In the very south of the Louisville metropolitan area, Shepherdsville is a small town on the Salt River, surrounded on all sides by bucolic rolling countryside.
Shepherdsville is on I-65, and people come from miles around for attractions like the gigantic Awesome Flea Market and the accompanying Awesome Lazy River, for tubing down the Salt River.
The Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown is half an hour to the southeast, but even closer is the historic home of the James B. Beam Distilling Company, offering a whole menu of tastings and tours.
Also close by is the marvelous Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest, with more than three million trees and 40 miles of trails on rugged hills that were once mined for iron ore.
1. James B. Beam Distilling Company
In Shepherdsville you’re a stone’s throw from the family homestead for one the most famous and best-selling bourbon brands in the world.
Jim Beam has been around since the 18th century, and the distillery in nearby Clermont is dubbed the “family home of American whiskey” and “birthplace of bourbon”.
You can visit this newly renovated facility, now in the eighth generation of the same family, to take part in a range of experiences.
This might be a simple guided tasting session, a 90-minute interactive tour of the distillery, a mixology workshop or a culinary tasting experience.
If you want a deep-dive you can take a half-day behind the scenes tour, or even become a distiller for a day.
2. Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest
Isaac Wolfe Bernheim (1848-1945), one of the men who helped put Louisville on the map as a center for bourbon distilling, was responsible for this amazing natural space on the site of former iron ore pits.
He purchased these 16,000+ acres in 1929 and then put the prestigious Olmsted Firm in charge of landscaping.
Nowadays the Bernheim Arboretum is a wonder, on an exciting, hilly landscape crisscrossed by more than 40 miles of trails for hiking and biking.
The LEED-certified Visitor Center and Education Center will get you started, while some other highlights are the Fire Tower, with 961 steps to the top, the Canopy Tree Walk, set 75 feet over the forest floor, and thought-provoking art installations, including a set of three wooden giants by Danish sculptor Thomas Dambo.
3. Bullitt County History Museum
Run by volunteer members of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, the Bullitt County History Museum can be found at the county courthouse downtown.
Here you can view two display rooms loaded with well-curated exhibits chronicling 230+ years of Bullitt County history. The displays recall some big events in the area’s past, like the L&N Shepherdsville Train Wreck in 1917, that claimed 49 lives.
There’s also a research room here with free internet access, and an ever-growing inventory of genealogical and local historical resources. The museum is open during normal courthouse hours.
4. Shepherdsville Country Music Show
A local entertainment staple for more than 45 years now, the Shepherdsville Country Music Show has been entertaining families since 1977.
The 500-seat showroom for this local tradition is 1833 Hwy 44, on the town’s western margins, and the show typically starts at 7 pm year round.
Classic country music is of course the dominant genre, sprinkled with some oldies rock & roll, southern gospel and a little comedy. The show is designed to be family friendly, so smoking and alcohol aren’t permitted.
5. Awesome Flea Market
Every weekend all year round there’s a giant flea market with hundreds of booths just off I-65 in Shepherdsville. On a huge, 70,000 square foot property, Awesome Flea Market has up to 350 indoor and 350 outdoor vendors.
The market has been running for more than two decades now, and has a vast selection, be it used, new or handmade.
If you’re the kind of person who loves hunting for treasures then it’s worth allowing several hours if you want to see everything.
There’s also a food court inside, home to Old Hickory Barbeque. You can turn a visit into a family outing thanks to the Awesome Lazy River, which we’ll talk about next.
6. Awesome Lazy River
Awesome Flea Market is right on the Salt River, which becomes a natural water park in the summer months.
From Memorial Day weekend you can pass a relaxing couple of hours floating downstream, to be met by a bus shuttle at the end.
The Salt River is safe and very slow moving. In fact the current is so slow that it’s worth renting some paddles to move things along a little. Double tubes are available, and every few hundred feet you’ll come across rope swings on the banks.
7. Forest Edge Winery
This appropriately named winery is on the northwestern corner of the Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest. Forest Edge produces a crowd-pleasing array of dry, sweet, fruit and specialty wines.
A few standout varietal wines are the award-winning Summer Daze (Concord), Old Vine Zinfandel and Merlot, but don’t forget some of the winery’s quirkier creations like the chili-infused Forest Fire and Berrylicious (blackberry wine).
