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Cool Kentucky stays

Not your average getaways

HAVE YOU EVER IMAGINED what it would be like to fall asleep in a setting straight out of a storybook or a half-forgotten childhood daydream? 

Kentucky destinations are offering overnight getaways on rails, in a castle, a historic distillery and under the stars to make these whimsical wishes a reality for guests. 

Down-on-the-farm caboose 

With the alliterative tagline, “Cows, cabin, caboose and campfires,” Chrisman Family Farms’ working cattle farm and Airbnb accommodations near Lawrenceburg offer all these and more. 

A 1971 Southern Railway X525 red caboose debuted as a lodging option in mid-November 2022 after Kim and Ryan Chrisman purchased it from a historical society in Ohio and renovated it meticulously over the past year. 

Though the caboose never ran the rails in Ohio, Kim Chrisman says they did learn the caboose had traversed Lawrenceburg’s tracks. 

“We loved the fact that we were kind of bringing it home,” she says. 

The caboose, which joined the farm’s existing rental cabin, is outfitted with utilities and decorated to blend its industrial feel with the comforts guests expect, including woodworking accents, a kitchenette, bathroom, queen bed and Murphy bunk beds. 

Ryan Chrisman says he enjoys introducing guests to farm life during farm tours, including meeting the family’s free-range pig, a donkey and goats. 

“You’d be surprised how many people haven’t been close to a cow or even seen the stars from the country,” he says. 

Wash up in this updated bathroom at Buffalo Springs. Photo: Buffalo Springs Distilling Co.
Don’t want to rough it? Try the glamping tent at Hidden Ridge Camping near Lake Cumberland. Photo: Mikki Simmons

Historic distillery digs 

Founded in 1868, Buffalo Springs Distilling Company in Stamping Ground operated for about a century, but by the 1970s was no more. Its former main gatehouse/office was resurrected three years ago as modern-day lodging through Airbnb, boasting one bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen and a laundry area, innkeeper Kayla Jones says. 

During Prohibition, the distillery continued producing some alcohol for medicinal purposes, and during World War II it was used as a lab, successfully researching innovations to aid the war effort, Jones says. 

The building’s exterior was redone in Kentucky limestone in the 1930s. 

“It was a showplace back then, and there were a lot of visitors that would show up just to take pictures near Buffalo Springs,” she says. 

Glamping refuge 

In Wayne County, Hidden Ridge Camping near Lake Cumberland offers the Enchanting Glamping Tent, affectionately nicknamed Moonbeam after a favorite Willie Porter song. 

In 2020, owners/operators John and Ginger Smithwick opened the glamping tent, a more modern, amenities-filled way to enjoy tent camping. “It turned out to be perfect timing, as people were craving safe, secluded spaces to get out and enjoy nature—especially spaces that provided creature comforts like queen beds and electricity,” Ginger Smithwick says. “What people love about Moonbeam is the feeling of being surrounded by woods all around, while enjoying a plush experience.” 

The tent is on an elevated platform and has rugs, furniture and electricity, with fire pits and picnic tables nearby. Hidden Ridge also rents a vintage camper and yome (domed yurt). A tiny cabin debuted this year. 

“Moonbeam provides a true refuge from daily life, giving guests a chance to relax and refresh in nature … even if they don’t describe themselves as campers,” Smithwick says. 

A royal(ish) stay 

The sight of a stunning castle along Pisgah Pike and U.S. 60 in Woodford County surprises out-of-towners, who sometimes pull over to snap photos. It’s The Kentucky Castle, used as a bed and breakfast since 2007 with nine guest rooms, a cabin, renovated farmhouse, tiny homes and glamping tent. 

Consultant Meagan Pinkston says the four corner tower rooms afford the most privacy, and each room has its own decor theme. 

“The castle was originally built as a home, so each of the rooms is a little bit different,” she says. 

The Kentucky Castle is located on an organic farm that supplies an abundance of produce for its Castle Farm restaurant. 

Farm experiences, including horseback riding, are offered, and the farm is an agriculture teaching site for high school students from Fayette County Schools’ Locust Trace AgriScience Center. 

Guests can tour the farm property, book a spa service, eat at the farm-to-table restaurant or simply relax. Special ticketed events like murder mystery presentations and other special events are periodically held. 

A stay at the castle “gives people a unique feel about what Kentucky is all about,” Pinkston says.

SHANNON CLINTON, an Elizabethtown native turned Danville resident, has been a freelance writer in Kentucky and beyond for 24 years. She enjoys painting and collecting vintage Pyrex and hot sauce.

Unusual, unique and unexpected lodging awaits at these Kentucky locations:

Buffalo Springs Distilling Company 

3392 Main St., Stamping Ground 

Caboose on the Farm (served by Blue Grass Energy) 

1158 Buckley Lane, Lawrenceburg 

(859) 552-8704 or (502) 680-0409

Moonbeam Camping Glamping Tent (served by South Kentucky RECC) 

122 Cedar Lane Farm, Monticello 

(859) 428-8667

The Kentucky Castle 

230 Pisgah Pike, Versailles 

(859) 256-0322

Other unique getaways:

Homegrown Hideaways (served by Blue Grass Energy), 

500 Floyd Branch Road, Berea 

(859) 986-3478 

Historic Wigwam Village No. 2, concrete wigwams 

601 N. Dixie Highway, Cave City

(833) 944-9267

Cliff Dweller, cliff-mounted rental in Red River Gorge Geological Area 

Off State Route 11, west of Campton.

(606) 663-9824

Historic Fire Tower and Cabin

Historic fire tower accessed by trail, with four beds, no electricity and great views.

Daniel Boone National Forest near Morehead.

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