Nothing says "Kentucky" more than horse racing,
and spring offers a double dose "” at Keeneland in April and at
Louisville's historic Churchill Downs for the running of the Kentucky
Derby May 7. But if meandering along Kentucky's back roads searching
for covered bridges, exploring its mysterious caverns or sampling its
bourbon and distillery history is more your style, then we have
OFF TO THE RACES
not too early to be planning for the Derby, the first Saturday in May.
The stars of the Derby have been the sleek three-year-olds since it
began in 1875. But today the thoroughbreds share the spotlight with
mint juleps, red roses, big hats and celebrity sightings.
race, the first part of a Triple Crown victory, is one and a quarter
miles in length and lasts about two minutes but the excitement it
generates is phenomenal. To be part of it, a basic $40 general
admission ticket will get you into the infield, which is full of fun
and partying but does not feature a view of the track.
most popular seats that guarantee a view of the race are the three
levels of Clubhouse seats. They are available in boxes of six and range
from $599 to $3,600 depending on how close you are to the field and the
finish line. The Grandstand seats are bleacher style and range from
$599 to $1,400.
At the top of the scale,
consider one of the dining rooms that allow for a large party and
include a wet bar and food. Quint Derby Experiences offers a variety of
packages that include seating and transportation to the Downs
the races begin, check out Dawn at the Downs ($20-30), which allows
guests to watch the trainers warm up the horses while enjoying a
gourmet breakfast bar. Another dining event before the races, the
Second Annual Taste of Derby, will take place on May 5. This fun and
stylish affair includes live entertainment, a red carpet entrance at 7
p.m., followed by food and wine tasting. Tickets are $275; valet
service is complimentary and cocktail attire is required.
www.kentuckyderby.com to purchase tickets. There you can fill out an
online ticket request form that will ensure you are notified of select
online sales and deals on the coveted reserved seats and boxes. On the
official website you can also plan your trip, check out the fashions,
get party ideas or place a bet on the horse of your choice. With names
like Gourmet Dinner, Uncle Mo, and J P's Gusto, the competition is
DOWN UNDER AT MAMMOTH CAVE
your personal style includes hiking boots and flashlights rather than
suits or big hats, a weekend at Mammoth Cave National Park or General
Butler State Park may be a perfect spring outing.
Mammoth Cave network boasts the longest cave system in the world. With
just under 400 miles of underground passages and an even longer
history, the area was made a National Park in July 1941 and is still
being explored today. The Park offers a variety of cave tours,
including some just for kids.
The caves may be
the focus of the Park but above ground, it protects more than 70
endangered or threatened animal species and hundreds of different types
of plant life.
Visitors can take advantage of
the many trails for hiking and biking as well as horseback riding on
trails winding through the 500,000-acre reserve. There are also a
variety of campsites as well as several rivers that are perfect for
kayaking, canoeing or fishing with the family.
For more information or to plan your visit, go to www.nps.gov/maca.
CAMPING IS BASIC OR LUXURY
AT General Butler State Park
the General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton, you can camp the
traditional way, with tents and fires, or you can stay in luxury
The General Butler Lodge has
53 rooms, each with a balcony so you can experience the great outdoors
without necessarily having to sleep there.
are also 24 cottages of various sizes scattered about the grounds and
available for as long as you care to stay. Lunch and dinner are served
at the Two Rivers Restaurant, which dishes up delicious and locally-
The Park hosts a variety of
programs throughout the spring and summer months. For a spooky
experience with the whole family, spend a few days ghost hunting during
the Spirits of Butler Paranormal Weekend. Certified ghost hunters will
guide guests through the process of finding clues to or evidence of
hauntings. Packages are available that include food and lodging.
For details, visit parks.ky.gov.
CLOSER TO HOME
7855 McCracken Pike
Versailles, KY 40383
Event reservations (859) 879-1963
$5 admission includes tasting and souvenir shot glass.
Reserve's historic 78-acre setting in Versailles, Ky., the home of
small-batch, hand-crafted bourbon, is open for tours Tuesdays through
Sundays beginning in April. Two events at the beautiful site surrounded
by Kentucky horse farms get the season started:
Woodford Reserve Handicapper Brunch during Keeneland's run, April, 9,
16, 23. The 11 a.m. pre-race Saturday brunches spotlighting Kentucky
Proud products include a WR signature cocktail, gourmet brunch, picks
from a racing analyst and local handicapper, and tours of the
designated Historic Landmark distillery buildings that begin at 10 a.m.
Woodford Reserve Fly Fishing, 9 a.m.-2
p.m., May 14 on the banks of Glenn's Creek in Versailles amid the
Reserve's secluded surroundings. The day includes a walking tour of the
distillery, brunch, tips and hands-on instruction by two Kentucky fly
fishing experts, plus a display-quality carded fly and flavor wheel.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
The Inn at Shaker Village
3501 Lexington Road
Harrodsburg, Ky. 40330
(859) 734-1545, (800) 734-5611
10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, $15 for ages 13 and older, $5 ages 6-12.
new exhibit, "Golden Threads: The Stories Behind the Needle" opened
April 1 and runs through December at America' s largest restored Shaker
community, where you can get a peek at an unusual piece of American
"Golden Threads" includes rarely-seen
pieces from the Pleasant Hill collection plus colorful silk scarves,
lacy gauze kerchiefs and folk art rugs that dispel the myth of the
Shakers as drab and plain folk. The textiles exhibit marks the 50th
anniversary of the restoration of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and
opens the door to the stories of the people who made and wore the
The 3,000-acre National Historic
Landmark site features 14 original Shaker buildings, including the
40-room family dwelling, costumed interpreters, mid-19th century
village life demonstrations of broom making, woodworking, spinning and
weaving, an extensive collection of Shaker furniture and artifacts plus
historic animal breeds and heirloom vegetables on the village farm.
Heaven Hill Distilleries
1311 Gilkey Run Road
Bardstown, KY 40004
Hill is the nation's largest independent family-owned and operated
bourbon producer. At its Bourbon Heritage Center, hosts will take you
through a working rickhouse, and you can sample bourbon in a unique
barrel-shaped testing room. There are three types of tours available.
3350 Burks Spring Road
Loretto, KY 40037
distillery is located on scenic 850-acre grounds framed by magnolias
and sugar maples. In the gift gallery, you can buy a small bottle (if
you're 21 or older) and plunk it in the "dipping booth," creating a
customized red wax sealed bottle that you can sign and date.
Covered Bridges of Fleming County
Fleming County Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 24, Flemingsburg, KY 41041
leisurely drive along winding backroads is a good way to de-stress, so
pack your camera and set your GPS to Flemingsburg for some quaint
shopping and a Kodak moment at three covered bridges from the area's
past. The county seat since 1798, Flemingsburg features Amish/Mennonite
shops, antiques stores, folk artists and crafters. And the area's three
covered bridges in the surrounding countryside are worth exploring. At
one time there were 400 of these "timbered tunnels" in Kentucky with
only 13 remaining.
The Goddard White Covered
Bridge, off Ky. Rte 32, is the only surviving example of Ithiel Town
Lattice design in the state with timbers joined by wooden pegs. It's
believed to have been built in the 1820s and is the only one open to
traffic. The Grange City Covered Bridge, off Ky. Rte 111 is an 86-foot
span over Fox Creek that has survived four floods. And the Ringo's Mill
Covered Bridge, off Ky. Rte 158, erected 1867-1869, was developed
because of a nearby grist mill. Both are accessible for photographs, if
not for cars.
Maps to the bridges are
available at the Chamber of Commerce and the Fleming County Covered
Bridge Museum which is open noon-4 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment.