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Sinclair School of Highland Dance demonstrate the Scottish sword dance. Photo: Glasgow Daily Times
Steve Patrick admires one of the many cars on display at the Spring Cruise-In. Photo: Glasgow Daily TImes
The historic Paris Train Depot has been transformed into a restaurant. Photo: Bobby Shift/Frames on Main
Turfway Park offers visitors a chance to experience a Kentucky classic—horse racing. Photo: Turfway Park
London is a haven for adventure seekers. Photo: Willie Sawyers
The Florence Y’all water tower welcomes visitors. Photo: City of Florence

Be a world traveler without leaving Kentucky

Leave your passport at home and pack light. This tour will take you around the world without even taking flight. Hop in your car and get ready for a backroads journey from Glasgow to Florence with a few pit stops along the way. 

Glasgow—A little bit of
Scotland in Kentucky

The journey begins in Glasgow, a southwestern Kentucky town founded in 1799. Known for hosting the Glasgow Highland Games in the spring, this Barren County town celebrates its Scottish heritage.

“We are an absolute destination for outdoor activities, the most visited being Mammoth Cave National Park, the longest cave in the world,” says MacLean Lessenberry, executive director of the Glasgow-Barren County Tourist and Convention Commission.

A countryside tour and tasting of Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese should also be on the agenda. 

If exploring the town is more your style, MacLean suggests starting your day with a tenderloin breakfast sandwich from Annie’s Country Cooking. Fine Arts Bistro is a great place to eat lunch outside, and your journey is not complete without grabbing a pint from Yancey’s, Glasgow’s first microbrewery.

London—The crossroads
of adventure

In London, Colonel Harland Sanders is king and fried chicken is a staple. London is near the KFC founder’s birthplace and is home to the annual World Chicken Festival in September.

After filling up on some fried chicken, take a stroll around London’s Laurel Lake. 

“It is one of the cleanest and deepest lakes in Kentucky,” says Willie Sawyers, who handles public relations for the city of London.

London also is known as the Cycling Capital of Kentucky and hosts an active cycling group and events. Daniel Boone National Forest and Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park offer ample trails for hiking and biking during your adventure.

With revitalization of older buildings, new landscaping and several new destinations opening, Sawyers says downtown London is in the middle of a renaissance. 

You can snag a pint at London’s Dreaming Creek Brewery, dine on some exceptional pub food at The Abbey or chow down on a hotdog at Weaver’s On 4th.

“London has a lot going on—culturally, recreationally,” Sawyers says. “It’s a fun place to live, work and raise a family.”

Paris—Find something new in the heart of the Bluegrass

Next on this world tour is Paris. While Paris, France, is known as the city of romance and love, Paris, Kentucky, in the heart of the state’s Bluegrass region, exudes its own kind of romance.

“All roads leading to Paris are lined with wooden fencing, rolling hills and beautiful scenery showcasing not only thoroughbred mares, foals, yearlings but other breeds of horses,” says Betty Ann Allen, executive director of the Paris-Bourbon County Tourism Commission.

Paris’ Paradise Inn/Cafe is said to be the world’s tallest three-story building. Photo: Betty Ann Allen

Book a tour at Claiborne Farms to see the land where many famous thoroughbreds like Secretariat have been bred, born and raised.

Head downtown to take pictures at the “Eiffel Tower,” located on High Street at the farmers market and visitor center. On Main Street, the world’s tallest three-story building (as listed by Ripley’s Believe It or Not!) now houses the Paradise Inn/Cafe. The historic Paris Train Depot was recently restored into the Trackside Restaurant and Bourbon Bar.

Paris is the county seat of Bourbon County, which is served in part by both Clark Energy and Blue Grass Energy cooperatives, and is known as the “Birthplace of Bourbon.” Before your journey ends, visit Hartfield & Co., a craft distillery, the first in Bourbon County since Prohibition.  

Florence Y’all

The final round-the-world stop is Florence.

The Duomo is the most memorable landmark in Florence, Italy, with its orange-topped domes, but in Florence, Kentucky, visitors are welcomed by a different icon: the red-and-white-striped water tower that proclaims Florence Y’all. 

“Millions have seen the water tower as they have travelled on I-75 through our area,” says Florence Mayor Diane E. Whalen.

Just like in Italy, Florence, Kentucky is an excellent place to shop. You can explore the Florence Mall or travel down Mall Road or Houston Road for a chance to find just about anything you want.

“It’s hard for anyplace else to compete with shopping in Florence,” Whalen says.

With other activities like horse racing at Turfway Park, 128 miles of connected walking and biking trails and the Florence Family Aquatic Center, the city is a place that celebrates community first.

“Frankly, Florence is just a great place to live, work and play,” says Whalen. “Folks in Florence are proud of their city.”

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