I love to plan and share adventures with family and friends. In fact, I’m probably a bit of an adventure planning control freak. I’m a hard person to plan for, which is why my belated surprise birthday adventure was even more special.
My friend Stephanie filled our day with first-time adventures…which is a challenge in itself because I take pride in trying new things all the time.
She planned a fun bourbon-themed Kentucky day trip. Of course, I had to share more about it so that you can be inspired to recreate a day trip of your own.
Yes, she was basically a saint for attempting to turn the tables and surprise “Adventure Mom” with a trifecta of first-time adventures.
We Brake for Street Art
I LOVE street art and we discovered that Frankfort, Kentucky has added quite a few murals since my last visit.
The first murals that we noticed were at Blackgate Studios while we were on our way to our first official stop.
We had a few minutes before the tour started at our first stop so we walked over to the Beautiful and Brave mural by Anna and Paula Murphy.
If we had more time we would have checked out more murals in downtown Frankfort.
If you don’t want to drive far, the mural with angel wings is on the side of the building of our first official stop.
Visit the Home of the Original “Bourbon Ball” at Rebecca Ruth Chocolates
116 E 2nd St, Frankfort, KY
If you’ve ever tried a bourbon ball, you have Ruth Booe to thank.
This fourth-generation, family-owned Kentucky business dates back to 1919 specializing in gourmet chocolates.
You can schedule a tour in advance or as a walk-in on a first-come, first-serve basis. The tour group is limited to 15 people.
During the factory tour, you’ll learn more about their 100-year-old history and candy-making process. No cameras are allowed in the factory area but you will definitely take the memory of the wonderful chocolate smells with you.
I loved that we got to see the marble table that survived two fires that are still used for candy making today. I also found the video-sharing more about Ruth’s history to be very interesting.
It made me admire Ruth’s resilience, perseverance, business savvy, and grit as an entrepreneur even more.
At the end of the tour, you can view a collection of candy-making memorabilia in the museum area.
Group Tour Times:
Monday – Saturday:
10:30am, 11:00am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 2:00pm, & 2:30pm
Rebecca Ruth Chcolates Tour Pricing:
- Adults (18 & up): $6.00 each
- Children (0 to 17): $4.00 each
Professional Group Tours (All Ages): $4.00 each
School Groups (All Ages): $4.00 each
*Candy Production runs Monday – Thursday. There is no candy production scheduled for Friday or Saturday.*
The best part of the tour was the complimentary bourbon ball at the end. The alcohol doesn’t cook out of the bourbon balls so there is another option for kids.
If you are on a tight budget, skip the tour and use the money toward purchasing more chocolate. You’ve got to have priorities, right?!
Retail Shop at Rebecca Ruth Chocolates
Of course, the best part of visiting Rebecca Ruth Chocolates is actually tasting the gourmet chocolates.
Our Chocolate Souvenirs
The chocolates are sold by weight, not individually priced. Our strategy was to try a little bit of everything.
We sampled the following chocolates.
- Bourbon coffee creams
- Bourbon cherry
- Dark chocolate toffee
- Milk chocolate toffee
- Mint Julip
- Bourbon Balls
- Moonshine apple pie
- Bourbon truffle
The classic bourbon ball and the dark chocolate toffee were my favorites.
Shop & Sip Castle & Key Distillery
4445 McCracken Pike, Frankfort, KY
Our next stop on our bourbon-themed adventure was Castle & Key Distillery.
We had a reservation for the “Shop & Sip” which allowed us to shop in the historic Boiler Room with merchandise and Castle & Key spirits for purchase. We also explored the grounds of Castle & Key.
Drinks at Counter 17
We stopped by Counter 17 to try a cocktail and a small bourbon pour. Counter 17 offers wine, beer, cocktails, and neat flights.
*Open Thursday-Saturday 10:30am-4:30pm and Sunday 12:00pm-4:30pm.
I got the seasonal drink, Restoration Rye peach tea, and my friend got the Raspberry lemonade with vodka.
We also tried the Restoration Rye 2020 Batch 2.
There was a great food truck on-site during our visit with amazing street tacos for lunch. It was incredibly affordable at only $2 per taco. I tried one steak and one chorizo taco. Their hot and mild salsas were also delicious!
Explore the Grounds at Castle & Key Distillery
The grounds at Castle & Key Distillery are beautiful!
We visited on an overcast day and I can only imagine how much prettier they would be on a blue sky day. You can walk the grounds with your drinks in hand.
The Springhouse is a beautiful place for pictures. It’s also the water source of the spirits dating back to 1887.
Take notice of the shape of the natural spring, built to look like a keyhole by Colonel E. H. Taylor.
The grounds invite you to slow down and take in all the beauty around you. I like that bourbon is a drink that reminds me to slow down and take in all detail.
The same can be said of slowing down to appreciate the architecture and landscaping on the property.
There is a quarter-mile botanical trail that you can walk with plenty of seating by Glenn’s Creek along the way.
We both agreed that we want to come back to take one of their guided tours with our husbands. Our first visit will definitely not be our last!
