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Weekend Wanderings

City sights

Last month this column described attractions in
Ashland, Lexington, and Louisville. Here are three more cities well worth a
visit.

Covington. Covington has an incredible array
of places to visit, from museums to cathedrals.

The heart of a Covington tour is Main-Strasse Village,
a restored 19th-century German neighborhood. Along the five-block-long village
you’ll find antique shops, snazzy boutiques, and restaurants.

At the head of MainStrasse is the 100-foot-high Carrol
Chimes Bell Tower. The 43-bell carillon plays hourly, with animated characters
from The Pied Piper of Hamelin folk tale moving to the music.

Halfway down the park-like central mall of MainStrasse
is the Goose Girl Fountain. Depending on who you believe, the bronze
sculpture pays homage to either the Goose Girl fairy tale, or European farm
girls who carried geese to market.

Also in MainStrasse Village is the Doll Clinic, which
has repaired all kinds of dolls from all over the world. It’s at 522 Main Street,
and you can get more information on the phone at (859) 291-1174, or on the Internet
at http://home.fuse.net/dollclinic.

Several interesting churches are close to MainStrasse.
On the campus of Thomas More College, for instance, is Monte Casino Chapel,
said to be the world’s smallest church. Only one person at a time can fit into
the fieldstone chapel. On the other end of the continuum is the Cathedral Basilica
of the Assumption. Patterned after Notre Dame in Paris, the Cathedral features
gargoyles, intricate wood carvings, and the largest hand-blown stained-glass
church window in the world.

River Walk is a pleasant way to spend a few hours
along the Ohio River. It includes seven bronze sculptures of historically famous
people, and perhaps the best view of downtown Cincinnati found anywhere.

For more information, contact: Northern Kentucky
Convention & Visitors Bureau, 50 East RiverCenter Blvd., Suite 100, Covington,
KY 41011, 1-800-447-8489, www.staynky.com.

Bowling Green. Bowling Green is a city of
many parts, with attractions that appeal to anybody’s interests. You can, for
instance, explore Kentucky history at the Kentucky Museum, on the campus of
Western Kentucky University. The Felts Log House there offers a glimpse into
pioneer life in the Commonwealth. The museum also houses one of the most extensive
collections of Kentuckiana found anywhere.

Or head to Lost River Cave Valley, where you can
walk the nature trail of this wilderness-like valley in the heart of town, or
ride a boat into the cave where Lost River flows underground before disappearing.
Stone markers and guides detail the human and natural history of this area.
You’ll learn, for instance, how the James gang supposedly “vacationed”
in the cave after robbing the Russellville Bank, and how a nightclub flourished
there into the 1960s.

Fountain Square-often called “Bowling Green’s
touchstone to the past”-is a city park that’s served variously as a livestock
market, Civil War campground, soapbox for Prohibitionists, and a parade ground.
Surrounding the park are buildings of assorted architectural styles, including
the 1914 Princess Theater, the first theater in Kentucky built specifically
for showing motion pictures.

Another walking tour is the Upper East Main Street
Historic District, where you’ll find 21 homes, all on the National Register
of Historic Places.

And don’t forget the ‘Vettes. Bowling Green has been
home to the Corvette assembly plant since 1981. America’s only true sports car,
the National Corvette Museum celebrates our ongoing affair with this car. The
68,000-square-foot building includes both permanent and changing exhibits with
more than 50 Corvettes.

For more information, contact: Bowling Green-Warren
County Tourist-Convention Commission, 352 Three Springs Rd., Bowling Green,
KY 42104, 1-800-326-7465.

Paducah. How many cities can boast a visitor
center that is itself a major attraction? Paducah can. Whitehaven, the state’s
antebellum welcome center, is located on the edge of town. There, in addition
to brochures, maps, and pamphlets, you find a magnificently restored Civil War-era
mansion and spectacular gardens.

Paducah has styled itself “Quilt City”
ever since the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society opened there 10 years
ago. Founded to honor today’s quilters, the museum’s three galleries celebrate
both traditional and contemporary quilts. But you are likely to see similar
displays at historic attractions, museums, restaurants, boutiques, and antique
shops all over town.

There’s much more to Paducah than quilts, however.
The Red Line driving tour, for instance, hits 50 different sites in and around
town. Or take the Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Paducah, which has 34 important
buildings along the way.

