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We decided to bring you a brief primer on Kentucky’s capital city, only the cool parts, naturally.  Cradled on the banks of the Kentucky River, Frankfort is rife with stories. For instance, the creator of Bibb lettuce grew up in the historic town.  His family home is trimmed in lacy wood cutout that resembles the ruffled edge of the delicate head of greens he invented.  See if you can identify the house on Wapping St.  While you’re there, marvel at the grace of the historic homes downtown and imagine someone has invited you to sit on the porch with a Mint Julep.  Which of course brings us to the subject of bourbon–it didn’t take us long, did it? Though Buffalo Trace Distillery doesn’t need to be your first stop, once you see the mammoth, slightly creepy-looking old distillery, you’ll be fascinated.  Read on for our other top picks.

For those with a sweet tooth, Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory on 2nd St. is a must.  They invented the Bourbon Ball.  Need we say more? Guided tours are offered Monday through Saturday. 116 E. 2nd St.

Rick’s White Light Diner  Yes, it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  But folks have been going to Rick’s long before Guy Fieri pulled up in that red convertible. The food is downright awesome, and Rick, well he’s got some stories to tell.  Many of them are hinted at by the eclectic decor plastering the walls of the small, riverside diner.  It would be a shame to come through Frankfort without tasting Rick’s Cajun cuisine.  You can’t go wrong with his burgers or BBQ either.  114 Bridge St.

The Singing Bridge Galleria is one of three newer galleries livening up this little nook of town. Singing Bridge Galleria showcases an interesting variety of mediums from the murals of John Gables, to the mixed media paintings of Christine Kuhn, to the photography of Roger Strunk. Swing by before you cross the river. 119 Bridge St.

Known for her colorful painted gourds, as well as the downtown mural pictured above, artist Jennifer Zingg recently opened Full Circle Studio and Gallery on Bridge St. Full Circle offers paint parties, summer art camps, and classes for all ages, including after-school sessions. Our only question is—can we sign up for your Equine Mask after-school class? It sounds pretty rad to us! 121 Bridge St.

The Singing Bridge  The vibrations of the car tires cause this bridge to “sing”.  When you have a pleasantly full belly courtesy of Rick’s White Light, there’s nothing like an amble over the Singing Bridge towards town with the river breeze tousling your hair.

Bourbon on Main  For a great craft cocktail and an equally pleasing view of the river, head down to Bourbon on Main. The fresh-squeezed citrus in their house-made sour mix takes the Blueberry Margarita to crave-worthy heights. As you might expect, they’ve got an extensive line-up of Kentucky bourbon plus twelve rotating taps of craft beer. We love their hand-cut fries almost as much as Kelly’s refined First Lady libation, with a smooth whisper of St. Germaine Elderflower and Tempus Fugit violet liqueur. Join Bourbon on Main Thursdays for trivia starting at 6:30 and discounts on your favorite Kentucky brews. 103 West Main St.

Magee’s Bakery  This is the place in town for doughnuts.  For those partial to the delicious yeast-risen variety, Magee’s knocks it out of the park. Their blueberry turnovers are also incredible.  225 West Main St.

Folkbike Re-cyclery  This awesome non-profit organization retools old bikes to give them new life for members of the community who could not otherwise afford one. They operate under the umbrella of WalkBike Frankfort. Drop in to donate, or just to see the infamous Smoothie Bike.  308 Lewis St.

Capital Gallery of Contemporary Art  This elegant small gallery on Lewis is one of our favorites. Thoughtfully curated, you can find paintings, ceramics, woodcuts, and fine prints at Capital Gallery. Artist and gallery owner Ellen Glasgow has set up her private studio in the back. Hopefully you’ll get a peek at her luminous, large scale landscapes. 314 Lewis St.

The Grand Theatre is not your average movie house. This structure, originally built in 1911 with a stage for Vaudville acts, still retains its original configuration.  It operates today as a cultural venue offering patrons the opportunity to see national touring acts, view HD streaming events such as Live from the MET (opera), or stage plays from London’s National Theatre, as well as art house and mainstream movies. 308 St. Clair St.

The Woolery is the Mecca of fiber art supply stores. Many weavers, knitters, and crafters have traveled from far and wide to peruse Woolery’s ample stockpile of all things fiber-related. Whether you’ve just started felting, or you’re a master spinner, the Woolery has the tools and expertise to fuel your creativity.  315 St. Clair St.

Three Elements Designs  Rob Kirkman follows his passion for woodworking with gorgeous results. His meticulously crafted, one of a kind furniture is sourced from local materials whenever possible. He is available for custom carpentry or commissioned pieces as well. Stop by his studio in the heart of downtown to see his most recent work. 332 St. Clair St.

Downtown Frankfort Art Walk happens quarterly. 
  • Sep 23, 2016
         5:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.
  • Nov 18, 2016
         5:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.
  • Feb 10, 2017
         5:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.
  • May 12, 2017
         5:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.
Join the festivities downtown between 5-9.  Don’t forget to pop into the studios in the McClure building!

Serafini’s Italian Restaurant is a town staple. Though it is one of the only white tablecloth restaurants around, Serafini’s manages a relaxed, warm ambiance. We’re partial to dinners here–the candlelight against the dark wood booths, the views of the downtown lit by streetlight and the food–flavorful and satisfying. The Goat Cheese and Apple Salad and the Fried Oysters with Chili Plum Sauce are standouts, along with most any nightly special. 243 West Broadway St.

