordered by limestone bluffs. Mills offers two-mile and five-mile trips from April to mid-September in canoes and kayaks. Typically, trips are self-guided. “I usually let them be on their own; they are not going to run into anything or get lost on the river. WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


BOU RBO N

BUZZ

BUF FA L O T R ACE & F OUR RO SE S E X PA NDING PRODUC T ION FR ANKFORT & L AWRENCEBURG Two staple bourbon distilleries announced major expansions this year: Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort and Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg. Buffalo Trace has pledged $200 million to grow distilling operations over the next seven years to keep up with a growing demand. Named after where a long forgotten buffalo migration route crossed the Kentucky River, Buffalo Trace is the oldest continuously operating distillery in America. Buffalo Trace has already acquired two additional barrel warehouses that each hold 50,000 barrels of bourbon. The distillery plans to convert other buildings for warehouses, with additional plans to build new warehouses in 2017 on 200 acres of farmland purchased a few years ago. Four Roses Distillery similarly cannot produce enough bourbon to meet demand, which is why the company announced that it is investing $55 million into an expansion that will double its distilling capacity and add warehouses. Once a company on the verge of closure, Four Roses dramatically reversed its fortunes in 2001 when it reintroduced its single-barrel bourbon in Kentucky. The award-winning distillery plans to complete a new still and 60,000-square-foot bottling plant by the end of 2018. The new warehouses will open by 2022. www.buffalotrace.com www.fourrosesbourbon.com

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

Four Roses, courtesy Kentucky Bourbon Trail

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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As long as they stay on the river, they will get at the end,” Mills said. Mills also leads hikes in the area, and the trails are steep and rugged. Compared to those, river trips on the tranquil Tradewater are easy. “Anybody can do the five-mile paddle, but not everyone can do a 10-mile hike up and down the hills,” he said. “The Tradewater would be perfect Courtesy Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure for your very first paddle,” said Mills. “You are not going to run into any rapids. It is very forgiving. There are not a whole lot of dangers out there that you typically run into on a river.” www.kentuckytourism.com/outdoor-adventure

ROCK CLIM BING

AT

R ED R I V ER G ORG E

R E D R I V E R G O RG E RO C K C L I M B I N G

Courtesy Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

Kentucky’s Red River Gorge is home to the country’s first, and still one of its few, via ferratas, a man-made climbing experience in a natural setting. The via ferrata operated by Torrent Falls Climbing Adventures opened in a horseshoe-shaped canyon near Natural Bridge State Park in eastern Kentucky in 2001. Iron handholds and footholds are embedded in the canyon’s rock walls; cables follow the handholds and footholds, creating pathways that allow climbers in harnesses to stay hooked in so they can climb safely, without fear of falls and without having extensive rock-climbing training. “In Italian, ‘via’ is ‘the way,’ and ‘ferrata’ is ‘iron,’” said Nicole Meyer, manager of the familyowned business, which also offers guided rockclimbing trips. The via ferrata works well for group outings, as the canyon climbing area is large enough to handle many climbers simultaneously and has enough levels of difficulty to suit different skill levels. The via ferrata is open from March to December, and reservations are required. During 45 minutes of instruction on a training wall, climbers are fitted into harnesses and learn how to clip in so they are safely attached to the safety cable at all times. “The cables are not holding weight; they are just there to catch you if you slip,” said Meyer. It typically takes from four to five hours to complete the route, but six exit points allow climbers to quit sooner or to take breaks and head back to a deck near the office, where they can sit, have snacks or lunch, and watch their fellow climbers. During the spring or in times of heavy rain, climbers can climb behind the 165-foot-high Torrent Falls. www.torrentfalls.com WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


Two Louisville Legends, One Great Price

23

$

/person

From Bets to Bats, Your Group Wins Big The Louisville Legends package combines two amazing experiences into one ó›Î™ó£–≠ı¿§Õ≠ıΒ離Î∏Λ˘Èп––ı›˘ÎΩ¿Ôı›Î¿§*Ω˘Î§Ω¿––0›Ð◊Ônó§≠ıÎó§ÕΑ≠◊Ê›łó Ôı˘◊◊¿◊∏÷˘–ı¿÷≠™¿óÈÎ≠Ô≠◊ıóı¿›◊ó£›˘ııΩ≠0≠Σłó◊™≠ŁÈ–›Î≠Ωó◊™Ô℘›◊≠ŁΩ¿£¿ıÔ óııΩ≠R≠◊ı˘§Õł0≠ΣłZ˘Ô≠˘÷ΒxΩ≠)¿∏)óıп––∏Î≠≠ııΩ≠÷óıT›˘¿Ôđ¿––≠r–˘∏∏≠Î Z˘Ô≠˘÷ϒ=ó§ı›ÎłÐΩ≠Î≠ıΩ≠łψ––Ðóı§ΩıΩ≠Л›™§Ω¿ÈÔɰł›◊ıΩ≠£óı∑ó§ı›Îłı›˘ÎΑ Ωóđ≠∑˘◊пıΩ£óÔ≠£ó––℘ıΩ≠÷≠™≠ŁΩ¿£¿ıÔó◊™∏≠ıó∑Î≠≠Ô›˘đ≠◊¿Î÷¿◊¿£óıσ

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TOWN COOL SMALL

THESE KENTUCKY COMMUNITIES KNOW HOW TO TREAT COMPANY BY VICKIE MITCHELL


I

f authenticity is the aim, think small. Kentucky’s best small towns blend a strong sense of place with people who aren’t into putting on airs.

In Maysville, that could mean talking to the

baker who ships off transparent tarts to George Clooney, who grew up there. In Paducah, it might mean talking to a riverboat

captain about what living on a boat is all about. In Berea, artists and crafters usher visitors into their studios, not to sell wares, but to talk about their work. And in Bardstown, a nationally noted downtown is more than a facade, it’s the heart of the

area’s many layers of history and hospitality.

