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2022 Best in Kentucky winners

OUTDOORS

PLACE FOR ADVENTURE 

WINNER 

Red River Gorge Geological Area, Stanton 

Forty-thousand acres of rugged forested landscape equals the ideal spot for getting away from it all, communing with nature and embarking on a personal adventure: kayaking or canoeing the Wild and Scenic Red River, hiking 70 miles of trails traversing rugged cliffs and valleys, experiencing remote backcountry camping and world-class rock climbing and more. In a word: Best. 

Additionally, the Daniel Boone National Forest has partnered with nonprofit FIND (Forest Inspired Nature Discovery) Outdoors to reopen Gladie Visitor Center to provide visitor information and educational programs. Gladie now also has a retail area with maps, books, souvenirs and camping supplies. 

SECOND PLACE 

Mammoth Cave National Park, Mammoth Cave 

THIRD PLACE 

Green and Nolin Rivers Blueway—Mammoth Cave National Park, Edmonson County and the Nolin River Lake Tailwater 


GOLF COURSE 

WINNER 

Eagle Trace Golf Course, Morehead 

Don’t be surprised if you see wildlife venturing along the course while you’re setting up your shot. The 125-acre championship course, owned by Morehead State University and home to its men’s and women’s golf teams, is surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest. 

New at Eagle Trace is a short-game practice area designed specifically to help players improve play around the greens and the covered driving range hitting stalls used for all-weather practice. 

SECOND PLACE 

LaRue County Golf Course, Hodgenville 

THIRD PLACE 

Shady Hollow Golf Course, Cub Run 


PUBLIC HUNTING/ FISHING AREA 

WINNER 

Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area, Golden Pond 

With over 170,000 acres of forests, wetlands and open lands on a peninsula between Kentucky and Barkley lakes, this family-friendly recreation area offers one of the largest blocks of undeveloped forest in the eastern United States. It is an idyllic setting for hunting and fishing, as well as camping, picnicking, hiking, boating, wildlife viewing, water sports and authentic experiences at the Elk & Bison Prairie. Licensed hunts for deer, turkey, squirrel and other small game animals take place throughout the year. 

SECOND PLACE 

Barren River Lake at Barren River State Resort Park, Lucas 

THIRD PLACE 

Cave Run Lake, Morehead 


HOUSEBOATING LAKE 

WINNER 

Lake Cumberland–Somerset-Pulaski County, Burnside; Russell County; Monticello-Wayne County; and Clinton County 

Lake Cumberland owns its title of “Houseboat Capital of the World,” with a fleet of houseboat rentals in all shapes and sizes, equipped with every amenity fun-seekers could hope for. And with its miles of undulating shoreline, peaceful and picturesque tie-up spots and countless water activities, it has “family vacation” written all over it. 

As a bonus, Lake Cumberland is also home to 76 Falls, a splashy 84-foot-tall cascade that draws lake vacationers like bees to honey, or should we say, water babies to waves.

SECOND PLACE 

Green River Lake, Campbellsville 

THIRD PLACE 

Barren River Lake at Barren River State Resort Park, Lucas


CAMPING SPOTS 

WINNER 

Green River Lake at Green River Lake State Park, Campbellsville 

This is where vacation memories happen—with camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, boating, swimming at the beach, wildlife viewing and playing 18 holes of miniature golf. All 167 RV and primitive campsites are right on the beautiful 8,200-acre Green River Lake. New this year is a fishing pier in the park’s public area. 

SECOND PLACE 

Red River Gorge Geological Area, Stanton 

THIRD PLACE 

Horse Cave KOA Holiday, Horse Cave 

SHOPPING

MADE-IN-KENTUCKY PRODUCT 

WINNER 

The Sweet Shoppe and Dessert Cafe fudge, Hodgenville 

Born in the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, the Sweet Shoppe makes more than 30 flavors of fudge, plus an irresistible menu of sweet treats like caramel and gourmet apples, cupcakes, cookies, and chocolate-dipped strawberries and Oreos. Lincoln, known to have something of a sweet tooth himself, according to Rae Katherine Eighmey’s book, Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen, would surely approve. 

