Touring the Old Kentucky Turnpike Scenic Backway
28 Miles | 3 Days/2 Nights (Optional Days 4+5) | Gateway City: Louisville, Kentucky
We recommend starting your journey in Louisville, considered the Gateway to the South. A visit to Farmington Historic Plantation, constructed in 1816 at the center of a 550-acre plantation, lets you start your visit in the Antebellum area. From there you can tour Old Louisville, 1,200 acres of finely detailed, impeccably preserved, massive Victorian homes. There is a walking tour and an option to drive. Next up, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, after which you have the option to visit the Kentucky Derby Museum or chose from a selection of 9 other museums in downtown Louisville. Customize this part of your trip however you wish.
Two options for evening accommodations include the 1840 Tucker House, which let’s you stay in the Old South, or the Inn at St. James Court, located in Old Louisville. You also have the option to stay in The Brown Hotel, Louisville’s classic historic hotel built in 1923. In the evening enjoy a dinner cruise on the Belle of Louisville, the only authentic steamboat from the packet boat era on American waterways.
On Day Two, it’s time to head to Bardstown, to visit My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Bardstown also has A Walk Through Time, focusing on the evolving history of the town. Museum Row includes the Civil War Museum, the unique Women in the Civil War Museum, and a military museum, all adjacent to Old Bardstown Village, which features a collection of 18th and 19th century log buildings, a covered bridge and stone mill house. The Antebellum Wickland Governor’s Home was constructed in 1828. Accommodations at the 1819 Jailer’s Inn, converted into six individually styled guest rooms, lets you stay in the period. The Old Talbott Tavern dating from 1779, is another option.
On the Byway heading for Hodgenville, stop at the Abbey of Gethsemani founded in 1848 and considered the motherhouse of all Trappist monks in the United States. Ten miles northeast of Hodgenville, Knob Creek Farm was Lincoln’s boyhood home from 1811 to 1816. The reconstruction is set in an idyllic location of fertile fields, steep wooded hills and Knob Creek itself, from which Lincoln was rescued by a family friend. Further on, the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, reveals more stories from Lincoln’s life, at the Lincoln Museum, and other locations on the Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail. The centerpiece is an impressive memorial building which, according to the inscription, was built to house “the log cabin where Abraham Lincoln was born.” From here, you can return home or travel another of Kentucky’s Scenic Byways. Whichever you choose, we wish you a safe and pleasant journey home.
Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin at Sinking Springs Farm on February 12, 1809. The experiences of his early years on the frontier instilled homegrown values that remained with him throughout his life. Although he did not remember his time at the Sinking Spring Farm some of the landmarks associated with Lincoln’s time and the early farm remain. The centerpiece of the site is a symbolic birth cabin enshrined in a Neoclassical Memorial Building atop a hill that features 56 steps to signify the years of Lincolns life. The 195-year-old white oak tree nearby was the “last living link” to Lincoln.
From that collection, we suggest the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, founded to build on Kentucky’s craft heritage. It’s success ultimately led to a one-of-a-kind collection of 300 works of American Folk Art from the region, housed in a four-story historic cast iron structure. Kentucky’s culture is displayed through themes of agriculture, domestic life, economy, class, religious belief, and pastimes.
A collection of ten original 18th and 19th Century log structures from a Colonial settlement, along with a covered bridge and a stone mill house known as Brown’s Mill.
Start your visit to Bardstown with a visit to My Old Kentucky Home State Park. You can hear Stephen Foster’s famous song performed by the park’s talented guides on your tour. Along with the song, learn stories of deadly duels, horse racing, fortune, fame and demise that abounded in the setting of original fine antiques, paintings and beautiful architectural wonders.
The museum in downtown Hodgenville National Historic District explores the life of the 16th President in life-size dioramas, period artifacts, and a superb collection of wax figures which bring the major events in Lincoln’s life from the “Cabin Years” to “Fords Theatre,” to life. Galleries are filled with civil war artifacts. a collection of original Lincoln art, a funeral train exhibit and more.