Located in central Kentucky south of Louisville, Bardstown is a charming historic city, Kentucky’s second oldest, that was first settled in 1780. It is on the National Historic Register. The historic district of 26 blocks has 279 properties. The town has shops, restaurants, small inns and bed and breakfasts along with a number of bourbon distilleries nearby. Fodors named it as one of America’s Best Small Towns. I recommend that you spend at least one night to be able to explore the town and the surrounding area. Stop by the visitor center and grab a map to do a walking tour of the historic buildings. My recommendations include:
Bourbon Manor Bed & Breakfast: This is a lovely B&B located in an historic mansion north of downtown at 714 N. Third, St. that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has lovely rooms, living room and dining room where breakfast is served each morning. They also have a bourbon bar in a separate building in the rear. I recommend requesting a quiet room upstairs, in the rear as you can hear some street noise and noise from the upstairs rooms in the front portion downstairs.
Old Talbott Tavern: This is a charming restaurant in an historic pub from 1799, in one of the oldest western stagecoach stops in the country. It is the restaurant of the Talbott Inn. I highly recommend eating there while in town.
Pat’s Place, at 125 N. 3rd St., is a perfect spot for breakfast or lunch. I enjoyed lunch in this casual spot before I headed north to Louisville. They have a number of salads, burgers and sandwiches.
Other places to try include Bullitt’s Winery & Bistro, at 126 N. 3rd St., featuring their own wines and Italian cuisine and The Rickhouse Restaurant & Lounge at 112 Xavier Drive. I also read that the Harrison-Smith House is an excellent restaurant featuring local cuisine and bourbons. It will high on my list for next time.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill: On the highway between Lexington and Bardstown, make sure to visit the historic Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. Founded in 1805, this the the country’s largest restored Shaker community and a National Historic Landmark. Their population peaked near 500 in the 1820s.
The homes and buildings have been beautifully restored and now house exhibits that you can visit. You can also visit the stables, the gardens and farm. Throughout the year you can attend a number of festivals, craft fairs and classical concerts plus dining and food events. They also have a gift shop where you can buy Shaker gifts and crafts. I bought a lovely wood box for my collection in Chicago.
I was very impressed with the Inn which has 72 rooms, suites and cottages located in 13 historic buildings. They are beautifully decorated. The restaurant is beautifully decorated as well and has excellent food. I had one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I have eaten. Next time, I will definitely stay there and enjoy being there overnight.
Nearby Harrodsburg is an historic town that was founded in 1774, as the first permanent English settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains. You can visit the historic downtown. If you want to stay, the Beaumont Inn, located just south of downtown is a charming, historic inn that gets great reviews. It has lovely rooms and several dining options from the main dining room to the Old Owl Tavern and the Owl’s Nest. It is Kentucky’s oldest family-operated country inn. It received the America’s Classic Award in 2015 from the James Beard Foundation.
Bardstown is in the heart of the Bourbon Trail. There are a number of historic distilleries that you can visit. Make sure to book your tours and tastings online to make sure you get the times and dates that you want.
These include Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Willett Distillery in Bardstown, Four Roses Distillery north of town and the Heaven Hill Distillery and Bourbon Heritage Center, located on the south side of Bardstown. Here you can see exhibits on the history and heritage of America’s original whiskey. Opened in late 2017 is the Bardstown Bourbon Company that is to the east of the city. It had not yet opened when I was in town.