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Small Town, Big Charm

Kentucky's Georgetown helps visitors slow down with its charming attractions

By Corinne Minard

While there’s nothing like the excitement of exploring a big city, the same can be said about the comfort of visiting a small town. Just outside of Lexington, Georgetown, Ky., prides itself on what it calls “pure small-town charm.”

“We’ve got a big city really close but where we are we still have that small-town charm where everybody kind of knows everybody,” says Bailey Gilkerson, marketing director for Georgetown/Scott County Tourism.

The town of 32,000 may be small, but is filled with activities that help the family slow down while having fun. For example, one of Gilkerson’s favorite attractions, the Old Friends Farm for Retired Thoroughbreds, introduces visitors to over 100 retired racehorses, including several Kentucky Derby winners. Other activities include the Kentucky Horse Park, a working horse farm and equine competition facility; the Toyota manufacturing plant, where visitors can see the process of building the Camry from start to finish; and Whispering Woods Riding Stable, where horse lovers can ride through the woods.

“You’re getting to see Kentucky in its most natural form when you go and do that,” says Gilkerson.

If you’re looking for less of a formally planned day Gilkerson recommends exploring Georgetown’s downtown district. The area has more than 200 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Private residences are on the list, but so are many of the shops and sites like Ward Hall, a Greek Revival mansion that provides tours.

“One (shop) is called Georgetown Antique Mall and it has three stories of antiques. They have hidden gems, they have antique clothing, really they have a lot of things to offer there. We’ve also got Heirlooms & Gretchen’s, which is a stained glass shop,” says Gilkerson. “It’s actually the only one in this region.”

When it’s time for lunch or dinner, Georgetown has options for many palates, including Local Feed, a farm-to-table restaurant in a historic building; Rodney’s on Broadway, which is known for its fine dining experience; and Fava’s, which has been owned and operated by the same family in the same location for over 100 years and serves top-notch diner food.

For those who’d like to take a break with a drink, Bourbon 30 Distillery is located across from Royal Spring Park, said to be the first water source for bourbon in Kentucky. Visitors can have a private barrel sampling or take a tour.

While Georgetown may embrace the small-town description, Gilkerson recommends two or three days to explore it all. “So it could be a long weekend, but you could also use Georgetown as your hub to visit all of central Kentucky. Because we are right on (Interstates) 64 and 75, it’s really easy to get to different locations that are really close by,” she says.