Join me and my framily (friend-family) as we road trip through the beautiful countryside of Kentucky!
TL;DR? Check out a summary of our itinerary here.
This past July our four person family joined together with my dear friend and her son to explore some of the Bluegrass State. We visited awesome places, saw gorgeous landscapes and enjoyed a week of country living.
Here's an itinerary if you'd like to plan a similar trip. We encourage you to do so!
Day 1: Mammoth Cave National Park
We rented an Airbnb in Magnolia, KY - an easy 45 minute drive to Mammoth Cave National Park. Our framily chose the classic Historic Tour because it offers a guide-led overview of the cave and isn't too strenuous for our boys (ages 9, 9 and 6). This particular tour takes two hours, covers two miles of terrain and includes 540 stairs. The cost is only $20 per adult and $15 per child. It's a great deal, especially considering there's no admittance fee into the park.
Our cave expedition was awesome! The sensation of walking down into the cool, 54 degree cave from the warm, humid, 80 degree day was an unforgettable sensation.
The Historic Tour took us through a huge underground room (the Rotunda), over a 100 foot drop (the Bottomless Pit) and through a very tight pathway between the rock walls (Fat Man's Misery).
We were excited to learn that Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system in the world with over 400 miles mapped. That mileage count increases with each year as more of the cave system is discovered.
On the ride back to Magnolia we stopped at Big Mike's Rock Shop in Cave City for some souvenirs. The boys got their picture taken with Big Mo, the giant Mosasaurus attraction, and saw a real Mosasaurus skull inside the shop. They picked out some cool rocks and gems to bring home with them.
Day 2: Louisville
We drove about an hour north to spend the day in Louisville, a cool little city with a vibrant feel to it. My friend and I took the kids to Waterfront Park while my husband visited Rabbit Hole Distillery. He enjoyed the distillery's modern atmosphere and entrepreneurial spirit. He said the bourbon tasted great, too.
Waterfront Park is an 85 acre public park on the Ohio River with great views of the bridges that span from Kentucky to Indiana. There's trails for walking, plenty of green space and an expansive playground with a splash zone. Our favorite feature of the park was the Lincoln Memorial. Did you know Lincoln was born in Kentucky?! We didn't!
After the park we toured the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Seeing how baseball bats are made was surprisingly entertaining. Our sons got to swing bats that real baseball heroes used. My oldest son swung Babe Ruth's bat!
The boys and I went to Graeter's, a regional ice cream shop (the key lime pie ice cream was delicious!), while my husband and friend toured Angel's Envy Distillery. They said this one had a more traditional, small batch feel. They were pretty happy once we met back up so I imagine the tastings were generous!
Before leaving the city we swung by the Greetings from Louisville mural for a photo op and drove past Churchill Downs. We didn't stop as there were no races happening that day and we'd get our fill of horses the following day. We did cross the river into Indiana for a total of five minutes, just to say we'd been there!
Day 3: Old Friends Farm
When I think back to our trip, this day is a highlight for me.
Old Friends Farm in Georgetown is home to 200+ retired race horses. This thoroughbred aftercare facility was founded in 2003 by Michael Blowen, a Boston Globe film critic. He makes sure the horses are living their best life on the 236 acres of rolling hills and meadows. They spend their days in the sunshine, eating carrots and receiving head scratches from visitors. What a life!
Our framily took a private tour ($50 per adult, free for kids), the only option available for kids under ten years old. Our informative and friendly tour guide took us to meet at least 20 horses via golf cart over 2+ hours. We loved meeting the animals, learning about their backstories, and connecting with them in such an intimate environment.
The most famous horse we encountered was Silver Charm, a 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. We also met the horse who starred in Seabiscuit with Tobey Maguire.
My husband's least favorite horse was Bellamy Road, former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's thoroughbred. Apparently this horse could smell that my husband is a Red Sox fan because he nibbled on his arm a. bit. I can't remember my favorite horse's name, but it was this sweet boy who stuck his tongue out at me.
After saying goodbye to the horses we made our way to Midway, KY. This charming little town has railroad tracks down the middle and nice restaurants, boutiques and thrift shops all along the main street. My friend, who loves horseback riding, was psyched to find a pair of like-new riding boots at Commotion! Consignment Riding Apparel.
Our next stop was Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. Although I can't stand the taste or smell of bourbon, I enjoyed the grounds and gift shop. My husband loves their bourbon and was hoping to score a bottle of their daily special batch, but alas, they were all out. My husband says this distillery is a must on the Bourbon Trail. Make sure to order your tickets online well in advance.
Day 4: Horseback Riding & Lazy Day at the Airbnb
We returned to Mammoth Cave National Park for a horseback ride with Adventures of Mammoth Cave. This company offers all kinds of outdoor activities like a zip-line tour, an aerial ropes courses, e-bike and kayak rentals, and horseback rides.
We chose the one hour ride for $35 per person. We rode the horses through a hilly forest that sits on top of the cave system. We even saw an entrance to the cave from the trail. The horses were gentle and our guide was helpful in teaching my son how to maneuver the horse with the reins. It was an affordable price to pay for a relaxing, scenic experience.
After a quick lunch at KFC (when in Rome...) we headed back to Magnolia to enjoy our Airbnb's offerings. We visited the on-site cows (four mamas and four babies), splashed in the spring fed creek, found a bunch of fossils, and looked for bunnies and deer across the 120 acres of fields. We spotted fireflies and countless stars in the nighttime sky. We could've spent our whole vacation just at the Airbnb property. We highly recommend it!
Day 5: Back Home
We were all sad to leave Kentucky after such a special trip. The Bluegrass State did not disappoint! If you love bourbon and horses, you'll be in heaven. If you can't stand bourbon and think horses are alright like me, you'll still be in heaven!
XO, Snark Mom
Mammoth Cave National Park, Historic Tour option
Big Mike's Rock Shop for souvenirs in Cave City
Walk around downtown Louisville
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Greetings from Louisville mural
Distilleries: Rabbit Hole & Angel's Envy
Old Friends Horse Farm in Georgetown
Lunch & shopping in Midway
Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort
Horseback riding in Mammoth Cave
Lunch at KFC (LOL)
Enjoy your Airbnb!