I wasn’t expecting to be so charmed by Kentucky. Don’t get me wrong: I grew up in the South; I know how gorgeous its various nooks and crannies can be. But we randomly picked Bardstown as our weekend base merely because of its proximity to all the distilleries. So the fact that it was so pretty was just an added bonus.
Some background about Bardstown: The town was founded way back in 1780. Many of its homes hail from the 18th and 19th centuries (old by American standards). There are 11,000 people, a handful of well-known distilleries such as Heaven Hill in town and Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark on the outskirts, and more than a dozen B&Bs. It’s touted as “the Bourbon Capital of the World.” In fact, did you know there are more barrels aging in Kentucky than there are people? News to me.
It has a famed tavern that was built in 1779 and is still operational. Take my advice and don’t eat there. Don’t get me wrong, the Old Kentucky Hot Brown was perfectly fine, but the other dishes were just meh and the service took forever.
Then, once you’re done, you can go to the tavern for live music and a respectable beer and bourbon selection. Just vacate before 11:30pm, our innkeeper warned us, as the late-night crowd is a bit rowdy (and violent, too, from what I hear).
While we’re on the subject of things not to do, don’t be sucked in by the Around the Town Carriage experience. We paid $20 each(!), and it lasted less than 20 minutes; our driver was very eager to return to his NASCAR and not so keen on telling us about the actual town. That’s if we could actually hear a word that he said. Which we couldn’t.
There’s an old-timey soda fountain on the corner by the courthouse. I really wanted to try it—you’re shocked given my affinity for sweets, I know—but everything was boarded up for Memorial Day weekend. Someone test it out and let me know how it is, OK? I’m sure it would meet my standards.