Explore A Daycation

Memorial Day weekend may be over, but as it is the kickoff to summer, prime travel season has only just begun. For many, life at work can be stressful and unrelenting. This fact – coupled with the siren song of summer sunshine – gives all the more reason for taking some time off despite the anxiety of being away from the office.

It’s understandable. Many feel that there are simply too many responsibilities and too many people counting on them at work. However, a daycation – that is, a fun mini-vacation that is relatively close to home and can be completed in a day – is not a huge commitment. It doesn’t require hours of planning, it can be easy on the wallet and just a little bit of a disruption to the weekly routine is rejuvenating and good for the soul.

That is why we at The Voice-Tribune have compiled a handful of daycation ideas for even the most dedicated employee. We believe that our list of examples is certainly robust but not exhaustive. You may have some ideas of your own. In case you do not, however, here are some nearby locales just waiting for you to explore.

Kentucky Railway Museum Steam EngineBardstown

In a state populated with more bourbon barrels then people, Bardstown serves as the bourbon capital of the world, a veritable whiskey Mecca situated at the trailhead of the famed Kentucky Bourbon Trail and just under an hour from downtown Louisville. It is home to six distilleries including Barton 1792 and Willett Distillery as well as four Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries: Heaven Hill, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and Four Roses’ second campus. Whether it be its expansive train excursions, flashy car shows and refined festival, concert and theatre selections, Bardstown – as cliche as it may sound – truly offers something for everyone.

Bernheim BridgeThe Rand McNally/USA Today “Best of the Road” contest named Bardstown the  Most Beautiful Small Town in America. The town lives up to that accolade in spades and provides seemingly endless activities for individuals and families who come to visit.  

In June, there is the 40th Annual Wine and Cheese Festival and Live Auction, which takes place on the lawn of Spalding Hall. The 22nd Annual Bardstown Bluegrass Festival, Bardstown’s free Friday Night Summer Band Concert Series and the Moonlight Big Band Concert round out the rest of the month.

Civil War MuseumAnother activity to complete the summer is “The Stephen Foster Story,” a celebrated annual outdoor theatre tradition that chronicles the life of Stephen Foster, widely considered to be the father of American music. This summer, a day in Bardstown is a day that the whole family can enjoy.

Buffalo Trace Distillery pictureFrankfort

Around 60 miles outside of downtown Louisville, you will learn that Kentucky has another river city within its borders. Bisected by the Kentucky River, Frankfort not only serves as the state’s capital but also as a town that is filled to the brim with history and adventure.

Capitol in SummerDid you know that Frankfort has an old and newer capitol building? Both are popular tourist attractions. Did you know that Frankfort is home to the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial? The monument is constructed in the form of a sundial that has the names of each of the 1,104 Kentuckians who died in the Vietnam War etched on it. The memorial is designed so that the shadow of the sundial pointer hits each name on the anniversary of the fallen soldier’s death. And if that doesn’t sate your hunger for history, there’s always the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History – the headquarters of the Kentucky Historical Society – smack dab in the middle of downtown Frankfort.

Of course, there are myriad lighthearted attractions as well such as the Buffalo Trace Distillery and the Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory, which is the home of the bourbon ball and offers tours daily. There’s a misconception that the city doesn’t have much to offer, but spend a day walking its streets and you’ll quickly find that is simply not the case.


You might think that Louisville has a monopoly on all things relating to horses, but visit Lexington – just around an hour and a half from downtown Louisville – and you shall soon see the light. In order to see what the city is all about, it’s highly recommended that you begin at the 1,200-acre Kentucky Horse Park where you will see nearly 50 breeds of horses. Between art galleries, riding demonstrations and tours, you’ll learn a great deal about some of Earth’s most majestic creatures. And if you’re missing home, Keeneland Race Course can be found in the city to ease those pangs for Churchill Downs.

ashland-henry-clay-spring1If horses are not exactly a point of interest to you, there are four period historic homes in the area including those of Mary Todd Lincoln, Henry Clay, John Hunt Morgan and Joseph Bryan, a grand-nephew of Daniel Boone. You also have the opportunity to wander through Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, the largest restored Shaker village in the world, with 34 original buildings on 3,000 acres. You can purchase unparalleled hand-crafted items there for a fair price, or you can pay a visit to Fayette Mall, the largest mall in the state, where hand-crafted works from local artisans and unique boutiques are on display.

