Looking for things to do in Bardstown, Kentucky? Let us enlighten you!
Boasting an ideal subtropical climate, as well as breathtaking historical sights under the glassy sky of Kentucky, Bardstown seems to have magically leaped from the paintings of Norman Rockwell and the pages of Mark Twain. Ask any of the three Kentucky governors who have made their home there: If you are longing for a vintage small-town feel, it is waiting for you in this place.
But Bardstown is much more than just a pretty face. As the annual host of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, the “Bourbon capital of the world” is also a pleasant getaway for whiskey connoisseurs. Even if wine is not your thing, there is still no shortage of things to do in Bardstown, Kentucky. Read on to discover the ideal 3-day schedule and check off the region’s most popular attractions from your bucket list!
Before Starting Your Journey…
It’s always best to plan ahead of your trip, and we recommend booking accommodation before you arrive in Bardstown. With a large selection of worthy Kentucky hospitality, from hotels or bed & breakfast to vacation rentals and even campgrounds, you are virtually guaranteed to find an option that suits your budget and individual preferences.
That said, the locals have suggested some of the best places to stay:
- Bourbon Manor Bed & Breakfast: You can tell from the name that Bourbon Manor is a paradise for all Bourbon-lover, where they honor this drink all year long. It is also known as the first Bourbon-themed B&B Inn in the country. Featuring 10 guest rooms, this historic manor is an excellent choice for both leisure travelers and business travelers thanks to its central location.
- Jailers Inn: The Old Nelson County Jail (or “old jail”), which was built in 1797, still held prisoners up until 1987. It is said that the architect of St. Joseph Cathedral, John Roger, had done some carpenter work on this building. It was reconstructed in 1995 and has since then become one of the most long-standing accommodations in Bardstown. If you want a pleasant stay while soaking yourself in the history of the town, there is no better place!
- Bardstown Parkview Motel: Being a family-owned motel, Bardstown Parkview promises the most comfortable stay in a traditional setting. They have been in operation since 1937 and the original owner Marilyn “Toogie” Dick is still running the place, with the support of her children and grandchildren. The building is located directly across from My Old Kentucky Home State Park and offers the most stunning view of Federal Hill. Don’t forget to check out Kurtz Restaurant, which has been serving the best desserts in town for decades!
If you are a wine-lover, you may want to visit Bardstown in Springtime, from March to May. When the snow has melted, the ice has thawed and the warm sunny days have returned, the small town will lighten up with the sights and sounds of various events, such as the famous Cocktail Week, Mixed Drink Challenge, and Bardstown Sampler.
Summertime (June through August) offers more comfortable weather with moderate temperatures and 4 to 8 days of precipitation per month. However, it is also the busiest season for tourism in Bardstown, so lodging and other accommodations may cost more than usual.
Things To Do In Bardstown, Kentucky – Day 1
Now is the most exciting part: Things to do in Bardstown, Kentucky! Set your things down for the weekend after checking in, and set your sights on the town itself.
Start With The Distilleries!
Since you are at the “Bourbon capital of the world”, the distilleries are the best places to start your journey.
There are many distilleries in Bardstown, but the best place to sip your wine is the Bardstown Bourbon Company – a location known for affordable menu items and warm service. Thanks to the unique Napa Valley-style experience it offers, this place is well-loved for both customers and residents. You will have a chance to befriend many locals here since it serves as the epicenter for social activities.
Another great destination is the Heaven Hill Distillery, which is famous for its drinks and tours. As part of the nation’s biggest independent, family-owned distillery network, Heaven Hill Distillery is committed to providing high-quality products. Make it your home for world-class flavors in a welcoming atmosphere!
Treat Yourself To A Big Lunch At The Downtown District
Next, treat yourself to a lunch break at the downtown district and discover the historical landmarks that embellish the area. Check out Mammy’s Kitchen if American home cooking is your favorite, or The Rickhouse Restaurant and Lounge for a more refined dining experience.
Wrap up the evening with a glass of fine bourbon Blind Pig, a local recommendation for high-quality beverages. With Jazz music and a peaceful ambiance, you will feel like the 1920s.
At the end of the day, remember to get plenty of rest! Enjoy Bardstown-style hospitality and make sure you restore your energy for the next day!
Things To Do In Bardstown, Kentucky – Day 2
Reconnect With Mother Nature At The Bernheim Arboretum And Research Forest
Although it is rarely mentioned in travel guides, a trip to Bardstown would be incomplete without visiting the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. Make sure you come in the morning! This private, non-profit educational and recreational nature preserve is just 20 minutes away from Louisville Airport. It consists of over 15,600 acres of natural land and has been serving as a safe haven for a wide variety of species since 1929.
Walk Around Kentucky | Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is also the best recreational destination of the town, making it an excellent choice for those who want to immerse themselves in nature while admiring the scenery. Don’t forget to visit Isaac’s Cafe, which serves locally sourced dishes and offers outdoor dining options.
Drop By The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
As you go back to the downtown district, pay a visit to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History.
Oscar Getz Museum is home to many unusual items dating from pre-colonial times to the post-Prohibition era. You will be surprised to find artwork, moonshine stills, medicinal whiskey bottles, and other rare antique items in this collection.
Learn About The Region’s History At The Civil War Museum
Before going to another fine restaurant in town, would you like to learn a thing or two about Bardstown’s history? In that case, the Civil War Museum is your next stop.
Being one of the largest and most complete museums in America, it features authentic period exhibits that demonstrate the conflict between the Confederacy and Union forces. The museum staff tries their best to balance between both Confederate and Union displays so visitors can get the full picture of the period.
Things To Do In Bardstown, Kentucky – Day 3
Go Downtown Shopping And Soak Yourself In The Local Culture
There is no better way to spend the last day in Bardstown than going downtown shopping around 3rd Street. It is chock-full of locally owned, one-of-a-kind vintage boutiques, galleries, and souvenirs stores. Window shop at your leisure and bring home mementos of your time in this dreamy town!
Go downtown shopping in Bardstown, KY
Cherish The Tranquility At The Basilica of St Joseph Proto-Cathedral
After spending the morning at the vibrant downtown, you might want to slow things down and cherish the tranquility at the Basilica of St Joseph Proto-Cathedral.
Constructed between the years of 1816 and 1819, the Basilica of St Joseph Proto-Cathedral is known as the first Catholic cathedral Mountains. The historic church welcomes visitors 7 days a week, and you can admire several fine paintings that were gifts from Pope Leo XII and Francis, the King of the Two Sicilies.
The Bottom Line
With all of these things to do in Bardstown, Kentucky, you can see why it has consistently been entitled to one of America’s most beautiful towns. This small town is the perfect destination for your next holiday because of its unique capacity to surprise and inspire, to educate, and to ignite curiosity.