Poor Richard’s Books is a wonderful old bookstore on Broadway named after a former Poet Laureate. While the afternoon away browsing their shelves.  Make sure to climb the stairs to the second floor. You will be dumbstruck at the treasures you find there. 233 West Broadway St.

Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe is the friendly neighbor to Poor Richard’s. In fact, there’s a pass through in the middle of the store making it easy to pull up a chair with your newfound tome and sip on an espresso or perhaps a glass of wine or craft beer. They also serve breakfast and lunch.  The Eggplant Panini with pesto, gouda and spinach is a good pick. The Coffeetree, besides being famous for having a Tiki bar dead center, is known as a community hotspot for live music. Big acts and small have played the intimate venue. You’ll feel like you’re at a really great house party, that is– if your friends are famous, or musical, or both. 235 West Broadway St.

Completely Kentucky  Everything they sell is hand-crafted in the state of Kentucky. Leather bound journals, ceramics, sculptures, shaker boxes, jewelry and blown glass–Completely Kentucky carries quality pieces from over 650 artists and craftsmen. You’ll be sure to find a distinctive gift full of Kentucky pride. 237 West Broadway St.

Capital Cellars Wine and Spirits Cafe Market is our kind of place. Fear not, you don’t have to go to two separate places to choose a great bottle of wine and pick up your preferred bourbon or craft beer, Capital Cellars has it all. The tasting bar in the back is a popular hangout for the locals. Enjoy free wine tastings Thursday and Friday from 4-7.  If it is a nice evening, you’ll see folks sitting out front chatting over a glass of wine (one of the best places to people watch in town). Capital Cellars also offers wine classes. 227 West Broadway St.

Broadway Clay Studio and Gallery  This gallery houses the work of several local potters and regional ceramic artists. Pick up an interesting vessel thrown and fired on site, or take a class. We particularly liked the whimsical magnets near the register. 223 West Broadway

Buffalo Trace Distillery  Take a tour, cruise the campus where aging bourbon “sleeps”, or hit up the gift shop for a tee or a tasting.  The air smells faintly of a frat house on a Sunday morning, but it is a small price to pay to wander around this National Historic Landmark. 1001 Wilkinson Blvd.

We love Frankfort’s easy accessibility to the water. We suggest you spend the day communing with nature on Elkhorn Creek. The friendly folks at Canoe Kentucky will outfit you with whatever you need for a day on the river. 7323 Peaks Mill Rd. 

Need a good hike?  Try Cove Spring Park trails at 100 Cove Spring Rd. or head out to Salato Wildlife Education Center, 1 Sportsman’s Lane, or for GPS use 1 Game Farm Rd.  For more info. about the Salato Wildlife Center check their website.

Josephine Sculpture Park  With the Shakespeare Summerstage, Fall Arts Festival, and Frankfort Public Art Tour, Josephine Sculpture Park has become a beloved gathering place for the community. Go enjoy the grassy meadows and art installations any day of the week from dusk til dawn. 3355 Lawrenceburg Rd.

Nearby and noteworthy…

Holly Hill Inn  Chef Ouita Michel’s food has drawn praise from Garden and Gun, Esquire, The New York Times, and countless others. There is just something about dining in a charming old inn that ramps up the experience tenfold.  Not that we wouldn’t eat Ouita’s food anywhere, but sharing a meal at Holly Hill seems to lend it the respect it deserves.  Heirloom Tomato Tart, Gruyere Chanterelle Souffle, Pistachio Choux Puff and more await you Thursday through Saturday.  Holly Hill serves lunch on the weekends and a decadent Sunday brunch. 426 N. Winter St. Midway, KY

The Midway School Bakery  Chorizo and Jalapeno Scones, you say?  Yes, please.  Sweet or savory baked goods, breakfast sandwiches or Biscuits and Gravy on the weekend–The Midway School Bakery should be on your list if you’re in the area, perhaps even if you’re not. 510 S. Winter St. Midway, KY

Grey Goose  Had a busy day?  Grey Goose can put you right.  We love this uber popular Lexington eatery’s thin crust pizza. Seriously consider any specialty pizza of the day.  We are still dreaming of their prosciutto, fig and goat cheese pie. 133 E. Main St. Midway, KY

Mezzo 131 E. Main St. Midway, KY

The Crushed Violet   The connection between scent and memory is so powerful, it is no wonder an alluring fragrance can make an indelible impression. Find your swoon-worthy scent at Erin Miller’s lovely shop on Gratz. She specializes in exclusive lines of fine fragrances for both men and women. The Crushed Violet is the only shop in the states to carry Carbaline, an exquisite bath and body line from a tiny village outside Verona, Italy. Erin can even introduce you to Dita Von Teese’s favorite scent, Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois. 219 N. Gratz St. Midway, KY

Wallace Station Deli and Bakery  All the bread is made with nearby Weisenberger Mill flour. You may have a hard time ordering. How can one choose between The Big Brown Burger (stacked with ham, bacon and tomato, and drizzled with White Cheddar Mornay), Pimento Cheese, or Merv’s Ham and Jalapeno with caramelized onions? Wallace Station has dinner specials on Mondays and Fridays and live music on the weekends from 6-8 p.m. 3854 Old Frankfort Pike Versailles, KY

Curious for more? Read our Louisville and Lexington, Ky city guides!
© 2017

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