When I think of Kentucky, 3 things come to mind: bourbon, horses and baseball bats, and on a weekend road trip through Kentucky, I covered them all. With a lot of eating and drinking in between of course.
Friday afternoon: Heading north from Nashville towards our first stop, the view quickly became lush and green. Part of the reason why I chose to visit Maker’s Mark was for the drive through the country I knew it would take us on.
Friday night: One of my favourite things to do when I travel is to go to a sporting event because it’s a great way to soak in the local atmosphere. The Louisville Bats AAA baseball team plays out Louisville Slugger field and on a sunny summer evening, it was the perfect place to be.
Friday dinner: Louisville has a plethora of great dining options, but I chose Proof on Main in the 21C Museum Hotel for an easy dinner at their bar because it gave me the chance to wander through the boutique hotel’s art-filled spaces.
Saturday morning: If you’re in Louisville, then a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is a must if you’re a (wife of a) baseball fan.
Saturday lunch: The Hot Brown is Louisville’s most famous dish that I first heard about from a “Mind of a Chef” episode. I wasn’t sure if it would really be my thing, but there was something about this Southern Kentucky icon that kept calling to me and if I was going to try it, of course I wanted to go straight to where it originated in 1926 at the Brown Hotel.
Saturday afternoon: As I planned the trip, I realized the horses were racing at Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby, I knew it was worth a visit. Of all of my travel adventures, I think my dad, who’s an avid horserace fan was most excited about this.
Saturday pre-dinner: I’m always on the lookout for a good cocktail and my Louisville research led me to Lola which sits above Butchertown Grocery restaurant in the East Market district referred to as NuLu.
Saturday dinner: With options such as Decca, Rye and Butchertown Grocery, I was tempted to stay in hipster NuLu for dinner, but I was craving Asian flavours and hoped Chef Edward Lee’s Milkwood, described as Southern with global influences, would deliver what I was looking for.
Sunday morning: I woke up craving something healthy and searched “juice + smoothie” which led me to Lueberry for a green smoothie packed with fruits and veggies to make my body happy.
Sunday afternoon: It was time to hit the road again, this time heading east towards Lexington for the evening. Seeing as this is a major route on the bourbon trail, of course we had to make a few stops.
I hummed and haw-ed over visiting Buffalo Trace or Woodford Reserve but eventually chose Woodford as their tour/tasting seemed to give access to more.
We were in the area, so I added in a visit to Castle and Key, a previously abandoned distillery with a castle which has been newly restored.
Sunday lunch: Smithtown Seafood is one of Chef Ouita Michel’s many restaurants in Lexington and the one that seemed most approachable for an easy lunch that included fresh vegetables, something my body was still asking for. As an added bonus, Smithtown Seafood shares its space with West Sixth Brewing, so I was able to taste some local Lexington brews with my lunch.
Sunday early evening: With only a night in Lexington to explore, we decided a walk to check out its vibrant street art scene was a good way to get to be introduced to the city.
Sunday pre-dinner drink: As we zig zagged through downtown Lexington, we walked by a unassuming bar on a narrow side street. Ona, (which I later realized was rated by Esquire magazine as one of the top bars in America in 2018) was a true unexpected discovery, the kind that travelling with your eyes open allows you to find.
Sunday dinner: Completely unlike me, I had no advance dinner plans for Lexington. I had a visit to the Distillery district in mind, but realized Middlefork is closed on Sundays. The concierge recommeded Dudley’s on Short, but it felt like it’d be a bigger meal than I was in the mood for. We settled on the Latin-inspired Corto Lima, but its next-door neighbour Pearl’s, with its wood-fire over caught our eye and is eventually what we sat down at.
The places I visited in this post:
- Makers Mark: 3350 Burks Spring Rd, Loretto, KY
- Proof on Main (21C Museum & Hotel): 700 W Main St, Louisville, KY
- J Graham’s Cafe (The Brown Hotel): 335 W Broadway, Louisville, KY
- Lola @Butchertown Grocery: 1076 E Washington St, Louisville, KY
- Milkwood: 316 W Main St, Louisville KY
- Please & Thank You: 800 E Market St, Louisville, KY
- Woodford Reserve: 7785 McCraken Pike, Versailles, KY
- Smithtown Seafood: 501 W 6th St, Lexington, KY
- West 6th Brewing: 501 W 6th St, Lexington, KY
- Ona: 108 Church St, Lexington, KY
- Pearl’s: 133 N Limestone, Lexington, KY