If you are a culinary explorer, you’ll enjoy traveling to discover new and different food and wine experiences in every area of Kentucky. The culinary travel tours and trails listed here offer you an opportunity to experience local Kentucky cuisine through different themes as you travel across this beautiful state. Love sweets? You’ll find plenty of outstanding options. Craving some Kentucky BBQ? There’s a trail for that. Bourbon enthusiasts can follow the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to the state’s top distilleries for a tour and taste. Savour gourmet and casual cooking for days as you embark on these fun foodie adventures and culinary journeys. Stay in luxury hotels, budget-friendly bed and breakfasts and everything in between along the trail. Whether for a day or a week, these food tours and trails offer something edible and exciting to savour on your next getaway.
Whether you are in search of handmade Kentucky chocolates, perfect doughnuts, mile-high meringue pie, Derby Pie®, or world-famous bourbon balls, you can find it all in Kentucky. You’ll visit culinary icons such as Rebecca Ruth Candy Company, famous for first making the bourbon-filled Kentucky chocolates known as Bourbon Balls. You’ll also get to savour creations from up-and-coming sweets shops such as the allergy-friendly Annie May’s Sweet Café. This trail takes you through some of Kentucky’s most popular spots for dining, shopping and fun, including Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green and Paducah and includes:
- Ruth Hunt Candy Company (Mount Sterling) - Official candy maker of the Kentucky Derby and the famous “Blue Monday” cream candy bar
- Spalding's Bakery (Lexington) - Have been serving doughnuts made by hand for over 75 years.
- Amon's Sugar Shack (Somerset)
- Doughdaddy's (Versailles) - “Doughnuts Perfected,” - Doughdaddy’s is in constant pursuit of the perfect doughnut and it offers over 60 different varieties
- Burke's Bakery and Delicatessen (Danville) - A Kentucky institution, recently featured in Delta Sky magazine. Famous salt-rising bread, doughnuts, and gingerbread men
- Rebecca Ruth Candy & Tours (Frankfort) - Factory tours of the "Inventors of Bourbon Candy". This candy business began nearly a century ago in 1919 by two women, Rebecca and Ruth. Today Ruth Booe's family is involved in every aspect of making candy using time proven methods
- Annie May's Sweets Café (Louisville) - At Annie May's Sweet Cafe they understand the difficulties of living with food allergies and all of their bakery items are gluten, nut, and soy free!
- Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen (Louisville) - 32 flavours of ice cream served daily
- Chaney's Dairy Barn and Restaurant (Bowling Green) - Rolling farmlands, Jersey cows and the best ice cream in Kentucky, according to USA Today
- Patti's 1880's Settlement (Grand Rivers) - Patti’s 1880’s Award-winning Restaurant is famous for their 2” thick pork chops, mile-high meringue pies and flower pot bread
- The Chocolate Factory (Paducah) - Step through the door of The Chocolate Factory and take a step back in time. The old fashioned shop is sweetly reminiscent of a days gone by candy store. Jar after jar of handmade chocolates will greet you in almost every combination
Bon Appetit Appalachia
Bon Appétit Appalachia includes farm tours, farmers markets, farm-to-fork restaurants, festivals and events, vineyards and wineries and craft breweries in Kentucky’s Appalachia region. Here are some of the best places you can visit:
- The Blue Raven (Pikeville) - fresh Kentucky proud ingredients in a casual upscale atmosphere
- CCC Trail Vineyard and Winery – you can visit the tasting rooms at the vineyard and at the Pendleton Arts Center building In Ashland
- Red River Rockhouse (Morehead) - an eclectic, American cafe located in the heart of the Red River Gorge!
