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7 Reasons to Frolic in Frankfort, Kentucky's Little Heaven

As the humble seat of Franklin County, the capital of Kentucky is often overlooked in favor of its more famous neighbors. But tourists from surrounding states like Illinois and Indiana are beginning to add it to their itinerary more often.

Frankfort, Kentucky, is located in the state's bluegrass region just south of the Ohio River. It's only a short drive from neighboring cities Louisville and Lexington and not too far from Cincinnati, Ohio. The mighty Kentucky River roars right through the center of Frankfort, splitting the town in two.

What is the Capital of Kentucky?

Kentucky State Capitol floral clock on the grounds of the Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky on July 29, 2019

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Correct! The capital city of the Bluegrass State is none other than Frankfort. If you guessed Louisville, don't feel too bad. Folks often figure the largest city in a U.S. state must also be its capital. For instance, many think that New York City is the capital of N.Y. state, but in reality, it's Albany.

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Few people realize that Kentucky was actually a part of Virginia before earning its own statehood in 1792. Frankfort became its first capital thanks to the effort local Kentuckians put into building its statehouse.

As most know, during the Civil War, Kentucky ultimately joined the Confederacy. During that time, the state capital was moved to Bowling Green, KY.

Reasons to Visit Frankfort, Kentucky

7. There Are Two(!) Capitol Buildings

Colorful landscaping on the grounds at the capitol statehouse in Frankfort Kentucky USA

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There are actually two capitol buildings in Frankfort. The current capitol was finished in 1910; this is where the state government now meets to do business. It might not have the same charm as the historic Old Capitol building. But self-guided tours can take you past points of interest like its famous Floral Clock and towering statue of Abraham Lincoln.

The Old Capitol is located across the Kentucky River in downtown Frankfort. It is now a museum and the home of the Kentucky Historical Society.

6. Littered With Beautiful Parks

Fountain close up in Frankfort, Kentucky. Horizontal image showing a close up of water fountain. Water droplets captured in motion falling off the side of the fountain.

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Although there aren't any state or national parks very close to Frankfort, the city does have quite a few green spaces to visit. These include Leslie Morris Park at Fort Hill, Capitol View Park, and the scenic Cove Spring Park.

Although it isn't technically a park, you might consider checking out the old Frankfort Cemetery. There, you can visit sites like Daniel Boone's grave and the resting place of the man who baptized General George Washington.

5. The Famous Bourbon Distilleries

A few bourbon distilleries are located in the city of Frankfort, the most well-known of which is the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Several different tours are offered on their grounds, including a tasting tour and a nighttime ghost tour. Just a short drive from the city, you'll find the distilleries of other famous brands like Woodford Reserve and Bulleit. In addition to distilleries, there are also a couple of vineyards and wineries in the area.

RELATED: Hit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail for America's Best Distillery Tours

4. Frankfort's Historic Downtown

Liberty Hall tourist site in Frankfort, KY

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Downtown Frankfort is full of historical sites and architecture any fan of the American past will enjoy. There's a lot to take in, from the old State Arsenal that houses the Kentucky Military History Museum to the Liberty Hall Historic Site. Additionally, most of it can quickly be done on foot or by bike.

You'll find the Kentucky Governor's Mansion only a few blocks from the Old State Capitol Building. The mansion is constructed in the French "beaux arts" style borrowed from Greek and Roman design.

3. Candy Tours! And Other Tours!

Outside of history, bourbon, and the outdoors, Frankfort still has more to offer. Popular sources of modern amusement include destinations like Rebecca Ruth Candy Tours & Museum and Josephine Sculpture Park.

A few different tour opportunities are beyond those offered at the distilleries, including Kentucky River Tours. However, even this one still focuses on bourbon.

2. The Frankfort Museums Rule

Diorama at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to the museums listed above, the Kentucky History Center & Museum and the Capital City Museum are also there. Of course, if you stretch the definition of a museum a bit, you can also include educational sites like the Leslie Morris Park at Fort Hill.

It should be noted that destinations we already discussed above, like the Governor's Mansion and Liberty Hall Historic Site, also function as museums in the capital of Kentucky.

1. So Much Kentucky Nature and Wildlife

One of two captive Bald Eagles at the Salato Wildlife Education Center in Frankfort, KY.

One of two captive Bald Eagles at the Salato Wildlife Education Center in Frankfort, KY. Pen Waggener from Shelbyville, KY, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are two areas dedicated to conservation and preservation right outside the city. Salato Wildlife Center is on the east side of the town, past the airport, and offers nature exhibits, fishing, and hiking. In South Frankfort, you'll find the Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary, administered by the Central Kentucky Audubon Society.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on 06-02-2021.

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