Country B&B at One of Kentucky’s Largest Wineries
It may come as a surprise, but the first commercial winery in the United States wasn’t in Northern California, but in Kentucky. Marquis de Lafayette first planted vines in the Bluegrass State in 1798, and by the mid-1800s, the state was the third-largest grape and wine producer in the country. Prohibition effectively ended Kentucky's run as a major wine producer, but Elk Creek Vineyards carries on the tradition. Set amid rolling hills, Elk Creek boasts one of the largest wineries in the state, alongside its B&B, art gallery, and outdoor amphitheater.
The lodge-style accommodations are split among three distinct buildings: The Inn, The Lodge, and The Estates. Standard queen rooms in each building come with private decks overlooking 30 acres of vineyard and stocked fishing lakes. Rooms in The Lodge and The Estates feature en suite bathrooms, but accommodations in The Inn either share a bathroom or have their own across the hall. Call ahead if you'd like to request a room with an en suite bathroom.
Nestled amid the grapevines, Elk Creek's amphitheater hosts acoustic and rock concerts throughout most of the summer (typically on weekend nights). Local musicians also perform on select nights in the tasting room, where you can sample house wines such as the Estate chardonelle and the Estate chambourcin. Elk Creek's gallery showcases area ceramists, painters, and glitter-glue prodigies.
Owenton, Kentucky: Rolling Hills in Rural Northern Kentucky
If you were to draw a triangle between Lexington, Louisville, and Cincinnati, Owenton would lie directly in the middle. Though it's within an hour or two of each of these cities, Owenton remains charmingly rural. Elk Creek might be the area's biggest draw, but there are also opportunities for fishing and hunting nearby. In fact, you can shoot skeet or participate in bird hunts starting in mid-October at Elk Creek Hunt Camp.
Lexington, about 50 miles southeast of Owenton, combines the spirit of a university town with a pedigreed thoroughbred horse culture. The small city is fringed with horse farms, many of which have yielded Kentucky Derby winners. Some farms offer guided tours of their facilities—a great chance to see the next Triple Crown contender before it becomes famous and blows it all on oats and platinum bridles. At Kentucky Horse Park, you can see the gravesite statue of the legendary stallion Man o’ War and visit living derby winners in the Hall of Champions.