- Snug Hollow Farm Bed and Breakfast (Irvine) - "1 of the 5 Most Romantic Places of the South", Southern Living Magazine. A secluded 300 acre organic farm and sanctuary nestled in the Red Lick Valley of Estill County, 20 miles from Berea & 45 miles from Lexington. Whether it is bird watching, lending a hand in the garden, stargazing, or a weekend sitting in the sun by the pond, this snug little hollow has a restful charm that may add a new dimension to your life
- Ale-8-One Bottling Plant (Winchester) - Ale-8-One soft drink has been bottled in Winchester since 1926 and is the only soft drink invented in Kentucky still in existence. Tours of the factory are offered on Thursday and Friday mornings by appointment
- The Bluebird (Stanford) - great food made from the finest local purveyors and producers, Marksbury Farms
- Lake Cumberland Winery (Monticello) - Located on the shores of beautiful Lake Cumberland near Monticello, Wayne County, Kentucky. Great place to taste local wine
- Country Girl At Heart Farm Bed & Breakfast (Munfordville) - “A place where you can get your hands dirty or just put your feet up.” Nestled among green rolling hills in Hart County, Kentucky with Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, and Nashville, Tennessee all just one to two hours away, delight in one of five uniquely-themed bedrooms with private baths overlooking rolling hills, fireflies and countless brilliant stars. Join us for farm activities in the garden, gather eggs in the barn, or spend some time in the workshop with any number of hands-on projects
- Cedar Creek Vineyards (Somerset) - A winery and vineyards located in Eastern Pulaski County surrounded by beautiful vistas. Cedar Creek offers a variety of wines ranging from dry to semi-sweet including wine tasting for their on-site made wines
Western Kentucky BBQ Trail
Want to taste some of the best barbecue in Kentucky? Just like Kansas, Texas or Memphis, western Kentucky has its own unique style of barbeque. And people come from around the country and the world just to get a taste of this food. The trail begins in the city of Louisville and moves through western KY all the way to Paducah, hitting 15 restaurants serving up incredible slow-cooked pork and chicken: Country Fresh Meats Farmers Market (Sturgis); Thomason's Barbecue (Henderson); Henry's Boogalou BBQ (Owensboro); Dave's Sticky Pig (Madisonville); Hanson Country Market (Hanson); Good Ole Boys Bar-B-Q (Hanson); Brother's Bar-B-Que (Madisonville); Woodshed Pit Barbecue (Hopkinsville); Peak Brothers BBQ (Waverly); Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn (Owensboro); Old Hickory Pit Barbecue(Owensboro); Ole South Barbecue (Owensboro); Knoth's Bar-B-Q (Grand Rivers); Hutchen's BBQ (Benton); Starnes Barbecue (Paducah).
Although Kentucky is known the world over as the epicentre for all things bourbon, craft breweries have begun to make a notable place for themselves in Kentucky’s cuisine scene. And Lexington has an exciting and growing craft beer community.
- Rooster Brew (Paris) – discover great locally crafted brews
- West Sixth Brewing (Lexington) – Great place to taste some locally-brewed craft beer
- Blue Stallion Brewing Company (Lexington) - Brewery & Bar
- Country Boy Brewing (Lexington) – Brewery & Bar
- Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company (Lexington) - The Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company — better known as Kentucky Ale® — in downtown Lexington, has been brewing award-winning beers since 2000. They have since developed a line of spirits including Bluegrass Sundown™, Pearse Lyons Reserve™, and our newest beverage, Town Branch® Bourbon. Tours of the brewery and distillery are available every day to the public.
- Beer Engine (Danville) - Get a spectacular brew from the oldest brewery in the per-capita microbrew capital of the world: Danville, Kentucky
Kentucky Bourbon Trail®
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® allows visitors the opportunity to experience seven of Kentucky’s distilleries where its world-famous Kentucky bourbon is made. Since 1999 when the Kentucky Distiller’s Association opened the KBT, visitors have been able to learn first-hand about the art and science of bourbon-making and its rich heritage and tradition in Kentucky. The Kentucky Distillers’ Association formed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour to give visitors a first-hand look at the art and science of crafting Bourbon, and educate about the rich history and proud tradition of Kentucky’s signature spirit.
It began in the 1700s with the first settlers of Kentucky. Like most farmers and frontiersmen, they found that getting crops to market over narrow trails and steep mountains was a daunting task. They soon learned that converting corn and other grains to whiskey made them easily transportable, prevented the excess grain from simply rotting, and gave them some welcome diversion from the rough life of the frontier.
Since then, generations of Kentuckians have continued the heritage and time-honoured tradition of making fine Bourbon, unchanged from the process used by their ancestors’ centuries before.
So how did it get the name Bourbon? Well, one of Kentucky’s original counties was Bourbon County, established in 1785 when Kentucky was still part of Virginia.
Farmers shipped their whiskey in oak barrels — stamped from Bourbon County — down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. The long trip aged the whiskey, with the oak wood giving it the distinct mellow flavour and amber colour.
Pretty soon, whiskey from Bourbon County grew in popularity and became known as Bourbon whiskey.
In 1964, Congress officially recognized Bourbon’s place in history — and its future — by declaring it a distinctive product of the United States. Or, as we like to say, “America’s Official Native Spirit.”
Louisville & The Bourbon, Horses & History
This region really celebrates the America’s only native spirit. Travel throughout Bourbon Country and take in the many sites and attractions that toast the regions signature export. Discover heritage sites, working distillery tours, testing rooms, a whiskey museum, cooperages and much more. Experience joins classics such as the Jim Beam American Stillhouse, Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Centre, Barton 1792 Distillery and Maker’s Mark. Craft distilleries, such as Willet distillery and Limestone Branch complete the landscape. The newest edition to the region is the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, located on Louisville’s historic “Whiskey Row”.
Lexington & the Bluegrass Region
The Bluegrass Region is also in the centre of Bourbon Country. With the opening of Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery and two new craft distilleries—Wilderness Trace Distillery and Barrel House Distillery—the Region has among the newest stops on the internationally acclaimed Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.
Woodford Reserve Distillery, the oldest and one of the smallest distilleries in Kentucky, sits on picturesque Glenn’s Creek in the rolling horse country of Woodford County. With a distilling tradition dating back to the early 1800s, Woodford Reserve now produces the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and England’s Epsom Derby.
