West of the Kentucky River, Lawrenceburg is a small town in Central Kentucky with a big beverage industry.
Two of the world’s most prized bourbon brands, Wild Turkey and Four Roses, are based In Lawrenceburg, offering tours and tasting experiences.
On a smaller scale, the town also has a pair of award-winning wineries, with vineyards planted in the 1990s on idyllic local farms.
Lawrenceburg’s downtown area will draw you in with its elegant storefronts and collection of family-run businesses. In the warmer months there’s something going on here almost every weekend, from concerts to cruise-ins.
1. Wild Turkey Distillery
There aren’t many more famous names in the whiskey world than Wild Turkey, distilling straight bourbon in Lawrenceburg since 1940.
The location is special too, posted 275 feet above the Kentucky River, with an operation overseen by respected father and son team of master distillers, Jimmy and Eddie Russell.
On an hour-long Barrel to Bottle tour you’ll witness a 40-foot column still in action, see newly-distilled bourbon being poured into handmade oak barrels and take a walk through the timber aging warehouses.
Wild Turkey has just unveiled a high-end new Visitor Center, where you can sample Wild Turkey and the award-winning Russell’s Reserve range.
2. Four Roses Distillery
Established in 1888, the Four Roses distillery was one of the few to continue operations through Prohibition with a medicinal whiskey license.
You’ll be aware of this place’s rich history as soon as you set foot on the grounds to be met by the palatial distillery building, designed in the Spanish Mission revival style in 1910.
There’s a recently expanded Visitor Center here, presenting the long history of the Four Roses brand, and an approach to making bourbon that is completely unique.
Tours depart the Visitor Center on the hour, and last about 90 minutes, during which you’ll get acquainted with the distilling process.
At the end you’ll be invited into Bar 1888 to sample an array of seasonal cocktails or taste one of Four Roses’ ten unique recipes or special bottlings.
3. Downtown Lawrenceburg
The Lawrenceburg Commercial Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places, showcasing a century of history from 1850 to 1950.
This area is on Main St, from North Alley to Court St, and on Court St from Main St to the Southern Railway tracks.
A commanding landmark here is the Anderson County Courthouse, dating to the early 1860s after a fire claimed its predecessor, and featuring Beaux Arts details from the 1910s following damage from another fire.
Allow some time to stroll around the small downtown area, admiring the lovely painted storefronts, with local businesses ranging from dainty gift shops to a fashion boutique, art gallery, ice cream parlor, deli and coffeehouse.
Not many towns of this size have a social calendar as busy as Lawrenceburg, with shopping events, monthly summer cruise-ins, food trucks & live music and an annual festival dedicated to the beloved Kentucky delicacy, burgoo.
4. Anderson County History Museum
For some background to Lawrenceburg and its surroundings, you can stop by this free museum on College St, downtown. The setting is worth a mention, at the historic Old Carnegie Library, which opened in 1908.
You can pass a few minutes here tracing local history back to the turn of the 19th century, and poring over military artifacts, historic tobacco farming tools, period furniture, portraits, domestic items and Lawrenceburg High School displays going back a century.
This building is also home to the genealogical library and serves as the Lawrenceburg-Anderson County Tourism Office.
5. Anderson County Community Park
The main public recreation space in Lawrenceburg is this expansive park within shouting distance of downtown.
Anderson County Community Park is filled with sports facilities, for competitive baseball, softball and soccer, but is also aimed at casual visitors out for some fresh air.
There’s a basketball court, a disc golf course, a superb playground, a stocked fishing pond and a skate park, as well as a paved trail around the park’s perimeter, more than a mile long.
The park has a couple of shelters, and if these are in use when you visit you’ll still find plenty of picnic tables and grills elsewhere.
6. Anderson County Farmers’ Market
This seasonal market has a special location, at an historic railroad depot that was previously located in downtown Lawrenceburg.
The Old Depot found a new home on U.S. 127 to the north of the town, and the market here is in business, Friday to Sunday, April to November.
Come for locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh roasted coffee, flowers, honey, eggs, local cheese, pies, pastries, farm-raised meats and interesting, one-of-a-kind crafts from candles to bourbon barrel art.
There are events here throughout the season like a farm-to-fork dinner and kids’ day once a month.
7. Young’s High Bridge
Directly east of the Wild Turkey distillery, on the Kentucky River, is a former railroad bridge that was completed in 1889.
Young’s High Bridge is more than 1,650 feet long, and rises 283 feet above the river. This landmark is a contributing structure to the Lexington Extension of the Louisville Southern Railroad, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2013 the bridge was turned into a bungee jumping platform, managed by the highly experienced Vertigo Bungee company, and operating one weekend a month, May through September.
