Greetings from Frankfort, the capitol of Kentucky! Frankfort is the capitol because it sits between Lexington and Louisville, two of Kentucky’s most densely populated and well-renowned cities, and because it is on the Kentucky River. Frankfort has uniquely diverse places, history, and residents. Ultimately, Frankfort’s inhabitants are what mold the diverse components to form a community.
Frankfort is broken into three central parts: the east side, downtown and the west side. At the beginning of your morning journey into Frankfort, you will pass through Versailles, the Horse Capital of the World. Through the rolling bluegrass fields, you’ll see barns that resemble castles and racehorses gearing up for their morning training. Turn onto Old Frankfort Pike for the magnificent tree covered Scenic Byway, and soak in the up-close view of the wealthiest horse farms in the world. I would suggest taking a tour provided by Blue Grass Tours starting at 9am. Once you think you have gotten lost in a little piece of heaven, stop off at Wallace Station for a good ole’ country brunch outside on the picnic tables. Once you are full of the good food and company, make your way into the east side of Frankfort onto US 60.
On US 60, stop to pick up famous and delicious Rebecca Ruth Candy for later. Pass the Frankfort Country Club, home to some luxurious people, and even more houses. Later, you’ll come upon a major stoplight. Turn left to travel downtown by passing Kentucky State University. Turn right to get to Lakeview Park to play on one of the numerous sports fields, or swing by Elkhorn Creek, a popular place to canoe, kayak or fish for smallmouth bass. Keeping straight takes you right along the Kentucky River into downtown, but not before you pass the Local newspaper, The State Journal.
It’s hard not mention that area is also a part of the Bourbon capitol of the world. Buffalo Trace distillery is one of Bourbon Country’s top destinations, as well as Jim Beam Distillery. Stop at Buffalo Trace, the longest continually running distillery. Take one of the many tours to witness the process of making the worlds most renowned and expensive bourbon. You’ll see buildings of wooden barrels as far as the eye can see, and smell the distinct aroma of mash. Once you’ve completed the tour, pick up a sample or have a taste for yourself in the visitor’s center.
Turn right out of Buffalo Trace and you will head into downtown Frankfort. Take the magnificently landscaped drive up to the Kentucky State Capitol. Modeled after the U.S. Capitol in D.C., the Kentucky State Capitol was built in 1908 with no machinery. Take a tour inside and marvel at the different types of marble that gives it such an elegant interior. After experiencing the New Capitol, to go back in time over at the Old Capitol. Built in 1830, the Old Capitol is crawling with history dating back to the American Civil War and is the home of the Kentucky Historical Society and is a National Historic Landmark.
After turning underneath the decorated railroad bridge, you’ll come upon the Old Capitol District where you will enjoy dinner and sit on the Old Capitol Lawn for one Frankfort’s summer concert series. Before the concert, you’ll find locals eating outside, taking in the golden glow of the descending summer sun, and the eclectic mix of people gathering for a night of socialization and tradition. You’ll find everyone from hipsters in front of the Kentucky Coffee Tree, to politicians and state workers enjoying the start to their weekend. If you want to watch the sunset over Frankfort, you have the historic options of hiking up Fort Hill, or sitting over the ledge at Frankfort Cemetery in front of Daniel Boone’s grave site.
After sunset, make your way up Louisville Hill to the West side of town. Once up the hill, you’ll pass the neighborhood of the private school I attended for over 10 years. You’ll pass Juniper Hills Park, where I spent many field trips, birthday parties and days at the pool. On the way out of town, pass by my high school, where you’ll find the softball field, where I spent countless practices and games.
Travel about 10 miles out of town, where stoplights become more sporadic and grass becomes more bountiful. Turn right, and wind along the bends and curves until the last house on the left. There, you will find the place I will always call home. Frankfort has been home for both sides of my family for many, many generations. A tour of Frankfort requires a glimpse into its history, and I am honored my whole family has been a part of it. Frankfort is nothing massive in size or exceptionally luxurious, but it’s home.