Safely experience Kentucky Bourbon Country over the holiday. This 3-night itinerary makes planning your getaway easy.
Make the most of Labor Day weekend—the holiday that kicks-off National Bourbon Heritage month and, for the first time, will coincide with the Kentucky Derby—by packing a whole lot of bourbon-related fun into a three-night getaway, September 4-7, 2020! Loaded with authentic bourbon experiences, Covington, Frankfort, and Bardstown are the best answers to the common question of where to stay when exploring Kentucky Bourbon Country. Even during the coronavirus era, you’ll find plenty to do while staying safe.
This flexible itinerary makes planning your getaway easy! Come to Covington first if you’re flying into Kentucky or driving down from points north or east. Make Bardstown your first stop if you’re driving from points south or west. Either way, find fun in Frankfort on Day 2. On Day 3 explore the remaining city. Then loop back home with memories that will last a lifetime…along with a souvenir bottle or more of bourbon that will last as long as you can resist that ultimate pour.
Come to Covington: Day 1 or Day 3
Located in Northern Kentucky at the edge of Bourbon Country on the Ohio River, Covington celebrates bourbon culture with a unique tour, The B-Line. The city offers a mix of venues from boutique distilleries to historic neighborhoods, waterfront dining to nature trails, and so much more. Get here as fast as you can for maximum fun.
Choose an option—or more than one, time permitting!
- Visit Boone County Distilling for a tour and tasting. Choose a 15-minute mini-tour or an hour-long grain to glass experience.
- Tour downtown Covington and surrounding neighborhoods on a self-guided art walk that includes a barrel collection of more than 100 bourbon barrels custom-painted by local artists.
- Taste local creations like Second Sight Spirits at the new BridgeView Box Park at Newport on the Levee, home to several local shops and eateries with waterfront views.
- Enjoy panoramic views of both Cincinnati and Covington from Devou Park while hiking or biking trails, playing golf, sipping a drink on the patio, or snapping photos. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, check out Devou Park’s Behringer-Crawford Museum, which is packed with Kentucky history and artifacts.
- Hike Riverfront Commons, an 11.5-mile walking and biking path along the Ohio River.
Enjoy lunch on the porch at Tousey House Tavern in historic Burlington, on the patio at Rich’s Proper Food and Drink in downtown Covington, or another cozy spot among the currently open restaurants.
Enjoy one or squeeze as many into your visit as possible!
- Tour New Riff Distilling in Newport then enjoy a cocktail at its Aquifer Tasting Bar.
- Sample spirits and soak in the history of 11 generations of moonshiners at the family-owned Neeley Family Distillery in Sparta.
- Sail the Ohio River with BB Riverboats on an 1.5-hour Historic Cincinnati Sightseeing Cruise.
- Walk, bike, or drive across the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, which connects Covington, Kentucky to Cincinnati, Ohio. The National Historic Landmark was the engineering prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Explore Riverside Drive Historic District, a 13-block historic neighborhood near the confluence of the Ohio and Licking Rivers, on a self-guided walking tour of diverse architecture styles and statues.
Sip a handcrafted cocktail on the patio at Hotel Covington in the heart of the city, a bourbon flight at Bourbon Haus 1841 in quaint Mainstrasse Village, or take your pick on a drink at Prohibition Bourbon Bar—home to the world’s largest collection of bourbons and rye whiskies!—in Newport’s Historic East Row District.
Relax in luxury at Hotel Covington, a modern boutique hotel in the former Coppin’s Department Store. Try glamping in a treehouse at EarthJOY TreeHouse Adventures. Or take your pick among dozens of accommodation options.
Find Frankfort: Day 2
Kentucky’s capital city sits on the shores of the Kentucky River between Covington and Bardstown and also midway between Lexington and Louisville. With its natural beauty, social charm, and spirited history, we like to say that Frankfort is “Kentucky Distilled.” Arrive early to enjoy as much as possible.
Dig into a healthy or decadent meal at Rick’s White Light Diner, a Cajun/Creole eatery featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”; Main Street Diner, a family-owned 1950s-style eatery; B’s Bakery, known for from-scratch pastries and quiches; or another open local restaurant.
Enjoy as much fun as time allows!
- Tour Buffalo Trace, the nation’s longest-running and most award-winning distillery.
- Explore Josephine Sculpture Park, where works by artists from around the world dot rolling hillsides.
- Stroll the Historic Frankfort Walking Tour, a self-guided showcase of 40 distinctive properties.
- Visit Glenns Creek Distilling, a craft distillery that collected wild yeast from the Old Crow Distillery for its OCD #5 Bourbon, plus makes other bourbons, whiskey and rum.
