In this issue:
- The Horse Capital of the World
- Over 500,000 spectators are expected in Lexington in 2010
- Let the Good Times and Barrels Roll on the Bourbon Trail
- Good Eats
- Houseboat fun
Many people have a list of their favorite places in the world and Lexington, Kentucky is definitely on mine. Today we're going to take a trip to the beautiful bluegrass region and I'm going to share some of my favorite stops and things to do along the way.
My first tip is to take a daytime flight into Lexington and make sure you snag a window seat. The views will take your breath away. The lush landscape, rolling hills, colorful barns, limestone cliffs of the Kentucky River, horses and riders, and church steeples will make you fall in love from the air.
The Horse Capital of the World
Horse Race on the Keeneland Racetrack
Keeneland is a national historic landmark and truly one of the most beautiful racetracks in the world. Every April and October the racetrack's stands fill with spectators for the live Thoroughbred races complete with gambling and cocktails. For a behind the scene looks at the Thoroughbred lifestyle book a horse farm tour with Scott Goodlett's Tours by Tradition. The tours are filled with history, folklore and classic gossip about the people and horses in the industry.
Over 500,000 spectators are expected in Lexington in 2010
When visiting Lexington, Kentucky don't be surprised if you hear locals talking about the "2010 games". The "games" they are referring to are the 2010 Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games to be held in Lexington September 25 - October 10, 2010 at the Kentucky Horse Park. This will be the first time the event has been held outside of Europe and the largest equestrian sporting event ever held in the USA and preparation has already begun.
The competitions will consist of eight equestrian sports: dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, para-equestrian, reining, show jumping, and vaulting.
It's not too early to start planning your trip for the 2010 Equestrian Games. Hotels are already taking reservations including the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort and Spa, a terrific base for your Lexington visit. Not only is the hotel lovely and has terrific beds, the property sits on a former horse farm and still has the original two-story antebellum mansion sitting adjacent to the hotel which has been transformed into "The Mansion", the hotel's elegant four-star restaurant. The resort left features a Rees Jones-designed golf course and a wonderful spa.
Mash Tank in the Woodford Reserve Distillery
Let the Good Times and Barrels Roll on the Bourbon Trail
Bourbon has a long history, and you can learn all about it on the Bourbon Trail where the people are kind, the landscape is beautiful, and the bourbon is divine.
What is bourbon? Well, to be able to use the term "bourbon" the distillers must follow strict guidelines: The whiskey must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof, be 100% natural (only water may be added to the mixture), aged in new American charred oak barrels, and aged for a minimum of two years (the average aging is usually 12 years).
There are seven bourbon distilleries making up the Bourbon Trail. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Wild Turkey Distillery, Woodford Reserve Distillery, Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Jim Beam, and Makers Mark Distillery. Even if you're not a bourbon fan the tours are extremely fascinating. Each distillery's tour is free or costs a minimal fee. The tours offer insight to the bourbon making process while revealing their own unique atmosphere, history, character and the distinguished aroma of yeast and grain during the bourbon making process.
Fun facts about a couple of the distilleries: Woodford Reserve still makes bourbon using the original Scottish "pot still" method. Buffalo Trace Distillery is named for one particular path carved by the buffalo called the Great Buffalo Trace which led to the banks the Kentucky River.
Rolling out the Barrels at Buffalo Trace Distillery
There's another thing Kentucky is known for and that is good food. Here are a few notable restaurants in and around Lexington: Dudley's Restaurant in downtown Lexington's historic Dudley's Square started out as a four-room school house in 1852. The school stayed open until the early 1930's. Today two of the classrooms have been turned into a thriving restaurant and bar. If fact, the antique bar in the elegant cocktail lounge is from the Smokehouse Pool Room in Paris, Kentucky.
Jonathan at Gratz Park Inn is an elegant dining experience and the food is divine. It is located in the 19th century-style boutique hotel Gratz Park Inn.
The charming Holly Hill Inn in a country setting can't be missed. The inn was built in 1845 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Chef Ouita Michel uses the freshest local ingredients when possible.
If the outdoors is your style, make your way to Grand Rivers Kentucky, the gateway to the northern entrance of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, and Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, the largest bodies of fresh water between the Great Lakes and the Gulf. Green Turtle Bay Houseboat Rentals offers houseboat vacations for the whole family with direct access to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area departing out of Grand Rivers, Kentucky. Surrounded by scenic hills the quiet coves and open waters provide the ultimate houseboat experience.
Great fishing, hiking trails, golf courses and water sports are also a part of the lakes avid lifestyle. Lake Cumberland is found in beautiful bluegrass region of South Central Kentucky and features houseboat vacations departing out of Beaver Creek Marina in Monticello, Kentucky and Burnside Marina in Burnside, Kentucky. Throughout the summer months Burnside Marina hosts an All You Can Eat Shrimp Boil that attracts houseboats and recreational boaters from all over the lake. WaterWay Adventures Houseboat Rentals is the premier Houseboat provider on Lake Cumberland, and Lake Barkley. www.waterwayadventures.com.
See you next month. Happy and Safe Travels!
Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair
All photos by Elizabeth Blair ©USATourist.com
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