Plan A Holiday Getaway In Picturesque Bardstown, Kentucky

Get into the spirit of the season in Bardstown, about an hour from Louisville.

Bardstown Bourbon Company Kitchen and Bar


It’s no surprise to us that Bourbon Country is a great place to find good cheer during the winter months. Amid the rolling hills and charming towns, Bardstown has always stood out as one of the most festive. While it’s located in a slice of Central Kentucky best known for its distilleries, there’s even more to enjoy in and around this area in December. From rides on dinner trains accompanied by Santa and Mrs. Claus to the must-try tasting flights at stops along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, it couldn’t be easier to plan an exciting getaway in the Bluegrass State.

Hot cocoa and deserts decorated atop red table cloth at Bourbon Manor Bed & Breakfast
Enjoy a leisurely stay at Bourbon Manor Bed & Breakfast, where a hearty morning meal (including dessert) is served every day and the foyer features a trimmed tree.


Join the Celebration

If you’re a first-time visitor, set your sights on the Bardstown Historic District for the full holiday experience. The Old Nelson County Courthouse, which dates to 1892, glows red and green once the sun goes down. Its annual lighting ceremony in late November is a big event that draws people from all over to admire the decor that unfurls along North Third Street, filling shop windows with snowy scenes and festooning doors and street lamps.

Historic building decorated in Christmas decorations in Bardstown, Kentucky
Bundle up, and take a walk to see the decorations around the courthouse in Bardstown.


Head to the Old Talbott Tavern, one of the most historic stagecoach stops in the country, for Kentucky cuisine. The building was constructed in 1779 and has seen its fair share of travelers seeking a hot meal and shelter from the winter chill. Nowadays, you can still find a seat in the dining room and order your fill of classic regional dishes and desserts like the Kentucky burgoo, a hot brown, and their famed Talbott Tavern Pie, all of which evoke bygone days eating home cooking by a crackling fire.

Hop Aboard A Dinner Train

The region’s favorite form of transportation is a familiar, if charmingly antiquated, mode. My Old Kentucky Dinner Train has been running since 1988 and offers a variety of themed rides across the countryside. There are both bourbon and wine excursions throughout the seasons (those include tastings for the over 21 crowd), and tickets for the family-friendly lunch and dinner trains are also available year-round.

During the holidays, the journeys get even merrier, and the train gets a new name. Dubbed the North Pole Express, the ride features Santa and Mrs. Claus, who greets riders before everyone settles into their seats for a three-course meal, hot cocoa, and a sing-along. In addition to providing photo ops, it’s an ideal place to watch snowy skies as you’re whisked through the landscape.

Taste the Best of Bourbon

From its home in the heart of Bourbon Country, Bardstown has become a must-visit place to see the inner workings of historic distilleries, learn about dynamic new operations, and meet the forward-thinking leaders in the world of whiskey. This is the self-professed—and widely agreed upon—Bourbon Capital of the World, so it is almost impossible to leave town without exploring the area’s spirit-centric headquarters, many of which get decked out in their Christmas finery each year.

Whiskey selections from Bardstown Bourbon Company
Selections from Bardstown Bourbon Company’s varied whiskey offerings.


There are a great many Kentucky Bourbon Trail stops located nearby, including Bardstown Bourbon Company, where you will find the full barrel-to-bottle experience courtesy of its state-of-the-art distillery as well as its restaurant, bar, and event spaces. The new distillery opened in 2014, and the Bardstown Bourbon Company Kitchen & Bar has become a favorite place for enjoying dinner and drinks—as well as a go-to spot for celebrations.

Christmas decorations hang on fire place in Bardstown Bourbon Company Kitchen & Bar
Bardstown Bourbon Company Kitchen & Bar.


Their Fusion & Discovery Series keeps things interesting and ensures that glasses get filled with unexpected and memorable blends. Take a deep dive by joining one of the From Distillate to Barrel tours, which are guided by Certified Bourbon Stewards who lead visitors through tastings and barrel samplings. Prepare for plenty of thieving—extracting whiskey from a barrel for sampling. You can also book cocktail classes or blending-focused flights to allow for more hands-on experiences.

Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, is another local favorite. Each year, Star Hill Farm invites guests to see the property’s iconic red shutters, wreathed windows, and ribbon-clad historic buildings. The distillery has also been known to host popular after-dark candlelight tours featuring themed drinks and treats. If you can’t visit in person, you can find their whiskey-infused dessert and cocktail recipes available online.

Person stands on Whisky Creek trail
Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto.


In Bardstown proper, there is the Heaven Hill Distillery Bourbon Experience, a family run operation offering tastings alongside a museum teaching about the area’s past. It’s a destination for learning about the spirit and its development in Kentucky, with tasting rooms, an interactive gallery, and The 1935 Distillery Theater, which screens films about Heaven Hill and the whiskey business.

Explore Farther Afield

Let your travels take you to nearby small towns like Bloomfield to continue the merriment. Stroll by the historic redbrick buildings downtown, and do some shopping to support local businesses.

Wander around Nettie Jarvis Antiques on Taylorsville Road; you’ll find treasures including 18th and 19th-century furniture produced in this region as well as a selection of American quilts and folk art. Next door is The Old Sugar Valley Country Store, a lovely little spot showcasing plenty of Kentucky-made products and crafts.

This season, surprise the family with a weekend away in Kentucky’s second-oldest town, and experience a new side of the Bluegrass region with holiday festivities, dressed-up buildings, and whiskey tastings and tours.

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