Admitted to the Union back in 1792, the “Bluegrass State” of Kentucky is an important center of the Southeastern United States. Known for its special cultural attractions (from music to derbies and culinary creations) and diverse natural beauty, Kentucky is indeed a charming and alluring place to discover. Through an exploration of some of its friendly and welcoming towns, the best of Kentucky can be experienced, offering guests quality encounters with fascinating American history, stunning natural surroundings, and plenty of special cultural charm. So come see Kentucky and enjoy these friendly towns with something for everyone!
The seat of Mason County, the town of Maysville, can trace its modern history to the year 1787 (even before Kentucky’s statehood), where today a population of just under 9,000 reside. Scenically located along a portion of the Ohio River, this historically significant town was an important riverport for the passage of such items like bourbon and tobacco. In addition, Maysville was also a stop on the famous network of passages for fugitive slaves known as the Underground Railroad. Visitors can explore a number of historic landmarks listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Simon Kenton Bridge and the Russell Theatre, amongst many others. With hot summers and mild winters, visiting Maysville throughout the year is always pleasurable, and spending time near the river is a delightful outing for all ages.
Winchester was established in 1792, and today, the seat of Clark County is home to just over 19,000 inhabitants. In one of Kentucky’s most historically inviting places, guests can explore landmarks from the 18th and 19th centuries, each with their own unique stories. Visit the downtown district (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and appreciate such buildings like the Old Providence Church (1793), the Oakwood Estate House (1820), and the Clark County Courthouse (1855), amongst many others. Meanwhile, no visit to Winchester could be complete without a sampling of its famed regional dish, Beer Cheese spread. Now a cherished part of Kentucky cuisine (not just Clark County), tourists will not want to miss the annual Beer Cheese Festival in June, where thousands come to try foods that are augmented by this unique spreadable dip and its various versions.
Just over 3,000 inhabitants call Hodgenville home, which served as the birthplace of the esteemed Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th president. The seat of LaRue County, the historic Hodgenville continues to be a place of great intrigue, and guests can expect to learn more about the former President across a number of fascinating attractions. Visit the Lincoln Museum and the Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park, where Civil War artifacts, historic documents, and other displays illuminate the life of the President in a very insightful fashion. And, of course, posing with the giant bronze statue of the man in the town’s main square surely cannot be missed! Meanwhile, even just a calm and scenic afternoon down by the Nolin River is a great way to spend time in this most charming and welcoming small town.
Bardstown is lovingly known as the “Bourbon Capital of the World,” and visitors will certainly not be short on opportunities to enjoy famed Kentucky Bourbon. The seat of Nelson County, Bardstown, is located in the State’s Bluegrass Region, and many consider it to be the first stop on the renowned Kentucky Bourbon Trail. And with up to nine distinct distilleries in the area, tasty tours and chances to bring home authentic bourbon are always on hand for the thirsty tourist. Meanwhile, a number of historic buildings can also be explored in Bardstown, including the Old Talbott Tavern (1779) in the Historic District. And do not forget about several fascinating museums that are great for the casual and ardent follower of history. These include the Getz Museum of Whiskey History, the Civil War Museum, and the Bardstown Historical Museum.
Named after the plantation residence of President Thomas Jefferson, Monticello was founded back in 1801. Today, this seat of Wayne County boasts a humble population of just under 6,000 residents and is lovingly known as the “Houseboat Capital of the World”. Situated along the reservoir Lake Cumberland, the historic Monticello is full of welcoming intrigue, and guests can enjoy peaceful activities outdoors as well as enjoying historic sites. Swimming and sailing on the Lake remain ever popular, while a chance to rent a houseboat is a totally charming experience in a scenic Kentucky ambiance. Meanwhile, visiting such landmarks as the John Mill Log Cabin constructed at the turn of the 19th century brings one back to the Old World and the days of a young and developing America.
Augusta was founded back in 1796 as a trading post along the southern banks of the Ohio River, and today, just over 1,000 permanent residents call it home. Near the border with the State of Ohio, Augusta is a popular place to enjoy fun on the water, including a most special ride on the August Ferry, which has been in continuous operation since 1798! It is a scenic and charming experience; one might even feel a sense of time travel at this unique attraction. View several historic riverside homes for a contemplative afternoon, or simply stroll through Main Street, where friendly local businesses and tasty eateries complete the image of charming small-town US with a special Kentucky flavor.
Considered the birthplace of Kentucky Bluegrass music, the small town of Rosine boasts a population of just over 100 inhabitants! A charming destination, thousands of visitors descend on Rosine each year to visit the birth home of Bill Monroe (the founder of Bluegrass music), his small, modest grave, and some of the early stages he performed on. Visit the International Bluegrass Music Museum in nearby Owensboro, where unique memorabilia and exhibits shed further light on this Kentucky cultural jewel, while a stop at Woosley’s General Store (1933) brings guests back to the days of the Great Depression. Designated a National Historic Landmark, this special building reflects a typical example of small-town America, where everyone truly knows each other’s name.
One of two seats of Campbell County (alongside Alexandria), the historic town of Newport is beautifully situated at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking Rivers. Founded in the 1790s, just under 14,000 inhabitants call Newport home, which is known for its hot summer and mild winter temperatures. A picturesque locale, opportunities for fun on the water are always popular here, and one can enjoy such activities as swimming, sailing, biking, or even just a casual stroll along the river’s edge. For a fun family outing, do not forget about the Newport Aquarium, where an impressive display of over 20,000 animal species can be found. Meanwhile, an afternoon at the Historic District is a great way to get a slice of the 19th century, and buildings like the County Courthouse (1884) are featured on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the cultural hubs of the Southeastern United States, the “Bluegrass State” of Kentucky is indeed a delightful place of discovery for all who visit. From its special cuisine to its unique musical stylings and, of course, loads of splendid natural surroundings, Kentucky and its friendly small towns are bonafide treasures for all. Explore the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in Hodgenville or enjoy some of the State’s best bourbon in Bardstown; these and other Kentucky locales are great ways to get better acquainted with genuine Americana. So come see Kentucky and enjoy these splendid and friendly small towns, where special memories are sure to be made!