Daredevils flock to Lawrenceburg from across the country for this experience, unavailable anywhere else in the eastern United States.
8. Elements Clay Studio
For a little detour from the Bourbon Trail, there’s an open pottery studio next to the Four Roses Distillery. Run by experienced potter, Susan Burge, Elements Clay Studio offers a choice of programs for all ages and skill levels.
These include pottery wheel classes, ranging from a 20-minute intro or two-hour crash course to a five-week wheel throwing course.
One activity that will appeal to all comers is Paint Your Own Pottery, and walk-ins are available for this experience during regular business hours.
The studio is also equipped to host parties, and has a rich events calendar, including Uncorked and Glazed Over wine/pottery nights in association with Rising Sons Winery.
9. Lovers Leap Vineyard and Winery
In 1994 the forward-thinking Sivinski family decided to plant 25 acres of vines on their farm, next to the Kentucky River in the Lawrenceburg countryside.
The eight different varieties growing at Lovers Leap are white grapes, Vignoles, Vidal Blanc, Aromella Cayuga White and red grapes, Crimson Cabernet, Petite Pearl, Cynthiana/Norton and Chambourcin.
These are crafted in a range of varietal wines and blends that you can sample at a tasting session at this bucolic property (6 wines per tasting). You can also indulge your curiosity about the craft of winemaking on a tour, and can bring a picnic on warm, sunny days.
10. Rising Sons Home Farm Winery
This endearing and unpretentious winery in the north of Lawrenceburg is run by a family with Italian heritage. Planted in 1999, the vineyard is on ten acres, growing seven grape varieties in a dreamy Bluegrass landscape.
The winery at Rising Sons has been open to the public for more than a decade now, with a tasting room that has plenty of nods to the farm’s Italian connections.
On a visit you’ll be welcomed by the owners and will get to meet the family dog, pet pig and llamas. You can order a delicious homemade cheese platter as an accompaniment, and can try some creative wine infused jellies and refreshing sangria.
11. Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum
Across the Kentucky River in Versailles, around ten minutes east of Lawrenceburg you can board a train for an 11-mile round trip on a stretch of heritage railroad.
The Bluegrass Scenic Railroad uses passenger cars from the 1920s and 1930s, pulled by vintage diesel locomotives.
You’ll travel west through delightful Bluegrass countryside, past a succession of horse farms before pausing by Young’s High Bridge to enjoy sweeping views of the Kentucky River valley.
Train rides take place on weekends, mid-May through October, and there’s a whole calendar of themed events throughout the season, from Mother’s Day to pumpkin patch rides in fall.
There’s also a whole fleet of rolling stock and railroad memorabilia on static display at the main museum site in Versailles.
12. Josephine Sculpture Park
North of Lawrenceburg, on the way to Frankfort, you can visit a unique public park, mixing nature with engaging works of sculpture.
The Josephine Sculpture Park was founded by artist Melanie VanHouten and is endowed with close to 70 works by international artists.
Some permanent and some temporary, these are nestled in 30+ acres of native meadows and newly planted forest, all accessed via meandering paths. Many of the sculptures are designed to be interactive, so children will have a great time exploring the park.
13. Food Truck Fridays
Once a month on Fridays in July, August and September there’s a much-loved downtown event that debuted in 2019.
Taking place on the charming Lawrenceburg Green, Food Truck Fridays features a selection of local food trucks and beverage vendors awaiting you at the parking lot.
This event coincides with the Concert on the Green series, with concerts beginning at 7 pm, while the food trucks show up as early as 11 am. Check the City of Lawrenceburg website for details of the next concert.
14. Buckmeadow Farms
Just five minutes from downtown Lawrenceburg there’s a cattle farm that has been in the same family for half a century and is now in its third generation.
In the last few years the farm has opened to the public on weekends throughout the month of October for the Buckmeadow Farm Fest.
There’s a hayride, five-acre corn maze and U-Pick pumpkin patch, along with a whole raft of activities for wee ones, including a straw mountain with slides, a jump pad, a ninja warrior course, a trike track and a petting zoo.
You can also purchase Buckmeadow Farms premium beef, fall decorations and concessions.
15. Downtown Cruise-Ins
On the second Friday of the month, April through October, the local Wheels of Time car club puts on a cruise-in along South Main Street in downtown Lawrenceburg.
Even if you only have a passing interest in cars, this is a worthwhile event, with up to 250 vehicles on display.
Representing more than seven decades of automobile history, these cars will be lined up along the closed street, many with their hoods popped for a look at the hardware. Understandably, the cruise-in is canceled in the event of rain.