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Frankfort, Kentucky: Capital city reveals Kentucky distilled


A storied past flows into the vibrant present in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky

Photo: GTM/David Hoekman Kentucky State Capitol, Frankfort, Ky.

“We welcome groups to Frankfort with true Southern hospitality,” said Amanda Cobb, director of sales and marketing for Visit Frankfort. “As their first point of contact, it is my ultimate goal to ensure every group has the best possible experience in Frankfort. This starts with ease of planning for the leader. That is why I offer to help each group planner with customized itineraries and meal planning.

“Our office works closely with our tourism partners to ensure communication of expectations. Knowledgeable, local step-on guides are also booked through our office for added convenience and tour enhancement.”

Frankfort hotels and attractions welcome groups with generous group discounts, special group amenities and ample motorcoach parking, Cobb added. Robin Antenucci, executive director of Visit Frankfort, pointed out Frankfort can serve as a perfect hub for group tours.

“We are centrally located, affordable and with dining options inside a downtown hotel as well as within two blocks of it,” Antenucci said. “We are easily within a short drive of over 15 bourbon distilleries, wineries and breweries for the spirits traveler, and we are 45 minutes from the Ark and Creation Museum — not to mention all of the historic attractions right in Frankfort.”

Bourbon and bourbon balls

Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky

Photo: iStock Kentucky State Capitol, Frankfort, Ky.

Buffalo Trace Distillery takes its name from the path or trace formed by buffalo that crossed the Kentucky River hundreds of years ago. Known for its bourbon whiskey, the Frankfort distillery is the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States.

A variety of free group tours are available at the sprawling distillery. All tours last about an hour and include a complimentary tasting. Groups must reserve a tour in advance.

Another must-do in Frankfort: touring the birthplace of the bourbon ball at Rebecca Ruth Candy Tours & Museum.

Ruth Hanly Booe and her friend Rebecca Gooch started a chocolate candymaking business in 1919. Booe became known as the Mother of Bourbon Balls after she blended chocolate and bourbon in 1936.

“Bourbon balls were an instantaneous hit and the company’s biggest seller ever since,” said Suzanne Johnson, a tour guide at Rebecca Ruth’s.

Heritage and history

Liberty Hall Historic Site in Frankfort, Kentucky

Photo: iStock Liberty Hall Historic Site, Frankfort, Ky.

Frankfort became a city in 1786, and the city displays its history with pride. Stop at Liberty Hall Historic Site to tour historic houses built by John Brown, considered to be one of the founders of Kentucky.

At the marble-filled Kentucky State Capitol, check out the 70 columns, sculptures and decorative murals. Statues of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis are located in the first-floor rotunda. Both men were born in Kentucky. Lincoln served as the United States president during the Civil War, while Davis was president of the Confederate States of America. Tour guide Annie McKinney said Lincoln’s statue almost appears to be alive.

“I feel you could go up to it with a stethoscope and hear a heartbeat,” she said.

Many visitors rub Lincoln’s left shoe for good luck. Don’t miss the floral clock on the west lawn of the Capitol grounds. The clock was erected in 1961 and is planted with thousands of flowers every year. It’s hard to beat the floral clock for a group photo op.

Learn more about Frankfort’s story at Capital City Museum. Across the street is the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. Its signature exhibition, “A Kentucky Journey,” uses 3,000 items to relate the state’s story.

Arts and animals

More than 30 works of art are displayed outdoors in the rolling meadows of Josephine Sculpture Park. An artist-led tour and hands-on activities can be arranged.

Groups can find Kentucky’s diverse plants and animals in indoor and outdoor exhibits at Salato Wildlife Education Center. 

Visit Frankfort


About Author

David Hoekman, Managing Editor

David Hoekman is a former newspaperman on a quest to tell the stories of the world’s various places and cultures in compelling ways. He especially enjoys learning and writing about the business of group travel. His favorite destination is wherever he is going next and his travel tip is to always pack an emergency granola bar or two.

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