Introducing Kentucky

It’s hard to sum up Kentucky in one line – or one trip, for that matter. A heady combination of lively cities, vibrant culture and laidback Southern charm, this is a US state as in love with horse-racing as it is with heart-plucking bluegrass music. Once home to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, it also boasts rolling limestone hills, landscapes made for epic adventures and some of the best bourbon distilleries in the world. 

Things To Do

Though a sore head may be the outcome, unearthing the secrets and flavours of Kentucky’s most precious liquor is often high on the agenda for travellers. Distilleries are dotted all over, including the famous Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam Stillhouse, and the historic Woodford Reserve, which uses its original copper vats. When you need to soak up the fumes, ask about Burgoos and Hot Browns – and finish off with a heart slice of Derby Pie.   

Kentucky’s cities are a must for a taste of the state’s cultural gems. Head to Louisville to learn about the world’s greatest boxer at the Muhammad Ali Center, or the state’s horse-racing prowess at the Kentucky Derby Museum. And if you’re in a lonesome mood, you’re in the right place: this is the birthplace of bluegrass music. Dive into its history at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, or keep an eye out for local jamborees. 

Though its soundtrack – and rolling countryside – can feel decidedly laidback in parts, Kentucky is also made for heart-pumping outdoor adventures. Go underground in Mammoth Cave National Park, which has one of the longest caving systems. Or tie up your boots and explore the hiking trails in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, savouring unbeatable views of the Appalachian Mountains. 


Top Tip from SLH

If you’re visiting in early June, consider dropping in on the lively Festival of Bluegrass in Lexington.