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Kentucky North and Central - The
Interstate 75 can be deceitful. Around its bustling corridor lie some of the most fascinating attractions in Kentucky. The first surprise is the city of Covington with its emphasis on the Ohio River. From central accommodation, one can take the Southbank Shuttle, known as "Shuttle Tank" to points in both Covington and Cincinnati. We got our bearings by taking several round trips on this clean, inexpensive and safe mode of transportation.
Our first stop was Newport Aquarium, a state-of-the art facility located high on the Kentucky bank of the Ohio, overlooking the Cincinnati skyline. Several hours later the transit deposited us in MainStrasse Village, a wonderfully restored area of Covington that was formally the home of a large number of German immigrants. MainStrasse is a great place for lunch and a spot of people watching, always a fascinating past-time. A short hike brought us to Mother of God Church which is of Italian Renaissance basilica design. The magnificent interior decorations, windows and paintings are worth a half-hour of your time.
If baseball is your "thing" walk across the pedestrian bridge to Cinergy Field for a game.
South on I-75, hubby was lured off the road at Georgetown for a very informative tour of the Toyota plant. I have to admit, it was an impressive tour. Georgetown has one of the prettiest intact old-fashioned main streets in the USA. The area gets its water from Royal Spring, one of the largest fresh water springs in the U.S.A. Twenty-five million gallons of cold aqua vita a day flow from its cave-hill source. Georgetown also is the home training camp for the Cincinnati Bengal football team. The city hosts many special events including Festival of the Horse in September each year.
Lexington, a short distance south of Georgetown is an excellent choice for a stay of several days as it has so much to offer visitors. It is a small city and easy to drive in once you get your bearings. We stayed at centrally located Gratz Park Inn.
Lexington's history is entwined with that of the horse. Don't let a limited knowledge of this noble animal stop you from enjoying horse-related attractions. Devote at least one day to learning as much as you can. Visit Keeneland early in the morning to watch the horses work-out on the track, after which your should adjourn to the Track Kitchen for a he-man breakfast surrounded by "horse folk". It is a fascinating place. If one of the annual horse sales is taking place, drop in for a few minutes. While we were there, prices per animal were well over the two hundred thousand dollar mark.
Kentucky Horse Park provides total immersion in all breeds of horses and horse culture. Their International Museum of the Horse is world class as is the William G. Kenton Art Gallery. A self-guided tour takes you past farrier and harness shops, breeds barn, draft and carriage barns, Hall of Champions, American Saddlebred Museum and the popular Parade of the Breeds show. The display of horse statuary around the meticulously kept grounds is excellent. The Horse Park has a full service restaurant and camp grounds. Special events are held throughout the year and are well attended.
A second day should be devoted to pursuits other than horse related. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Headley-Whitney Museum, Old Kentucky Candies, Labrot & Graham Distillery are four of many from which to choose.
The Shakers arrived in Kentucky c1805 and established a community on a high plateau near the Kentucky River. Pleasant Hill, by 1850 had more than 500 residents. At its peak, 4,000 acres of land was managed by the self-sustaining religious group. By 1910 Shaker religion had declined to the point that the community closed its doors.
Because Shakers believed that they lived literally, in heaven on earth, their world was orderly, clean and free of "modern" distraction. They therefore put heart and soul into everything they did. Their furniture was built in a simple straight-forward style, as were buildings. Innovative ways were found to make every day jobs easier. You are in for a visual treat when you tour the third largest Shaker village in the U.S.A.
Today, Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, a National Historic Landmark is comprised of 33 original restored buildings surrounded by 2800 acres of farmland. Visitors can tour 15 buildings including the 40 room Center Family Dwelling. Tours are self-guided. Costumed staff interpret broom-making, coopering, spinning and weaving and Shaker music. Old breeds of animals can be found in barn and field. Heritage seeds are grown in all on-site gardens.
Be sure to have a meal at the Trustee's Office Inn. You can also stay on-site as throughout the village, 80 rooms are furnished in Shaker style and open for accommodation. As they are popular, you must book early.
Lexington is situated in the middle of bourbon country so a visit to America's oldest operating distillery is in order. Labrot & Graham is located in a pristine valley in the heart of the blue grass country. To get to the distillery you have to drive through some of the prettiest byways in the area. Labrot & Graham manufacture Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 45.2% Alcoholic content by volume.
Headley-Whitney Museum, dedicated to the interpretation of decorative arts, has an excellent collection of world class decorative arts which include textiles, furniture, ceramics and metalwork. Headley designed jewelry, jeweled sculpture and gold boxes are also on display.
Old Kentucky Candies is the place to buy bourbon cherries, little red bombs of cherry, soaked in bourbon and covered with rich, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate.
IF YOU GO:
Lexington, KY 40511
P.O. Box 1690
Lexington, KY 40588-1690
1001 Cherry Blossom Way
Georgetown, KY 40324-5700
Newport, KY 41071
Harrodsburg, KY, 40330
Lexington, KY, 40510
120 West Second Street
Lexington KY, 40509
500 Mero Street, #22
Frankfort, KY, 40601-1968
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