Georgetown: Your home-base for exploring the Bluegrass
Written by Kathy Witt
Whether planning a staycation, workcation or midway stop as part of a longer vacation, Georgetown, Kentucky’s Horse Headquarters, is an appealing and convenient homebase for day-tripping to regional attractions.
Georgetown’s beautifully preserved Victorian-era downtown bustles with locally owned restaurants and boutiques, galleries and historic sites, each an invitation to dip in, grab a bite, shop a sale, find an artwork or step into the past.
A variety of hotels and unique stay options accommodate all budgets, interests and inclinations: brand name hotels, Airbnbs, bed and breakfast inns, horse farms, intown suites and golf course lodging. And its choice location at the crossroads of I-75 and I-64 puts visitors within a scenic country drive of major Kentucky attractions, from legendary bourbon distilleries to mega must-see sights to historical and hands-on experiences.
Hop onto the famed Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a uniquely Kentucky experience that meanders from one world-famous maker of American’s Official Native Spirit to another. Call in on Lexington’s Town Branch to learn about a distilling tradition that dates back to 1794 and Woodford Reserve in Versailles, Kentucky’s oldest and smallest distillery and a National Historic Landmark.
These are two of the 18 distilleries on the Trail – but there are many more distilleries located throughout the state, each offering a unique peek into the world of bourbon, including one in downtown Georgetown that offers a one-of-a-kind experience. At Bourbon 30, guests can step into the role of Master Distiller and create their own bourbon blend, choosing from 100-plus barrels and selecting the bottle shape, wax color and label name
Georgetown’s Buffalo Springs Distillery, the former main office and gatehouse of the distillery that operated on this site beginning in 1868, gives bourbon aficionados the opportunity for an immersive bourbon experience. The stone structure is now a historic and private queen-size retreat with gleaming wood and exposed stone and accented with vintage-, bourbon- and buffalo-themed art.
SUPERSIZED GOOD TIMES
A quick 30-minute drive on I-75
orth takes visitors to Ark Encounter in Williamstown, the story of Noah come to life. The ark is massive, built to Biblical specifications right down to the last cubit and recounts the life and times of the Old Testament’s most well-known shipbuilder through three decks of exhibits.
There’s also Ararat Ridge Zoo, a family playground built for kids of all abilities, daily programs, concerts and presentations, zip lines that reach up to 50 mph and 17 stories high and a virtual reality journey through time – plenty to fill the morning.For the afternoon? Back in Georgetown, Kentucky Horse Park also offers epic-size fun with its Big Barn and stall-side chats;
Parade of Breeds Show and chance to see horses
getting bathed, groomed and trained at the Breeds Barn; and four museums dedicated to the history of the horse going back to ancient times; specific horse breeds; interactive equine experiences and more.
Afterward, Queenslake is a king-sized bed and breakfast in a magnificent white-columned manse and sitting on a 140-acres of classic Kentucky horse farm. Here, guests unwind to an experience that is nothing short of the royal treatment. Blending country charm and resort elegance, it is a calming oasis afte a full day of play.
Kentucky’s capital city of Frankfort is also 30 minutes away and has much to see: the murals and marble, floral clock and rose
garden at the Kentucky State Capitol; the treasures of City Museum, like the Kentucky Fishing Reel collection of hand-tooled, elaborately designed and bejeweled reels; and Josephine Sculpture Park, a 20-acre outdoor “art museum,” where visitors are free to touch, pat, climb on and lounge in the dozens of works of art.
Georgetown’s own outdoor art museum is found at Yuko-en on the Elkhorn, a Japanese-style strolling garden given a Kentucky twist and the only one of its kind. Step through the garden’s Tokugawa gate and enter a world of color, fragrance, graceful sculptural elements and
serenity, with waterfalls and chirping birds adding a soothing soundtrack and the creek, ponds and Japanese-style stone garden
inspiring quiet reflection.
The Georgetown & Scott County Museum has its own gems, from the Georgetown Post Office display to the precision model of the “DeWitt Clinton” locomotive, tender and three stagecoach-style passenger cars constructed of cast aluminum, brass, hammered steel sheets and wood, to Pete the Famous Talking Crow – and he is famous, just ask him . . . for his three-year reign of trackside terror squawking at confused racehorses.
Overnighting at the Alexander Bradford House in Stamping Ground is like sleeping in a museum, but a really comfy and cozy one where you’re allowed
to touch everything. Built in three different time periods – 1810, 1830 and 1900 – the oldest wing is well over 200 years old. (If only these walls could talk!) It is filled with antiques appropriate to thedifferent periods and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
NOW ABOUT THOSE HORSES. . .
As Kentucky’s Horse Headquarters, Georgetown is home to numerous horse-centric attractions, including Kentucky Horse Park and Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm, home to former champions of the turf, including Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup winners.
Two art galleries devote themselves to equestrian art: The Hockensmith Fine Art Editions and Gallery & Press features photography, paintings, printmaking and sculptures of artists, including premier photographer John Stephen Hockensmith, and the Robert Clark Artist Gallery shows off Clark’s renowned equine paintings and artwork. Additionally, at the Georgetown & Scott County Museum, visitors can see the work of
Edward Troye, the most noted painter of horses during the height of American horseracing in the mid-1800s.
Horseback riding is offered at both Whispering Woods Riding Stables and Kentucky Horse Park and horsey experiences are found at luxury farm stay and wedding venue Saxony Thoroughbred Farm and with Three Hill Farm’s Horsemanship Training Experience. Georgetown’s annual horse events include the Kentucky Three Day Event, Horsey Hundred, Festival of the Horse and the National Horse Show.
Author: Kathryn Witt
Kathryn Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer, syndicated columnist and author of several books, including Secret Cincinnati, The Secret of the Belles and Atlanta Georgia: A Photographic Portrait. A member of SATW, Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Books & Illustrators, she lives in northern Kentucky.