There are several don’t-miss sites. The wooden sculpture
of Wacinton, in Bob Noble Park, for instance, was hand-carved from a single,
locally grown red oak, dedicated to the Chickasaw Indians who lived and hunted
in this area prior to the 1818 Jackson Purchase.

The lobby of the 1929 Irvin Cobb hotel is another
must-see. It’s been restored to its original elegance, with hand-painted ceilings,
polished wood columns, Moorish-tiled floors, and a massive chandelier.

The Market House, built on the same site platted
as a market area by General William Clark in 1827, was refurbished and enclosed
and today is home to The Market House Museum, which preserves local history,
the Yeiser Art Center, with both contemporary and traditional exhibits, and
the Market House Theater, offering live shows by local performers.

Paducah abounds with museums. Among them: the Alben
Barkley Young Historians Museum, a memorial to our 35th U.S. vice president;
the General Lloyd Tilghman Heritage Center and Civil War Interpretive Museum,
showcasing antebellum history; the Paducah Railroad Museum; and the River Heritage
Museum.

For more information, contact: Paducah/ McCracken
County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, 128 Broadway, Paducah, KY 42001, 1-800-PADUCAH.

Day Trips & Short
Stops

Where buffalo roam

Most Americans equate buffalo with the Great
Plains. Less well known is that buffalo lived here in Kentucky. With European
settlement, the buffalo’s days were numbered. The last wild one was killed sometime
in the late 18th century.

But, as is true across the country, the buffalo
are coming back. Both public and private herds are maintained, and overall they
now number upward of 100,000 animals. There are at least six herds here in the
Bluegrass State.

By far the largest of these is the 500 head
found at Buffalo Crossing Family Fun Ranch. A 1,000-acre working buffalo ranch,
owner Bob Allen has created a family attraction based around these great beasts.

You can actually drive through the ranch,
letting you get close to the buffalo that now roam in the same area where a
major buffalo trace used to run. Vestiges of that trail are still visible. But,
in addition, Allen has added several attractions appealing to kids and grownups
alike.

There is, for instance, a zoo-primarily of
young animals, many of which can be patted and hand-fed. There are both native
wild animals and domestic livestock on display, along with some exotic animals
such as the two baby camels and the baby zebra. A tractor-drawn trolley hauls
visitors through the zoo and part of the farm. Or you can rent a golf cart for
a do-it-yourself tour. Or just walk.

Near the entrance is the restaurant and visitor’s
center, which celebrates colonial Kentucky history through displays and exhibits-including
a furnished log cabin with a rope bed, hearth, firearms, and other artifacts
of Colonial Kentucky. The restaurant’s menu, naturally, features various dishes
made with buffalo meat.

Out front is a log-cabin village, where you
can see additional artifacts, and shop ’til you drop for crafts and other items.

Picnic areas and a playground are also part
of the facility. And fishing is available in one of the lakes. In short, it’s
a place where the whole family can spend an enjoyable day.

For details, contact: Buffalo Crossing Family
Fun Ranch, 1140 Bagdad Rd., Shelbyville, KY 40065, (502) 647-0377.

Outdoor Log

Prepping the pup

It’s a far too common scenario. Bird season opens,
and you go out for a hunt. But your bird dog has spent the summer lounging around.

Start conditioning your pup now. And the best places
to do that are at the dozens of hunting preserves that have sprung up across
the state. There you can start working the dog on live birds, under controlled
conditions that assure he doesn’t over-exert himself after the summer break.

The newest of these clubs is Pheasant Ridge, in Owenton.
Here, Park and Stacy Perkins have turned a former tobacco and dairy farm into
a bird hunter’s paradise. The nearly 400 acres are covered with native grasses,
cover crops, and the occasional food plot.

And the birds! Park and Stacy raise their own quail,
chukar, Hungarian partridge, and pheasant, and you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish
their birds from wild ones.

Pheasant Ridge offers both daily fee and membership
hunting, and have set things up so you can have either a single-species or mixed-bag
hunt, as you prefer.

For details, contact: Pheasant Ridge Hunting Club,
1525 Harris Ridge Rd., Owenton, KY 40359, (502) 484-3260, www.kybirdhunts.com.

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