Frankfort: The Unknown City of Kentucky

If most people were asked to name cities in Kentucky, they would be hard-pressed to come up with anything beyond Louisville and Lexington among the sports fans. The capital of Kentucky is neither of those cities, however; it is Frankfort. As state (or commonwealth, which is the official designation of Kentucky) capitals go, Frankfort is not very large. It has only about 30,000 people spread over the 14 square miles that make up Franklin County. The town actually is sort of the opposite of a suburb. People drive in from Lexington and Louisville to work for the government but then head back home for entertainment and family life.

Frankfort does have much to offer visitors, however, and the city could do more to promote tourism. The biggest distillery in Frankfort is Buffalo Trace Distillery. For people who do not know, Kentucky is the home of bourbon. Real Kentuckians consider bourbon made anywhere else a sort of imposter. Kentucky bourbon is a source of pride and is a great boon to the economy as well. One can tour Buffalo Trace to see how the liquor is made, and taste-testing is available for people who are of age.

Once you have left Buffalo Trace and have your taste of bourbon, you should head over to the Rebecca-Ruth Candy Factory. Though it is tough to get into the candy factory now as tours are scarce, you can shop in the bourbon candy shop. Most of the candies in the shop are made with bourbon and have the sweet taste of it in them. Do not worry parents; the bourbon itself evaporates in the process. There are candies that are bourbon-free as well as the Rebecca-Ruth company has experimented with other types of candy as well, including white chocolates and sugar-free options.

Next on your stop in Frankfort should be for lunch at Jim’s Seafood or Glen Willis. Both restaurants sit on the Kentucky River, which is small as rivers go but very nice indeed. Jim’s is situated in what was a hemp factory in the nineteenth century. The people there planted marijuana, which is used to cultivate hemp, on the hill beside the factory and harvested it to make rope and other products.

You can sit at your window-side seat and look out over the river. You can see the lock for the river on the other side. A lock is used to stop water that has been diverted. It allows the water levels to rise so that boats can pass through. Though the river has little traffic today, it once was a place where ships traveled to take goods to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The lockmaster lived in a house just along the river, and that house still stands today, though it is very modest by contemporary standards.

Glen Willis is a restaurant in a beautiful home that has been restored. The Victorian-era home has rooms for guests to eat as well as a gift shop. On very nice days, you even have the option of eating on the veranda, which is only feet from the river and settled under beautiful trees.

The area across from Glen Willis and Jim’s Seafood also has interesting historic significance, and if you want to walk off some of your lunchtime fare, then you can head over. There is a building that once was a general store, a school, and other homes. They are in their original condition and are unoccupied right now, though the yard and road are well kept.

In addition to these attractions, Frankfort is home to a number of museums, including the Kentucky Military History Museum and the Capital City Museum, which traces the inhabitants of Kentucky from historic times to the present. The city cemetery also has the remains of Daniel Boone, who is a favorite son of the commonwealth. Kentuckians claim that Boone has the best view of the city, and it is true. You can look out over the entire city if you visit the grave. Boone can see the river, the capital and other government buildings, and the new commercial districts on the west side of town. So the next time you are thinking of somewhere to go, head to Frankfort to visit Boone and his people.

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