Imagine a coal miner, a fiddler, a college basketball player and a grand Southern lady in an elegant hat, all sitting on a veranda sipping mint juleps, and you’re starting to get an idea of what Kentucky’s all about.
A geographical and cultural crossroads, Kentucky combines the friendliness of the South, the rural frontier history of West, the industry of the North, and the aristocratic charm of the East.
In spring, the pastures of central Kentucky bloom with tiny azure buds, earning the it the moniker ‘Bluegrass State.’ Bluegrass music was born here too, a banjo-fueled amalgam of Appalachian folk songs, African American beats and Chicago jazz. Thoroughbred breeding is a multibillion-dollar industry, and horse country boasts a stately English countryside ambience.
The state’s cities are small and elegant, with a sleepy, midcentury charm. Even the industries are nifty – a state that produces bourbon, baseball bats and Corvettes must be alright.
Need to know
Kentucky destination guides
The USA's best regional desserts
Apple pie gets a lot of glory for being the embodiment of American desserts – ‘As American as apple pie’ as the saying goes, flatly ignoring the fact that apple pie isn’t an American invention.
New Orleans to Chicago
Dial up a bit of Dixie and get ready to launch from the fertile Mississippi Delta to the Great Lakes of Chicago. Cut through the heart of this vast land and get accustomed to Southern life, following the winding river to the musical meccas of Memphis and Nashville.
Soak up the sights and sounds of the USA on a tour of some of its most diverse and vibrant cities. This trip takes you from shimmering New York down along the east coast into Dixie, then to the Midwest.
Bourbon and beyond in Louisville
Whether firing up artisanal distilleries, cooking Appalachian comfort foods or eco-rehabbing old neighborhoods, Louisville (LOO-uh-vul) is getting its groove on. There's lots to do and drink that's distinct to this picturesque city on the Ohio River. No wonder it's Lonely Planet's top US destination for 2013.