As much as we love the many attractions that Louisville has to offer, we’ve gotta admit: the rest of our state (and Southern Indiana!) has plenty of great places to visit, too. If you’re down for a day trip, check out some of our favorite attractions outside of the city.
Lexington, Kentucky: The Burl
375 Thompson Rd | Approx. 1.25 hours from Louisville | theburlky.com
This performance venue/dive barcade in Lexington is up there with the likes of our own Zanzabar or Headliners; It’s the place to be if you’re a music fan and/or cool twenty-something. The Burl boasts an average of about 300 concerts a year –– not too shabby. This fall, it’s playing host to many of the local bands you already know and love, including Houndmouth and White Reaper. Some concerts are indoors and some are outdoors, just like the on-site food: options include an indoor bar and outdoor food trucks. The building adjacent to the performance space houses the sizable arcade, home to the largest pinball collection in Lexington.
Frankfort, Kentucky: West Sixth Farm
4495 Shadrick Ferry Rd | Approx. 65 minutes from Louisville | westsixth.com/farm
If you like your drinks in a more idyllic setting, you’ll love the beautiful trails at the family-friendly, dog-friendly West Sixth Farm, an outdoor taproom surrounded by 120 acres of space to hike, bike and run. You may already know the bar’s name from its outpost in NuLu, but this rural getaway makes for a great escape from the noise of the city. The large hill overlooking the grounds is a fantastic spot for a COVID-safe gathering with friends and family (or political supporters –– Amy McGrath held a big campaign event there last fall.) Bring your own food for a picnic, then check out the hop yard, berry brambles and cider apple orchard to get a firsthand look at where your drinks come from. The brewery also offers a hiking club and farm yoga classes.
Versailles, Kentucky: Kentucky Castle
230 Pisgah Pike | Approx. 1.25 hours from Louisville | thekentuckycastle.com
Why even is there a castle in Kentucky? Honestly, we don’t know, but we’re not complaining –– this is the place to go if you want a luxury getaway in our state. There might not be actual royalty here, but there are royally fantastic draws: bluegrass concerts, farm-to-table food, a spa and upscale hotel rooms and glamping options with unmatched views of the castle and the surrounding area. If you’re not ready to splurge on an overnight stay, the castle also offers tours, murder mystery dinners, yoga sessions, and teatime with Disney princesses. Check out the animals, trees and bees at the castle’s working farm and apiary, too.
La Grange, Kentucky: Sauerbeck Family Drive-In
3210 D.W. Griffith Lane | Approx. 30 minutes from Louisville | sauerbeckfamilydrivein.com
The pandemic provided us with the perfect excuse to see drive-in movies: they were the best way to be in a community space while staying safe. The Sauerbeck, which also hosts church services, concerts and political events, plays new and retro movies each week. New movies are $11 for adults and $6 for kids (3-12); retro movies are $15 for a whole carload.
If you’ve never been to the Sauerbeck, it’s a simple setup: you pay for a ticket in advance, give the ticket agent your name at the drive-up window, drive to an available spot (or a specific spot as directed), then tune your car radio to the frequency posted on nearby signs. A building on-site has concessions for purchase, plus indoor restrooms.
Though they’re usually associated with the 50s, drive-ins aren’t a relic of the past –– they’re a perfect destination for 2021.
Bardstown, Kentucky: My Old Kentucky Dinner Train
602 North Third Street | Approx. 45 minutes from Louisville | kydinnertrain.com
While we wait on the elusive Louisville Amtrak train station, if you’re in the mood for a ride now, you’ve got plenty of options with the My Old Kentucky Dinner Train in Bardstown. You can choose a romantic lunch or dinner ride, a slapstick murder mystery ride, a wintertime North Pole ride, or a “bourbon excursion,” all of which will take you by historical sites in the Kentucky countryside. The train’s multi-course food and drink offerings include seasonal vegetarian dishes and 35 types of bourbon. The train is rather upscale –– adult dinner ride tickets are $89 each at a regular table or $356 total for a private two-person table –– but its rides rate highly with visitors.
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky: Mammoth Cave
1 Visitor Center Parkway | Approx. 1.5 hours from Louisville | nps.gov/maca/
Kentucky’s famous 52,000-acre cave, the longest in the world, is open to visitors on a first-come first-served basis. Masks are required; ticket reservations are strongly recommended.
You can choose from 10 different cave tour options depending on your interests and mobility level; there are accessible tours for people with disabilities, a “Domes and Dripstones” tour for geology fans and strenuous lantern-lit climbs for thrillseekers.
Adult tour ticket prices vary widely from $6 to $66, so check out their website to find the best tour for you. If you’d rather stay above ground, entrance to the state park itself is free; you can canoe, hike, fish, kayak, go horseback riding and take photos of scenic overlooks. Fall is one of the best times of year to visit Mammoth Cave, speaking from personal experience, so do what you can to experience the area when it’s at its most beautiful.
Santa Claus, Indiana: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
452 E. Christmas Boulevard | Approx. 1.5 hours from Louisville | holidayworld.com
The beloved theme park is only weeks away from the beginning of its Happy Halloween Weekends, which run from late September until the end of October. Right now, enjoy the warm weather on Saturdays and Sundays. When the time comes, grab your costumes and trick-or-treat bags to enjoy the not-so-scary offerings: a corn maze, hayrides, Halloween-themed shows, a dance party, and more, which are perfect for families and fun-lovers of any age.
Frankfort, Kentucky: Buffalo Trace Distillery Tours
113 Great Buffalo Trace | Approx. 1 hour from Louisville | buffalotracedistillery.com
Frankfort’s Buffalo Trace Distillery offers a number of COVID-safe tours of their historic facility, all of which include samples of their award-winning bourbons. You can walk through their botanical garden, their warehouses, and their barrel storage to get the inside look at what it takes to keep a bourbon company’s operations flowing.
Speaking of spirits: the pandemic has put a few of their tours on hold, but make sure to check out the Ghost Tour once it’s available again. The distillery, whose hauntings are real enough to have been featured on the tv show “Ghost Hunters,” offers free tours to those brave enough to walk where ghosts allegedly roam.
Keep Louisville interesting and support LEO Weekly by subscribing to our newsletter here. In return, you’ll receive news with an edge and the latest on where to eat, drink and hang out in Derby City.