Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Bardstown, KY

  • Published 2022/10/26

Bardstown was named after its pioneering founders — Davis Bard and William Bard.

David Bard sanctioned and obtained this area while William Bard surveyed and planned the city.

The city is famed for its brilliantly brewed bourbon and hence has earned the nickname “Bourbon Capital of the World.”

It has various historical monuments and museums for you to visit.

It is located right in the heart of Kentucky and is a significant place for Nelson County.

Interested to know more about this stunning city?

Here are the 20 best things to do in Bardstown, Kentucky:

Visit My Old Kentucky Home State Park

Trees at My Old Kentucky Home State Park

James Kirkikis /

My Old Kentucky Home State Park is the inspiration behind the state song of Kentucky.

Stephen Foster wrote the ballad “My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night” against slavery when he visited Federal hill.

Federal Hill belonged to his cousin, John Rowan, the United States Senator.

Foster’s song gained a lot of popularity then, so Federal hill was bought by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to preserve it as a historical site.

My Old Kentucky Home State Park

James Kirkikis /

It was around this time that the state song was officially declared as well.

Thus, the Federal Hills has become a significant historical landmark.

It is also a wonderful place to visit due to the beautiful trees and lush green grass.

The mansion itself is majestic with many intricate details.

Picnicking and birdwatching can also be done on the palace grounds.

Statue at My Old Kentucky Home State Park

James Kirkikis /

Walk along the Cobblestone Path

This historic path winds across eight acres of land on the eastern end of the Bardstown Historic District in Bardstown, Kentucky.

It has stood between Flaget Avenue and Broadway, immediately across from the Bardstown Civil War Museum in Kentucky.

Although the Cobblestone Path presently solely serves pedestrians, the city of Bardstown owns it because it was traditionally deemed part of the city’s roadway system.

In 1785, work began on the Cobblestone Path.

Those who live in Bardstown constructed it.

It was a legal requirement for non-minister males between the ages of 16 and 50 to assist in constructing this and other roads, or else they would be subject to a $1.25-per-day fine if they failed to show up for labor as scheduled.

Cobblestone Path was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 16, 1989, for its role in Kentucky’s transportation history.

Taste Authentic Bourbon at Heaven Hill Distilleries

Front View of Heaven Hill Distilleries

Irina Mos /

The second-largest bourbon whiskey holder in the world is sure to give you the best whiskey for tasting.

The family-owned business produces many kinds of distilled spirits, but the Heaven Hill Distilleries’ whiskey remains at the top.

Welcome sign of Heaven Hill Distilleries

University of College /

Visit them for a great tour and learn facts about this intricate process.

Buy a bottle or two to carry back home for yourself and your friends.

Barrels in Heaven Hill Distilleries

Irina Mos /

Go Winetasting at McIntyre’s Winery

McIntyre’s Winery uses the juice of locally farmed blackberries and blueberries to make its fruit wines.

McIntyre’s has something for everyone with a wide range of flavors and aromas.

Wine tasting and tours are available at McIntyre’s Winery, where you may sample the winery’s handcrafted fruit wines or purchase fresh fruit.

You may purchase wine from its online Winery or come to the Winery for a tour and sampling in person.

McIntyre’s Winery provides vineyard tours and wine tastings for novices and experts alike, allowing you to discover the art and science of winemaking, as well as the opportunity to sample our handcrafted fruit wines.

Revisit the Civil War History at the Civil War Museum of the Western Theatre

Interior View of the Civil War Museum

Kenneth C. Zirkel / CC BY-SA, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the USA’s four most important Civil War museums, the Civil War Museum of the Western Theatre is a must-visit.

It showcases the struggles between the Union and Confederacy in a detailed manner and is one of the largest museums in the United States of America.

Front View of Civil War Museum

Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The exhibits are covered over a vast expanse of 8,000 square feet, and there are a variety of artifacts you could find here, such as flags, swords, canons, and various artillery used in wars.

There are also different rooms dedicated to special themes, including slavery, artillery, cavalry, and more.

Learn the History of Whiskeys at Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History

Once you visit Bardstown, the bourbon capital in the world, you’ll find many places of interest that focus on whiskey.

One of them is the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History.

Located in the magnificent Spalding hall, this museum is an ode to the beautiful art of whiskey main giver of the ages.

Whiskey-related artifacts are on display, which gives the museum a rustic charm.

Some exhibits include moonshine stills, posters, prescriptions of medicinal use of alcohol, and even the great Abraham Lincoln’s liquor license.

The museum also traverses you through the evolution of American whiskey starting from the 1960s.

Experience Village Life at the Old Bardstown Village at the Civil War Museum

The green grass at Old Bardstown Village

MIchael Blacky Cern /

Civil War Museum is a recreation of the entire village from the Western American Civil War period.

It has authentic scenes depicting life during the difficult period.

The mill showcased looks very real and helps us understand how difficult it was to get access to basic needs, like water and food.

