Southeast

8 Romantic Getaways in Kentucky: Grab a Bourbon and Suit Up for an Adventure

Local writer Ashlie Stevens shares 8 romantic getaways in Kentucky from Louisville and Lexington to Paducah and Pine Mountain State Park.

It’s morning in Campton, Kentucky. Snuggled under hand-stitched quilts inside a cozy, rustic lodge, I begin to stir at the sun’s first rays. My eyes open to a room coated in rich pine. Before long, my mind drifts to the options that await me today at Cliffview Resort, a woodsy escape an hour’s drive from Lexington.

Should I spend the morning in a rocking chair on the lodge’s wrap-around porch, coffee in hand as I watch the fog lift in the distance? Or should I suit up for an adventure? Maybe a zip line tour, or a hike through the dense pine forests outside.

I decide to save the adventure for later — I’m not one to turn down a rocking chair with a view.

A stay like this at Cliffview is just one of many romantic getaways in Kentucky, a state filled with luxury dining, decadent spa treatments, morning trips to historic distilleries and horse farms, and nights in with a glass of bourbon.

A Luxurious Romantic Getaway

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The Omni Louisville makes for a truly luxurious romantic getaway. Located in the heart of downtown Louisville, the property has so many amenities that you might be tempted to spend your trip making the rounds inside — going from the fitness center to the Mokara Spa (couples should look into the candle-lit Couples Ritual aromatherapy massage) to the warm Library Bar. Whatever you do, set aside time for an evening at The Water Company on the roof, where you can take a dip in the pool while looking out over Louisville’s industrial skyline.

Make sure you venture out at some point, so as not to miss downtown Louisville’s vibrant restaurants and attractions. Eclectic spots like Falls City Market — featuring local coffee, indoor food trucks and BBQ and bakery booths — beckon by day, while made-for-couples stalwarts like Buck’s Restaurant await after sunset.

Traditional Romance

Steak Dinner For Two

If you’re looking for some traditional romance, enjoy a steak dinner for two at Bob’s Steak & Chop House.

Hotel hopping around Louisville

Southeast

6 Coolest Hotels in Louisville

Omni Louisville

Louisville, 3.5 miles to Churchill Downs
8.6 Excellent (1376 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
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A Modern Mash-Up of Museum and Boutique Hotel

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The 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington is exactly what its name implies — a modern mash-up of museum and boutique hotel. For couples who enjoy contemporary art, it’s the place to stay in Lexington.

The museum experience starts on the sidewalk with “Totally in Love,” a sculpture by Pieke Bergman featuring two romantically interwoven streetlights, and carries on throughout the 91-room property. Past exhibitions have featured artists like Kehinde Wiley (the artist who is perhaps best known now for creating Barack Obama’s presidential portrait), Nick Cave (whose work has been shown internationally, including at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art), and iconic photographer Cindy Sherman. Take your time perusing the exhibitions; artwork is on-view 24/7.

If you’re short on time, check out the hotel’s one-night “Love Birds” special. It includes bubbly and a sweet treat upon arrival; a $50 credit for dinner at Lockbox, the on-site New American restaurant; and a rose-petal turndown service.

21C Museum Hotel Lexington - Mgallery

Top rated
Lexington, 5.7 miles to Blue Grass Airport
8.9 Excellent (285 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
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A Rustic Romantic Getaway

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Plan a rustic getaway to Kentucky’s first state park, Pine Mountain State Resort Park. Located in Kentucky Ridge State Forest — which itself is nestled between Barbourville, Middlesboro, and Pineville — the Pine Mountain State Resort Park Lodge features access to more than 1,700 acres of mountain scenery and wildlife viewing.

Lovebirds who, well, love birds, can plan a bird-watching walk through the sloping forests surrounding the lodge. The landscape is rich with a mix of pines and hardwoods, which attract a wide variety of birds including six species of woodpeckers.

Botany Bonanza

Pine Mountain State Park

If botany is more your thing, Pine Mountain State Park is home to several types of orchids native to Kentucky; in May, a laurel festival is held on nearby Kentucky Mountain.

Within a short hike of the lodge is Chained Rock, one of Kentucky’s outdoor oddities. Like the name suggests, there’s a large boulder chained to a cliff, precariously looming over Pineville. Local lore suggests that the rock was secured in the summer of 1933 to protect the town, but in reality, locals wanted to create an attraction to draw tourists to the area. Today, it makes for a fun couple’s photo opp and an interesting caption on Instagram.

After a full day of outdoor activities, couples can relax at the lodge’s Mountain View Restaurant, which features an expansive dinner menu and a list of Kentucky Proud beers and wines. For dessert, order a plate (or two) of Derby Pie — a gooey, bourbon-y chocolaty spin on pecan pie.

Pine Mountain State Resort Park

8.5 Excellent (256 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.2 / 10
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Old Memories and New Experiences

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Like a good relationship, a stay at the 1857 Hotel in Paducah is filled with old memories and new experiences. Built in the mid-19th century, the hotel features king suites with exposed brick walls, vaulted ceilings, lots of natural light, and antique-inspired soaking baths.

