Kentucky is the ‘front porch’ of the southern states, not just in terms of its geography – it straddles the Mason-Dixon line between north and south – but also for its political, musical and sporting culture, and as a standard bearer for that famous southern hospitality.
Synonymous for many with bourbon, the state is also famed for its talented chefs and artists, and hosts a number of popular food and music festivals throughout the year. As the birthplace of a number of legendary Americans, including Abraham Lincoln, Muhammad Ali and the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, Kentucky is steeped in history.
It’s also known as the Horse Capital of the World, best encapsulated in the prestigious annual Kentucky Derby. Whatever brings you here, you’ll find plenty to surprise and delight you.
Need to know
Getting there: The key hubs of Louisville and Lexington are well served by connecting flights and the airport of Northern Kentucky will have direct BA flights from London Heathrow from summer 2023.
Best time to go: With four distinctive seasons, Kentucky has plenty to offer throughout the year. Spring and autumn enjoy particularly pleasant temperatures, with the fall colours not to be missed. Summer is hotter, particularly in the south of the state, making this a good time to visit Kentucky’s many lakes and waterways – surprisingly, although the state is landlocked, it has more navigable water than any state other than Alaska, and even has more shoreline than Florida.
Currency: US dollar
Time zone: GMT -5 or -6 (location dependent).
Food Bourbon features strongly in many local recipes, and fried chicken – made world famous by Kentucky Fried Chicken – is a staple of the state’s cuisine. Try local dishes such as hot brown, burgoo and derby pie.
Where to stay: There are plenty of options for all budgets, from bijou designer hotels to treehouses and anything in between. Touring in an RV (motorhome) is a great way to see the state.
How to do it: Like so much of the States, you’ll need a vehicle to get the most out of a visit, whether on an escorted tour or by hiring a car or an RV. A number of specialist tour operators, including America As You Like It and Trailfinders, can put together a trip to Kentucky.
Must-pack item: Cool clothes for summer and layers for winter. But most of all, a spirit for adventure and fun.
Why go: To surprise yourself with the variety of things to do and experience in Kentucky, while enjoying a large apple-pie-sized slice of southern hospitality.