PA DUC A H Charm, said Fowler Black, “comes through authenticity,” which is why Paducah has developed signature experiences that could happen only in the river town at Kentucky’s western corner. “We want to see a place that is unlike our own,” said Black, sales director for the Paducah CVB. Paducah’s riverfront location is the focus of one signature experience. Groups visit with a riverboat captain, which is fitting in a town where three rivers converge and boat traffic is a constant. Time spent with the captain “is a deep dive into river life,” said Black. “We know the river from the banks, but we don’t know it from the boat.”

AT M AY S V I L L E ’ S O L D P O G U E D I S T I L L E RY, G U E S T S C A N S I P B O U R B O N F RO M T H E P O RC H O F T H E P O G U E FA M I LY ’ S H I S T O R I C H O M E .

Courtesy Maysville-Mason Co. CVB

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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“WE TAKE GROUPS INTO A CLASSROOM AT THE MUSEUM WHERE THERE ARE 20 JANOME SEWING MACHINES WITH TWO TO THREE TABLES OF FABRIC.”

By Fowler Black, courtesy Paducah CVB

— F O W L E R B L A C K , PA D U C A H C V B

B E R E A P O T T E RY

D O W N T O W N PA D U C A H

Courtesy Berea Tourism

Another tour explores Paducah’s Hotel Metropolitan, a stop for black musicians who were traveling between Chicago and New Orleans. A volunteer steps wholeheartedly into the role of Miss Maggie Steed, hotel operator, ushering visitors in with warnings about Jim Crow laws. As she shows them through the nine-room shotgun house, where guests shared one bath, she recounts the hotel’s struggles and talks about some of those who stayed there, including Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Billie Holiday and B.B. King. Afterward, everyone can gather round the small living room for a taste of soul food: fried catfish, greens, beans and, for toppers, chess pie. In more recent times, Paducah has become known as Quilt City U.S.A., and experiences in that realm aren’t limited to tours of its International Quilt Museum. “We take groups into a classroom at the museum where there are 20 Janome sewing machines with two to three tables of fabric,” said Black. Working by themselves or in pairs, depending on group size, participants make a quilt square, which is placed in a matted frame, so they take home a finished piece of art. www.paducah.travel

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

By Fowler Black, courtesy Paducah CVB

Courtesy Paducah CVB

BA R DSTOW N Bardstown’s charm is as complex as the flavor of the bourbon whiskeys made nearby. At its heart is a downtown that draws national attention. In a poll several years ago by Rand McNally/USA Today, Bardstown was declared the Most Beautiful Small Town in America. Travel and Leisure has also praised its town square and named it one of America’s favorite towns. Streets are lined with the requisite red-brick sidewalks and National Historic Register buildings, and popular local businesses thrive behind the handsome facades. “We have a good diverse group of local shops. It is very active and vibrant,” said Dawn Przystal, vice president, tourism expansion and marketing at the Bardstown-Nelson County Tourist and Convention Commission. “I do a lot of shopping downtown.” Its vitality makes downtown a favorite for wandering, informal shopping and dining. A diner serves biscuits with red-eye gravy, a soda fountain whips up icy treats, and near the courthouse square, the Old Talbott Tavern, built in 1779, serves drinks and Southern-style meals.

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


Another layer of attractions lies within a couple of blocks of the main business district. North of downtown, My Old Kentucky Dinner Train makes leisurely trips through the Kentucky countryside as passengers enjoy gourmet meals in 1940s dining cars. Other popular attractions include the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, the Stephen Foster Story and the Civil War Museum. And even without a visit to the area’s five bourbon distilleries, there are ways to sample Kentucky’s best-known beverage. “The Kentucky Bourbon Market, in town, has tastings and bourbon-related gifts,” said Przystal. “The Kentucky Bourbon House will do dinners, tastings and cocktail-making classes.” www.visitbardstown.com

BER E A Many towns call themselves capitals of arts and crafts. But few guarantee meaningful encounters with the artists who do the work. That’s where Berea stands apart from the crafty-town crowd. Some 75 percent of the galleries in Kentucky’s best-known arts-and-crafts destination are owned by working artists who welcome visitors. “They encourage people to come and talk to them while they work,” said Connie Mondine, group tour coordinator for Berea Tourism. “They are really approachable and love to interact with all the visitors.”

B A R D S T O W N’ S O L D TA L B O T T TAV E R N

Courtesy Bardstown-Nelson Co. Tourist and Convention Commission

NOT ALL ART HANGS ON THE WALL

Shopping

Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea

CafÈ

200 Artisan Way ï Berea, KY 40403 Just off I-75 at Berea Exit 77

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

ï OPEN DAILY 9 a.m.ó6 p.m.

Exhibits

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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S T E P H E N F O S T E R S T O RY

Courtesy Bardstown-Nelson Co. Tourist and Convention Commission

D O W N T O W N M AY S V I L L E

Because much of the town’s personality is tied up in works made by hand, Berea makes it easy for group travelers to learn how to make something while they are in town from any of the several master artists who teach classes. Groups might learn from glassblower Michele Weston, who Mondine describes as “one of the most patient, encouraging people; calm as she can be,” or Donna Lamb, a master luthier, whose handmade instruments are in a current national traveling exhibit. Other artists might teach visitors how to make a basket, a birdhouse or a painted gourd. “On a lot of tours, everyone creates the same piece. Because we have multiple classes, everyone doesn’t do that,” said Mondine. “The artists who are a part of the series have the personalities for the group market,” said Mondine. “They are patient, entertaining and fun people to be around. They make BEREA CRAFTS it as much fun from a conversational standpoint as from learning to create these pieces.” Most studios are within blocks of one Courtesy Berea Tourism another in Berea’s Old Town, and as people finish class, they can wander the shops and galleries that line the two-block-long street. www.visitberea.com

