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Bardstown, Kentucky-Great for a Winter Weekend Escape

In a competition held by Rand McNally and USA Today, Bardstown was named “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” and it’s easy to see why. Even in the winter, the town is full of charm and family-friendly destinations.

Bardstown is famously known for “My Old Kentucky Home”, the mansion known as Federal Hill where Stephen Foster was inspired to pen the classic song. The home is open year round for tours and this is a wonderful opportunity to step back in history and learn more about Foster and the Rowan family who called this Georgian-style mansion home.

Abbey of Gethsemani Visitor Center offers displays and a video presentation about monastery life as well as a gift shop with Gethsemani Farms products-including fruitcake, fudge and cheese. The Abbey, founded in 1848 by the Order of Trappist Cistercians, is still home today to Trappist monks and all are welcome to walk the lovely grounds.

My Old Kentucky Dinner Train offers scenic dinner trips on Saturdays throughout winter. This is a unique experience and the dining cars (some dating to the 1940s) offer a delicious meal and a unusual vantage point for taking in the countryside. Many children have never been on a train, so this is truly a treat!

Bardstown-Nelson County Historical Museum is located inside Spalding Hall and their collection includes an original porcupine-quill-decorated Indian coat and one of the first Kentucky long rifles made in Bardstown by renowned gunsmith, Jacob Rizer (circa 1835). On display are a variety of historical artifacts through World War II that help tell the story of the region and Kentucky’s role in history.

Old County Jail is open for tours and also happens to be a charming bed and breakfast.
The very brave can take a tour of the original 1819 jail and get a chilling look at conditions in this jail that was in operation until 1987.

Built in 1779, the Old Talbott Tavern in a historic stone building has seen many visitors over the years, from presidents and kings to outlaws and a ghost or two. Today, your family can enjoy a meal in this historic tavern with favorites like Old Kentucky Hot Brown.

With many shops and lodging options, Bardstown is a great place for a weekend escape and an easy drive from Greater Cincinnati. For more information, visit

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