SECOND PLACE 

Ale-8-One, Winchester 

THIRD PLACE 

U.S. Playing Card Company, Erlanger 


FARMERS MARKET 

WINNER 

Dennison’s Roadside Market, Horse Cave 

You just might spot new baby chicks following their mama around the greenhouse or catch sight of some goats or the farm’s new baby lamb as they graze. Dennison’s Market is on the family’s farm, where they raise vegetable and fruit crops as well as some animals. During autumn, it’s full-on fall farm fun with wagon rides to the pumpkin patch and hand-dipped caramel apples. 

SECOND PLACE 

Lexington Farmers Market, Lexington 

THIRD PLACE 

Hardin County Farmers’ Market, Elizabethtown 


ARTS & CRAFTS FAIR 

WINNER 

Glendale Crossing Festival, Glendale 

With five antique malls, Historic Glendale is known for vintage finds—the perfect atmosphere for its traditional arts and crafts fair that brings unique shopping opportunities to visitors, thanks to vendors from several states. 

“We have the Great Crossing Festival Parade featuring our farming community, plus antique and vintage autos,” says Festival Chairperson Sheree Vance. “We enjoy sharing our unique community with visitors from all over the world.” 

SECOND PLACE 

Bardstown Arts, Crafts & Antique Fair, Bardstown 

THIRD PLACE 

St. James Court Art Show, Louisville 

DESTINATION

LONG WEEKEND GETAWAY 

WINNER 

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Corbin 

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in the Daniel Boone National Forest is a place and sensory experience visitors never forget, from the crashing waterfall to the natural beauty of forested trails and glowing moonbow, to the crisp sheets in the guestrooms of DuPont Lodge to the aroma and taste of funnel cakes (new this year). 

SECOND PLACE 

Mammoth Cave National Park, Mammoth Cave 

THIRD PLACE 

Red River Gorge Geological Area, Stanton 


KID-FRIENDLY ATTRACTION 

WINNER 

Louisville Zoo, Louisville 

Come face-to-face with monsters, vampires and all sorts of creepy-crawlies at the HerpAquarium at the Louisville Zoo. (Thank goodness these creatures are behind glass!) Meet animals from around the world, from the Amazon River to the Arctic wilderness. Ride a live camel or a carousel elephant, swing through the Sky Trail Ropes Course and get your face painted at this living classroom where each day is different. 

SECOND PLACE 

Newport Aquarium, Newport 

THIRD PLACE 

Dutch Country Safari Park, Horse Cave 


HISTORIC SITE 

WINNER 

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, Hodgenville 

At the birthplace of our 16th president, visitors can explore the newly reopened Knob Creek Tavern Visitor Center. 

“This will be the first time in over 20 years that this historic building has been open to visitors,” says Stacy Humphreys, chief of interpretation and resource management, noting the park recently completed a multiyear rehabilitation of the site and building. “Visitors can now see inside the tavern and view brand new interpretive exhibits that talk about the Lincoln family’s time at Knob Creek, as well as the local community’s efforts to save and preserve the farm.” 

SECOND PLACE 

My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Bardstown 

THIRD PLACE 

Rabbit Hash General Store, Rabbit Hash 


DAY TRIP 

WINNER 

Mammoth Cave National Park, Mammoth Cave 

Overachiever? Showoff? 

There’s no denying Mammoth Cave’s place at the head of the line for superlative experiences. It is, after all, the world’s longest known cave system, Kentucky’s oldest tour attraction, a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing nearly every type of cave formation, an International Biosphere Reserve for its cave and karst landscape, a certified International Dark Sky Park (meaning the place for stargazing) and now, home to Green and Nolin Rivers Blueway—Kentucky’s first National Water Trail. 

It has earned the right to brag. 

