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A few weeks ago, Andy and I were supposed to be in Vermont, thanks to free flights from our new hobby: travel hacking. Unfortunately, we had to cancel our vacation because of expensive emergencies that drained our bank account. Literally every penny we had saved for our trip had to be spent! We were disappointed, but we still wanted to get out of town for a little bit. So, we went to a cute little town nearby: Bardstown, KY, which is listed as one of the Top 100 Best Small Towns in America and one of the Best 50 Small Southern Towns. Bardstown is just an hour from Fort Knox, so it was an easy drive!
We arrived into town around lunchtime and went immediately to eat at Mammy’s Kitchen. It’s a family-owned restaurant immediately off the courthouse square in Bardstown that serves Southern-style cuisine. The wait staff was really friendly– until Andy said he doesn’t care who wins the UK vs. UCLA basketball game! 😉 Andy ordered a jalapeno burger and I had the BBQ Pulled Pork. We didn’t know this at the time, but Mammy’s Kitchen is directly across the street from where we would be staying the night!
After lunch, we walked around the court square for a bit. It was chilly, but not uncomfortable. Santa was taking pictures with children in front of the courthouse and the Salvation Army band was playing Christmas carols. Andy and I walked into the stores and shopped (mostly window-shopped.)
Since we still had a few hours to kill before we could check into our accommodations for the night, we went to the My Old Kentucky Home State Park. “My Old Kentucky Home” is the state song of Kentucky written by Stephen Foster in 1853, and thanks to the singing at every Kentucky Derby, it’s probably the best-known state song. In fact, I know all of the lyrics to include the often-excluded second verse (since it’s no longer politically correct.) I didn’t know this before our visit to Federal Hill, but “My Old Kentucky Home” was actually an anti-slavery song. I guess I had always assumed Stephen Foster was a Kentuckian, but he was not. His relatives the Rowans owned a farm outside of Bardstown called Federal Hill, and Stephen was inspired to write the song after his many trips there. When the last Rowan passed away in the 1920s, she donated the home and land to the Kentucky State Park system.
We took a tour inside Federal Hill and it was gorgeous! Unfortunately, no cameras are allowed inside. If you’re planning a visit to My Old Kentucky Home State Park, they offer a military discount to military as well as family members.
On our way to the inn, we drove around town for a bit. We drove past Barton Distillery and unfortunately just missed the last tour of the day! Since they don’t offer tours on Sunday, we will have to come back to take a tour sometime. My Papaw worked at an Owensboro distillery owned by Barton so I’ve always wanted to take a distillery tour.
Then, it was time to check into our home for the night– the Jailer’s Inn Bed and Breakfast. The property was the county jail from 1797 until it closed in 1987. The current jail was built in 1819 with an addition in 1874. The Travel Channel named it as one of the top 10 haunted places in America, but supposedly “most of the spirits at the jail are peaceful.”
They have 6 jail rooms converted for guests to stay in. All of them except one are remodeled to look like a typical bed-and-breakfast room. The other room, is the former women’s jail cell room and still looks like a jail cell. Naturally, that’s the one Andy and I stayed in! With any luck, that’s the ONLY jail cell we’ll ever be in!
After checking into our room, we immediately took a nap. I have no idea why, but most days I am so tired that I just have to take a nap! Once we woke up, it was dinner time. We wanted to eat at the Old Talbott Tavern next door (it was built in 1779 and has never closed since, making it the oldest western stagecoach stop still in operation) but thanks to some Internet searching, we learned it was a little pricey. Maybe on a future trip to Bardstown we will eat there! So we opted to go to a local favorite joint instead called Susie Q’s. Unfortunately, Susie Q’s apparently doesn’t like outsiders– we had the worst service there ever! The waitress never checked up on us after bringing us our food or brought the ketchup that I politely asked for.
After dinner, we went back to our room for the night. We were the only guests staying in that wing of the jail and it was creepy! I kept hearing noises all night and it terrified me to the point where I woke up every 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, Andy slept like a baby all night long. Needless to say, I was exhausted when it was time for breakfast! The bed was comfy, though, so that was nice!
We joined the other guests for a home-style breakfast before taking our tour of the jail.
Inside the “drunk tank”
Graffiti and contraband in the jail
Graffiti inside the jail
Andy decided to walk down the hall at night and this mannequin scared him half to death!
Inside the courtyard where hangings took place. In the summer, the inn serves breakfast in the courtyard.
Behind the inn is an old graveyard. It’s spooky, especially when you’re walking to and from your car at night!
On our way home, we stopped at Hadorn’s Bakery for donuts. The place was hoppin’ but the donuts were worth the wait!
After that we headed home (so I could take a nap!) Overall, our time in Bardstown was short but sweet. It was nice to get away for an evening!
Would you ever visit Bardstown, KY?