Go Antique-Hunting at The Rusty Rooster

Rusty Rooster is the best spot in Bardstown to find that particular something without spending a fortune.

All of your vintage, farmhouse, primitives, Americana, and handmade furniture and home decor needs may be found at Rusty Rooster.

Customers will find everything they need in a clean, well-stocked store.

The personnel is wonderful, and the store itself is impeccably organized and well-maintained.

Regardless of the time of year, it has something new to offer—an incredible assortment of both new and vintage goods.

Go Fishing at Sympson Lake

Sympson Lake is a Kentucky reservoir at a depth of 157 meters.

Samuels Field is located west of Sympson Lake.

Despite the lake’s importance as a water supply, water sports like boating and fishing are popular recreational activities.

Its boat ramp is still a popular fishing spot, and you can find plenty of anglers there every day.

Aside from largemouth bass and crappie, channel catfish and white crappie are other common catches in this area.

When deciding where to fish, please exercise your best judgment, and be careful to respect local rules and restrictions.

Pay a Visit to Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral

Front view of Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown

Nheyob / CC BY-SA, via Wikimedia Commons

This Catholic Church used to be the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bardstown.

It is magnificent to look at that you will fall in love with its sacred beauty.

You should also visit the church for its many complex details.

Interior View of Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral

Nheyob, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The stained glass windows are definitely a visual treat.

It also features many beautiful paintings from various eras.

These include paintings from King Louis made by artists like Van Dyck and Murillo.

The King Francis I of the Two Sicilies has also bestowed this church with a very famous painting by Mattia Preti.

Interior View of Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral

Nheyob, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience Spooky Times at the Bardstown Ghost Trek

We have all gone treks on mountains or hills, but how about a ghost trek and hunting down spirits?

Sounds so cool, right?

Conducted every Saturday, Bardstown Ghost Trek is sure to make you feel chills down your spine.

The areas you will travel are the Jailer’s Inn, Pioneer Cemetery, and Talbott Taverns.

It’s a historical tour and perfectly guided.

So get along those cameras and audio recorders, and let’s go ghosthunting.

See the Beautiful Arts at the Fine Arts Bardstown Society

Art is a beautiful expression of the soul, and the Fine Arts Bardstown Society gives a great showcase to such beauty.

Established in 2005, this beautiful art gallery showcases stunning artwork and paintings.

High-quality artifacts and crafts are on display, too.

There are various themes you can explore, like woodworks, paints, and more.

It is a great place to discover some hidden local artists and artworks.

Visit the Famous Mansion at Wickland

Front View of the Famous Mansion at Wickland

Christopher L. Riley, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This huge three-storied Georgian mansion has served as the warm abode of three governors.

There were two from Kentucky and one from Louisiana.

The sprawling estate is an architectural beauty with many rooms built in classical ways.

The kitchen itself is two-storied and consists of amenities.

There’s also a library, a big living room, and an amply spaced attic.

Have Some Fun Time at the Bardstown Community Park

Parks are some of the best places to bond with your family and loved ones.

One such park in Bardstown that you’ll fall in love with is the Bardstown Community Park.

This acre-wide park has all the beauties and serves as just the perfect spot for a family picnic.

This community park also has a basketball court, horseshoe pits, picnic tables, and more.

The playground houses many slides and swings that your kids will love to play on.

There are also biking and walking trails.

Go to the Women’s Civil War Museum

The only museum which stands as testimony to the beautiful sacrifices made by women during the civil war area, the Women’s Civil War Museum is another special museum located in the museum row.

This row has five museums, the three of which are mentioned here.

Each of these museums is really beautiful and holds a special place.

This particular museum documents how women served the armies during the civil war.

With various artifacts and exhibits showcasing their journey as nurses and more, the Women’s Civil War Museum truly reminds us of how a war is fought by both genders.

Expect to Buy Unique Items at Shaq & Coco

Exterior of Shaq & Coco

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shaq & Coco, a brand founded in 2012, takes satisfaction in following its path.

Since they have beautiful furniture, lighting, carpets, and everything else you need to spruce up any area, they are not your typical retail establishment.

They have a huge selection of unusual clothes and accessories you won’t find anyplace else.

Their gift variety is unrivaled, and you can find something to suit even the most particular individual you know.

Customers of Shaq & Coco have access to an on-site wine and beer bar!

Come in for a great time and a shopping spree from Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.

Take a Walk at the Spalding Hall

Spalding Hall, a Bardstown, Kentucky structure included on the National Register of Historic Places, was constructed alongside the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral.

Bishop Martin John Spalding’s name is commemorated in the hall.

Bardstown Historical Museum and Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History are housed in the same structure.

It served as the principal structure for St. Joseph’s Institution, the earliest Catholic college in Kentucky in the 19th century.

The present structure was constructed in 1839 to replace the earlier design, which had been burned in a fire.

