Take a walk through a bygone era in Frankfort, where the layers of yesteryear merge with the promise of a thriving tomorrow.
It’s said that Frankfort is where Kentucky’s history comes alive. Born as a humble settlement on the banks of the Kentucky River, this small but robust city has weathered fire, flooding, political turmoil, and more throughout its 230 years—yet its gracious mansions and monuments endure and prosper. Though Frankfort bears the same inimitable bourbon-and-bluegrass flavor that has made neighboring Louisville and Lexington famous, its devotion to its roots and robust cultural scene give this enterprising town a character all its own.
See the full feature on Frankfort, part of our yearlong Capital Cities travel series, in the March/April issue on newsstands now! As a bonus, we’ve offered a glimpse of additional city highlights below.
Delve into Frankfort’s rich history with a stop at Liberty Hall Historic Site. Two magnificent homes built by celebrated U.S. Senator John Brown and his son Orlando, respectively, anchor the estate—a beautifully preserved window into the city’s past. Spring is the perfect season for a leisurely stroll through the 4 acres of gardens—including a lovely array of roses—along the riverbank.
A mile to the south lies the Berry Mansion, a venerable stone beauty known for its showstopping music room and cathedral organ. Built in the 19th century by wealthy distillery executive George Franklin Berry, the mansion features beautiful Colonial Revival architecture; stones indigenous to the homesite were used in its construction. Continue the journey into the Bluegrass State’s past at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, whose highlights include the Hall of Governors portrait gallery and fine examples of decorative arts from around the state.
Frankfort offers a wealth of enticing possibilities for a delectable meal, from the generously sized brick oven pies at Buddy’s Pizza to Serafini‘s lengthy list of Kentucky bourbons and Southern-inspired menu. Indulge your sweet tooth with chocolates and other treats from Rebecca Ruth Candy, a family-owned local tradition founded in 1919. For Cajun and Creole flavors, head to Rick’s White Light Diner, where po’boys and crawfish pie keep company with pulled pork barbecue. At Plaza Grill & Deli in the Capital Plaza Hotel, guests can feast on hearty breakfast favorites and light lunch fare, while Gibby’s is known for piled-high sandwiches, classic soups and salads, and more.
Frankfort offers an appealing array of independent and locally owned shops selling one-of-a-kind treasures. Browse the well-curated mix of home and garden gifts and goodies at Wilson Nurseries, or pick up a keepsake or two at Completely Kentucky—an array of locally created crafts, food items, and more. Poor Richard’s Books is a bibliophile’s delight and includes a broad selection of Kentucky literature; at the Woolery, expert artisans lead classes in traditional arts such as rug hooking, spinning, and weaving, with a rainbow of yarns and threads to take home and try out your newfound skills. Don’t miss the stylish clothing and accessories at fashion boutique Nitro—you’re sure to find a special piece to spruce up your wardrobe.
When it’s time to turn in for the night, head for The Meeting House, a bed-and-breakfast housed in an 1840s mansion in Frankfort’s historic district. Its evocative charm and beautifully preserved historical detailing grace each of the five bedrooms. The onsite cafe serves soups, sandwiches, pastries, and more; in fine weather, guests can dine alfresco in the inn’s cozy courtyard.
Get more of Frankfort’s best sights, shops, and restaurants in our March/April issue. Buy your copy today!