Both Wild Turkey Distillery and Four Roses Distillery are in the town of Lawrenceburg. Wild Turkey, occupying the crest of a hill overlooking the Kentucky River, opened in 1855 as a grocery store specializing in tea, coffee and, of course, spirits. The distillery’s most unique feature is the 40-foot column still.
Four Roses, with its Spanish mission style of architecture, may look slightly out of place in the Bluegrass, but its signature bourbons are pure Kentucky.
Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort is the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States and the first to market single barrel bourbon commercially. The distillery’s setting lies at the intersection of the Kentucky River.
Louisville's Urban Bourbon Trail
Once you have visited the bourbon distilleries in and around Louisville and central Kentucky, you will certainly want to explore the city’s “urban bourbon” scene. Whether you are interested in bourbon’s place in the history and heritage of the city, or you want to be a part of the new, modern urban scene, the Louisville Urban Bourbon Trail is where you want to be.
The establishments on the Urban Bourbon Trail vary from historic hotel properties that once served Kentucky whiskey to the likes of Al Capone and F. Scott Fitzgerald to cosmopolitan “scenes” where urban trend-setters are making retro drinks such as the Old-Fashioned and Manhattan in vogue again. Five are in downtown hotels, four have been internationally recognised and all are serving up bourbon-inspired dining. All offer bourbon flights, special bourbon cocktails and all have at least 50 different bourbon labels on the bar with trained staff that can explain the nuances and tasting notes in the varied offerings from Jim Beam Black to Elmer T. Lee.
There are two ways to travel the Urban Bourbon Trail – with a printed booklet style passport or an electronic version. You can pick up your free passport at the Visitors Center (4th and Jefferson Streets in downtown Louisville) or at any of the participating stops (just ask your server). You can also download an electronic passport using the iPhone or Android app.
Stamp collecting has never been so much fun. When you’re traveling along the Urban Bourbon Trail, you’re in for cocktails classic and modern, live music, and the bourbon-inspired creativity of Louisville’s best bartenders and chefs. Each stop is well stocked with anywhere from 50 to 150 varieties of Kentucky’s signature spirit.
Beer Cheese Trail
Kentucky Beer Cheese has been made and served in Winchester and Clark County since the 1940’s. It all started on the Kentucky River where Johnnie Allman served his cousin's, Joe's Snappy Cheese at the historic Driftwood Inn. Today, the Beer Cheese Trail consists of eight restaurants. No beer cheese in the world is more authentic than the kind made in Clark County. Grab an Official Beer Cheese Trail Cheese Log at a participating restaurant and get started:
- Purchase any beer cheese item from the menu
- Enjoy the delicious beer cheese
- Collect your stamp for your Cheese Log
- Repeat steps 1-3 at a minimum of five restaurants
Return your Cheese Log to the Winchester Tourism office for a free t-shirt! Become a Beer Cheese Ambassador by conquering all eight stops and receive a t-shirt, a "cheesy" award, and be entered into a drawing to become a Beer Cheese Festival Judge.
Sugar and Spice Trail
Whether you’re traveling through the Northern Kentucky area for a few hours or several days, there are plenty opportunities to satisfy your “sweet tooth” on the Northern Kentucky Sugar and Spice Trail. You’ll find local specialties such as bourbon balls, tasty chocolates, classic candies and plenty of unique herbs and spices.
- Galerie Candy & Gift Shop (Florence) - With its national headquarters located in Northern, KY, Gallerie is a retailer of Kentucky candies and novelty gifts.
- Colonel De's Gourmet Herbs & Spices (Florence) - Culled from a tradition of southern family cooking, and with over 500 culinary herbs, spices, and blends garnered from around the world, Colonel D's Herbs and Spices is the place to find the seasonings for all your cooking needs.
- Schneider’s Sweet Shop (Bellevue) - Open since 1939, Schneider’s is a reminder of bygone days when you could visit the old time ice cream shop and candy store. Original chocolates and cream candies made right on the premises include a wide assortment of chocolates, fudges, caramels and their specialty, Opera Creams - made with pure cream, milk and sugar with a delicious white creamy centre coated in milk or dark chocolate.
- Witt’s End Candy (Bellevue) - Looking for the Wax Lips, Pixie Stix, Candy Buttons and Candy Necklaces, Moon Pies, Mary Janes, Squirrel Nut Zippers and the Zagnuts or something new to you? Then Witt’s End is the place for you.
- Sweet Tooth Candies (Newport) - Small batch chocolates made with years of care and experience poured in, and featuring the finest ingredients, are what you’ll find here.
- The Candy Bar (Covington) - With a selection of over 200 different candies, this is the place to find your favourite candy from yesteryear or discover a new favourite.
- Sweet Dreams Candy Co. (Newport) - Make your dreams come true at Sweet Dreams Candy Company, where you'll find a delicious assortment of Kentucky candies, fudge and other treats!