Join a Day Trip to Willett Distillery

Exterior of Willett Distillery

karenfoleyphotography /

Willett Distillery was established in the spring of 1936 by Thompson Willett.

The distillery was built next to the family farm that Lambert Willett, Thompson’s father, bought.

After Willett Distillery was finished, the Willett Distillery created its first supply of Kentucky bourbon whiskey in the spring of 1937.

Welcome sign of Willett Distillery

karenfoleyphotography /

The family launched a tourist center and tasting room in the latter part of 2011.

It certainly provides a fascinating journey, with its underground, spring-fed lakes, Kentucky split-face stone facade, vintage turn-of-the-century belt, pulley fan equipment operating throughout the distillery, and more.

Willett Distillery also features daily trips.

Barrels at Willett Distillery

University of College /

Snack and Taste Fresh Baked Food in Hadorn’s Bakery

Do you wish to have a snack-filled afternoon with your friends?

Since 1977, the Hadorn family has owned and operated Hadorn’s Bakery in Bardstown.

They work hard to provide guests and locals with an exceptional experience that suits their palate.

Everything at Hadorn’s is produced in-house with care and attention, from yum yum—one of the neighborhood’s top choices to seasonal cookies and cakes, among other items.

Every day, freshly baked items are created on the site of Hadorn’s Bakery.

Visit Hadorn’s Bakery in the city’s historic center to try some of their delectable treats.

Make Use of All the Amenities at the Jailer’s Inn Bed & Breakfast

Jailer’s Inn Bed & Breakfast is ideally situated in the center of Bardstown, just a few steps from the court square.

Restaurants, bars, cute boutiques, and city events are all nearby.

Spend your trip at Jailer’s Inn Bed & Breakfast after a full day exploring the Bourbon Trail.

Among the amenities are free visits to the old jail, a conference room, off-street parking, a souvenir shop, and free Internet access.

Each room has a private bathroom, cable TV, a hair dryer, and more—two rooms include twin Jacuzzis.

In the summer, delight in a comprehensive breakfast in their lovely, private courtyard adorned with flowers, plus you may make your trip more romantic by ordering chocolates or roses.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take a Walk at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Scenic View of Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Irina Mos /

Established in 1929 by the founder of the same name, Isaac Bernheim, this beautiful park was opened to the public in 1950.

The successful brewer and his family were buried in this forest.

The Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest has beautiful conifers and pines that make for a beautiful sight to look at.

There is also an intricately carved statue made of bronze that stands tall.

The volunteers conduct many workshops and classes, too.

Boardwalk trail at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Irina Mos /

The vast research forest hosts many events and festivals like the annual ColorFest in October, Bloomfest in May, and CONNECT in August.

These are all quirky festivals celebrating science and nature.

There are very beautiful hiking trails, so don’t forget to put on your sports shoes.

Take your kids along on a thrilling excursion.

Amphitheatre at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Irina Mos /

Taste the Famous Jim Beam Whisky at the Jim Beam American Stillhouse

Exterior of Jim Beam American Stillhouse

Irina Mos /

Jim Beam is a very famous brand of whiskey and is loved by many people all over the world.

Their secret lies in their perfectly distilled bourbon and has been manufacturing quality liquor since then.

If you like knowing more about your drinks, this place is surely a must-visit.

With guided tours through the campus, it really deserves a special place on your itinerary.

The grounds of Jim Beam American Stillhouse

Irina Mos /

The tours can also be customized according to your needs.

The distilling area, bottling area, and limestone well are all part of the guided tour.

Try out some of the famous whiskey and carry some back home too.

Statue at Jim Beam American Stillhouse

Irina Mos /

Visit the Original Lincoln Home at Lincoln Homestead State Park

The Lincoln Homestead State Park is where Lincoln and his family spent a lot of time.

Lincoln’s mother and her family used to live in this vast park.

There are rustic furniture pieces, and the rooms are beautifully adorned with classical pieces.

It also has a cabin on-site.

The fences still stand strong and guard the house.

The golf course is lavish, with 18 holes spread all over the sprawling hills.

There’s also a museum here, showcasing various artifacts.

The playground is well equipped so your kids can also have fun.

The gift shop also has a lot of articles on sale, where you may buy some souvenirs to take back to your relatives and friends.

Shop at the Awesome Flea Market

Flea markets are great places to get good deals and buy some really awesome stuff.

Authentic furniture and showpieces can be bought here at affordable prices.

It provides a large shopping arena, with 500 shopkeepers and business people selling a variety of stuff, such as organic vegetables, sunglasses, t-shirts, toys, fishing gear, jewelry, books, and so on.

Thrifty prices and great bargains combined will certainly give you a very memorable shopping experience.

Final Thoughts

Visit Bardstown, Kentucky, to discover why it’s been hailed as one of America’s most beautiful and historic little towns.

Have a look around and see what the city has to offer!

People come from all over the world to Bardstown with more than 35 yearly events and many attractions.

Go and experience for yourself!

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