M AYSV ILLE

Courtesy Maysville-Mason Co. CVB

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

Lose your way in Maysville, and chances are, you will soon be found. Locals are quick to help a stranger, especially a lost one. “They will know you are not from here,” said Suzie Pratt, tourism director, Maysville-Mason County CVB. “There are great people in this town, and they are what sell it to an outsider.” Such personal attention extends to tours of this small town, a slip of streets between river bluffs and the Ohio River. Pratt asks questions about a group’s demographics, interests, personalities and mobility. Then, she creates a tour “just for your group,” she said. Early settlers crossed the river here, so there’s rich material for history tours. Pratt suggests historic tours start with Old Washington, a preserved village where costumed guides talk about Simon Kenton, Daniel Boone, the Underground Railroad and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Downtown, architecture can be studied two ways: life-size and miniaturized. The tiny version is the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center’s collection of miniatures owned by local resident Kathleen Savage Browning. “They are not like a doll’s house; these buildings are made by professional artisans. The handles on chests are the real WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


BOU RBO N

BUZZ

NEW BOURBON DISTILLERIES POPPING UP ACROSS KENTUCKY No fewer than 14 bourbon distilleries have either opened in the past year or will open in the next couple of years in the Bluegrass State. BULLEIT DISTILLING COMPANY — Also known as Diageo Bourbon Distillery, the new distillery will open in Shelby County by late 2016. Bulleit ranks as one of the fastest-growing small-batch whiskeys in America. LUXCO DISTILLERY — The distillery will open in the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown, in late 2017. The 18,000-square-foot distillery will include a visitors center. BARDSTOWN BOURBON COMPANY — Slated for completion in 2016, the $25 million distillery will open with a visitors center in the Nelson County Industrial Park. The second phase of construction will include an event center and a boutique hotel. HARTFIELD AND COMPANY — Although historically tied to the creation of bourbon whiskey, Bourbon County had been without a distillery since Prohibition until the recent opening of Hartfield and Company in Paris. With the exception of sugar and molasses, its ingredients will all come from within 10 miles of the distillery. ACROSS THE STATE — Other recently opened and upcoming bourbon distilleries are Kentucky Peerless Distilling in Louisville, Angel’s Envy Distillery in Louisville, Boundary Oak Distillery in Elizabethtown, Dueling Barrels Distilling Company in Pikeville, Dueling Grounds Distillery in Franklin, O.Z. Tyler Distillery in Owensboro, Old Forester Distillery in Louisville, Rabbit Hole Distillery in Louisville, Jeptha Creed in Shelbyville, and Castle and Key Distillery in Millville. www.kentuckytourism.com

We’re not just any small town. We’re the most beautiful small town in America, according to Rand McNally and USA Today. To find out what inspired America’s first great songwriter to compose Kentucky’s state song, come to The Stephen Foster Story at My Old Kentucky Home State Park.

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

www.visitbardstown.com 800.638.4877

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B I G S A N D Y H E R I TA G E C E N T E R

McCoy. The drawers are dovetailed; a table lamp has a bulb and plugs into an outlet,” said Pratt. Some of the miniatures are famous places, but a number are local, like the Russell Theater, currently being restored. The theater also has a role in tours that focus on the Clooney family, famous former locals that include the late singer Rosemary and her nephew, George. In addition to seeing their hangouts, groups can taste transparent tarts, which George orders from Magee’s Bakery to have at home in Hollywood. Maysville’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour stop, the Old Pogue Distillery on downtown’s edge, is a nice spot for a catered meal as well as a tour and tasting led by a member of the Pogue family. www.cityofmaysville.com/visiting-maysville

PIKEVILLE CONCERT

PIK E V ILLE Back in the 1880s, Pikeville was a battleground for two warring families, the Hatfields and the McCoys. When locals weren’t keeping up with who was killing whom, they were watching the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River, worrying about when it might next flood the town. Today, Pikeville is a peaceful, pleasant and safe place. The city, about as far east as you can get in the Kentucky mountains, has twice made it into “The 100 Best Small Towns in America” book by Norm Crampton. In the summertime, its main street is punctuated by pretty baskets of bright pink petunias that hang from lampposts. A coffee shop, a farm-to-table restaurant and several boutiques bring diners and Courtesy Pike County Tourism CVB shoppers downtown. A couple of nights a month in good weather, bands set up at a community bandstand and locals dance in the streets. Floods are no longer a concern, thanks to the $80 million Pikeville Cut-Through, a 14-year project that literally moved a mountain to make room to reroute a river and roads and, as a result, gave the city 400 acres of dry and flood-free land. Come be a part of our Although the Hatfield-McCoy feud has been story and immerse yourself laid to rest, sites tied to the families continue to in Paducah’s new draw tourists. Driving and guided tours take Signature Experiences in Dils Cemetery, where a number of McCoy exclusively for groups. family members are buried, or sites of hangings and shootouts. At the city’s Bob Amos Park, visitors can opt for a tour package with a HatfieldLearn more at McCoy theme that includes horseback riding, www.paducah.travel! a zip line and paddling on the river. www.tourpikecounty.com

Experience Paducah

1-800-PADUCAH

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


Hundreds of Beautiful Quilts

SPRING PADUCAH, KENTUCKY APRIL 26–29, 2017

World Renowned Quiltmaking Instructors

FALL PADUCAH, KENTUCKY

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SEPTEMBER 13–16, 2017

For more information, visit QuiltWeek.com or call 270-898-7903

CREATE INSPIRE ENJOY TOGETHER Detail: MAGNOLIA by Claudia Clark Myers and Marilyn Badger

NATIONAL BRAND PARTNER

EXPO CENTER


BIT BIT BY

IT’S EASY TO FALL FOR KENTUCKY’S HORSES BY VICKIE MITCHELL


K

entucky’s economy has long been fueled by horse power.

Thoroughbreds, quarter horses, Clydesdales, Arabians: They all

live and work in the state. And there are many ways to meet

them, from trail rides through dense forests to face-to-face meetings across a fence at a park or at one of the state’s many racetracks.

