It’s known as the “Bourbon Capital of the World,” but there’s more than distilled spirits to sample in Bardstown, Ky.

The commonwealth’s second oldest city (dating from 1780), a 2.5-hour drive south of Cincinnati, Bardstown is home to several bourbon distilleries and is a trailhead for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. But it’s also home to several other attractions that blossom in summer.

For example, before there was Cole Porter or Irving Berlin, there was Stephen Foster. America’s first professional songwriter, Foster wrote more than 200 tunes before he died in 1864. His most famous song, “My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night,” an anti-slavery ballad he wrote in the 1850s, is the state song and refers to Federal Hill, the Bardstown plantation where he spent time.

Today, visitors to My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown can tour the 19th century mansion and relive Foster’s life and music in The Stephen Foster Story.

This is the 59th season for the musical in the outdoor amphitheater at the state park.

Johnny Warren, artistic director for the musical, says the two-hour show draws both first-time visitors as well as people who saw the show years ago and are bringing their children and grandchildren to see it.

That creates a bit of a challenge, he says, to present the musical they remember while keeping it fresh each season with new Foster songs.

The curtain goes up June 10 on this year’s production, which includes both national and Kentucky talent. The show runs nightly except Monday. A second offering, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, runs Thursday and Saturday beginning in July.

For tickets and information on both shows and the weekly concert series starting in June, visit

Dawn Przystal, Bardstown-Nelson County Tourism director, says visitors often overlook museum row in Bardstown’s historic downtown.

The Civil War Museum and the Women’s Museum of the Civil War are the largest and most complete museums devoted to the western theater of the Civil War.

The large collection in the Civil War Museum is carefully balanced between both Union and Confederate displays. Specialty rooms are set aside for the politics of the time, slavery, infantry, cavalry, artillery and both brown and salt-water navies.

The Women’s Museum, believed to be one of a kind, specializes in the history of the female writers, spies, nurses, administrators and combat soldiers of the period.

Both museums are adjacent to Old Bardstown Village, a collection of 10 original 18th and 19th century log structures forming a colonial period settlement.

If trains are your thing, the Kentucky Railway Museum, in nearby New Haven, is the commonwealth’s only train-related attraction. It includes model layouts, rail equipment, a recreated trail depot and 22-mile excursions on a restored L&N passenger train through the Rolling Fork River Valley. Visit for more information.

My Old Kentucky Dinner Train also offers 2.5-hour lunch and dinner train excursions from Bardstown. Details are available at For more information on what’s happening in Bardstown this summer, go to