SECOND PLACE 

Red River Gorge Geological Area, Stanton 

THIRD PLACE 

Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience, Bardstown 


FARM TOURIST ATTRACTION 

WINNER 

Hinton’s Orchard & Farm Market, Hodgenville 

A beautiful setting, plenty of farm fun for families and kids of all ages, a convenient in-town store in Elizabethtown to pick up farm-fresh produce, fragrant flowers and homemade kitchen products—Hinton’s is the total package, with friendly service to boot. And the farm kitchen recently expanded to offer even more of Hinton’s fresh, homemade treats. 

SECOND PLACE 

Dennison’s Roadside Market, Horse Cave 

THIRD PLACE 

Hermitage Farm, Goshen

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ENTERTAINMENT

MUSICIAN/BAND 

WINNER 

Chris Stapleton, Nashville, Tennessee 

A multiple Grammy, Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music award winner, Stapleton is one of the country’s most respected musicians—not to mention one of Kentucky’s most beloved. He was recently announced as the first-ever “Artist-Songwriter of the Decade” recipient by the Academy of Country Music. 

SECOND PLACE 

Jay Henderson and The Super Six Jamboree Gang, Hodgenville 

THIRD PLACE 

JD Shelburne, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee 


PLACE FOR LIVE MUSIC 

WINNER 

Joel Ray’s Lincoln Jamboree, Hodgenville 

Every Saturday night, the 700-seat Jamboree starts filling up with country music lovers who come to hear local singing sensations. 

“It’s like stepping back in time when life was simpler,” says manager Jay Henderson, who also leads the Super Six Jamboree Gang house band. 

The Jamboree has had its fair share of celebrities over its 68-year run, too, including Patty Loveless, Bill Anderson, Ernest Tubb, the Oak Ridge Boys, Bill Monroe and many others. 

SECOND PLACE 

Paramount Arts Center, Ashland 

THIRD PLACE 

Bush’s Saloon & Dance Hall, Glasgow 


MUSEUM 

WINNER 

Lincoln Museum, Hodgenville 

A must-see for Lincoln enthusiasts, the Lincoln Museum occupies two buildings on the National Historic Register of Historic Places in Hodgenville’s Downtown Historic Commercial District, which is located between LaRue County’s two National Park sites: the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site and Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek. 

The museum features rotating special exhibits; a unique collection of Lincoln-inspired artwork; and an extensive gift shop with an array of new and used books, collectibles and works by local artists. 

SECOND PLACE 

Frazier History Museum, Louisville 

THIRD PLACE 

American Cave Museum, Horse Cave 


EVENT OR FESTIVAL 

WINNER 

Lincoln Days Celebration, Hodgenville 

No other place in the world can claim to be the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln—and LaRue County embraces that distinction with a jam-packed weekend festival that brings in crowds from around the commonwealth and further afield. Unique experiences include an art show, pioneer games, rail splitting, an ice cream contest, live music, classic car show and more. 

SECOND PLACE 

Manchester Music Fest, Manchester 

THIRD PLACE 

Marion County Country Ham Days, Lebanon 

EATS & DRINKS

WINERY 

WINNER 

Purple Toad Winery, Paducah 

Known for its gourmet sweet wines, the Purple Toad offers tastings of more than 45 wines, including bestseller Black and Bruised. There’s plenty of time to sample them all as the winery, one of the state’s largest, is now open seven days a week. 

SECOND PLACE 

Farmer & Frenchman Winery, Henderson 

THIRD PLACE 

Baker-Bird Winery & Distillery, Augusta 


DISTILLERY 

WINNER 

Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto 

Never content to rest on its laurels, Maker’s Mark recently renovated and expanded its Home Place visitors center with a magnificent bar to provide cocktail experiences inside and out. A new Innovation Garden features fresh herbs and vegetables that are used in the cocktails served at the distillery bars and in the food at the restaurant at Star Hill Farm— home of Maker’s Mark Distillery. 

