Traveling through Kentucky, I discovered such wonderfully diverse terrain.
One minute I found myself in the stunning surroundings of horse farms, and the next in a city with bars, restaurants and world-class chefs that rival those in cities like New York and Chicago. This variety of landscapes also lends itself to a cultural diversity unlike any I’d seen, with experiences ranging from folk art to craft distilling.
Crafting in Paducah
My first stop was the wonderful and artsy river town of Paducah. All over Kentucky, I found the locals friendly and always willing to help, but Paducah took that home-grown hospitality to a new level. Walking into a local eatery the night I arrived, I was greeted by the owner as if I walked into the restaurant at the same time every night of the week. The longer I stayed in Paducah, I found that everyone treated me with the same warmth.
The charming town is well-known for its National Quilt Museum, the biggest in the world, as well as for huge quilting events that attract competitors and visitors from all over. But it’s not just about quilts: Paducah’s Lower Town Arts District is a magnet for artists, who have bought homes in the area and converted them into galleries, where they produce and sell exquisite artwork and handmade crafts. The whole town has a lovely laid-back vibe, gorgeous homes and a wonderful history. I loved spending time there.
Not far from Paducah, in Owensboro, you’ll find a different type of culture at the International Bluegrass Music Museum. The museum is the only one of its kind in the world and is packed with artifacts related to the international history of bluegrass. Unfortunately, my timing was bad, and I missed experiencing ROMP Festival, the four-day celebration of the “roots and branches of bluegrass” that’s held here every year. I did get to speak with some loyal attendees of the festival, however, and I will definitely plan another trip during ROMP Festival next year.
What I did time right was the next stop, which took me to the wonderful world of the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, set amid the gorgeous horse farms that make Kentucky famous. The distillery offers several daily tours, and the one that I took was one of the finest I’ve ever taken. The guide was so knowledgeable about both the science and history of making bourbon that the tour flew by. By the time it came to sample the Woodford bourbons in the tasting room, I felt like I was an expert.
The culture in Kentucky has so many elements that it really doesn’t matter what type of holiday you are looking for; everything and anything can be found here in the “Bluegrass State.”