While Kentucky’s capital city is sometimes overlooked for the larger destinations of Louisville and Lexington, Frankfort has lots to offer the traveling family with a taste for history and great local eats.
Grab your cup of coffee and a pastry at Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe in downtown Frankfort. In addition to organic coffee beverages, the cozy and intimate eatery also offers homemade soups, salads and sandwiches, alongside seasonal handcrafted cocktails and local brews and wines. The restaurant is right next door to Poor Richard’s Books, and you can walk between the two to pick up some reading material on Kentucky’s history and culture.
Nearby, Gibby’s is frequently lauded for its lunchtime specials and sandwiches. The longtime local favorite offers light bites, salads and an array of pastas and hot entrees. The laid-back atmosphere welcomes downtown employees during the lunch hour and hungry locals the rest of the day.
Bourbon on Main is a newer Frankfort establishment, serving a small but well put together menu of small plates, specialty burgers and sandwiches. Try the Quityerbitchin’ Burger for a spicy kick. It’s topped with spicy beer cheese, Bird’s Eye chili, habaneros, jalapeños, poblano, samba chili paste and wild mushrooms. If that’s a bit too much for your taste, maybe try the down-home Big Ass Bologna Sandwich, with American cheese, fried egg and pickled red onions.
Of course, the signature bourbon cocktails can’t be missed. The Buffalo Sidecar features Buffalo Trace bourbon, produced just miles away, Cointreau, sweet and sour and barrel-aged bitters.
Frankfort boasts an abundance of historical sites. The Kentucky State Capitol is a quick stop on your itinerary. You can walk in and view the space and rotunda for free Monday through Friday, and Saturdays April through October. Additional tours are available.
While you’re there, you can also check out the famed Frankfort Capitol Floral Clock, a 34-foot artistic display featuring thousands of plants that change seasonally. The Governor’s Mansion is also nearby. Built in the early 1900s, its architecture mimics that of Marie Antoinette’s villa at Versailles.
For great views and some historic spooks, visit Frankfort Cemetery, where Daniel Boone and his wife Rebecca are buried. The cemetery was founded in the 1840s and features many historic gravesites, as the second incorporated memorial park in the United States. From the Daniel Boone grave marker, you can enjoy great views of the Kentucky River and downtown Frankfort.
For those with a sweet tooth, enjoy a little confectionary history with a Rebecca Ruth Candy Tour. The regionally beloved brand began in 1919 and tours, $5 per person and available each day with no appointment necessary, feature a behind-the-scenes look at the family operation and a retelling of the tragic backstory behind the candy company.