RoughRiver8Rough River Lake

Around 100 miles – roughly two hours – from downtown Louisville, Rough River Lake is a feat of environmental engineering. Designed and built by the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lake was a project born out of practicality. Constructed to reduce flooding in the Ohio River basin, the lake has also provided a healthy water supply to those living downstream since the ’60s. The multitude of recreational benefits of the lake – such as water skiing, fishing and boating – are a welcome bonus.

RoughRiver2Summer at Rough River is one of the best times of the year to go birding. At the lake, such species that can be seen include waterfowl, warblers, woodpeckers, cardinals and blue jays as well as the rare bald eagle and great blue heron. For the ornithological enthusiast, birding tours are offered.

The lake also remains a popular family vacation spot and caters to that demographic by offering copious hiking trails and opportunities for basketball, shuffleboard and golf. Afterward, if you’re hungry, be sure to visit Grayson’s Landing, the lake’s remarkable restaurant and home to some of the best fried catfish in the area. If you’re looking for a carefree good time, there are few places that do it better than Rough River Lake.

Lanier MansionMadison, IN

One of Louisville’s many geographical blessings is that its citizens can just as easily enjoy the state of Indiana as they can the rest of the state. Just an hour drive is Madison, Indiana, located on the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Louisville. Its downtown area has 133 blocks listed on the National Register of Historic Places and three national historic landmarks. From a pool of 350, Madison has also recently been named as one of the top eight small communities in the country by America’s Best Communities.

music in the park 4Madison is probably best known for its 19th century architecture and historic sites as well as its exhilarating boat races such as the Madison Regatta, a racing tradition that goes back 66 years. Other reasons to visit include Wine, Stein and Barrel, a beer, bourbon and wine tasting event on the riverfront; Ribberfest BBQ & Blues, a family-friendly event that includes headlining acts from Jonny Lang and Los Lobos as well as more barbecue than you could possibly hope to consume; and Madison’s biggest event, the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art, an outdoor juried art show held in Madison’s beautiful downtown area.

In addition, Madison offers lovely home tours and the only jet boat tours on the Ohio River. The latter activity is invariably popular and comes in various varieties including thrill rides, scenic rides, a dinner cruise and even a two-day trip to Frankfort.

BCT Annual Theater Photo 2010Bloomington, IN

Once again journeying to the Hoosier State – this time, traveling north a little over 100 miles – you’ll come across Bloomington, one of the state’s shining jewels of culture and commerce. There are so many things to do in the city that it is difficult to know where to begin. One of the best events in the area is the Taste of Bloomington. The city’s finest restaurants, wineries and breweries all participate in June of each year to display to citizens and visitors alike the very best of epicurean delights.

lg_img_1039_Another Bloomington tradition is the Bloomington Playwrights Project’s Arts Fair on the Square, an event that has been celebrated for 36 years. Arts Fair on the Square is one of the largest events of its kind in the nation, and as such, it attracts countless visitors to downtown Bloomington to experience one of the finest displays of art around.

Bloomington is also overflowing with nice parks such as the Green Bluffs Nature Preserve, and the nearby Lake Monroe is a pleasant and relaxing diversion as well. Kirkwood Avenue serves as a hotspot for shopping and dining, so if idle sightseeing and browsing boutiques is your aim, that’s the place to go. The Runcible Spoon and King Dough are some of the most fun and talked about dining experiences in the city, and local stores Landlocked Records, Athena, Moonstones and Global Gifts are not to be missed.

Courtesy photos