Photograph by Ann McMichael
GPS: 37°48'N 85°27'W
We ain’t gonna lie: Bardstown’s status as the world’s bourbon capital drew us in, but its rivers flow as freely as the whiskey. Paddlers convene at Sympson Lake, and a whitewater park is in the works downtown (www.bardstownboaters.com/whitewaterpark).
Rent a canoe from Horizon Hoppers Adventure Services ($35 a day; www.horizonhopper.com), and join the Bardstown Boaters on Sympson Lake. Then tackle the whiskey river: Bardstown is a major stop along Kentucky’s famous Bourbon Trail; Heaven Hill and 1792 Ridgemont Reserve distilleries are right in town (www.kybourbontrail.com).
The Old Talbott Tavern may have a cheesy gift shop out front (Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone, and Jesse James are rumored to have visited this 1700s-era location) but inside, the food is nothing to scoff at: Spicy Kentucky burgoo stew, fried green tomatoes, and, of course, bourbon (www.talbotts.com).
The Rosemark Haven historic plantation has a B&B, tea room, and wine bar, all on the grounds (doubles from $109; www.rosemarkhaven.com).