Inn at Woodhaven

Rows of wooden bourbon barrels line the walls of a dimly lit room.

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When is the Best Time of Year to Experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail?

There is a lot that draws people to Louisville, Kentucky for vacation. From experiencing the great outdoors in our state park system, to catching a horse race at Churchill Downs, to exploring our art, museum, and culinary scene— Louisville has something for everyone to enjoy on their travels. But perhaps the biggest draw to Louisville is the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail®️. As locals, we’re sharing our tips for the best times of year to experience the trail and what you can do to prepare for your vacation now. To get you in the spirit (see what we did there), we’ve thrown in one of our favorite springtime bourbon recipes too!

Close up view of many glasses filled with bourbon

What is the Bourbon Trail?

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail®️ was established in 1999 as a way to celebrate Kentucky’s exceptional bourbon distilleries. The trail has 51 distilleries as of the time of this publication, including Kentucky’s oldest, Buffalo Trace, and newest, Garrard County Distilling in the once-dry Lexington, Kentucky. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail stretches a far distance, with up to 70 miles between some distilleries, so planning ahead to hit your favorite spots is a must. 

There aren’t a lot of rules to the trail, except that you are 21+ and you ensure you have safe transport from place to place (more on that later). Louisville’s own Frazier Kentucky History Museum features the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center on their first floor, with both bourbon tastings and exhibits. It’s the perfect place to start if you’re as interested in the history of the trail as you are in the drinking. Some trail explorers also enjoy picking up a Bourbon Trail Passport and Field Guide for $14.00 and collect stamps from each of the distilleries you visit.

Two glasses of bourbon with cubed ice on a wooden table.

What Are the Best Months to Experience the Bourbon Trail?

The bourbon trail never closes, but there are definitely months of the year that make experiencing the bourbon trail that much more fun. We experience all four seasons here in Louisville, which make Spring and Fall the ideal weather for your next bourbon excursion. 

With temperatures not too hot and not too cold, Spring bourbon trail tours also wrap in the excitement of horse racing season at Churchill Downs (April through early July). While distillery tours take place indoors, many distilleries offer outdoor patios for you to do your bourbon tasting. In our opinion, there is nothing quite like kicking back outside with an exceptional flight of bourbon while enjoying the fresh spring breeze… and maybe some smoked bbq too.

Meanwhile, Fall bourbon trail visitors will get some exceptional leaf peeping (late October is peak season) or may also be able to time their trip around The Kentucky’s Bourbon Festival which takes place each September in Bardstown, Kentucky. Heads up— this bourbon festival has sold out in the past two years. If you want to go, you’ll need to get your tickets months in advance.

We recommend visiting for bourbon events throughout the year that you may want to plan your trip around.

Preparing for Your Bourbon Trail Experience

If you decide to book a last-minute vacation to Louisville, it’s possible to experience the bourbon trail. But if you plan your trip a few weeks (or months) in advance, you can create a really outstanding experience that is catered to your interests. You can use this Kentucky Bourbon Trail map to help you chart your course.

Start with researching and ranking the bourbon distilleries you want to visit. Identify your “must see” spots and take a look at their tour schedules and offerings. Some only tour certain days of the week. Some require reservations far in advance. And some have incredible add-ons like VIP experiences that get you behind the scenes and with access to some really rare bottles.

Once you know your must-sees, plot out where they are and schedule your reservations. Once those are plotted and planned, you can start to fill in your other times with nearby distilleries that maybe don’t rank as high on your list. Don’t leave out restaurants, either. Kentucky has some really fantastic food and often the restaurants have their own speciality bourbon drinks or tastings. One restaurant we love in Louisville is Mesh Restaurant. Known for their locally sourced ingredients and cozy, sophisticated ambiance, their menu features a unique array of food from Kung Pao calamari to stout-braised short ribs. When it comes to bourbon, Mesh Restaurant features a wide variety of brands for you to try, including the King of Kentucky 15 Year. And if you’ve found that you’ve imbibed a bit too hard on the trail, then hit up Mesh for their signature weekend brunch.

If you’re not the “planning type”, you’re not alone. Thankfully, Bourbon Town Tours is a one-stop service that will give you the VIP experience while relieving you of having to book individual reservations or figure out transportation from place to place. We highly recommend their comfortable, fun, and entertaining tours as the most worry-free way to experience the bourbon trail here in Louisville.

View from the queen four-post bed looking at the fireplace. Electric candles placed in the fireplace. A dresser sits to the right of the fireplace and period victorian pictures are on the wall above the mantle.

One Final Thing for your Bourbon Vacation Plan

We hope that your tour along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, will include a stay with us at the Inn at Woodhaven, located in the center of the action– Louisville, Kentucky. Our plush Stearns & Foster luxury mattresses, crackling fire places, and private, newly-remodeled bathrooms make the Inn at Woodhaven the perfect place to rest and refresh after a long day on the trail. You’ll even find fresh baked cookies in the parlor and a hot, tasty breakfast to start you on your way. Find your perfect room and book with us today!

As promised, here’s one of our favorite springtime bourbon cocktails to get you in the vacationing mood…

Springtime Bourbon Drink Recipe from the Inn at Woodhaven


2oz Evan Williams Honey Whiskey

3oz cranberry juice

1oz lemon-lime soda


Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Pour ingredients over ice and mix with a straw.

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