Day Trip to Bardstown
Bardstown is less than an hour south of Louisville, and there is so much to do there for a day or weekend trip! We recently went down to Bardstown on a beautiful, sunny day, and decided to mix some fun with some education and exercise.
What is there to do on a day trip to Bardstown?
On your day trip to Bardstown, there are four war museums in Bardstown that are all able to be visited from one, low ticket price: Old Bardstown Village, Civil War Museum, Military Museum, and Museum of Women in the Civil War.
These small museums were very well-organized and FULL of interesting artifacts and exhibits. I was shocked how much was in each location.
First, enter the Civil War Museum where you buy your admission for all four museums. You buy your ticket in the gift shop (the only gift shop for all four sites). Hold onto your receipt to show as proof of admission at the four locations, and it gives you admission to the museums the following day as well!
In the Civil War Museum, your kids will love looking at the cannons, artifacts, and mannequins (even horse mannequins), showing off different uniforms, guns, and everyday use items from the Civil War.
Then walk across the parking lot and down the stairs to the Old Bardstown Village. The Old Bardstown Village is a collection of ten original 18th and 19th Century log structures that form a Colonial period settlement. You can go into each of the ten structures and look at replicas of the period furniture, artifacts, and read about the type of people who would have originally lived and worked in each. The cabins are surrounded by grass and running water – it’s very peaceful.
Across the street from The Civil War Museum is the Cobblestone Path. This is an amazing piece of history. This path is one of the oldest “paved” roads in Kentucky. It’s a very steep grade with uneven cobblestones. It’s hard to imagine it was the main route in and out of Bardstown at one time. Walk up to the bench at the top, and then you can make your way back down again and continue on your Museum visits.
Next is the The General Hal Moore Military Museum, dedicated to Bardstown native Lt. General Hal Moore, U.S. Army, Vietnam and Korean War Hero. This museum has sections of artifacts from every War the United States has participated in since the Revolutionary War. The exhibits in this Museum cover conflicts from the American Revolution to the Mid-East battles of today, and are centered on the contributions of the many Kentuckians who served.
Attached to the Military Museum is the Women’s Museum of the Civil War. It is one of a kind. The Women’s Museum chronicles the achievements of women of all backgrounds, races and creeds during the 1800’s and Civil War. Achievements in science, medicine, nursing, writing, journalism, civil rights, suffrage, the arts, military service and more. This museum does not have as many artifacts as the others, but as lots of interesting information.
Next we headed to the Welcome Center in the heart of Bardstown. There’s a great map there of local attractions, a self guided walking tour, and architecture and things of interest nearby. My kids enjoyed squeezing into the phone booth and standing on the Bardstown compass outside.
Not far from the Welcome Center, we had lunch at The Old Talbott Tavern. The Old Talbert Tavern has been providing guests with good food and comfortable accommodations since 1779. The Old Talbert Inn boasts it is the oldest bourbon bar in the world. Presidents and criminals have passed through its doors and found shelter in the rooms. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was great. I highly recommend it!
We also stopped by the playground and trails of Bardstown Community Park. This was a great break in our day where the kids could climb and run around. I was most impressed with the trails heading out from the basketball court area. They cover a wooded area of about 20 acres, and has about 10 points of interest to check out on the trails. The playground and trails are open from dawn till dusk.
Continuing our outdoor time, we made sure to check out the Abbey of Gethsemani. Founded in 1848, Gethsemani is the oldest monastery in the United States that is still operating. Feel free to look around the tombstones from the 1800’s or have a picnic in the grass on the main property. While the Welcome Center is closed during COVID, the trails are open.
Across the street from the main property, there are a surprising number of hiking trails and places to rest and reflect. I recommend checking a map – if you’re not careful, you could be hiking for hours around their 2,000 acres. We preferred to hike up the two, grassy hills and look around at the tops, and then take the Road to Hanekamp’s, past Edmond Lake and continue through the woods until we had walked enough. We’re hoping to make it to the Path of Statues next time!
To end our exciting day, we made a stop by Willett Distillery. There are 11 distilleries within 16 miles of downtown Bardstown, so we felt it was worth a stop. We researched to find the most family-friendly looking distillery in Bardstown, and Willett Distillery hit the mark. If you’re interested, I recommend booking a tour in advance, as the tours were sold out the Saturday we stopped by. The grounds were kid friendly with big rocks to jump on and ponds to watch, as well as outside seating, and a coffee and non-alcoholic beverage bar on the first floor. They do sell food (including donuts) if you’re interested in visiting for longer. The staff was so friendly and helpful, we can see how it has been rated so high on the family scale.
While in Bardstown, we did stop by My Old Kentucky Home State Park for drinks and snacks. Aside from touring the 200 year old Federal Hill mansion and Spring House cabin, there are beautiful grounds with hiking trails to enjoy. Check their calendar for events. While we didn’t take time to tour the mansion on this trip, The Kentucky Home contains one of the most complete collections of any historic planation museum in the United States. Over 75% of the mansion’s contents, including decorative arts, paintings, personal items, tools, and furniture, are original to the property.
All in all, it was a great day trip to Bardstown. We learned, we walked, we played, and we made memories. My kids enjoyed our time there, and it was a very inexpensive day. Aside from the gas to drive down and back, we only bought our museum ticket, food, and drinks. I’d definitely call it a success all around.
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