BIG ADVENTURE IN SMALL-TOWN KENTUCKY
Pony up to an active getaway in the midst of Kentucky Horse Country.
Georgetown, Kentucky, may be a small town, but it has big adventures—perfect for families in search of active summer getaways. Because it sits in the midst of Kentucky Horse Country, many of these are decidedly horse-centric.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018, Kentucky Horse Park has so many things to see and do it’s best to arrive with a plan in mind. I cannot visit the park without making a beeline to the International Museum of the Horse—specifically the Almarah Arabian Horse Gallery. The sounds, images and narration of the story of the Arabian horse pull you right into the desert. Kids stay busy opening slide windows, designing their own horse and braiding a horse tail.
My favourite part of this exhibit is the collection showcasing Walter Farley’s bestselling Black Stallion classic book series, written from 1941 to 1989. Colourful pictures taken right from the books and blown up larger-than-life are fascinating, and I can never resist picking up one of Farley’s books to read aloud.
The Kid’s Barn is a kid haven: groom a horse; spot things in a horse stall set up incorrectly; run the miniature-scale show jumping course. Pick up the day’s scavenger
hunt here and challenge the family to check off the sights as you explore the park.
See the Parade of Breeds Show (daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.), truly a spectacle with a variety of breeds of horses performing in colourful attire and accompanied by music and narration. Catch early morning bath time when the horses are shampooed, rinsed and combed, and then trained for that day’s show.
Get to know (and pet) champion race horses at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm. You may get to feed a carrot to 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm or be kissed and tickled on the hand by Popcorn Deelites, the equine star of the 2003 Academy Award-nominated Seabiscuit.
Horse racing’s living history museum, Old Friends, cares for a herd of over 175 horses—mostly ones whose racing and breeding careers have ended. Rock stars of the turf, including Breeders’ Cup champion Alphabet Soup, Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold and War Emblem, another Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, live out their golden years here, along with some rescues. The coddling and attention they receive rivals that of their former glory days.
The horses at Whispering Woods Riding Stables like carrots, too, as well as apples and pears, and visitors are welcome to bring these crunchy treats for them.
Trail rides are guided, but you won’t see a ring in sight. Trails take riders into the rugged Kentucky countryside, over hills, along creeks and into lushly wooded swales darkened beneath leafy canopies. Keep watch: you may spot a doe and her baby, squabbling wild turkeys or other wildlife.
“You’ll be swept away from the trials and tribulations of civilization, out in the woods, blazing the trails just like the explorers of yesteryear,” said our trail guide, Jessi Wilbers Cummings.
Horseback riding is hungry work and Fatkats Pizzeria & Restaurant has the awardwinning Cowboy Extreme pizza with the cowpoke in mind. It’s loaded down with chicken, onions, bacon and banana peppers in a tasty barbecue sauce and smothered in cheese. Delicious!
Fatkats also has a crowd-pleasing appetizer with its pepperoni pizza rolls. These handrolled morsels of warm, doughy goodness are stuffed with pepperoni and cheese and served with garlic butter and marinara sauce. I noticed diners around me pouring their garlic butter over the rolls and then dunking them into the marinara sauce. I followed suit and it is the only way to eat these yummies.
LARGEST PLANT, LARGEST CREEK
Not equine (although you do pass a horse sculpture on your way in) but definitely in the category of horsepower is a free tour of the Toyota manufacturing plant. Watching workers—live and robotic—zipping around partially constructed cars, installing wheels, dropping in speakers or carburetors, moving forklifts—is like watching a wellorchestrated dance. But it also sounds like a weirdly out-of-synch concert.
As your guide drives you into and out of the various assembly departments, expect to hear plenty of music. This comes from workers on the assembly line pulling the Andon Cord—a rope tugged to forewarn of a potential quality issue that stops the line. From rock music and carnival tunes to children’s songs and chimes, each department has a different melody and, together, they
add to a sense of tramming along on a theme park ride.
Besides the tour, visitors can slip into a brand new, fresh-from-the-assembly-line Camry, the reigning bestselling car in America. Breathe deeply. That new car smell is wonderful, and about as authentic as it gets.
It may not be the largest creek in the world, but Elkhorn Creek is the largest in Kentucky and a great big scenic portion of it flows through Georgetown. Rent a canoe or kayak and head to one of the most interesting places from Georgetown’s past: Great Crossing Park.
This tiny greenspace, featuring shade, picnic shelters, walking and nature trails and a boat ramp, is an ancient migratory path Native Americans called Alanant-o-wamiowee, or Buffalo Path, for the great buffalo herds that traversed the area in search of a salt lick.
The buffalo and salt licks have vanished, but the park still draws those in search of a snack, salty or otherwise. Sweet & Sassy Ashley’s will even deliver a picnic lunch to the park. The bakery has a sandwich and chip combo that pairs nicely with the shop’s fresh-baked cookies or cupcakes, ideal for gatherings by the water.
OPPOSITE: Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm provides a dignified retirement to thoroughbreds whose racing and breeding careers have ended. Hannah Sither/georgetown Tourism BELOW: Kentucky Horse Park has attractions, memorials, tours, horse trails and pony rides and four museums, including the International Museum of the Horse, a Smithsonian Affiliate that examines the role of horses throughout world history. Visitlex
ABOVE: Elkhorn Creek offers 27 kilometres of adventure, including canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Steve Hockensmith/georgetown/scott County Tourism Commission BELOW: Whispering Woods Riding Stables presents Kentucky’s raw and rugged beauty, which is best experienced on horseback. Georgetown/scott County Tourism Commission