The tasting room, with a gorgeous shaded patio, is open seven days a week, and is a fine spot for some post-walk relaxation.
8. Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve
On Shepherdsville’s eastern outskirts is one of the best examples of a limestone/dolomite barrens complex in the state.
As well as being ecologically important, Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve is the perfect spot for a serene walk in the woods so close to town.
There’s open woodland, dry upland forest and, most scenic of all, a stretch of Pine Creek with low limestone cliffs and stunning mesic forest.
This can be discovered on a three-mile trail system, with interpretive boards detailing the diversity of plant species in the preserve, several of which are rare and endangered.
9. Four Roses Bottling Facility
The aging warehouse and bottling facility for one of Kentucky’s most beloved bourbon brands is not far out of Shepherdsville, about halfway to Bardstown.
Four Roses was trademarked in 1888, although it is thought to have been produced since the mid-19th century.
The distillery can be found in Lawrenceburg, but you can also pay a visit to the aging warehouses and bottling plant for guided tours, tastings and retail.
Tours depart on the hour, seven days a week, and are worthwhile to see the tall stacks of barrels in the rickhouse, and how tradition, logistics and technology combine at the bottling facility.
The tasting experience is highly informative, and you’ll get to sample the classic Four Roses, Four Roses Small Batch and Four Roses Single Barrel, with a souvenir glass to boot.
10. Kart Kountry
Close to the I-65 exit in Shepherdsville is a huge family entertainment center with enough activities to make a day of it.
Kart Kountry has been on the map for more than four decades now, and the main attraction at Kart Kountry is Thunder Road.
At 1.5 miles long, this is touted as the largest go-kart track in the world. On the same site are batting cages, two miniature golf courses, bumper boats and an enormous arcade with plenty of redemption games.
11. Wight-Meyer Vineyard and Winery
Bullitt County’s first commercial vineyard is on the eastern edge of Shepherdsville next to the Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve.
On 16 acres, the Wight-Meyer Vineyard and Winery has won multiple awards, and a visit combines premium wine tasting with the natural splendor of rural Kentucky.
At the time of writing, a tasting experience involved six wines, with a wide selection of whites, reds and rosés, ranging from dry to sweet dessert wines.
Among the recent award-winners are the best-selling Kentucky Diamond, Riesling, Winter Solstice (sweet fermented Diamond) and Cabernet Dore (Norton and Sauvignon Blanc).
12. Slow Poke Farm
Out in the countryside about 15 minutes east of downtown Shepherdsville there’s a family-owned farm that opens up to the public in October for a Fall Festival.
You can visit on weekends throughout the month for hayrides, pumpkins, a corn maze, a hay maze and a newly expanded children’s playground.
Kids will also have a great time meeting the animals on Slow Poke Farm. The rest of the year this is a working farm, raising soybeans, corn, vegetables and cattle. There’s a country store here, and the farm accepts field trips and family outings by appointment.
13. Shepherdsville Farmers’ Market
There’s a summer farmers’ market in a lot a couple of blocks west of Buckman St. For a town the size of Shepherdsville this is a bustling event, taking place June through September and with a good variety of vendors.
The selection of produce changes through the season and includes cabbage, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, corn, berries, cantaloupe, green beans and more.
In addition, you’ll find eggs, baked goods, preserves, honey and lots of interesting handmade crafts, from candles to soaps.
14. Heritage Hill Golf Course
Couched in nature, this Doug Beach-designed course is rated as one of the top public courses in Kentucky, and was listed by Golf Digest among the top new courses in the country after opening in 2006.
With lots of dramatic elevation changes and magnificent views, Heritage Hill has zoysia tees and fairways, and bent grass greens.
The hilly terrain means you’ll need a cart to get around, with concrete paths throughout the course.
There are five different tee boxes, catering to a wide range of abilities, and the fairways are wide enough to forgive slightly wayward tee shots.
15. Bullitt Blast
Every independence day, Shepherdsville puts on one of the region’s top city fairs and fireworks shows.
A big collaboration between a host of local organizations, Bullitt Blast is a two-day event featuring live music, an unforgettable fireworks display, delicious fair food, a beer garden, a car show, a pageant, all kinds of vendors and exhibitors, carnival games for all ages and also carnival rides (Saturday).
The event takes place at the city park along the Salt River, and there’s free admission across the two days.