TORONTO — In the competitive travel market of the United States of America, the Bluegrass State is hoping to encourage more Canadians to see what they have on offer. “We’re hoping that Canadians consider coming to Kentucky on their way south,” explained Margaret Romine, International Marketing Coordinator for Kentucky’s Department of Travel & Tourism, “and experience our version of southern hospitality.”
Joined by her colleagues Renee Lalanne-Wuerdeman of Northern Kentucky, Saundra Robertson of Louisville CVB and Niki Goldey of Lexington CVB, Romine and her colleagues were in Toronto recently to promote their state, best known for bourbon, bluegrass and the largest horse racing event in North America, The Kentucky Derby, which hosts more spectators in two minutes than the Superbowl.
Romine emphasized the benefits of Kentucky for visitors: the state is the source of 95% of the world’s bourbon, is passionate about its barbecue and home to several bluegrass festivals, as well as the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro and the residence of Bill Munroe, the Father of Bluegrass music, in Rosine, Kentucky.
Romine and her colleagues discussed the affordability of Kentucky in comparison to neighbouring states, making it a smart stop for snowbirds or families travelling to southern states like South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana or Florida. From southern Ontario, it is an eight-hour drive to Kentucky.
Flights to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) are offered twice daily via Air Canada and four times a week from Toronto Pearson on Delta Airlines. This international airport is in Hebron, Kentucky and services the Cincinnati, Ohio region, on the north side of the Ohio River, less than 30 kilometres away.
Northern Kentucky offers many options for visitors such as the town of Newport, with its 100,000 square-foot Newport Aquarium and the newly-launched Gangster Tour from American Legacy Tours, which explains how this small city was the birthplace of America’s modern gaming industry. The close proximity to Cincinnati also provides access to attractions such as the Great American Ball Park, home to the Cincinnati Reds, The Banks, a new entertainment district along the Ohio River, and Over the Rhine, the oldest neighbourhood of Cincinnati, featuring new shops and boutiques found in restored historic buildings.
Louisville’s Museum Row features the Kentucky Derby Museum, as well as the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and the Muhammad Ali Center. Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the city’s popular city park system, which has added Waterfront Park, 85 acres of walking paths and lawns. The city is also home to the Urban Bourbon Trail, featuring many stops where guests can taste the state’s favourite spirit. Not to be missed is the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, where the state’s first distillery opened in 1783.
Lexington, an hour from Louisville, offers horse-mad fans a streamlined way to visit horse farms, equine medical clinics and equine nurseries by way of VisitHorseCountry.com. Visitors can also explore The Brewgrass Trail, the city’s craft brewery trail, the Lexington Distillery District, the city’s newest entertainment district and consider staying at the 21C Museum Hotel, an 88-room boutique property and the newest addition to the 21C Museum Hotel chain from Louisville.