Kentucky Readers' Choice Awards

When you Kentuckians and West Virginians cast your votes in this year's Readers' Choice contest, you had much to salute in your own states.
Wanda McKinney

Traveling in and writing about Kentucky and West Virginia for several years makes me pretty biased in my affection for these stunning and friendly states. Many of you who voted in our Southern Living Readers' Choice Awards happily voiced your state pride as well.

The Beautiful Outdoors
Both Kentucky and West Virginia are blessed with stunning scenery. Our readers voted enthusiastically for such mountain destinations as Spruce Knob, West Virginia. "It seems like the highest place on earth," says a reader from Wheeling. But the across-the-board favorite scenic drive is the Martha Layne Collins Blue Grass Parkway. LuAnn Bauman from Florence, Kentucky, writes, "I especially like it in late springtime when you can see the vast fields of Kentucky bluegrass blowing in the wind." Another Blue Grass Parkway fan, Brentni Henderson of Bowling Green, thinks the road is especially beautiful in the fall. "I often feel as though I have traveled into a Thomas Kinkade painting," she says. "The vibrant colors warm my soul. The landscape offers tourists the traditional view of Kentucky: horse farms and gently rolling blue-green hills."

The Inside Scoop
All that beauty spills over into the resorts and restaurants and shops in Kentucky and West Virginia as well. One of the favorite resorts is the famed Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. One reader comments, "It's such a beautiful setting, and its recent renovations make it even more stunning. We were there in September, and the leaves were just beginning to turn."

Food holds a place of honor in the hearts of Kentuckians, as noted by reader LuAnn Bauman, who belongs to the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn fan club. "My favorites are the pork ribs and chopped pork sandwiches," she says of the legendary Owensboro, Kentucky, eatery. "The sauce is perfectly sweetened with a hint of smokiness. The barbecue baked beans are mixed with the same sweet and smoky sauce, and they are really good with the corn muffins." Another favorite in the barbecue category is Frances Bar-B-Q in Tompkinsville, Kentucky. Brentni Henderson writes, "The barbecue shoulder is the best, sliced thin and smothered in their special sauce; it melts in your mouth! The country atmosphere, quality meat, special sauce, and the pit where the meat is cooked provide a sweet and spicy combination that will delight every taste bud!"

The friendly people at the Kentucky Welcome Center traveling north on I-65 will tell you right quick where to eat. "Stop at Exit 86 in Glendale, and eat at the Whistle Stop Restaurant," two different ladies instructed. "And be sure to ask for the meat loaf. It's really good." They also both insisted that trying the delectable homemade pies was a must. The coconut is indeed a true winner, with a perfectly executed meringue.

Whether you're a fan of the great outdoors or a lover of local cuisine, you'll find plenty to crow about in Kentucky and West Virginia. Thanks so much for your votes. Please click here to enter again.