Additionally, an expanded cocktail menu offers bourbon-based drinks to whet the appetites of cocktail enthusiasts. 

SECOND PLACE 

Wilderness Trail Distillery, Danville 

THIRD PLACE 

Boundary Oak Distillery, Radcliff 


CRAFT BEER 

WINNER 

Country Boy Brewing, Georgetown and Lexington 

Always experimenting with new beer recipes, Country Boy is committed to making the best possible beer with all-natural and real ingredients. Twenty-four rotating taps, weekly food specials, a welcoming atmosphere and a commitment to building community: this is the winning formula of one of Kentucky’s favorite breweries. 

SECOND PLACE 

Sawstone Brewing Co., Morehead 

THIRD PLACE 

Scout & Scholar Brewing Company, Bardstown 


BARBECUE 

WINNER 

Red State BBQ, Lexington 

“We pride ourselves on consistency, which is not easy to do when you’re talking about smoked meats,” says owner David Carroll. That, coupled with a great atmosphere and excellent customer service, is part of Red State BBQ’s recipe for success. 

“It’s taken us years to cultivate the culture that we have within the restaurant, and we’re very proud of that,” says Carroll. 

SECOND PLACE 

Arrowhead BBQ, Hodgenville 

THIRD PLACE 

Walden’s Barbeque, Smiths Grove 


HAMBURGER 

WINNER 

5 Broke Girls, Horse Cave 

Come hungry and come often as new deliciousness is always being added to the menu, like the A-1 Texas Brisket Burger, a meaty melange of hamburger, brisket, cheddar cheese, purple onion, pickle, lettuce and tomato—and doused with A-1 Original Steak Sauce. The restaurant now has a second location in Cave City, and both offer live music on Saturday nights. 

SECOND PLACE 

Laha’s Red Castle, Hodgenville 

THIRD PLACE 

Pat’s Snack Bar, Manchester 


PIZZA 

WINNER 

Hometown Pizza, LaGrange, 13 other locations 

Celebrating 40 years in 2022 of making some of the tastiest pizzas around, Hometown Pizza is that locally owned pizzeria committed to using the freshest ingredients and providing outstanding customer service. 

Specialty pizzas include the bacon cheeseburger pizza, the Buffalo chicken pizza and everyone’s favorite: the Hometown Special, piled with pepperoni, ham, pork topping, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives. 

SECOND PLACE 

Miguel’s Pizza and Rock Climbing Shop, Slade 

THIRD PLACE 

Pizza Zone, Buffalo 


DOWN-HOME RESTAURANT 

WINNER 

The Lighthouse Restaurant, Sulphur Well 

Best bring a hearty appetite because there are no doggie bags allowed for the all-your-can-eat, family-style house special and customer favorite. This throwdown features catfish, fried chicken and Penn’s Country Ham filled out with coleslaw, sliced tomatoes, green beans, stewed potatoes, baby lima beans, fried apples, red eye gravy and homemade biscuits. Whew! Got room for dessert? 

Open Thursday through Saturday, the restaurant accepts reservations, offers lunch specials on Thursday and Friday, and posts weekly giveaways on its Facebook page. 

SECOND PLACE 

Kentucky’s Finest Family Style Restaurant, Hodgenville 

THIRD PLACE 

Kayla’s Fill-Up Station, Hodgenville 


SWEET SPOT 

WINNER 

The Sweet Shoppe and Dessert Cafe, Hodgenville 

How sweet it is: Established in 2002 by Patrick and Paula Durham, the Sweet Shoppe celebrates 20 years in 2022. The shop makes all of its famous fudge and currently wholesales to 35 stores throughout Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Even better, the fudge can be ordered online through the shop’s Etsy site (January–May and September– December) so anyone can sink their teeth into its sweet treats. 

SECOND PLACE 

Farmwald’s Restaurant and Bakery, Horse Cave 

THIRD PLACE 

Tipton’s Traditions Bakery, Ashland

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