During my senior year in college, my parents moved to south eastern Kentucky for little less than a year. At least for south eastern Kentucky, I found the fall and the colorful leaves to be so BEAUTIFUL! Their snow in the winter was pretty cool too for someone who had grown up where an inch or two over the whole winter was fun. My favorite restaurant was Pine Mountain Grill in Whitesburg, a little drive from my parents’ house. They have an open face roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy on top that is so delicious!! I got one every time I was on break from school. YUMMY! When I go back to Kentucky, there are a few places I want to check out.
When you think of Kentucky, whether you’ve been there or not, what first comes to your mind? Most know of the famous chicken that came from Kentucky – Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC. They’re now world-wide. I’ve seen a KFC in Canada, Japan, and Australia. They got their start in Kentucky and you can learn more at Sanders Café and Museum in Corbin. You can also check out the World Chicken Festival in the town of London.
One beautiful place to rest your head and take it easy is the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park also in Corbin. The 125-foot wide waterfall is known as the “Niagara of the South.”
Throughout the state, they have huge caves you can venture into. One to check out is the American Cave Museum and Hidden River Cave in the town of Horse Cave. This cave tour takes you 150 ft underground! Another cave to check out is the Mammoth Cave National Park in Mammoth Cave. This cave is said to be the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 390 miles explored hence the name “mammoth.” Louisville called their big cave the Mega Cavern. They have the world’s first and only underground zip line, five of them to be exact. Lastly, there’s the Lost River Cave and Valley in Bowling Green, which has Kentucky’s only underground boat tour. Kentucky has so many options underground for us to check out.
One thing underground that Kentucky is known for and what I saw A LOT of in south eastern Kentucky is COAL MINING! Most in that part of the state either work in or for the mining companies in some way. One way to learn more about this industry is to check out the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum and Portal No. 31 Mine Tour. Visitors step back in time and explore the history of mining and the life of a coal miner. Then, they get adorned with traditional protective gear of a coal minor and tour an actual coal mine by rail car.
Another thing Kentucky is known for is music – bluegrass and country music. Bill Monroe and his band, “The Blue Grass Boys,” created a new sound in the 1950s that included Appalachian mountain music, rural “old time” string playing, folk ballads, blues, African stomp, and black and white gospel that became known as BLUEGRASS. Now, it’s the official state music of Kentucky and you can learn more about it at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro.
OR You can discover Kentucky’s country music side on the Country Music Highway in eastern Kentucky also known as Route 23. This scenic 144 mile road pays homage to such people as Loretta Lynn, the Judd’s, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ricky Skaggs, Dwight Yoakam, and Patty Loveless. Watch out for wildlife along this trail. Nearby is the Proposed Elk View Scenic Byway in Breathitt, Knott, and Perry Counties. This area has the most elk east of the Rocky Mountains.
|Colonial Sanders next to the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken|
|Lost River Cave|
|Portal No. 31 Mine Tour|
|International Bluegrass Music Museum|
Bourbon is also synonymous with Kentucky. I don’t know too much about bourbon, and that doesn’t matter. It’s ingrained in Kentucky’s history so if you want to know more about Kentucky, you have to learn about bourbon and its history. First place to check out is the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
The trail features six distilleries nestled among the most beautiful scenery the Bluegrass state has to offer. One such distillery is Jim Beam in Clermont. There you can visit the historic T. Jeremiah Beam home where three generation of Beam distillers lived, the authentic 1800’s copper still (believed to be one of the oldest in America), and their oldest rack house where you’ll be surrounded by bourbon aging in 20,000 oak barrels. Another distillery with some history is the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. Buffalo Trace was one of four distilleries in the country that operated throughout prohibition because they were licensed to produce “medicinal” whiskey, and, as it turned out, Prohibition coincided with an epidemic of afflictions that reportedly required a bourbon cure (uh ah! Yeah right!?). Can’t decide on what distillery to check out, once a year they all get together at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown so check out the festival for all kinds of activities to learn more about bourbon.
|Kentucky Bourbon Trail Map|