Midwest Adventure 2018, Part 9: Frankfort, Kentucky

This is my ninth post about our adventure traveling through Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. You can find the first post from this trip here and links to all the other educational US travel our family has done here.

Because I blog about educational travel, I received free admission tickets, discounts, media rates, and other benefits for some of the hotels and attractions we visited throughout the trip. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone. I paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I whole-heartedly recommend. If you notice any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love a particular hotel, attraction, or restaurant enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


Frankfort, Kentucky

The drive from Charleston, West Virginia to Frankfort, Kentucky takes a little over 3 hours, so I'd searched for an interesting place for a quick stop along the way to break up the drive. I ended up finding two interesting places.

First, we stopped in Mt. Sterling at Ruth Hunt Candy Company to try their famous Blue Monday bars. This candy, their best seller, is known as "Kentucky's Best Kept Secret." Legend says that Ruth Hunt named this new candy bar when a traveling minister told her that he "needed a little sweet to cure his Blue Monday." There are three flavors of Blue Monday, so of course we bought all three. The mint was our favorite.

Sixteen miles further, we stopped in Winchester at the Ale-8-One factory. Ale-8 has been bottling "Kentucky's Soft Drink" since 1926.

They offer tours of the facility on Thursdays and Fridays, but we were passing by on a Tuesday, so unfortunately we couldn't get a tour. We did poke around the lobby of the building to see their displays and to buy our first Ale-8.

The original flavor is made with real ginger and citrus. It's absolutely delicious. They introduced Cherry Ale-8 just this year, but we weren't able to find one to buy. 

Feeling refreshed, we headed on to Frankfort. We got settled in our hotel, then walked around downtown Frankfort for awhile. We picked Bourbon on Main for dinner, and it ended up being the perfect choice.

The food was outstanding. We ordered two appetizers and an entree to split amongst the three of us...

... which left room for us to try the one and only dessert on their menu. Oh my gosh. Everything was SO good.

Despite an early bedtime, Trevor woke up the next morning feeling awful. He had a headache, his joints were sore, and he felt generally blah. He was just completely worn out. We stayed at the hotel for an extra hour more than we'd intended so he could rest. He felt slightly better after that, so we ventured out to the Capitol.

The grounds were stunning. These two pictures were taken from basically the same place, facing opposite directions. 


This living clock was so neat.

The inside of the Capitol was very nice, too.


Our next stop was at Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory, best known for inventing the Bourbon Ball.

We had a wonderful tour. I particularly loved watching Bourbon Balls being made. The room smelled amazing. (Do you think we'll ever have technology that allows us to record smells the way we can record sounds and sights?) We couldn't take pictures during the tour of the factory or of the museum area, so you'll have to settle for these photos from the Rebecca Ruth store.

We tried another of their most popular candies, the Mint Kentucky Colonel. Deep-dark chocolate, a minty center, and a hidden salted pecan. Absolutely delicious. Definitely take a tour of Rebecca Ruth if you're in Frankfort. 

We left Rebecca Ruth and headed to Buffalo Trace Distillery, another must-tour in Frankfort. I'd done my research ahead of time, of course, and learned that the Trace Tour was very kid-friendly.

We headed to the Firehouse Sandwich Shop first, located in the original distillery firehouse. I'd heard they have the best burgoo around.

We'd never had burgoo before, so we weren't in a position to compare this version with any others, but it was fantastic. So delicious. I'm so glad we tried it. We make a point to try to seek out regional favorites when we travel, and try anything we can't get easily at home. Trevor has always been a very adventurous eater, thankfully. 

We finished eating just in time for the Trace Tour to start. We watched a video about the history of the distillery and then learned about the bourbon-making process. We saw bottling, labeling, packaging, and a whole lot of aging warehouse space. Look in the windows - the building is holding barrels upon barrels upon barrels. Most of their bourbons age for at least 8 years, so they have to dedicate a ridiculous amount of space to aging.

At the end of the free tour, there was a bourbon tasting for the adults. I didn't think I liked bourbon until I tried a Buffalo Float (Bourbon Cream with Root Beer - delicious!) We paired them with Rebecca Ruth Bourbon Balls and the combination was perfection. 

Don't worry about the kids. They got chocolate and root beer, too. No bourbon, of course, but they did each receive a collectable horse bottle topper

Our final stop of the day was at the Capital City Museum.

The museum is small, but there is a lot of interesting memorabilia about the history of Frankfort. Allow about 45 minutes to explore it. 

This 34-star flag is particularly interesting. 

I also really enjoyed the exhibit about famous people from Frankfort and movies and TV shows that were filmed there.

Trevor fell asleep as soon as we got back to the hotel, woke up wanting a quick snack, and then went back to bed and slept through the night. He woke up in the morning feeling 100%, thankfully.

Our first stop of the day was at a scenic overlook, where we admired the view of the Capitol and then found our first Kentucky geocache.

There are train tracks that run through the center of downtown Frankfort. A train came by while we were stopped at a red light. We were very surprised that there weren't any barricades or other safety measures separating cars and pedestrians from the tracks. Drivers with less patience (and interest in self-preservation) than us zipped past while we waited. Crazy.

We'd heard great things about the Clark Center for Kentucky History and were excited to visit. 

It did not disappoint. The museum is very interesting and informative, with lots of hands-on activities covering all sorts of topics in Kentucky history. Practically every display has a touch element or a game or something else to do.

After two hours, we returned to the lobby to join a guided tour of the Old State Capitol just down the street. 

It's much less grand than the current Capitol, but has plenty of beautiful details. 

Most notable is the floating staircase.

We grabbed lunch at Buddy's Pizza, not to be confused with the Buddy's Pizza we enjoyed in Detroit. Both were delicious, but very different.

We found the Liberty Bell replica as we walked back to the Clark Center for Kentucky History

We enjoyed the rest of the museum...

... and then walked up the hill to the Kentucky Military History Museum

A friendly volunteer docent showed us all around and taught us a lot about military history in Kentucky. 

The museum is housed in what was a Civil War-era munitions factory and the State Arsenal for over 100 years. It has a great view of downtown Frankfort.

Speaking of views, we enjoyed this one. That's the Kentucky River.  

All too soon, our time in Frankfort had to end. But we were really excited about our next destination, Louisville, Kentucky. I'll tell you all about that tomorrow. 

1 comment:

  1. How fun! My father grew up in wayyyyyy southern Ohio, practically at Kentucky's front door! LOL! He used to visit that state when he young! LOVING all the photos, looks like you got a lot in! Loving that bottle topper Trevor got, and glad he was feeling better!!!


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