Mayor Greg Fischer recently declared he wanted Louisville to become the bourbon tourism capital of the world. Bourbon is Kentucky’s native spirit and our bourbon heritage is rich, but is it family-friendly? Can you really take your kids to a distillery?
The answer is absolutely yes. There is so much more to Kentucky’s Native spirit than Manhattans and Mint Juleps. For starters, early settlers started making bourbon so their crops wouldn’t spoil during the long and arduous transport through the mountains of Appalachia. It was a way to preserve the harvest more than anything. And Kentucky’s natural limestone deposits, also responsible for our world-famous bluegrass, are the main reason Kentucky bourbon is the gold standard.
Bardstown, KY is a great place to start learning about Kentucky’s history, both bourbon and non-bourbon related. In addition to Bardstown’s historic Main Street and My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Bardstown is also home to a high concentration of bourbon heritage. Visit Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center and take your kids on a trolley ride tour of the distillery and downtown Bardstown while you learn about local history. Visit the Oscar Getz Whiskey Museum and view bourbon artifacts and historic documents such as Abraham Lincoln’s liquor license.
Another great destination for families is Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. At only an hour from Louisville this is a totally easy day trip for most of us. Their Trace Tour lasts an hour and is open to all ages. In addition to these awesome tours, Buffalo Trace also hosts numerous family-friendly events throughout the year. There’s an Easter Egg Hunt, a 5k, and Disturbia at the Distillery for Halloween, among many others.
Distillery tours are fun for all ages. I’ve taken kids in strollers to the Maker’s Mark Distillery, where we learned about bourbon production from start to finish, visited a rack house full of bourbon barrels, and learned about the angel’s share. Check the Kentucky Bourbon Trail’s website for all eight member distilleries. Each distillery may have different rules about kids, so be sure to check before you plan your visit.
By guest contributor: Maggie