I had a pretty quick glimpse at Kentucky on my USA road trip. And bizarrely didn’t eat any fried chicken. This was my twelth week of travel and I was with 2 very good friends: one who is even more of a box-ticking-speed-traveller than I am; the other who is happy to see nothing and soak up the local atmosphere in a coffee shop. Having just left Chicago, Illinois and with a deadline to get to Manchester, Tennessee for Bonnaroo music festival, the two frantic box tickers needless to say won resulting in a whirlwind surface-scrape of an adventure through this State. Check out my Kentucky travel tips:
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
FOURTEENTH STREET BRIDGE | is a stonking great structure – also known as the Ohio Falls Bridge, Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge or the Conrail Railroad Bridge – that spans the Ohio River between Louisville and Clarksville, and provides a great view of the city.
JIM BEAN AMERICAN STILLHOUSE | bourbon is not my thing at all and it was a stinking hot day when we pulled up at the distillery, but I think it’s still worth a stop: there’s a 90 minute tour should you want to do it, or plenty of tasting options.
MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK | has the longest cave system in the world at over 300 miles long… but we were all on a budget, and didn’t want to pay tour fees. So if you fancy stepping in to the first 150ft then that part is free! Even at the entrance you can feel the freezing cold air that forms a fascinating ventilation system.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
21C MUSEUM HOTEL | I don’t know how much it costs to stay the night, but this modern venture in Louisville warrants a look inside as there’s all sorts if installations and sculptures to admire.
SLUGGERS MUSEUM | I’ll have to leave it to you to decide if these next 2 places are worth the ticket cost: I didn’t go in. There’s a fun giant baseball bat outside though and the place is also a factory! Little Kentucky travel tip: the stretch called Main Street in Louisville is known as ‘Museum Row‘.
MUHAMMAD ALI CENTRE | for a smaller city, what I liked about Louisville, Kentucky is that there is a fair amount to explore for tourists. From baseball to boxing: take your pick.
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
KOA CAMPING GROUND | for such a big country we found the ‘campground’ options really limiting in that they exist but are so expensive. People drag these massive homes-on-wheels around and they pay a fortune to park them up with water and electricity 2m from the next wally. I just don’t understand the appeal. Or maybe it’s just because it was my birthday and I woke up in an RV in a trailer park!
4TH STREET LIVE | this is the heart of Louisville from what I could see, but it’s a fairly uninteresting shopping centre and mainstream bar and restaurant hub. Neon signage, tick. Sports bars, tick. Character, missing.
CLARKSVILLE | is technically in Indiana, and because we had a monster RV in tow for the festival, accommodation, parking and turning options were always limited! Hence we ended up staying across the river in uneventful Clarksville rather than livelier Louisville, Kentucky.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN | in hindsight I’m quite surprised we didn’t drive out of our way to see the cafe and museum at Corbin, Kentucky where Harland Sanders served his first batch during the Great Depression in 1932 out of a gas station. Even worse, I don’t remember even ordering chicken in a cafe to lamely claim I’d eaten KFC in Kentucky! Kentucky travel tip fail.
AND KNOW THIS: “Happy Birthday to You” was originally written by Mildred and Patty Hill, two sisters who taught kindergarten in Louisville. Their original song had different lyrics and was called “Good Morning to All,” but it eventually transformed into the birthday favourite.