Frankfort, one of the smallest state capitals, has an old-world ambiance and deep historical roots. The city's heritage can be explored in the original construction of centuries-old buildings. The area’s U.S. military history is showcased through artifacts in one of Kentucky’s most popular museums. When not sightseeing in Frankfort, visitors can taste whiskey at one of the city’s distilleries, sample wine at a local winery or go adventuring in one of the expansive parks near the Kentucky River.
Many Frankfort landmarks are more than 150 years old. Old Governor’s Mansion was built in 1797 and has housed seven US presidents, including Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt. The Old State Capital, constructed in 1827, is an example of Greek Revival architecture with massive, exterior iconic columns and an impressive interior marble staircase. Several church buildings have survived the test of time, including Church of the Ascension Episcopal Church (1835) and the Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church (1850).
Frankfort’s heritage is also evident in shopping and eating places located in its historic downtown where buildings and streetlights represent popular designs and styles of the late-19th century. Visitors in this area enjoy perusing the many boutiques, stopping to eat at one of the restaurants, visiting the weekly farmer’s market or viewing exhibits in nearby Kidswork Children’s Museum, one of the most popular Frankfort attractions for kids.
Located in an imposing fortress-like structure built in 1850, Frankfort’s Kentucky Military History Museum showcases the state’s military history. The museum houses artifacts such as weapons and documents that were significant in the last 200 years of America’s battles, dating back to the War of 1812. The museum draws history buffs from miles around and is another one of the most popular Frankfort attractions.
Frankfort also is home for the age-old Kentucky tradition of distilling whiskey. The Buffalo Trace Distillery, the oldest continually running distillery in the United States, has the distinction of remaining in business during prohibition to produce “medicinal” whiskey. The facility boasts more awards than any other whiskey-producing establishment in the world. In addition to producing whiskey, Frankfort has unique soil properties that are favorable for growing grapes to produce wine. The Prodigy Vineyard and Winery produces dry red wines and semi-sweet whites, and can be toured during the winter months.
Along with Frankfort’s numerous historic institutions, places for sightseeing in Frankfort include many outdoor attractions. The Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary is home for the Eastern Kentucky elk herd, the largest group of elk east of the Rocky Mountains. At the Josephine Sculpture Park, the untamed Kentucky wilds provide a backdrop for more than 30 sculptures.
On warm days, many enjoy being riverside at River View Park. Providing some of the area’s best views, the park also offers several pavilions for gatherings, historic Indian trails for walking along the riverbanks, boat docks, fishing piers, and canoe and kayak rentals. With minimal development along the water’s edge, river tours provide a relaxing excursion.