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A Kentucky Escape

Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm gives visitors the opportunity to view retired racing horses.

Visiting Georgetown and Scott County is a one tank trip that takes you a million miles away

By Terry Troy

It may only be an hour-or-so drive, but once you get to Georgetown, Kentucky, and surrounding Scott County, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away. This is the land of the horse, farms, fine food and smooth bourbon—an idyllic setting to spend a long afternoon or two weeks. And if you choose the latter, you probably still won’t be able to see all this area has to offer.

“It’s like taking a step back in time as you walk the streets of the well-preserved Victorian-era downtown with over two dozen locally owned restaurants and a colorful mix of storefronts with unique boutique shops, art galleries and antiques,” says Lori Saunders, executive director of Georgetown/Scott County Tourism.

Downtown Georgetown is filled with locally owned shops and restaurants, as well as many historic buildings.

One of the area’s prime attractions is agritourism, and there’s plenty to explore; you can learn and see where food is grown, pick your own veggies and fruits, learn how to start an organic garden, raise chickens, care for beehives, love on some cuddly animals and, of course, pet and ride a horse.

“There are an abundance of equine-related farms, riding stables, two high profile equine galleries, equine events and attractions in and around the town,” says Saunders. “A fan favorite is Old Friends’ Thoroughbred Retirement Farm where about 175 rescued/retired horses now get to live the good life. Open to the public, you can meet horseracing heroes of yesteryear, and see them deservedly enjoying their old age.”

Georgetown holds close to its claim of being the true birthplace of bourbon. Rev. Elijah Craig is said to have distilled the first batch of Kentucky bourbon in 1789 using the water from Georgetown’s Royal Spring. The real birthplace of bourbon is one of the most disputed claims in all of Kentucky, but there’s no disputing that Rev. Elijah Craig is the father of bourbon and Georgetown. 

A popular stopover on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Georgetown is home to Bourbon 30 Spirits, a craft distillery and bourbon boutique. Town Branch is located a little farther south in Lexington, while Woodford Reserve makes a home in Versailles and Wild Turkey is in Lawrenceburg.

If you want to work up a thirst, there are plenty of recreational activities. Rent a canoe or kayak for an afternoon of paddling on Elkhorn Creek, Kentucky’s largest. If you like to fish, drop a line. Elkhorn Creek is one of the best smallmouth bass fishing streams in the state.

Want to see some more formal exhibits? Try the Georgetown/Scott County Museum. There you’ll find exhibits that include model locomotive, stagecoaches, equine portraits, rotating collections and special exhibits. Pete the talking crow is probably the most famous resident and can be found chatting away in the museum.

“The best experiences, however, are usually those not planned or scheduled. Find a little hidden-away gem that makes a trip extra special and always try to tap into one of our local events—that adds so much to the experience,” says Saunders.