ROCK ING U STA BLE S Never ridden a horse? Then Rocking U Stables in western Kentucky’s Land Between the Lakes is just your speed. “For 95 percent of our riders, it is either their first or second time on a horse,” said owner James Upton. Trail rides that last 45 minutes or 90 minutes take riders through some of the 170,000 acres on this sliver of land between Kentucky and Barkley lakes. Each horse has its personality. Sonny, a 10-year-old dun, “is really friendly and wants to please you,” said Upton. Scout, 34, refuses to retire and is now in charge of transporting hyperactive 6-year-olds. The seasoned trail horse refuses to be riled by their kicking, beating and banging. Before hitting the trail, riders learn how to guide their horses and what to do if problems arise. A loading stand makes it easy for riders to get aboard and dismount. Nervousness is common as rides begin. “We take off through

S E E I N G H O R S E S F RO L I C K I N G A C RO S S P I C T U R E S Q U E F I E L D S I S O N E O F T H E T O P D R AW S F O R G RO U P S V I S I T I N G K E N T U C K Y.

Courtesy KY Dept. of Travel and Tourism

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a pasture that’s as long as a football field, and the nervousness dissipates. I love the kids who are terrified but then when they make it back, they don’t want to get off,” said Upton. The stable is open March through late October and has seven rides a day that leave on the hour. Reservations are advised no matter the size of the group. In addition to being aboard a beautiful animal, riders see a pristine landscape, Upton said. “We cross streams and see beautiful trees — old, old hardwood, not scrubby trees but great big, pretty trees that have never

“WE CROSS STREAMS AND SEE BEAUTIFUL TREES. YOU SEE ALL KINDS OF WILDLIFE — DEER, TURKEY, COYOTE, RABBITS, EVEN ARMADILLOS THAT MOVED INTO THIS AREA A FEW YEARS AGO.” — JAMES UPT ON, ROCKING U S TABLES

Courtesy Rocking U Riding Stables

BOU RBO N

BUZZ

JIM BE A M A ME R ICA N S T IL L HOU S E OP E N S L OUISV IL L E Guests can customize their own bottle of Jim Beam’s new bourbon offering at the Jim Beam American Stillhouse. Located in downtown Louisville, the interactive bourbon site lies 25 miles from Jim Beam’s flagship distillery in Clermont. The world leader in bourbon opened the distillery in October 2015 for guests to tour a small working distillery and bottling line; it also offers a tasting experience and a variety of branded merchandise. The distiller’s first visitors’ destination outside of the main distillery offers a hands-on experience, such as the chance to label, fill and customize bottles of the site’s exclusive Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse Select. Groups can also see the distillation system up close at the site’s small copper pot still with a see-through glass vapor condenser. Other interactive displays and decor educate visitors on the art of whiskey-making. One original artwork on display depicts a sculptural American oak tree built from barrel staves. At the end of the tour, guests can sample Jim Beam flavors at a tasting bar crafted from reclaimed wood and designed to mimic barrel staves and flowing bourbon. www.jimbeam.com

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Courtesy Louisville CVB

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


been touched. You see all kinds of wildlife — deer, turkey, coyote, rabbits, even armadillos that just moved into this area a few years ago.” www.facebook.com/pages/ rocking-u-riding-stables-at-wranglers-campground

K EN T UCK Y DER BY M USEU M Watching the Kentucky Derby Museum’s 360-degree film “The Greatest Race” is so much like being at the Derby that museum visitors will wish they had brought a fancy hat. Thanks to the museum’s Hatitude event, a popular add-on at the museum, they can whip up one on-site. “We have more than 20 different hats for them to choose from — fedoras to fascinators — and all kinds of feathers, jewels, ribbons and other items to decorate them with,” said Erik Brown, sales director. It’s just one way to get “the flavor of the day,” said communications manager Lindsay English, at a museum on the grounds of Churchill Downs that is devoted to telling the story of America’s best-known Thoroughbred race. Through December, a special exhibit celebrates American Pharoah, the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, before the museum even opened. Everyone associated with the champion enthusiastically loaned items for the exhibit. The result is a display that shows the quirky personalities involved, from trainer Bob Baffert’s trademark sunglasses to one of the costumes jockey Victor Espinoza wore during his twirl on “Dancing With the Stars.” The museum will also take groups beyond its walls to give them behind-the-scenes experiences, like a breakfast at Churchill’s track kitchen, located at the track’s far turn, during morning workouts from March through early December. Access to the track’s backside, where the kitchen is located, is limited to those with racing licenses, so the tour offers special access. “The track kitchen isn’t open to the public, and it is nothing fancy, but it is a unique experience,” said English. www.derbymuseum.org

CHURCHILL DOWNS

Courtesy Kentucky Derby Museum

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


K EN T UCK Y HOR SE PA R K

INTERSTATE

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Horses are the heart of the Kentucky Horse Park, and park leaders recently adjusted programming to keep the equine stars satisfied. “We wanted to make sure the horses were happy and weren’t bored doing the same old, same old,” said Lisa Jackson, director of marketing and public relations. Now, in the mornings, Derby winners Go for Gin and Funny Cide and their compadres in the Hall of Champions barn mix and mingle with their fans, munching on grass, walking the path in front of their barn and being petted, if they are in the mood. It’s a departure from the more formal Hall of Champions presentation still offered in the afternoon, where the horses are paraded before fans in the stands as an announcer talks about each and the horses’ championship races are shown. Such flexibility is what makes the park a logical stop. On a fair day, groups with as little as 30 minutes can meet massive draft horses and learn about their role. Those with more time can tour the 1,200-acre park in a trolley pulled by Clydesdales or shires. When the weather is bad or there’s a day to spend, two museums offer educational entertainment. The skeleton of the 1800s Thoroughbred stallion Lexington is displayed at the International Museum of the Horse, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate. The museum’s newest wing is devoted to the Arabian, “a magical, revered breed,” said Jackson. A museum devoted to Saddlebreds is also at the park. Groups staying overnight in nearby Lexington could enjoy the Kentucky Sundown after-hours program, which includes a buffet dinner and entertainment options like a demonstration by a horse and rider or a museum tour. The park is within sight of Interstate 75, so groups are welcomed to use it as a rest area. “They can see the Man O’ War and Isaac Burns Murphy memorials, which are outside our admission gates, and visit the gift shop and restrooms,” said Jackson. “In the 19th century, Murphy, a jockey was as famous as Muhammad Ali was in his day.” www.kyhorsepark.com

