Kentucky Monthly

Using the services of a tour company seems like a good idea when you travel to a new city. What about using one to get to know your own environs? There are tour companies that whisk visitors all over Kentucky—particularly in the Lexington and Louisville areas—introducing them to the bourbon industry and the horse racing world, along with specialized tours that incorporate craft breweries, wineries, foods and history.

“We recommend tour companies all the time,” said Niki Heichelbech-Goldey, director of communications at VisitLex. “It is a fine way to see everything, and if it involves craft beer or bourbon tasting, you don’t have to worry about driving.”

She said most visitors come to learn more about Kentucky’s horses and bourbon, and the larger tour companies have itineraries that incorporate one or both types of attractions. The smaller companies, on the other hand, can tailor their tours to the group size and visitors’ interests.

In Lexington, Stone Fences Tours has been around for just a year and a half, but the company and its tours were years in the making. Owners Jerry and Hope Daniels traveled the country visiting historical sites before turning their focus on Kentucky. They worked for five years checking out local sites and developing their tours, most of which are history oriented.

“It is natural for us to give tours because this is what we do when we go on vacation,” Jerry said. “We are huge history geeks.”

With Jerry or Hope as your guide, Stone Fences offers a variety of tours that include horses, bourbon, vineyards and craft breweries in its 12-person van. One of the company’s most popular tours is called Bourbon Barons. It takes a look at the family behind an iconic distillery, influential historical women in the industry, or a particular area such as Louisville’s Whiskey Row. An example is the Ripy tour, which includes a visit to the family’s historical mansion in Lawrenceburg followed by a tour and tasting at the former Ripy Brothers Distillery, now known as Wild Turkey Distillery. Other Bourbon Barons tours feature bourbon royalty such as the Beam, Taylor and Pepper families.

“Our tours are small and personal, and you will learn history along the way,” Jerry said. “We love to meet new people and hope they enjoy the tour, but we want them to take a little bit of Kentucky with them.”

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