We recently got back from a loop we did from Chicago to Kentucky! It was interesting to see since, other than Florida, I had never been in the southern part of the United States. I hope our trip can give other people ideas of what to see or do!
We started off leaving in the afternoon which was wonderful to avoid traffic. We drove straight from the Chicago area to Indianapolis. I had to make a quick stop here to see the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Parking and entrance is completely free so it's a wonderful place to take a break. It's home to the well known 'LOVE' sculpture by Robert Indianapolis and has a wonderful contemporary collection of artwork. I highly recommend the exhibit by Turrell. It's the only artwork in the museum you can touch. We forgot about the time change to eastern time though so we could only stay for a short while since the museum closed. Leaving Indianapolis I had to laugh at the rush hour 'traffic' .. ah.. to live in small city.
Louisville was our next stop and we checked in to the Hyatt in Louisville East which was by far the nicest hotel of the 3 on our trip. I had never seen such a large flat screen TV up close before. Free breakfast and parking as well. We ate dinner that night at Lynn's Paradise Cafe, at which my husband got his first hot brown (which he loved!). I tried a combo of the side dishes and enjoyed the eclectic atmosphere.
The next day we visited two Lousiville 'musts'. We went to see Churchill Downs which included a walking tour with the museum admission and the tour guide was quite informative. We also went to see the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Tour. This was okay but I'm sure excellent for baseball fans. The mini bats we got after our tour were nice. We had dinner that night at Claudia Sanders (the Colonel's wife) restaurant. I got the veggie plate (vegetarian) and my husband got the grilled chicken which was $4 more than the veggie plate but you only got a tiny little chicken breast extra for that $4. Some of the veggies were better than others and the servers were not super fast. We liked Lynn's much better.
The next day we did a zig zag tour on our way to Lexington. We first stopped in Bardstown to see the Heaven Hill Distillery. The guide was informative and started our tour the moment we walked in the door. Here we were able to taste bourbon as well. Our next stop landed us at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg. The drive over was nice on regular highways and we got many good glimpses at horse farms. The woman was informative and we were able to see much more than at Heaven Hill but they did not have tastings.
We drove north towards Rebecca Ruth's candy in Frankfort, KY. They offer tours on their website but did not offer us one when we entered the store. However, one person working there did speak to us and told us about bourbon balls and let us sample a few different kinds 'to help us cool off' in the heat. Our last stop was at the Weisenberger Mills. They do not give tours of the mills but you can see a lot from the outside. The products they make are very reasonably priced and the woman was very friendly and helpful.
In Lexington, we checked into the Sheraton which was not that nice and somewhat dirty but at least we got a good deal on it on hotwire. In Lexington, we dined at the Cheapside Bar and Grill which was better for drinks than food. We spent the next days seeing the Kentucky Horse Park which I highly recommend, especially if you have children. (We don't, but sometimes I feel like a big kid.) We also went on the Toyota Factory Tour . This was my favorite attraction of the bunch and allowed you to see in many parts of the factory. I'm glad we made reservations in advance for this though since there were other people on stand by for the tour. We also ate at Alfalfa's restaurant which was delicious and had unique, creative food.
Our last day took us on a drive to Union, Kentucky to the Big Bone Lick State Park. What a great name. Saw the buffalo herd and mammoth sculptures. We then drove up to stay the night in Cincinnati at the Millenium Hotel. I purposely left out the link for this one being the most nasty hotel I have ever stayed at. (dirty napkins in the room, dirt on walls, given the wrong room # at check in, etc...) Tried some Cincinnati chili at Gold Star Chili.
Drove home the next day stopping quickly at Jungle Jims grocery store. It was huge and had quirky mechanical animals, statues, decor, etc.. I highly recommend it for anyone passing through this area. It also carries very unique items and almost anything that you can't find elsewhere. My husband was so happy to find Dutch items he can't find anywhere else except in the Netherlands. Almost every country in the world is represented there and all the regions in the United States.
Thanks everyone for your suggestions prior to the trip and we liked Kentucky enough we may have to go back to enjoy the southern KY region!!