- Tour Liberty Hall Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark with two historic houses and four acres of gardens.
Try The Stave, which is known for its upscale Kentucky fare; Sage Garden Café, where fresh is always in season; Riverboat Grill, where eclectic fare is served on the Kentucky River; or any of Frankfort’s local eateries.
Do as much as you can!
- Visit Three Boys Farm Distillery, a craft distillery on a 122-acre farm.
- Ride the nation’s only boat-based bourbon tour with Kentucky River Tours.
- Paddle Elkhorn Creek on a canoe, kayak, raft, or stand-up paddleboard from Canoe Kentucky.
- Pedal ten miles of singletrack mountain biking trails at Capitol View Park.
- Hike or bike nature trails in the 240-acre Cove Spring Park.
- Tap into craft beer at Sig Luscher Brewery, a heritage brewery originally founded in 1866, or sip local wine at Prodigy Vineyards, planted on the Peach Family Farm in 1998.
Get dinner at Goodwood Brewing, where bourbon barrels flavor beer and the food menu is eclectic; Bourbon On Main, where burgers are a perennial favorite; or from your pick among local eateries.
Savor a nightcap at Capital Cellars, Frankfort’s only combination restaurant, bar, and wine, beer and spirits retailer. Sip local brews at West Sixth Farm Brewery, where brews are made on site using hops and fruit grown on the property. Or tap into the local scene at The Brick Alley, a neighborhood bar with darts, pool tables, karaoke nights, and live music on weekends.
Settle into The Meeting House bed and breakfast in the heart of the historic district; Home2 Suites by Hilton Frankfort off I-64; Kentucky River Campground and RV Park among the trees; or another of the city’s abundant accommodation options.
Bourbon comes from Bardstown: Day 3 or Day 1
Bourbon traditions run deep in Bardstown, the state’s second-oldest city. Our tagline “Bourbon comes from Bardstown” is no mere boast: the sheer volume of bourbon made, aged, and shipped out of Bardstown is unrivaled: 2.8 million barrels of bourbon are aging in Nelson County—that’s more than a third of the world’s aging bourbon! Begin your visit ASAP.
Try one—or more, if there’s time!
- Tour Barton 1792 Distillery, the oldest fully-operating distillery in Bardstown.
- Visit the recently renovated Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center, home of the nation’s largest family-owned spirits producer.
- Explore My Old Kentucky Home State Park, the place that inspired Stephen Collins Foster’s famous song, “My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!”
- Hike or bike the trails at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest.
- Ride a horse-drawn carriage through the back streets of Bardstown with Around The Town Carriage.
- Visit McIntyre’s Winery & Berries, where country wine is made from the fruit grown on site.
Dig into hearty fare at Old Talbott Tavern, one of the nation’s oldest bars, or Kurtz Restaurant, which first opened in 1937. Or try a contemporary creation and innovative cocktail at new culinary hotspot The Bar at Willett.
Try as many adventures as you can!
- Tour Preservation Distillery and Farm, the region’s first and only 100-percent pot-distilled producer.
- Visit the beautiful grounds of Lux Row Distillers, one of Kentucky’s newest distilleries.
- Walk historic downtown Bardstown, “The Most Beautiful Small Town in America,” on a self-guided historic walking tour with 48 points of interest. Bonus: Most of the downtown shops, bars, and restaurants are reopened, many with outdoor displays or seating.
- Tour Willett Distillery, an independent, family-owned producer that is both historic (circa 1936) and new (renovated in 2004).
- Enjoy the “From Distillate to Barrel” tour at Bardstown Bourbon Company, a one-hour immersive experience that starts with a taste of bottled bourbon and ends with sip of bourbon straight from the barrel.
Dine at The Kitchen & Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Company, known for its craft cocktails and scratch cooking; The Rickhouse Restaurant & Lounge, known for its steaks, 11-cheese macaroni, and selection of more than 130 bourbons; Café Primo, home of some of downtown Bardstown’s best pizza—don’t miss the chance to eat out back on the two-level patio/deck!; or another scrumptious restaurant.
Slip into The Blind Pig Bourbon Speakeasy for a nightcap. Just like during the 1920s Prohibition, you’ll need a code to enter (but it’s easy to find near the front door).
Bask in luxury at the grand Bourbon Manor Bed & Breakfast, tuck into the stylish Talbott Inn in a renovated historic building, sleep under the stars at My Old Kentucky Home Campground, or take your pick among Bardstown’s many accommodation options.
Hours of operation and offerings change rapidly these days, so confirm details and options before you arrive. During the coronavirus pandemic, when visiting public places please wear a mask, keep your hands clean, and stand far enough away from other people that you’ll need to raise your bourbon glass in a toast rather than clink glasses.