The quaint city of Bardstown is synonymous with several words. The obvious one would of course be the Kentucky “spirit” that helped put us on the map. The second would be “history,” followed by “beautiful.” Long before USA Today and Rand McNally gave us the coveted title of “The Most Beautiful Small Town in America,” Bardstown was already known for its beauty—not only to the folks who live here, but also to those throughout Kentucky, as well as out-of-state visitors.
Bardstown is beautiful year-round, and the changing of seasons allows you to experience it differently throughout the year. Imagine the city layout and structures as a canvas. Then imagine the elements and characteristics of winter, spring, summer and fall as they paint their individual colors and textures all throughout the town.
While every season paints Bardstown in various shades and hues, perhaps the most refreshing time to visit is when the buds of spring are bursting with color. Whether you’re shopping, dining, visiting with the Easter Bunny on the downtown square (March 19 & 26) or discovering the outskirts and countryside, there are plenty of ways to take it all in.
Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest
If it blooms in Kentucky, you’ll find it here. From early April to mid–May, color is everywhere at Bernheim—the purple and fuchsias of the redbuds, the white and pinks of the dogwoods and the yellows of the forsythia. And that’s just what’s happening above ground. Closer to the arboretum floor, you’ll walk among the greenest grass of the entire year, sprinkled with a wide variety of daffodils, tulips, crocuses, creeping phlox and more. Once you drive or walk through the arboretum, you’ll arrive at the 14,378-acre research forest, which features 38 miles of hiking trails. Don’t miss Bernheim’s BloomFest on May 21, hosting local artisans, food vendors, a farmers’ market, entertainment and more.
My Old Kentucky Dinner Train & Kentucky Railway Museum
If you want to see the colors of town and country, there’s perhaps no better way than to climb aboard one of our two dinner trains. Both take riders on a 2.5-hour excursion that goes through town and the countryside, giving plenty of opportunity to see some of the same species at Bernheim, but this time growing in the wild, lining the hillsides that surround the train tracks. Mark your calendar for May 8, when all mothers ride free with a paying adult for the Kentucky Railway Museum’s Mother’s Day Excursion.
Golf at My Old Kentucky Home State Park
Spend an afternoon of golf at My Old Kentucky Home State Park, and you’ll understand why Stephen Foster fell in love with the place. The Federal Hill—the mansion that inspired Foster’s song, “My Old Kentucky Home”—is surrounded by undulating hills perfect for the 18-hole course. Since 1933, the grounds have featured 6,351 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71. The course rating is 69.5, and has a slope rating of 119 on Bermuda grass. Golf Digest magazine even awarded the course with four stars and named it one of the Best Places to Play.
So there you have it—a starter’s guide to experience the splendor of spring in Bardstown.