People who truly love the great state of Kentucky know that its state capital of Frankfort is really its heart and soul. It is known for being an iconic town on the banks of the Kentucky River, with its hospitable people, rich history, and remarkable small-town charm. Check out the most beautiful places to see in Frankfort for your upcoming trip.
1. Old State Capitol
It is a beautiful building located in downtown Frankfort and served as the state capitol building from 1831 until 1910. It is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Gideon Shryock designed the building, who aimed to give the building the feel of an ancient Greek temple.
Architecture buffs will appreciate a fascinating staircase inside that is apparently self-supporting, held together by pressure and the precise placement of building materials.
Experts have carefully restored it to its pre-Civil War appearance. They converted it to a museum in 1920, ten years after the current capitol building replaced it when state government became too big for the building to hold. It is now home to the Kentucky Historical Society, who manages and maintains it. Tours are offered to visitors.
2. Salato Wildlife Education Center
The Salato Wildlife Education Center is located a few miles out on the outskirts of Frankfort. It is an educational facility run by the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources and is built on its grounds. The center has many indoor and outdoor exhibits featuring flora and fauna native to Kentucky.
Visitors that tour the center is shown a vast array of environments found in Kentucky, such as its mountains, prairies, marshes, and streams, and are taught about the wildlife that calls such places home. A notable feature is the Eastern Forest Diorama, which houses live snakes, giant turtles, and native fish, found in large aquariums all throughout the center.
Outdoors, the extensive grounds have miles and miles of hiking trails, where visitors can see bears, eagles, and bison that live on the grounds of the reserve. There are also picnic areas and even a lake where visitors can fish.
3. Cove Springs Park
Cove Springs Park is a scenic 240-acre nature park and preserve, and one of the most beautiful places to see in Frankfort. It is home to many wetlands, streams, ravines, forests, and even waterfalls that are found on its grounds.
There are even many historic places in the park such as the ruins of an old stone dam and an old limestone overflow tower that has since started to crumble. Frankfort natives consider the park to be a great place to hike, with three miles of trails found in the reserve.
It is also an ideal place for those visiting Frankfort to learn about nature by observing it up close and taking part in the interpretative displays of the history and natural environment of the park hosted by two shelters on the grounds.
4. Old Governor’s Mansion
The Old Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort is actually the oldest American official executive residence that is still in use today. The building completed in 1798 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Although Kentucky Governors stopped residing in it, Lieutenant Governors of Kentucky has been using the building since 1956. It followed the Federal style in the late 18th century but has since undergone renovation where Victorian details were added to the building in the 19th century after certain fashions changed.
The mansion served as the office of the governor until 1872, and the last governor to have lived in the space was James McCreary. Important visitors in the past include Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt.
5. Elkhorn Creek
The creek has a reputation for being one of the best streams in Kentucky to fish for smallmouth bass, and by all accounts, it deserves the reputation entirely. It stretches for 17 miles and offers great opportunities to see the scenic landscape by paddling and floating on the creek. It flows to the Kentucky River, one of the most beautiful places to see in Frankfort.
For visitors who wish to stay and relax for a while, there are several campgrounds on its banks. Canoe Kentucky also rents out boats and offers shuttle services to the many tourists that visit the creek.
In fact, the fishing in the creek is so famous that it now hosts several yearly kayak fishing tournaments. As mentioned, there are very scenic stretches of water for paddlers and kayakers. But for those craving a little more adventure, there are rapids on the creek that can reach exciting levels when the water is high.
6. The Floral Clock
You can find the Floral Clock on the grounds of the State Capitol in Frankfort. Then-governor Bert I. Combs commissioned it in 1961. The clock’s face stretches 34 feet across, loaded with flowers that grow only in the state of Kentucky.
Under the clock, there is a pool of water that many consider to be a wishing well. Every so often the state government cleans it out and uses the coin to fund scholarships. The Floral Clock is open every day to the public from sunrise to sundown. Going on a learning trip? It’s one of the most kid-friendly attractions in Frankfort!
7. Switzer Covered Bridge
Kentucky is home to many classic covered bridges, and they are some of the most beautiful places to see in Frankfort. The Switzer Covered Bridge is one of these bridges, and it crosses over to North Elkhorn Creek in Franklin County. The locals originally built it in 1855, with three restorations throughout its hundred-plus years of operation.
Notably, they had to rebuild it in 1998 after a flood destroyed and washed away the original bridge. Since then, it became Kentucky’s official covered bridge and part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Frankfort’s beauty, history, and hospitality can be found nowhere else in the state of Kentucky. Its gorgeous architecture, natural landscapes, and scenic views are truly one of a kind. It has a small-town charm that is unusual for a bustling state capital. Make sure to remember these places when you visit Frankfort!
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