In recent years, downtown Paducah has blossomed with restaurants. Head to the Freight House for farm-to-table southern favorites, like frog legs with fennel, lemon balm, and a poppy seed dressing. Cynthia’s Ristorante is your spot for hearty Italian, like shrimp fettuccine and spaghettini al pomodoro. And JP’s Bar and Grill is the local burger and beer spot.

Before you head back to your room, take a stroll down the Paducah Riverwalk. The path runs adjacent to the city’s River District, which is now home to a collection of museums — the National Quilt Museum among them — and galleries. Take your time looking at the murals along the city’s old floodwall. Acclaimed muralist Robert Dafford painted them as an homage to the city’s glory days as a hub along the Ohio River. Oh, and while you’re out there, keep an eye peeled for antique steamboats chugging by.

The 1857

9.1 Excellent (288 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
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A History-Rich Stay

Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown, courtesy of www.kentuckytourism.com.

Built in 1913, the recently renovated Talbott Inn lets couples experience a history-rich stay in Bardstown, Kentucky. It’s located directly next to the self-proclaimed ‘oldest bourbon bar in the world’: The Old Talbott Tavern, built in 1779. The tavern features delicious local food with playful titles (Daniel Boone Beef Pot Roast, Abe’s Country Fried Steak), an expansive bourbon selection, and nightly live entertainment.

All of the Inn’s six rooms are named after someone famous (or infamous) who visited the tavern. There’s ‘The Lincoln’ room, where Abraham Lincoln himself is said to have stayed in 1812. Lincoln would have been three years old at the time; his family traveled to Bardstown to appear in court over a land dispute.

Guests can also stay in The Jesse James, boasting a full-size antique bed and bullet holes lining the walls. As the story goes, Jesse James was an outlaw who had too much to drink one night, so he went to bed at the tavern. He woke up in a room decorated with a mural depicting a flock of birds-in-flight. The sight allegedly spooked James into — yep — a trigger-happy panic.

Talbott Inn

8.7 Excellent (120 reviews)
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A Louisville Legend

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The Brown Hotel is a historic hotel with stunning Renaissance architecture has been a Louisville legend for generations due to the celebrity clientele it serves. Past guests include Lily Pons (and her pet lion cub), Al Jolson, the Duke of Windsor, Harry Truman, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Gene Autry, Eva Marie Saint, Muhammad Ali, Robert Young, Jimmy Carter, George H. Bush, and Barack Obama. On weekend nights, especially during Derby season, the Brown’s hotel bar is a fun spot for couples to kick back with a classic bourbon cocktail — the bar is known for its Old Fashioned — and attempt some celebrity sightings.

If you’re not looking for a bustling or boozy night, couples can turn in early in the Brown’s luxury accommodations. Each room features beds with hand-woven throws, piles of comfy pillows and a goose-down comforter. With 24-hour in-room dining (and, come on, who doesn’t want to eat the hotel’s signature Hot Brown open-faced sandwich in bed), there’s really no reason to leave the room. Where you take things from there is entirely up to you.

The Brown Hotel

Top rated
Louisville, 3.1 miles to Churchill Downs
9.0 Excellent (2224 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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An Elegant Kentucky Inn

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Replete with crystal chandeliers, leaded glass accents, and soaring 23-foot ceilings, Southern Grace Bed and Breakfast is an elegant inn that brings the farm stay experience to a different level. Owners David and Theresa will be your affable hosts for a stay that can be as chill or active as you like. The inn’s five guest rooms beckon with antique-style furniture, luxury mattresses and bedding, private baths and flat-screen TV’s with access to Netflix.

Each morning starts with a made-to-order breakfast, which might include dishes like sweet potato pecan waffles and organic, free-range eggs cooked in your favorite style, accompanied by maple glazed bacon and a fresh fruit smoothie. You can then choose from a range of activities, from fishing, boating and swimming on the grounds to exploring nearby attractions, like Fort Knox and the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot, or simply enjoy the pool, the view and perhaps a nap.

You can end the day with a glass of wine in the parlor, the screened-in porch or your own private balcony.

Southern Grace Bed & Breakfast

Top rated
9.5 Excellent (106 reviews)
Excellent Service 9.5 / 10
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Mid-Century Antebellum

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One of Lexington’s most storied hotels, The Campbell House is a beloved property that has recently received a significant makeover. The mid-century antebellum-style architecture remains, but newer touches include equestrian-themed design touches, pillow-top mattresses, and complimentary WiFi. To make your stay even more romantic, you can opt for the King Deluxe Suite, where you can spend some quality time together in your own living room complete with a fireplace, wet bar, and 47-inch TV.

The hotel’s central location makes it easy to explore the University of Kentucky, Keeneland Race Track and a host of downtown bars and restaurants. You’re also within a 30-minute drive of Woodford Reserve Bourbon Distillery and even closer to a prime amenity for golfers. Next door is The Gay Brewer Jr. Course at Picadome, an 18-hole, par 72 public golf course that dates to 1927.

After a full day of golf, horse racing and bourbon sipping, you’ll want to take some time to chill back at the hotel. You can recharge with room service or stop by Kilbern’s, the hotel’s Southern-style restaurant and bar, for a nightcap or a dish of the signature bread pudding.

The Campbell House

Lexington, 4.2 miles to Blue Grass Airport
7.7 Good (1541 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.5 / 10
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