Frankfort, Kentucky has an interesting history.

Frankfort Kentucky – A Colorful Capital

Before we visited Frankfort, Kentucky, we thought it was just about thoroughbred horses, fried chicken, and bluegrass music. What we were to discover was a vibrant past filled with curious moments in history. Did you know that Kentucky was originally part of the Virginia colony? The largest of the original 13 colonies, Virginia ceded the land for a new state in 1792. More than 230 years later, the state tempts visitors with delectable food, interesting attractions, and its famed Bourbon Trail. Join us as we explore the colorful capital of our 15th state.  

We want to thank Visit Frankfort for hosting our visit. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.

We started our day with coffee at a downtown Frankfort shop.

Starting in Downtown Frankfort

In our opinion, every morning should start with an aromatic cup of coffee. (Okay, maybe two or three cups.) The Kentucky Coffee Cafe sits front and center in the Frankfort downtown. This quaint neighborhood includes brick-lined streets filled with cute shops and eateries. As we sipped our drinks, we enjoyed the view of the old Kentucky State Capitol Building. Those grounds are the site of the only U.S. state governor to be assassinated while in office. This factual tidbit was the spark to get us moving on our One Day Stay in Frankfort, Kentucky.  

The Kentucky capitol building is a delight to tour.

Colorful Capital

As settlers poured through the Cumberland Gap, new towns sprung up along the waterways. The land was prime for the cultivation of corn, tobacco, and hemp. Establishing a capital required selecting a city. Frankfort submitted the most compelling bid and by 1794, the first statehouse was erected. By the early 1900s, the government had outgrown its early statehouse. This new capital was erected about a mile from downtown. While this was considered “suburban” back in those days, the city’s growth would soon surround the new site. Over the years the city hasn’t rested on its laurels. Continuous improvements have made this capital a visual treat. 

We found a lot of public art scattered around Frankfort.

Quiet Reflection

Continuing our capital tour, we headed outside to check out the grounds. We’ve found that state capitals are a great place to find some beautiful artwork and are FREE to visit. While the interior holds many classical statues, outside we found it was more contemporary. This piece, titled “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”, was created to honor the Kentucky victims of Covid-19. As we gazed at the sculpture, we thought about how the world has changed over the past few years. Sometimes it’s good to reset our perspective and remember how we should cherish every day.  

There is a wide range of public art to be discovered in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Artful Accents Around Frankfort

One of the other creative pieces we noticed was the 34-foot floral clock. For longer than we have been alive, this artistic timepiece has decorated the West Lawn. We noticed that daylight was burning, so it was time to move along. Frankfort doesn’t keep all of their art around their capital. During our explorations, we spotted murals and sculptures scattered around the city. When combined with the variety of architectural styles, it made our walks very interesting.  

Rebecca Ruth Candies is the home of Bourbon Balls.

A Sweet Stop

We spotted a sweet surprise on our GPS when we returned from the capital to downtown Frankfort. Just off Capital Avenue sits Rebecca Ruth Chocolates. Way back in 1919, before they had the right to vote, two substitute teachers took a leap of faith and started a candy company. In the 1930s, mixing chocolate and bourbon sparked the research that would yield Bourbon Balls. These tasty treats pack a little punch, to boot. Visitors can schedule an $8 per person tour or drop in and shop their sweet selections.

We heard some interesting stories during our Bourbon Trail history walk.

Sampling Frankfort's Bourbon Trail

The early European settlers brought to Kentucky their knowledge of whiskey making. The unique climate, combined with the limestone bedrock, allowed for the creation of a new version that they called bourbon. Now that we were back in the downtown, it was time to learn a little about this integral part of Frankfort’s history. Local historian Russ Kennedy was happy to lead us on a fact-filled walk around town. For $11 per person, we felt this tour offered a lot of value, as well as some amusing stories. Afterward, we decided to check out one of the uniquely Frankfort restaurants. Located along the banks of the Kentucky River, Bourbon On Main was the perfect fit. We snacked on a variety of appetizers and I tried my first Old Fashioned. 

The Capital City Museum is a FREE attraction that tells the history of Frankfort.

Capital City History

Our lunch had satisfied our hunger but we were still yearning to learn more of Frankfort’s history. Just a couple of blocks from lunch was the Capital City Museum. Another FREE attraction, this one holds two floors of exhibits and collections. As we walked through time, we learned about subjects from VIP visitors to world-famous fishing reels. Since this was our first blogging visit to Kentucky, we didn’t want to miss anything. Our appetites were growing, so we started working our way toward lunch. On the way, we popped in some of the local shops to do some souvenir searching. 

Main Street Diner serves up home style meals in downtown Frankfort.

Down Home Dining

Like many of our excursions, we try to focus primarily on the downtown region. We find these to usually be filled with locally-owned businesses. Here we can savor the true flavors of a destination. Seeing the sign for Main Street Diner, we thought “What could be more local?” Stepping through the door, we felt like we were transported to the 1950s. The menu is filled with homestyle meals. It had been quite some time since we’d had a meal like this. We can see why so many locals frequent the restaurant. 

We enjoyed a sweet treat from Hoggy's Ice Cream shop.

Sweet Escape

Even with full bellies, we always find room for ice cream. Fortunately, Hoggy’s Ice Cream was just a block away. This quaint shop is locally owned and the staff is quite friendly. While savoring our treats, we reminisced about our fun-filled day in Frankfort. An evening stroll yielded us an impromptu concert. A small group of locals had assembled outside a local pub and provided background music for our walk.

The Capital Plaza Hotel is a full service lodging option in downtown Frankfort, Kentucky.

Downtown Frankfort Lodging

We were tuckered out, after our adventurous day, so we headed to our lodging. Visit Frankfort had arranged a room at the Capital Plaza Hotel. We considered a dip in their heated pool but decided to head to our room. After a good night’s sleep, we packed up for the next leg of our trip.  A stop at their breakfast buffet provided us with a solid start to our day.

The authors pause for a selfie in downtown Frankfort, Kentucky.

Frankfort is Fantastic

As you can see, we had a marvelous experience in Frankfort, Kentucky. This capital city makes a good couple’s escape destination. The relaxed atmosphere helps visitors slow down and soak up the southern charm. Adventure seekers can choose to paddle along the Kentucky River or go for a hike at one of the local parks. The city also has an assortment of bourbon bars and wineries for some adult libations. Just make sure to leave time to soak up some of Frankfort’s unique history.  

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