Kentucky: A Trot in the Country
The horse farms and rolling hills make for a delightfully genteel road trip—but it's a lot more fun to ogle Corvettes and spar against the Greatest.
Although she'd probably rather be back at the horse park, Cathy indulges me later with a visit to theNational Corvette Museum, near the Bowling Green plant where the cars are made. It showcases many of the iconic Corvettes that have been produced over the past 55 years, including a 1960s Stingray coupe. In the gift shop, I buy a mini red '57 Corvette that reminds me of my childhood toys. In my humble opinion,thisis the best gift shop ever.
- Hadorn's Bakery118½ W. Flaget St., Bardstown, 502/348-4407
- Lincoln Boyhood HomeHwy. 31E, Hodgenville, 270/358-3137, nps.gov/abli, free
- Mammoth Cave National Park1 Mammoth Cave Pkwy., Mammoth Cave, 877/444-6777, nps.gov/maca, from $5
- National Corvette Museum350 Corvette Dr., Bowling Green, 270/781-7973, corvettemuseum.com, $8
The town of Berea exudes a certain old-fashioned charm. Over ginger-and-pecan scones atBerea Coffee & Tea Co., we watch a college-age woman knitting on a sofa. I read a story in theBerea Citizenabout a horse named Bliss who escaped from a farm earlier in the week and trotted through town. At theAppalachian Fireside Gallery, I consider purchasing some corn-husk bookmarks, but opt for a knitted baby's cap instead.
Since our shopping has been limited primarily to gift shops, we head 90 miles northwest to Shelbyville, known for its antiques. But Cathy, who goes antiquing frequently, fails to find anything worthwhile--until we reach theRuby Rooster. She coos over the impressive array of figurines made of celluloid (a once-popular plastic that's now rarely used) before buying a 1920s cake topper shaped like a pixie blowing a horn.
We're all shopped out, andSixth and Main Coffeehouselures us with the promise of free Wi-Fi and iced lattes. I log on to Hotwire and bid on two rooms at theBestWestern Envoy Inn & Suitesin Louisville, a pretty good bargain at $71 apiece.
It's not quite time for dinner, but we have to stop atLynn's Paradise Café, a quirky Louisville restaurant. Mannequins' legs dangle over people's heads in the dining room, and a sign in the lobby invites people to enter their ugliest lamps in a contest. (The categories are "born ugly" and "made ugly.") I recharge with a vanilla milkshake, while Cathy sips on a Pegasus Pimm's, a specialty drink made with gin, Sprite, cantaloupe, oranges, and cucumbers.
After strolling the Ohio River waterfront, we hit Fourth Street for another drink. Cathy, who has the preternatural ability to sense when a celebrity is nearby, suddenly shouts, "That's Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows!" Lo and behold, the singer is strutting down the street. He's evidently in town for a concert the following night.
At theMaker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge, a bar and restaurant owned by the distillery, Cathy has a perfectly poured mint julep while I drink a Kentucky Cocktail, a mix of bourbon and the local Ale-8 One ginger soda. The food is not as good as the drinks--my steak is a tad overcooked.
We go for a nightcap atProof on Main, the bar at the luxury 21c Museum Hotel, which displays contemporary paintings, sculptures, and video installations. Tired and a little bit tipsy, we gaze warily at artworks by Michael Combs, including a hand-carved buck's head wearing a black neoprene mask.
- Best Western Envoy Inn9802 Bunsen Way, Louisville, 502/499-0000, bestwestern.com, rooms from $59
- Berea Coffee & Tea Co. 124 Main St., Berea, 859/986-7656, bcandtco.com
- Sixth and Main Coffeehouse 547 Main St., Shelbyville, 502/647-7751, 6amcoffee.com
- Lynn's Paradise Café984 Barret Ave., Louisville, 502/583-3447, lynnsparadisecafe.com, Pegasus Pimm's $7
- Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge 446 S. Fourth St., Louisville, 502/568-9009, makerslounge.com, steak $32
- Appalachian Fireside Gallery 127 Main St., Berea, 859/986-9013, kaht.com/multiple/appalachfireside.htm
- Ruby Rooster Antique Mall514 Main St., Shelbyville, 502/633-0001