Celebrate all the local flavors, spirits and experiences the bluegrass state is best known for, like mouth-watering regional meals, bourbon, outdoor adventure and bluegrass music. While this year has been declared “The Year of Kentucky Food,” it’s only the beginning. Whatever your taste, it’s better in the bluegrass!
Food is as much a part of Kentucky as bourbon, horses and beautiful landscapes. To celebrate Kentucky’s iconic dishes, local flavor and emerging chefs, we have gathered stories of unique dishes and a reflection of centuries of Kentucky food traditions.
Some of our favorite memories take place around the table, where friends and family come together to celebrate good food and good fortune. In Kentucky, those memories are seasoned by talented chefs who are creating a buzz-worthy food scene that is making everyone take notice. A scene that honors the past, embraces the future and helps you make the most of the present.
The stories of Kentucky food represent our history that is as diverse as the geographic regions of the state. When family members would come home from working in the coal mines, soup beans, corn bread and salmon patties were a staple at the table. Another example is the apple stack cake – a community wedding cake rooted in Appalachian mountain culture, where each family would contribute a different layer. Legend has it that the more layers of cake the more popular the bride.
These stories are found in every corner of our state, and we invite you to rediscover your favorite dishes while discovering new flavors. Enjoy a bounty of outdoor adventure, bourbon, horses, music, art, history and so much more.
Graze on the Tastes of the Bluegrass
Travel the picturesque scenic byways that pass through Kentucky thoroughbred country. Visit the Kentucky Horse Park, where you can learn about more than 40 breeds of horses or explore the history and pageantry of the greatest two minutes in sports at the Kentucky Derby Museum and Churchill Downs.
After a full day of horse farm tours, travel the Beer Cheese Trail in Winchester to sample this delicious spread and wash it down with a cold Ale-8-One, a favorite soft drink bottled in central Kentucky.
Discover the Dynamic Notes of Bourbon
Learn about “America’s Native Spirit” on tours of historic distilleries in Bourbon Country. From craft to the world’s largest bourbon producers, many invite visitors to learn about their brands and have a taste during behind-the-scenes distillery tours.
Book a tour of Kentucky Cooperage in Lebanon, where new charred oak barrels are made for bourbon production. Take in the nightlife along the Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville, where you can find creative new bourbon cocktails. Make a stop on the Hot Brown Hop, to try the classic Kentucky dish that pairs turkey, bacon and rich cheese sauce into a decadent meal.
Relish the Richness of Bluegrass Music, Art & Barbeque
Tune your ears to the old favorite sounds of Bill Monroe or listen for contemporary sounds taking the airwaves by storm by top Kentucky artists Jordan Smith, Chris Stapleton and Cage the Elephant. Experience our vibrant arts scene with a visit to Berea and see artisans working in their studios. Travel to the beautiful river community of Paducah, a certified UNESCO Creative City and home to the National Quilt Museum. Try a different work of art in the slow cooked goodness of Kentucky mutton barbeque and burgoo.
Feast on Epic Outdoor Adventure
For outdoor adventure, find a hidden cove on one of the thousands of miles of waterways. Discover a Kentucky Trail Town, located along major trail systems, which are an ideal place to begin your journey with plentiful opportunities for hiking, canoeing, kayaking and much more.
Our 17 state resort parks provide lodging, delicious dining and activities. All that adventure leaving you hungry? Visit the restaurant where the Colonel launched his famous recipe for delicious fried chicken or explore one of the many local farm-to-table restaurants popping up across the state.
Looking for the best places to eat in Kentucky? Explore the state’s expansive food scene and savor the most popular local farms, markets, breweries, distilleries and restaurants.
Fill Up on History
Discover the story of Kentucky by visiting the birthplaces of Abraham Lincoln, Muhammad Ali and Bill Monroe. 2018 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and the perfect time to learn the fascinating story of her life at the Mary Todd Lincoln home in Lexington.
Visit the beautiful My Old Kentucky Home State Park or marvel at the ingenuity of the Shakers at Pleasant Hill, home to a large, restored Shaker settlement with over 3,000 acres of pristine countryside. While there enjoy a meal of traditional favorites prepared with straight-from-the-garden ingredients.
Plan your next Kentucky adventure at kentuckytourism.com.