Quick Stop at Buffalo Trace Distillery
This stop wasn’t originally on the list because we’ve both previously been to Buffalo Trace Distillery for a tour. We made an executive decision to make this spontaneous stop because we were already in the area.
We knew that our husbands would appreciate a souvenir from one of their favorite distilleries.
One of our Christmas traditions is a cup of coffee with their bourbon creme. Their bourbon creme is also great for adult root beer floats.
Their gift shop is a very popular place for obvious reasons. You don’t have to worry about carrying all your goodies thanks to their wheeled carts for guests.
The line moves pretty quickly and you will be asked for an ID when you make a purchase.
FYI – they have to ration supplies based on their production availability. They limit the brands to one per visitor, every three calendar months, in an effort to reach as many visitors as possible, with the exception of Buffalo Trace.
The following spirits are available for purchase at Buffalo Trace on a limited basis:
- Buffalo Trace Bourbon
- Eagle Rare Bourbon
- White Dog Mash Bill #1
- Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream
- Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon
- E.H. Taylor, Jr. Small Batch
- Wheatley Vodka
- W.L. Weller Special Reserve
Buffalo Trace Distillery isn’t on the official Bourbon Trail but during your visit you can take a tour with a complimentary tasting for FREE! They do recommend reservations in advance.
While you’re enjoying a glass of bourbon at home make sure that you check out “Heist” on Netflix. There are two episodes about “Pappygate,” detailing the story of stolen bourbon from Buffalo Trace.
Tour The Kentucky Castle
So ironically, I mentioned that I had never visited The Kentucky Castle during our drive and I mentioned that we should plan a visit there…little did I know it was the last stop of the day!
If you want to know about the story behind The Kentucky Castle, you’ll want to take the guided tour.
You’ll learn about the original owners, why it sat empty for almost 30 years, and how it’s evolved to what it is today.
The tour also gives you access to areas of the property not accessible to guests who aren’t staying overnight. You get to see the ballroom, a hotel room, rooftop, and walk the grounds afterward.
The guide also provides little details about the castle along the way that makes you appreciate its beauty even more.
The guided tour gives you access to the rooftop which is a popular spot for special events with 360-degree views of the surrounding area. I would love to catch a sunset from that perspective.
Admire the Gardens at The Kentucky Castle
After our tour, we were told that we could wander the gardens and view the animals from the fence. In true farm-to-table fashion, 90% of all produce served to Castle guests comes from the garden on site.
Other ingredients are locally sourced as close and fresh as possible.
View the Goats at Castle View Farm
You can walk to the fence to see the goats at Castle View Farm located on the property adjacent to the castle.
Get Pampered at The Kentucky Castle Spa
You don’t have to be an overnight guest to enjoy one of the spa services at The Kentucky Castle including a cryotherapy chamber, sauna, massage and body treatments, facials, waxing, and aesthetics.
Drinks at the Bar
Before you enjoy your meal you might want to stop by the bar with an assortment of bourbons, wines, and cocktails.
You are in Bourbon Country so I say opt for a drink with bourbon in it or just enjoy it neat. The Kentucky Castle even has a private label bourbon only available at the castle.
Make sure that you also check out the bourbon bottles displayed in the cases within the bar.
Dine at The Kentucky Castle
You don’t have to be an overnight guest to dine at The Kentucky Castle. The restaurant is open for breakfast/brunch from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm daily.
Dinner starts at 5pm daily and I would recommend making a reservation in advance for dinner.
For appetizers, we started with the pan-fried brie made with crispy panko pecan brie with a black raspberry gastrique and brown butter crostini. This was a delicious introduction to dining at The Kentucky Castle.
For our entrees, we decided to split two different menu items. The prime filet was made with caramelized pearl onion bourbon bordelaise, crispy fingerling potatoes, and fried broccoli with asiago cheese.
The Waygu short rib was braised with sweet chili lime, oyster mushroom andouille risotto, and French beans in lemon basil butter. Both entrees were delicious but the short rib was our favorite.
As a side, I HIGHLY recommend trying the sunflower sundried creamy grits. They were AMAZING!!! Seriously, the picture is triggering me to want to go back just to eat them again.
After our meal, we were really full but that didn’t stop us from doing our research. We split the Honey Bourbon Creme Brulee for dessert and it was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal.
Stay at The Kentucky Castle
230 Pisgah Pike, Versailles, KY
There are several different options for an overnight stay at The Kentucky Castle both traditional and non-traditional.
During our tour, we got to see one of the rooms inside the hotel. Each room at the castle has a different style.
Unique Accommodations at The Kentucky Castle
There are several options if you want a unique overnight stay.
You can sleep in a Glamping Tent, Farmview Cabin, or one of the Tower Suites. The Glamping Tent is available year-round. Restrooms are located in the barn a short walk from the tent.
Farmview Cabin is a nice option for families or couples because it can sleep eight people.
Another unique overnight option is one of the Tower Suites. They offer more privacy and additional views and vantage points from different corners of the castle.
Are You Ready to Plan a Fun Day Trip in Kentucky?
I LOVED my surprise day trip adventure around Kentucky. Are you ready to plan one of your own?