On any given day we tend to go about our daily lives, barely looking up long enough to really see the place in which we live. The capital city of the commonwealth, Frankfort, is the site of incredible history and interesting venues.
When entertaining visitors, we usually just hit the highlights — places such as the Capitol, Rebecca Ruth Candies, Daniel Boone’s grave, shopping downtown and perhaps a tour of Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Those places certainly should be high on any Frankfort tour, especially with family or friends in town. But we live here every day and have the special opportunity to explore some of the tucked-away exhibits and less obvious attractions available. If we dig a little deeper, there is an amazing array of hidden gems to mine in Frankfort. Here are just a few to discover.
For a smaller, one-on-one bourbon experience, stop in at Three Boys Farm Distillery and Glenn’s Creek Distilling.
Situated on 122 acres, Three Boys Farm Distillery is both a farm and a small family-run craft distillery on Crab Orchard Road, just a short way off Highway 151 and Louisville Road.
This small-scale, hands-on operation is owned by Ross and Heather Caldwell, who moved to Kentucky seven years ago along with their triplet boys (thus the name Three Boys).
To reach the stillhouse/barn and most likely find Ross (the only distiller), follow a gravel drive past grazing Angus cattle and corn fields. Visitors often have the chance to barrel sample as well as “thieve” a bottle from the barrel.
At the Gift Shop and Sample Room, Casie or Mona serve up samples, give tours and sell the wonderfully named Whiskey Thief and Three Boys small batch and craft products that are only sold on site.
“Most of our customers come from people who happen upon us while on the Bourbon Trail or on vacation. Probably only about 10 percent are local,” Storey says.
“We’re staying small, and our customers seem to appreciate that,” Ross says. For more information call 504-512-2564 or visit threeboysfarmdistillery.com.
Among the ruins of the Old Crow Distillery is Glenn’s Creek Distilling. It sits along the meandering creek and road bearing the same name. Abandoned for decades, the Old Crow Distillery is being restored and preserved by owner David Meier.
“The kind of people that we like to have here are more serious about bourbon — the process of making the bourbon,” Meier told The State Journal in a recent interview.
“They’re interested in seeing something real. They like the fact that they can see the still working; they can see the mash fermenting; that we’re working; that we built the stuff.”
The distillery doesn’t officially advertise tours, but Meier entertains bourbon enthusiasts who come to see what’s going on at the self-described low-key distillery. Meier often puts visitors to “work,” according to The State Journal article, by having them add jars of recently distilled spirit to a barrel, on which they can sign their names.
Check out the OCD #5 Bourbon created from a wild yeast collected from one of the original fermentation tanks (Tank #5) found in the Old Crow Distillery. For hours and more information call 859-552-3296 or visit glennscreekdistillery.com.
Frankfort is fortunate to have a wonderful park system that caters to all types of sports enthusiasts. Jim Parrish, director of Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites, shares some interesting places in the parks.
“Many people don’t realize that Cove Spring Park has more than the waterfall. The Skyview Trail has an incredible view of the city,” he says. “And you can walk from the Cove Spring Wetlands on a trail that connects to the River Trail in River View Park all the way to downtown.”
The walkway along the Kentucky River has a bonus that many don’t realize. Ten dry laid stone features constructed by Kentucky dry stone masons have been built to enjoy along the River View Trail, each unique and with signs describing the process.
“Fort Hill has people come from all over because of the Civil War connection, but there’s also a great one-and-a-half-mile loop trail up there. Frankfort has so many nice places for people to hike and enjoy outdoors,” Parrish says.
“Sometimes we tend to take our own hometown for granted. The advice I’d give to people who live here is just to make a day trip around town and explore some of the parks and The Capital City Museum and Fort Hill.”
For more information, contact the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites office at 502-352-2028 or frankfortparksandrec.com.
Most Frankfort citizens have at the very least driven by Daniel Boone’s grave in the Frankfort Cemetery at 215 E. Main St., but there are several other important figures buried nearby.
The cemetery, which has some of the best views of the city, also contains the State Mound, featuring an impressive Kentucky War Memorial. Presley O’Bannon, U.S. Marine Corps, who is remembered for being the first man to plant the American flag on foreign soil during the Barbary Wars, and the famed Marine hymn line “From the halls of Montezuma to the shore of Tripoli” is written about, is interred here.
Paul Sawyier, beloved artist, is also buried at the cemetery. For more information and a map, contact 502-227-5403 or visit frankfortcemetery.org.
At the center of Frankfort’s seat of government is the Capitol building and grounds. The Rotunda can be seen from many vantage points in the city, and prom-goers usually snap an obligatory photo in front of the Floral Clock.
But many have not actually toured the interior of what is touted as one of the most beautiful capitol buildings in the nation. A unique feature found just east of the Rotunda on the first floor is the exhibit of Kentucky first lady dolls.
Four large cabinets house 18-inch French-fashion dolls dating from the state’s first lady, Susannah Hart Shelby. Self-guided and guided tours of the Capitol are available Monday through Friday. For information, call 502-564-3449.
Liberty Hall, which Executive Director Jules Foster describes as “a little hidden gem on the Kentucky River,” was built by American statesman John Brown in 1796. The gardens and grounds on Wilkinson Street are spectacular to roam during any season.
On the second floor is The Kentucky Made exhibit, featuring some of the finest examples of 19th-century Kentucky-made pieces from the Liberty Hall collection. For information about dates, times and tours for Liberty Hall and the Orlando Brown House call 502-227-2560 or visit libertyhall.org.
Robin Antenucci, executive director of the Frankfort/Franklin County Tourism & Convention Commission, believes that it’s easy to be a tourist in your own town when you live in the capital city.
“Frankfort has so many unique tours, museums, historic places and parks — all that are well worth visiting. We drive by them every day and tend to forget how special they are,” she says.