OLD FR IEN DS FA R M You don’t have to read the Daily Racing Form to love Old Friends Farm, home to just over 100 retired Thoroughbreds. Animal lovers or casual racing fans will enjoy a tour where the focus is as much on each horse’s personality as its past performances on the racetrack. “I tell our tour guides, people are not here to take a test on which horse did what,” said founder Michael Blowen. On a walking tour of about a mile on a grassy strip between paddocks, visitors get to meet 20 of the farm’s best-known residents. Tour guides talk about each equine celebrity and let visitors feed them carrots from a bucket. A couple of golf carts are available for those who need them. Guides have their favorites, but right now, the farm’s star is Silver Charm, winner of the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Silver Charm is Old Friends’ first Derby

K E N T U C K Y H O R S E PA R K

Courtesy Kentucky Horse Park

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


winner, and so adding him to the roster is like going from “Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry to Elvis,” Blowen said. Since Silver Charm arrived, another Derby and Preakness winner, War Emblem, has followed. Five years Silver Charm’s junior, War Emblem is tall, dark and handsome but no charmer. “Silver Charm, I like to say, is the class valedictorian, perfect in every way,” said Blowen. “War Emblem is the guy who sits in the back of the class and makes fun of the teacher. Yet he ends up doing work of absolute genius.” Old Friends Farm is easy to reach, just north of Lexington. The farm also has satellite operations in Saratoga Springs, New York, and in southern Kentucky at Kentucky Downs racetrack in Franklin, near the Tennessee border. The nine Thoroughbreds retired there graze within sight of Interstate 65, and tours there are similar to those given at the main farm. www.oldfriendsequine.org

R E T I R E D T H O RO U G H B R E D

Courtesy Old Friends Farms

K EN T UCK Y íS R ACETR ACK S If you’re bummed because you missed the Kentucky Derby, relax, because in Kentucky, horse racing is not confined to the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs. Thoroughbred and Standardbred racetracks are scattered around the state, and because each track’s race meet is at a different time of year, there’s usually somewhere to see live racing. In April and October, Keeneland Race Course is the place to be for live Thoroughbred racing. Opened in the middle of the Great Depression, this plucky little track is a crowd favorite because of its country setting and beautiful architecture. It became even better known after it hosted the Breeders’ Cup in 2015. In northern Kentucky, near Florence, Turfway Park’s race meet is typically in the wintertime, which makes its enclosed grandstand a nice feature. In Henderson, at Ellis Park, much of the summer, from early July to Labor Day, is devoted to Thoroughbred racing on a scenic track near the Ohio River. Kentucky Downs, on the Kentucky-Tennessee border near Franklin, has the shortest of race meets — only five days in September. But it has become known for its festivallike atmosphere and a Grade III turf race. Harness racing is offered in Paducah at Bluegrass Downs and in Lexington at the Red Mile. The Red Mile’s live racing schedule is from late July to early October; Bluegrass Downs typically has live racing for a month, from mid-June to mid-July. Even when horses aren’t racing, these tracks are still open, showing horse races around the country by simulcast. Groups can wager on the races and dine as they watch the results, choosing from concession stand fare at some tracks and full-course meals at others. www.kentuckytourism.com

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

KEENELAND Courtesy Lexington CVB

Owensboro, Kentucky

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PAST PERFECT BY VICKIE MITCHELL

KENTUCKY HONORS ITS ERAS OF OLD


A

trip across Kentucky defies the

belief that history is old and dull.

Whether you are being serenaded by a singing tour guide at My Old

Kentucky Home or learning to grind corn and throw a spear at the site of a prehistoric Indian village, you’ll find that history is alive and well.

M Y OLD K EN T UCK Y HOM E The song that made Federal Hill famous is now being sung and played throughout the antebellum mansion in Bardstown. Singing tour guides, actors in period costume, break into “My Old Kentucky Home” as they lead visitors through the home and tell the story of the prominent family that lived there and their guest, Stephen Foster, who wrote the song. Pianos, too, play the heart-tugging melody, triggered by the motion of visitors walking by them. More than a few times, hearing the song “has sent people into an emotional state,” said Matthew Bailey, manager of My Old Kentucky Home State Park. “It is a way to bring the music theme into the mansion.” It’s part of an effort to enliven tours at one of the state’s most enduring tourist attractions. Actors were hired “to give the tour charisma and nice polish,” said Bailey. A number of them are locals who have parts in the park’s summer musical, “The Stephen Foster Story.”

K E N T U C K Y ’ S O L D S TAT E C A P I T O L O F F E R S A G L I M P S E I N T O I T S E A R LY D AY S O F S TAT E H O O D.

Courtesy Kentucky Historical Society

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“ASHLAND TELLS THE STORY OF HOW LEXINGTON DEVELOPED AND WAS VIEWED AS THIS ATHENS OF THE WEST.”

H I S T O R I C D R AW I N G O F A S H L A N D

— JIM CL ARK , ASHL AN D

A new scripted tour tells visitors what they said they wanted to know more about, from inside stories about the Rankin family to stories of how Foster’s song influenced feelings about slavery. Much is still being discovered about the composer and the impact of his music, including “My Old Kentucky Home,” which became Kentucky’s state song. “We are finding new things every day,” said Bailey. The park’s new culinary add-on tours give visitors a taste of the Southern hospitality that Foster’s song describes. After a walk through a garden of fresh mint, groups can see a mint julep being made the old-fashioned way as ice is crushed in a canvas bag and packed into a silver cup, and house bourbon, spring water and a sprig of mint is added. Everyone gets a julep and a souvenir cup to take home. www.parks.ky.gov/parks/recreationparks/old-ky-home

Courtesy Ashland

OLD STATE C A PITOL

that alliance, it is somewhat miraculous that the building emerged from the war unscathed despite being occupied by Confederates, the only occupied Southern capitol to be so lucky. “It is 186 years old and still as beautiful as when it was first built,” said McWhorter. “Confederate solders walked up those stairs; Henry Clay walked up those stairs. All these major players, not only in Kentucky history but in U.S. history, were in that building.” www.history.ky.gov/old-state-capitol

