Saturday, November 2, 2013

Passionate feelings for our Home Town, no matter the size!

I was contacted a few weeks ago by Kendra Thornton, formerly of Orbitz who is now a stay at home mom of three.  She wanted to find out more about my Small Town living and to tell about her passion of her home town.  So, I wanted to share our stories with all of you and hope that you will enjoy visiting both of our home towns, although different, it's still the same passion.

Most Beautiful Small Towns in America”

I live in a small town in central Kentucky between Louisville and Lexington called Bardstown.  Bardstown is home to approximately 14,000 and is considered to be one of the 100 Best Small Towns in America and one of 50 Best Small Southern Towns.  Dating back to 1780, Bardstown is the second oldest city in the state of Kentucky and is home to Federal Hill, the inspiration for the State song, “My Old Kentucky Home” by composer Stephen Foster. 

Bardstown is in the heart of Nelson County, a small friendly community and has a quaint Historic District in the downtown area.  We have lots of eclectic shops, cultural and historical heritage blend.  Bardstown is home to My Old Kentucky Home, The Stephen Foster Story, vintage trains, and museums dedicated to the Civil War.

Bardstown is strong in “spirit” – A Southern spirit that welcomes you home to one of the Best Small Towns in America.  A religious spirit -- home of the first diocese of the West, and a little spirit we folks in Bardstown call bourbon!  Bardstown boasts the title of “The Bourbon Capital of the World”.    There are two bourbon distilleries in town – Heaven Hill and Barton Brands.  Several other distilleries are just a short drive away.  Maker’s Mark is nestled in the small town of Loretto and the world famous Jim Beam distillery is also near by. 

Bardstown hosts more than 30 annual events which draw people from around the globe.  Bardstown is the heart of The Kentucky Bourbon Trail and was featured in 1,000 places to see before you die the New York Times bestseller by Patricia Schultz.

More than 225 years Bardstown has offered southern hospitality, fine restaurants and accommodations making everyone who visits feel right at home.  Want some down home country cooking or a piece of homemade pie, visit Mammy’s or Pat’s Place located on Main Street.  Want a nice steak dinner, visit Circa, The Rick house or Bourbon City Bistro.  Java Joint is great for a delicious sandwich, salad, soup and cup of the best coffee ever. Visit Hurst Drugstore and sit at the old timey counter and enjoy a cherry coke or malt, just like the old days.   Bardstown offers several Bed & Breakfasts and several hotel/motel accommodations.

Just to name a few sites to see while visiting Bardstown is our Historic District, centered in the downtown area, includes St. Joseph – the first Catholic church west of the Allegany mountains and one of the first four archdiocese in the United States, The Old Talbott Tavern and Jailers Inn, the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History.  You can tour the mansion and its gardens at Federal Hill and on summer evenings; see Kentucky’s longest running outdoor drama and official outdoor musical, which celebrates the life of the composer, Stephen Foster at the J. Dan Talbott Amphitheater.

Although I was not born in Bardstown, I have lived here for over fifteen years and although Bardstown folk might consider me a “brought in”, it is my Kentucky home and I am proud to live and be a part of this small piece of the world.

Now, I have Kendra Thornton, formerly of Orbitz and currently a stay at home mother to her three children, here to tell you about her neck of the woods. She resides in Chicago, Illinois, and loves her hometown as well!

It is hard to find somebody out there who does not have passionate feelings, positive or negative, about their hometown. I am one of those people who desperately love their hometown. In fact, I still think Chicago is one of the best cities in the world to dine and be entertained, regardless of where I have been throughout my life. Here are a few of my personal favorites around the Windy City:

While many visitors find the Magnificent Mile on North Michigan Avenue alluring, Southport Avenue is actually a great alternative. In addition to offer laidback shopping in trendy boutiques, you can also walk a few blocks to the Wrigleyville area for a fun break. The Cerato Boutique is full of work by local designers. Krista K and Tula are also popular choices. Spending your day here is a relaxing way to shop, while also soaking in Chicago culture.

Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium is among the most popular destinations for visitors. I love to visit the Lake Michigan shore and take new visitors to the aquarium. There are thousands of species to see here, and this is a great option for kids. The month of October is National Seafood Month, and while it sounds shocking that an aquarium would be in support, the Shedd has put its own spin on it. Calling it National (Sustainable) Seafood Month, they are supporting eating those species that can sustain being hunted. This aquarium is great for families, couples, or just those looking for an afternoon of educated fun!

I think that to truly get to know a city, you need to understand its culture. The Chicago Cultural Center offers loads of wonderful artwork. Plus, you can head over to Millennium Park when you are done. If you are lucky, the cultural center will be offering a free event when you are there. This is a great way to spend a full day with the family.

When coming to Chicago, there is so much to enjoy regardless of your interests. To be able to soak it all in, look into staying in a hotel in the downtown area! There is nothing cooler than being able to walk from your hotel to local attractions, and many offer great deals during non-peak travel seasons! You can stay downtown in an affordable hotel with a little bit of help, regardless of season though. I always use gogobot when I’m trying to find a place to stay in Chicago. I love being able to venture out into the city whenever I want!

I know that everybody loves to come to Chicago for the deep-dish pizza and hot dogs with all the toppings. While these are delicious, I love to stop in at local diners. Chicago has so many to offer! Lou Mitchell’s is one of my absolute favorites. It is family friendly, affordable and delicious!

The only thing I love more than I love Chicago is introducing it to new people. I love to see the look of wonder on somebody’s face when I show him or her all the sights and sounds of the city. Maybe Chicago even has a place in your future.

Hope you enjoy reading about my small piece of the world and Kendra's love of her city!

Hugs and love,
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