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Play and Dine in Danville, Kentucky, With the Family

by Holly Riddle

Jan 24, 2020

Foofly | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

The small town of Danville, Kentucky, three hours from Nashville, one from Lexington and 1.5 from Louisville, makes an easy daytrip from any of these more popular destinations.


Danville is well worth a visit thanks to its amicable charm and heavy dose of all things Kentucky provided in one small serving.




Danville oozes history. Visit the McDowell House Museum, Apothecary & Garden to see the restored and furnished house museum and its historic pharmacy. The National Historic Landmark was home to Dr. Ephraim McDowell, a pioneering surgeon who performed a surgical experiment to remove an abdominal tumor during a time before anesthesia, antibiotics and other modern medical tools. Guided tours are available Tuesday–Saturday, 10–11:30 a.m. and 1–3:30 p.m., and Sunday, 2–3:30 p.m.


The Great American Dollhouse Museum features a series of dollhouses reflecting various eras of American history, as well as a Shaker Village, factory district and more. The hands-on Dollhouse Village is perfect for kids and allows them to play with furnished dollhouses, a miniature horse stable and shopping mall. The museum itself is situated in a large historic building constructed in 1939, as part of the Works Progress Administration.


If you’re traveling with those of legal drinking age, visit the Wilderness Trail Distillery for a tour. Learn about the distillery’s spirit making process, which makes use of local grains and a signature sweet mash fermentation process. Tastings are also available if you’re short on time. Ranked a top 10 craft distillery, Wilderness Trail hosts lots of events, such as concerts and murder mystery theater.


Speaking of theater, theater-lovers will want to try to catch a show at Pioneer Playhouse, the oldest outdoor theater in Kentucky. Founded in 1950, the theater puts on off-Broadway and locally written shows nearly each night during the summer, at 8:30 p.m., Tuesday–Saturday. Stop by a little early to see the playhouse’s replica of historic Danville.




Don’t miss the doughnuts at Burke’s Bakery, a New York Times-recognized institution serving not only deliciously fresh doughnuts, but also a range of baked goodies, from cookies to bread.


For tea lovers, Elmwood Inn Fine Teas shop and tea room is a must-visit.


Farm-to-table eateries are plentiful when you’re looking for a lunch or dinner option. Stop by The Bluebird for a menu filled with Kentucky-grown and -raised ingredients. Some of the favorite menu items include the Bluebird Pear Salad, Somerset Wrap and BBQ Burger. Grace Cafe is a nonprofit restaurant where you pay what you can and the proceeds go to ending hunger in the community. Plank on Main is a café and bar meet boutique fitness center. The café offers healthful menu items and craft cocktails, while the fitness center serves yoga, barre, Pilates and other classes.


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