Weather permitting, tours of Kentucky’s Old Capitol begin outside. Guides point out the lack of front windows, a nod to the temples that inspired the 1830 capitol’s Greek Revival architecture, and the capitol’s setting, a leafy city park. “We set the scene. The capitol was in the public square; it was the center of town, the hub of everything happening in Frankfort,” said Leslie McWhorter, student programs administrator for the Kentucky Historical Society. Although the Old Capitol is not large, the role it played in Kentucky’s history is sizable. Tour guides describe its 80 years as the seat of government in an unscripted style that allows the focus to be on visitors’ interests. “We want the tours to be more like a story and less like a history lesson,” said McWhorter. Architecture is an obvious topic, as the capitol is the impressive first effort of young architect Gideon Shryock, 25 years old when he won the commission in a contest; he would later design other notable buildings in Kentucky. Politics and the Civil War are also popular themes. Visitors can stand in the upstairs chambers and imagine the heated debates over slavery, war and other fiery issues of the 1800s that took place there, among them the decision that Kentucky remain neutral in the Civil War. Leaders later changed their minds, and Kentucky sided with the Union. Considering

Ashland, statesman Henry Clay’s estate in Lexington, once stretched 600 acres. Today, it is a 17-acre historic site in a downtown neighborhood, and the red-brick Clay mansion and its outbuildings are surrounded by shaded lawns. A visit there yields more than an understanding of Clay. He was born in Virginia in 1777 and came to Kentucky, as many did, in search of opportunity. Clay became influential in many realms, so his estate is also a place to learn about 19th-century Lexington. Clay and his peers brought “culture and a worldview to this growing city,” said Jim Clark, the estate’s executive director. “Ashland tells the story of how Lexington developed and was viewed as this Athens of the West.” Clay practiced law and became a politician. He served as speaker of the house and ran unsuccessfully for president five times. “Visiting Ashland is important in helping understand how Henry Clay had such a great impact not on just Kentucky, but on the development of the U.S. and holding the Union together during a very turbulent period,” said Clark. Had Clay been asked about his vocation, it is likely he would have called himself a farmer. He imported Hereford cattle and thoroughbreds

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A SHL A N D

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME from England and jacks and jennies from Malta for his mule-breeding operation. He championed hemp as a cash crop, pushing for its use in ropes for the Navy. “Clay had one of the largest hemp farms in Kentucky,” said Clark. “A lot of his policy and political philosophies were formed by his agrarian practices, and that is expressed on his estate.” Because Clay’s interests were broad, tours at Ashland can be tailored to specific interests, such as his career in law, his work as a statesman and his involvement in the Thoroughbred industry and farming. Decorative arts is also a natural, as about 90 percent of the mansion’s artifacts and objects are from the Clay family and its descendants. “That is a high percentage for a house museum,” said Clark. www.henryclay.org

MOU N TA IN HOM EPL ACE History refuses to sit idle, getting old and dusty, at the Mountain Homeplace in the eastern Kentucky mountains near Paintsville. Arrive at this 27-acre historic site on a cool day, and bread might be baking in a cast-iron, wood-burning stove in the double-pen cabin where the McKenzie family once lived. Chickens roam freely and supply eggs sold for $2 a dozen in the visitors center. Vegetable gardens educate visitors and supply vegetables to eat and sell. Four draft horses are hitched to discs to loosen soil and to wagons to give rides. Five baby goats entertain; three donkeys help ward off coyotes. Mountain Homeplace has been educating visitors about mountain life in the 1800s since it opened 20 years ago. The experience is authentic, from the five historic structures moved to the site from other parts of the county to the staff and volunteers, all natives of the region. Tours delve into daily life. Guides like Charlene Honeycutt explain traditions and features of the five buildings on-site, which include a one-room school, a church, a home, a blacksmith shop and a barn. Honeycutt especially likes the story behind wooden pegs in the door frame of the McKenzie cabin. In the 1800s, settlers placed a lock of each child’s hair in a hole in the door frame and covered it with a wooden peg. Pegs on the left signified sons; on the right, daughters. “By doing that, you know how many children that McKenzie had,” Honeycutt said. Visitors come to appreciate the practicality of the farmers, who placed washstands near the back door, not only to be convenient for washing up, but also so the stand’s mirror would catch the light from the door and a nearby window. “The reflected light could save 15 to 20 minutes a day of lamp oil,” said Honeycutt. www.mountainhomeplace.com WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

Courtesy My Old Kentucky Home State Park

H I S T O R I C B U I L D I N G S AT M O U N TA I N H O M E P L A C E

Courtesy Mountain Homeplace

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M O U N TA I N H O M E P L A C E

Courtesy Mountain Homeplace

“ALL OF OUR COLLECTION CAME FROM THIS PREHISTORIC VILLAGE; THAT IS ONE OF THE SPECIAL THINGS ABOUT THIS SITE. WE HAVE THEIR POTTERY AND STONE TOOLS.” — C ARL A HILDEBRAN D, WICK LIF F E M OU NDS S TATE HIS T ORIC SITE

WICKLIFFE MOUNDS

W ICK LIFFE MOU N DS STATE HISTOR IC SITE

Courtesy Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site

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Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site makes it easy to imagine the lives of the prehistoric Indians who built the mounds that survive along a bluff where Kentucky’s western border touches the Mississippi River. For example, through inventive hands-on activities arranged in advance, “you can try out prehistoric Native American technology for yourself,” said park manager Carla Hildebrand. Hildebrand ticked off a few: grinding corn with a stone; making a clay pot to take home; and throwing a Native American spear with an assist from an atlatl, “an ancient technology for throwing a spear farther and faster.” Groups short on time can arrange a guided tour; those with even less time can wander the grounds on a self-guided tour. Several mounds remain, including one that is about 10 feet above the ground at its peak and that affords the best views of the nearby Mississippi River and a burial mound “where several hundred Native Americans of the Mississippian culture are buried,” said Hildebrand. “It is a place of reverence and respect.” Visitors can also look inside a mound. “Our museum is an excavated mound,” said Hildebrand. “The building was built over an archaeological site dig area from the 1930s when the site was privately owned and was operated as a tourist attraction.” Archaeologists from several prestigious universities assisted the owner with the digs, and items discovered are displayed in the museum, said Hildebrand. “All of our collection came from this prehistoric village; that is one of the special things about this site. We have their pottery and stone tools.” www.parks.ky.gov/parks/historicsites/ wickliffe-mounds WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


