Frankfort might be the capital of Kentucky, but it remains a small town with fewer than 30,000 residents. But it boasts a vast array of architectural styles, landmarks and museums.
Of course, most visitors will gravitate to the Capitol building, which was dedicated in 1910. The interior features white marble, gray Tennessee marble and dark green Italian marble. The grand corridors feature 36 columns of Vermont granite and art glass skylights.
The Old State Capitol, used from 1830 to 1910, is credited with introducing Greek-Revival architecture to the United States west of the Appalachian Mountains. It boasts a self-supporting stone stairway, a rotunda and dual legislative chambers. It has served as the home of the Kentucky Historical Society since 1920. The subject of extensive restoration work since the early 1970s, the Old State Capitol looks today much as it did in the 1850s.
The Capital City Museum is housed in a 150-year-old building that once was the Capital Hotel, which burned in 1917. Its exhibits paint a picture of political and personal life in Kentucky over the past 200 years. It has a scale model of the Capitol and Kentucky political memorabilia.
Buffalo Trace Distillery offers complimentary tours that include a tasting of bourbon and chocolate bourbon balls. The Trace Tour is a little over one hour long. The tour begins with a video on the distillery’s history followed by a walk through the bourbon barrels and the bottling hall.
Frankfort also is home to Daniel Boone’s grave. Although Boone died in 1820 in Missouri, and was originally buried on his farm there, he was re-interred in Frankfort in 1845, next to his wife, Rebecca, who died in 1813.
Liberty Hall Historic Site is a destination for visitors interested in Kentucky history, 19th century life, 18th and 19th century American political history, restored historic homes and gardens. Located in historic downtown Frankfort on the banks of the Kentucky River, Liberty Hall was the home of one of Kentucky’s most important families. The site contains two houses -- Liberty Hall (1796) built by John Brown, one of Kentucky’s first U.S. senators, and the Orlando Brown House (1835), designed by Gideon Shryock, and owned by Sen. Brown’s second son. Liberty Hall is a National Historic Landmark. Liberty Hall’s grounds include boxwood and perennial gardens, which lead down to the Kentucky River.
The Clyde E. Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary-Trust and Audubon Center is nestled among the Bluegrass Hills, approximately 10 miles south of Frankfort. Three self-guided trails traverse the center’s 374 acres, inviting visitors to experience a variety of habitats, including small ponds, fields and mixed mesophytic forest along the Kentucky River. A gorge exposes limestone rich in marine fossils. Over 100 species of birds, approximately 25 species of mammals, and close to 30 species of reptiles and amphibians can be found here, as well as approximately 200 species of wildflowers and ferns, and about 80 species of woody plants.
The Emma E. Buckley Center, a farmhouse built in 1901, houses exhibits and a small gift shop and an area for lectures and audio-visual presentations. Visitors can also observe wildlife at feeding stations from the one-way windows of the Marion E. Lindsey Bird Blind. There is a pavilion for sheltered events and activities.
Lodging options include many chain motels and hotels, including Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Fairfield, Days Inn and Best Western. However, there are some charming bed-and-breakfast inns. Meek House, a gothic revival home, takes its name from the man who built it in 1869, and is located within walking distance of the Kentucky State Capitol and downtown Frankfort. The Meeting House is a circa 1849 Civil War-era home in the heart of the Historic District.