The Commonwealth of Kentucky is well known for its horses, basketball, bluegrass and bourbon.  Tucked away in the heart of bourbon country is a little town about 40 miles southeast of the state’s largest city, Louisville, called Bardstown.

A relative unknown on the national tourist scene, Bardstown has a lot to offer in terms of places to stay, things to do and places to eat, in addition to some unique experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

Where to Stay
Bardstown features several quaint Bed and Breakfast options, with the top choice being A Rosemark Haven, a fully restored 1840’s antebellum mansion with eight distinct rooms, situated on two acres of land.  In addition to the home, this property features a full-service Italian restaurant in a refurbished old tobacco barn that serves dinner Thursday through Saturday. 

If you want to stay in the center of town, Old Talbott Tavern, located in the city square, features five overnight rooms, all named after famous people (such as Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Boone), in addition to their country cooking restaurant where you can dine on anything from a Kentucky Hot Brown to Southern Fried Chicken.

Places to Eat
Aside from the two Bed and Breakfast restaurants mentioned above, one of the most unique dining experiences in Bardstown, and all of Kentucky, is My Old Kentucky Dinner Train.   Take a trip back in time, as three beautifully restored vintage 1940’s dining cars slowly weave their way through the beautiful Kentucky countryside on a two-hour tour.

Don’t be fooled, however.  The Dinner Train is not just a gimmick where you have to put up with lousy food just to get the experience.  Your three-course lunch or four-course dinner starts out with local Kentucky beer cheese, followed by a salad, and then the entrée, which could range from prime rib to pork loin to fresh fish.  All of that is topped off with one of the chef’s amazing desserts.

Watch their Web site for special events, such as Murder Mysteries, that are sure to make this experience even more exciting and unique!

Things to Do
During the day, before going to dinner on the Dinner Train and winding down the evening at A Rosemark Haven, Bardstown offers travelers many distinctive experiences.  The Bourbon Capital of the World, there are five bourbon distilleries in the area, including such heavyweights as Makers Mark and Jim Beam.  Every bottle of Maker’s Mark sold all over the world is made in the little town of Loretto, Ky., just 25 minutes from downtown Bardstown.

If solitude is more your thing, the Abbey of Gethsemani, home to America’ largest group of Cistercian Monks, offers a peaceful getaway in nature’s surroundings.  With over 1200 acres of land open to the public, this is a great place to get away and enjoy nature’s beauty.

If you have been to Kentucky, you have no doubt heard the ballad “My Old Kentucky Home,” written over 100 years ago by Stephen Foster.  Foster is immortalized at My Old Kentucky Home State Park, positioned just outside of Bardstown’s city square, featuring “The Stephen Foster Story,” a musical, an old plantation mansion known as My Old Kentucky Home, as well as a statue honoring the late composer.

In this land of the free, there are many famous places and landmarks to visit from sea to shining sea.  However, if you are looking for a place that is out of the way, that offers Southern charm and a uniqueness all its own, you can not go wrong with the small town of Bardstown, Kentucky.