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Photo by April Cole

See It, Taste It Tour Buffalo Trace Distillery

Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory Guided Tours & Samples

Tour the Kentucky State Capitol

Visit Home of Kentuckyís First Senator, and Many More

Rockiní Thunder Jet Boat Rides on Ky. River

Get Wild At Salato Wildlife Education Center

Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist & Convention Commission 100 Capital Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601 800.960.7200

YLVLWIUDQNIRUWFRP Destination

®


WIDE-EYED

WONDERS KENTUCKY HAS YOUTH-FRIENDLY PLACES THAT AMAZE BY VICKIE MITCHELL


N

othing thrills a kid, young or old, more than a completely unex-

pected experience, and Kentucky has plenty of them: kangaroos in

the middle of cave country, an accurate replica of Noah’s Ark

in the middle of farm fields and a herd of sea horses in an aquarium next to the Ohio River, for starters.

K EN T UCK Y DOW N U N DER Finding animals from the Australian Outback in central Kentucky seems odd until you hear how Kentucky Down Under got its start. Bill Austin and his wife, Judy, had returned to his home state to run their longtime family business, Mammoth Onyx Cave. “There are so many caves around here, they wanted something to differentiate theirs,” said Brian Dale, who manages marketing for the attraction. So the Austins added kangaroos, emus, dingos and other critters from Judy’s native Australia. “Down Under” became “a double entendre,” Dale said, a nod to Australia and to Kentucky’s cave region. Within sight of Interstate 65 near the towns of Horse Cave and Cave City, Kentucky Down Under makes it easy for groups to venture underground and also get acquainted with exotic animals. Cave tours last 30 minutes versus those of an hour or more at nearby Mammoth Cave, so “it is a great cave to take the kids or adults to find out if they might be claustrophobic,” said Dale. “We have a wide variety of formations in a short distance, which is what the guests really like.”

S E A H O R S E S A N D O T H E R C O L O R F U L C R E AT U R E S I M P R E S S Y O U T H G RO U P S D A I LY AT T H E N E W P O R T A Q U A R I U M.

Courtesy Newport Aquarium

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KANGAROO ENCOUNTER

“ YO U C A N ’ T I M AG I N E I T U N T I L Y O U S E E I T F O R Y O U R S E L F. I T I S T H A T M O N U M E N T A L .” — EDDIE LUTZ, ARK ENCOUNTER

Courtesy Kentucky Down Under

AERIAL VIEW OF ARK ENCOUNTER

Courtesy Ark Encounter

New owners bought the attraction in 2013 and have added a wolf exhibit and made Kentucky Down Under a year-round business. Animal shows can be arranged and could include the park’s reticulated python, blind owl or kangaroos. “We are one of the few places where you can pet the kangaroos,” said Dale. Contact with the kangas comes with some warnings, such as “never surround a kangaroo.” “Always leave them an opening,” said Dale, “because they are going to leave, either around you or through you.” Typically, a dozen or so kangaroos are in residence, and many have babies in their pouches. “Visitors love it in the spring when a baby might jump out of its mother’s pouch, run around and jump back in,” said Dale. www.kentuckydownunder.com

A R K ENCOU N TER Eddie Lutz knows exactly what will happen as motorcoaches drive through a valley, up a hill and around a sharp bend on their approach to the Ark Encounter. “You hear the gasps; jaws drop and eyes pop out,” said Lutz, sales and promotions representative. “The ark is so massive that no matter what you’ve seen in pictures or video, you can’t imagine it until you see it for yourself. It is that monumental.” Groups are beating a path to the Ark, less than a mile off Interstate 75 and 45 miles from its sister attraction, the Creation Museum. Constructed with the aid of Amish carpenters, it is built to the approxi-

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

mate measurements of Noah’s Ark, which makes it one and a half football fields in length and taller than a four-story house. It is the world’s largest timber-frame structure. As visitors travel the ark’s three levels along ramps, they see stacks of cages filled with animals, explore the story of the ark and see Noah’s family’s living quarters. They even meet a lifelike animatronic Noah, who will answer in “great detail” from a list of 14 questions, said Lutz. The tour of the ark ends in a gift shop, and groups can then head to a two-level restaurant with ample seating for large groups and a deck with an amazing view. “When you sit on the deck, the ark is literally coming right at you,” said Lutz. A zoo with exotic animals offers rides aboard camels and donkeys. A theater will be the site’s next addition, and it will be used as a venue for animal shows. www.arkencounter.com

HIGHL A N DS MUSEU M A N D DISCOV ERY CEN TER The Highlands Museum and Discovery Center lives in a five-story downtown building that once housed Ashland’s toniest department store, a fitting location for a museum with a sizable collection of vintage clothing. It pulls those pieces out of the closet regularly and fashions them into exhibits like the recent “Keeping Warm: Coats, Quilts and Coverlets,” a display of the collection’s furs. Like much displayed at the museum, the furs were donated by locals. “We have a cool collection of vintage clothing,” said Emily Roush, education and marketing director. “One family donated all of its Victorian clothing to us.” Such donations make for exhibits that are eclectic and representative of the region. The Highway 23 exhibit is a good example. More than a main artery through Eastern Kentucky, Highway 23 is a roadway along which many country music legends grew up. Among them are Ashland natives and mother-daughter duo The Judds, Billy Ray Cyrus, Patty Loveless and Keith Whitley. The exhibit displays memorabilia tied to their careers, such as the outfit Loveless wore for the cover shot of her first album. The exhibit, like all at the museum, is also interactive. Visitors can compose their tunes on a Music Quilt. Exhibits like “Satellites, Aerospace and the Bluegrass State,” which spotlights the space research and development done at nearby Morehead State University, delve into interesting aspects of the region. Temporary exhibits explore Ashland’s history and WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


often include oral histories by residents. Like most community museums, Highlands has a few odd pieces. Most surprising is a basic black rotary desk telephone used in Adolph Hitler’s bunker. The phone is part of the Military Exhibit Hall and was donated by an Ashland Oil executive who received the phone as a gift. www.highlandsmuseum.com

