Looking for a fun Kentucky roadtrip?
My boys and I discovered that Winchester, KY makes a great day trip from Cincinnati. Winchester is located about 1.5 hours away from Cincinnati and 30 minutes from Lexington, KY.
1st stop- Ale-8-One Plant Tour
(located at 25 Carol Rd, Winchester, KY)
Ale-8-One, A Late One, or Ale-8 is Kentucky’s special soft drink that is a citrus/ginger blend. The name was the result of a naming contest at the Clark County Fair. “A Late One” was slang used in the 1920’s for the latest thing. The drink celebrated their 90th birthday this year and it has continued to grow in popularity and expand in markets beyond Kentucky. The drink is the only soft drink invented in Kentucky that is still in existence and has been bottled in Winchester since 1926. The Ale-8 Plant tour has been on my bucket list for a while and it’s our go-to drink when we go camping and visit places in Kentucky.
The tour starts with an informational video that shares about the history of the company and the early soft drink endeavors by G. L. Wainscott. You will find out why Ale-8 stands apart from other ginger ales and get to smell the secret recipe from the special concentration from the locked safe.
The plant tour is free but reservations for tours must be made ahead of time by calling (859) 744-3484 or email email@example.com . Large groups also need to make special reservations. This plant only uses the green glass bottles. The labels are made by a local company.
The company still offers a refillable bottle that is made with thicker glass and has a longer bottleneck. Ale-8 has continued being green long before green was cool again.
You can get Ale-8 in plastic bottles but I think there is something special about the green bottle that just makes it taste better… maybe because it also comes with a dose of nostalgia with lots of good memories.
The tour lasts about 30-45 minutes and each tour attendee gets an ice cold Ale-8 at the end of the tour. Let’s be honest, that’s the best part after learning about the drink because you are instantly craving one.
Ale-8-One Gift Shop
After the tour, you will want to check out the gift shop filled with lots of Ale-8 merchandise for a reasonable price.
We had to buy the mini bottle opener keychain for my nephew from Michigan who just discovered Ale-8 on a trip to Red River Gorge.
Make sure that you also stop and look at the cases in the entryway filled with memorabilia.
After the regular tour, we were given the opportunity to see a few areas on a behind the scenes tour. We got a closer view of the bottling process and the operation from start to finish.
This staircase leads to the locked blending room where a 4th generation family member, G.L. Wainscott’s great-great-nephew, Fielding Rogers, mixes the secret recipe for the concentration from handwritten recipe notes from Wainscott.
Our family really enjoyed the tour. It was great to see the process and learn how this Kentucky company has continued to expand and grow beyond Kentucky. I’m pretty excited that they are in the Cincinnati market now too. If you live farther away you can always shop online. On the tour, I also learned that Ale-8 also offer free cases of original Ale-8-One drinks to our soldiers. You just pay applicable shipping.
2nd stop- Lunch at Jk’s at Forest Grove
(located at 4636 Old Boonesboro Rd., Winchester)
Winchester has eight restaurants that are part of the Beer Cheese Trail and Jk’s just happened to be one of them… so of course, we had to order the beer cheese as an appetizer.
You can pick up a cheese log at participating restaurants and get a stamp at each location on the trail. If you visit all of them, you can get a free t-shirt.
I ordered the Hot Brown Sandwich which is another Kentucky staple with the main ingredients of turkey, bacon, and Mornay sauce. My older son decided to mix things up with the Hot Brown Burger.
A local shared with us that you can see “Kentucky sawdust” when you take the cap off of an ice cold Ale-8 from the vintage cooler at Jk’s, so of course, we had to drink another one with our lunch too… for research purposes of course.
The atmosphere is very laid back and you can immediately tell that this place is a local favorite based on conversations and welcomes while we were there. There are a few small rooms with seating with decorations that might remind you of a visit to grandmas.
3rd stop- Downtown Winchester
(located at Main St.)
The atmosphere in downtown Winchester is relaxed with a great mix of shops and friendly faces.
I was chatting with one shop owner for a while and discovered that I have similar roots with his partner. I’m sure we are probably related if we go back far enough because of the same shared last name and region that our relatives were from. It was nice to slow down for a bit and discover strangers who could be family.
A few notable stores are MK Custom Apparel, Bentley and Murray, The Prissy Peach and Mason on Main where one of the owners makes custom bowties and his partner, who is an art teacher at a public school, gives community art classes upstairs on Saturdays to kids. The projects are $10 per kid but parents who come with kids are free.
Perfect for Vintage Lovers
You will also want to drive a few streets over to Eklektic Alchemy located on 36 N Highland St. This store is like stepping on the set of the tv show Mad Men.
There are a lot of mid-century furniture and other one of a kind vintage pieces like this travel writer’s suitcase.
4th stop – Blackfish Bison Ranch
(located at 676 Quisenberry Lane, Winchester)
One of the things that I love about being a travel writer is getting to meet people who are passionate about different things. The boys and I got to spend time with Brandeon S. Hampton, the owner of Blackfish Bison ranch made up of 240 acres with 65 bison.
He kind of reminded me of a rancher version of Ryan Gosling from the Notebook because he is the only worker on the bison ranch, so he does it all, but he does it with great joy and passion.
He communicated his education about the bison and his stories about life in such a way that he captivated our attention and gave us a greater understanding of why you want to support farms of people who truly love and care about the quality of life they give their animals.
On the hour-long tour, guests have the opportunity to feed the bison by hand and learn a lot about why bison are such magnificent creatures through education led by Brandeon. There is also bison meat available for purchase.
We visited during a time that was not open for tours which is why I can’t wait to go back and take an official tour where we can get up close to the bison.
We really appreciated the generosity of his time that day and I want to note that it’s REALLY important to call ahead 859-808-1285 because everything is by reserving an appointment only. You can also check out the facebook fan page to be updated on upcoming events.
5th stop- Cherry flavored Ale-8 slush from Sonic
(located at 1505 Bypass Road, Winchester)
You can order drive in style or use the drive thru. This was another stop in the name of research of course. There are not many places where you can experience what it is like to add flavor to an Ale-8 so we had to try one at the local Sonic. My vote is that they add a cherry flavor in the future because it was delicious.
6th stop –Fort Boonesborough State Park
(located at 4375 Boonesboro Rd, Richmond, KY)
The reconstructed Fort Boonesborough was built in 1974 in honor of the original built by Daniel Boone in 1775 with his men.
We learned that the Fort has specific hours of operation because we got there too late that day but I included a few pictures from a previous visit. Check the website for hours, admission, and upcoming events before you go.
The boys and I had a great road trip to Winchester. We experienced a great mix of things to do and met a lot of interesting people along the way. Don’t forget to call ahead and make reservations to ensure that you can visit all of the places that we went to on your desired date. You can find more things to do from the Winchester tourism website.
*Thanks again to Ale-8 for hosting our visit. All opinions are my own.
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