If you’re planning on hitting up the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the city of Bardstown is a good place to base yourself. Formally established in 1788, it was one of the first cities in Kentucky and was incorporated by the state assembly in 1838. It was also the first center of Catholicism west of the Appalachian Mountains and was the seat of the diocese until it was transferred to Louisville in 1841.
It’s home to a slew of historic sites and buildings including the Jailer’s Inn which until 1987 was a fully operational jail but today is a bed and breakfast (one of the rooms you can stay in is a former cell). But most people head to Bardstown for the bourbon; it’s known as the Bourbon Capital of the World and is host to the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival which takes place every September. It’s home to one of the distilleries on the official bourbon trail (Heaven Hill) as well as others like Barton 1792 and the Willett Distillery (Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam distilleries are about a 30 mile drive from Bardstown).
While we did check out Heaven Hill we unfortunately didn’t have a lot of time to explore some of Bardstown’s other attractions. But from the little that we did see of the town, it looks like a charming place and it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of America’s most beautiful small towns.
Note about Heaven Hill-they offer 30 minute mini tours for $4 a person. These are held inside its facilities (known as the Bourbon Heritage Center) and so it’s more like a museum experience but a sample of bourbon is offered at the end. Additional tours are also available.
(What a magnolia blossom looks like before it blooms-it felt very soft, like lamb’s ears)
Julie is a librarian by day, die-hard travel fanatic and writer by night. When she’s not traveling, she’s either testing out a new recipe or being a foodie in Pittsburgh. If you’re interested in seeing where she travels to or what she makes next, follow along via the links below!