N EW PORT AQUA R I U M An aquarium is basically a box filled with water, but at the Newport Aquarium, experiences go outside that box as often as possible. “We allow families to see, touch and explore everything in the aquarium,” said Jen Tan, public relations manager. In the Shore Gallery, visitors can examine horseshoe crabs and anemones far from the seashore. In a special behind-the-scenes experience, small groups can sit with African penguins at their feet, touching the birds as a wildlife educator tells them all about the endangered species. They can also feel good knowing that part of the fee they pay for the experience is used to help protect the animals. In Shark Central, eager hands gently touch some of the two dozen small sharks that swim through shallows. “The biggest one is about two feet long,” said Tan. “The skin kind of feels like sandpaper when you touch it.”

BOURBON

BUZZ

F IRS T E AS T ERN K EN T UCK Y DIS T IL L E RY T O OP E N PIK EV IL L E Eastern Kentucky will welcome its first distillery and brewery in spring 2017 with the opening of Dueling Barrels Brewing and Distilling Company in Pikeville. Owned by Alltech, the distillery’s design, spirits and even name will celebrate the area. Named for the Hatfield and McCoy feud, Dueling Barrels Distillery will offer moonshine, bourbon, beer and ale with ingredients inspired by eastern Kentucky. Alltech broke ground on the distillery on July 30. Kentucky craftsmen will create copper pot stills that can be viewed from the street, and local stonemasons will incorporate Kentucky fieldstone into the building’s interior and exterior. Once the distillery is open, groups will be able to tour the site beginning with an introductory video. During the subsequent tour, guests will learn about Dueling Barrels’ distilling process with a sampling in the tasting room at the end. Dueling Barrels is part of Alltech Beverage Division’s global expansion, which extends to Ireland and the United Kingdom. What started as a single brewery in Lexington expanded 10 years later with the opening of Town Branch Distillery, a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. www.duelingbarrels.com

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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HIGHLANDS MUSEUM EXHIBIT

Courtesy Highlands Museum and Discovery Center

A 75-foot-long rope bridge gives a bird’s-eye view of a tank that’s home to larger sharks, a sea turtle named Denver and other sea creatures. The bridge opened in 2015, and kids love it: One loved it so much that he crossed it 100 times in his visit there with his grandfather, said Tan. The aquarium’s newest exhibit celebrates Kentucky’s equine ties in a seaworthy way. Sea Horses: Unbridled Fun includes 10 species of sea horses, sea dragons, trumpetfish, shrimpfish and pipefish. As petting delicate sea horses is not an option, the aquarium installed three colorful plastic sea horses, about three feet tall, so youngsters can see how their fins work — like a hummingbird’s wings — and better understand how a sea horse’s eyes work independent of each other. Visitors can also design their own sea horse. A computer program lets them add appendages, colors and even a few unorthodox extras like a magic wand. Visitors can email their finished starfish art to themselves. Animals also get out of their exhibits and into the arms of animal ambassadors who stroll around, encouraging visitors to stop and meet animals like Oreo, an Argentine black-and-white tegu — a lizard — or Nietzsche, a red-tailed boa constrictor. “We look for opportunities to teach our guests about the animals,” said Tan.

www.newportaquarium.com

K EN T UCK Y SCI ENCE CEN T ER

KENTUCKY SCIENCE CENTER

Courtesy Kentucky Science Center

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

Experimentation comes naturally at the Kentucky Science Center in Louisville, which is rethinking some of its long-standing exhibits. Last year, its first-floor exhibits reopened with a less scripted approach to learning. For example, children learn, through trial and error, how to build a roller coaster. This summer, the center unveiled a new water table, a children’s play and learning area that was, in this case, partly designed by the center’s Creative Kids Board, a group of about a dozen youngsters who chimed in with ideas. “Throughout the science and play areas, we ask questions that parents and children can explore together,” said Lisa Resnik, director of external affairs. For example, as a nod to the Ohio River bridge projects underway in Louisville, a new exhibit explores how bridges are built. In keeping with education’s new focus on enlightening children about the many kinds of jobs available, the center, working with various trade unions, did video interviews with the varied professionals who are helping to build bridges. Adults learn, too, as they accompany children or visit on their own. For groups that want to spend an afternoon at the movies, the center’s four-story, 3-D, precision white-screen theater is the ticket. In addition to the theater’s regular schedule of films, groups can request a movie from the center’s vast film library. A new team-building option allows groups to pretend to have a space experience as they man a “command center” and a “space vehicle.” www.kysciencecenter.org

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Jane Donovan 10 minutes ago Best tour stop ever in Northern Kentucky! So far we’ve petted sharks at the Newport Aquarium, taken a cruise on BB Riverboats, zip lined at the Ark Encounter and ate and shopped ’til we dropped in the historic Mainstrasse Village! And tomorrow we’re heading across the river to catch a Reds game. Can’t wait!

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Next time someone asks what you did last weekend, have a better answer. In Kentucky, you can enjoy amazing food, music, entertainment, horse racing, distillery tours and much more. All delivered with true Southern hospitality and charm. To learn more and see sample itineraries, visit KentuckyTourism.com.

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Kentucky Travel Guide 2017  

Treat your group to the best of Kentucky — horses, bourbon, bluegrass, culinary delights and hospitality — with the itineraries found in the...

Kentucky Travel Guide 2017  

Treat your group to the best of Kentucky — horses, bourbon, bluegrass, culinary delights and hospitality — with the itineraries found in the...