We have a tendency to judge a place by what little we know or have heard about it. Take Kentucky, for example. You wouldn’t be wrong to think of bluegrass, basketball, and bourbon… and horses.
Kentucky is home to the granddaddy of American horseracing tracks: the Churchill Downs. More than 160,000 fans descend upon the venue on Derby Day, but anyone can enjoy day or night races in season. Visitors can also spend the whole day and visit the onsite museum if that’s their cup of (sweet) tea. Aside from Churchill Downs, there's also the Kentucky Horse Park, which sits on 1,200 acres of lush land in Lexington. Here visitors can get the full equine experience — trolley tours, shows, a museum, and pony and trail rides.
If you find yourself near the state capital of Frankfurt you should visit the 100-year-old governor’s mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With its Beaux-Arts design, it was modeled after the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's villa near the Palace of Versailles in France.
If you happen to see the governor himself, Democrat Steve Beshear, during your tour, say thanks. By prioritizing education, health, and economic development, he has earned a high approval rating for having made Kentucky a better place for its citizens. What more can one ask of a public servant?
But there is another face to Kentucky beyond all this. Kentucky has plenty more to offer visitors, starting with warm and gracious residents who are justifiably proud of their great state — and, of course, there is wonderful food and drink to match.
About 95 percent of all bourbon is produced in Kentucky. What makes it so good is that Kentucky is blessed with limestone-rich aquifers that deliver the product’s most essential ingredient: extraordinary water. If you haven’t noticed, bourbon is back in a big way. And its resurgence has led to expansion by both the big boys and a growing cadre of craft distilleries. You can see many of them in action on what is called the Bourbon Trail. Guided tours take visitors through the production process and culminate in fun, educational tastings.
Make Your Own
If you’ve ever had aspirations to make your own whiskey, here’s your chance. At Moonshine University, you can learn how to become an expert distiller in five days’ time. What you'll do with your newly acquired knowledge is left purposely ambiguous;federal law prohibits non-licensed persons to distill their own spirits.