There is nothing sweeter to me than traveling a long stretch of road with my favorite tunes, the windows down, and the excitement of making new memories on a road trip. Interstate 65 is one of my favorite drives where every mile holds a memory for me.
Whether it’s going to see family and friends back in my home state of Kentucky, a school field trip exploring the caves, or making the big move after college to start a career across state lines, this stretch of highway from the bluegrass to the rolling hills of Tennessee is one you won’t forget.
I’d love to take you along to some of my favorite stops from Louisville, Kentucky to Franklin, Tennessee!
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BREAKFAST: LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
You can’t start a road trip without filling up on a hearty breakfast! Starting our drive from downtown Louisville, stop in at J. Graham’s Cafe at The Brown Hotel for the signature Kentucky Hot Brown.
It is a Louisville legend, created at The Brown Hotel in 1926, and one even Louisvillians won’t deny is one of the most famous dishes associated with the city’s Kentucky Derby celebrations (next to the Mint Julep cocktail of course!) still today.
If breakfast isn’t your thing, but coffee is, never fear, downtown Louisville has several eclectic little coffee shops to choose from. Stop into Please & Thank You or Toast on Market for a quick cup of joe and you’ll be ready to hit the road!
STOPS ALONG THE WAY – SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE:
FOR THE BOURBON ENTHUSIAST
What’s a trip in Kentucky without a stop along the Bourbon Trail? As the Bourbon Capital of the World, you are in the land where bourbon and distilleries are aplenty (really though; there are more bourbon barrels aging in Kentucky than there are people!).
If you’re ready to start the day with a little kick with your breakfast, downtown Louisville offers Angel’s Envy Distillery and the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse where you can experience bourbon in the city. But if you start your trip and head just south of Louisville, the actual Jim Beam Distillery sits just off I-65 in Clermont, Kentucky.
There you get a backstage pass to the history of bourbon making (and tasting). Guided tours take you through the entire process from aging to distilling to bottling. Tours are every half-hour, opening at 9:30 a.m. EST and last about an hour and a half. And don’t worry, if you have a group under the age of 21, they can still take the tour for a fraction of the price!
Unexpected and unusual in the middle of no-where Kentucky, Dinosaur World is a kid’s dream if they are a dino or Jurassic Park fan! When you least expect it, a giant dinosaur statue appears along I-65 just waiting for the curious mind to take the exit.
Here you can walk around several acres of life-size dinosaurs, dig for fossils, check out artifacts in the indoor museum, and there’s even a playground.
This is definitely a unique family-friendly stop a little over an hour from Louisville in Cave City, Kentucky where the kids can let their imaginations run wild!
FOR THE NATURE LOVER
(or those that just need a stretch break with a beautiful view)
Mammoth Cave National Park, located in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, is just a short drive down the road from Dinosaur World. It is the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored.
I remember taking school trips here and learning all about the incredible underground world you would never expect in the lush green woods. The park offers nature hikes, as well as guided tours down in the caverns. The park is free to enter; however, there is a small ticketing fee for the different tour options.
Be sure to reserve tickets in advance if you think about going, as the cave sells out frequently in the summertime! Block off a couple of hours to explore and bring a light jacket!
LUNCH: BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY
Eat lunch and take a tour of the National Corvette Museum. The Corvette Cafe offers classic diner treats without ever having to leave the museum! The cool 50’s vibe and burgers and shakes will take you back in time and help ‘fuel’ you up (get it?) before checking out how those iconic vehicles are created!
The museum will walk you through the history and performance of the most popular sports car in America. The separate plant tour where you can see vehicles being built on the line is currently under construction due to the massive sinkhole that occurred back in 2014.
It will reopen in January 2019, but in the meanwhile check out the historic natural hole, museum, and cafe.
If you’re like me and dessert is always on your mind, or maybe you are not a car enthusiast, Chaney’s Dairy Barn offers homemade lunches and ice cream right on the Chaney Farm.
The ice cream has been named No. 1 ice cream in all of Kentucky! This family farm offers guided tours where you can check out their prized pets, the dairy cows! Other offerings in the fall include corn mazes and hayrides. This makes for a fun stop at any time of the year!
ONWARD TO TENNESSEE
Next stop, the Country Music Capital of the World! An hour south from Bowling Green, Nashville, Tennessee is home to some legendary names in the country music world. Downtown Nashville offers beautiful city views with rooftop bars on iconic Broadway.
From Tootsies to Acme Feed & Seed, live music lines the street day and night. You never know who might show up to perform.
The “mother church,” the Ryman Auditorium, is just around the corner from Broadway. It was the home to the Grand Ole Opry from the 1940s-1970s, the birthplace of bluegrass music, and brought the likes of Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash to the world.
The auditorium still operates and offers shows today from all entertainment genres amidst the growing Nashville scene. You can check out backstage or self-guided tour until 4:30 p.m. CST daily.
Interested in the history of country music? The Country Music Hall of Fame offers exhibits on different artists and their journey through country music history.
Everything from the artist’s different tour outfits to voice recordings and photographs tells the stories of those who make up the importance of this evolving genre.
DINNER: FRANKLIN, TENNESSEE
You made it! The southern charm and historic err of downtown Franklin, Tennessee will capture your heart when you make your way into town. Located just 17 miles from Nashville, Franklin’s downtown will have you falling in love with everything this quaint and charming community has to offer!
Franklin offers a vibrant music scene along with some good southern cooking. Check out Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant or Kimbro’s Pickin Parlor for a little bit of both.
After resting up for the night, in one of Franklin’s finest hotels make plans for the rest of the trip to check out all the things Franklin has to offer from historic homes to the Masters and Makers Trail to the charming village of Leiper’s Fork.
Have fun making every mile a memory!