Kentucky: The 15th State

Today is Admission Day for Kentucky, the 15th state, admitted to the Union on June 1st, 1792.

The first time I was in Kentucky, I thought I was in Ohio.

If you’ve been to the Cincinnati airport (airport code CVG), you know what I’m talking about. The Cincinnati airport, which I foolishly believed was in Cincinnati, Ohio is actually located 13 miles south of that city. Not in Cincinnati (which I could understand), but not even in Ohio. Nope, it’s in northern Kentucky. Since I spent time in the surrounding area, during some very long time on the ground, I can say that I have been in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Kentucky is one of four states established as a Commonwealth (the others are Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts), and while that designation has no constitution significance, it means that its government is based on the common consent of its people to be governed, rather than on colonial authority dating back to England.

Known as the “Bluegrass State,” you will find this unique grass throughout the rolling hills of the state, including at many of the famous thoroughbred farms. Thoroughbred breeding and racing is big business in Kentucky, and it is home to the Kentucky Derby, held annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

In an effort to increase tourism, Kentucky has launched a new branding campaign, attempting to boost its image with the theme “Unbridled Spirit.” While it may be a play on words, and a tip of the hat, to the horse industry, it may also be an attempt to “spice” up the image of the state. After all, Kentucky is known not only for its genteel Southern culture, but also for its bourbon and whiskey, horse racing and betting, and other types of gambling.

What else is there to do and see in Kentucky?

  • Louisville Slugger Museum (the bats are made in — well, Louisville)
  • Visit Lake Cumberland
  • Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky has the largest cave system in the U.S.)
  • Red River Gorge Natural Bridge
  • Cumberland Gap
  • Trail of Tears (a portion passes through Kentucky)

Followers of political news and current events may remember that Kentucky was involved in the debate and lawsuits over displaying the Ten Commandments on public property.

All of the time spent in Kentucky has been spent relatively near the airport. Since a good friend recently bought a home in Louisville, I’m hoping for an invitation to visit real soon. It would be nice to see other parts of the state.

Photo credits: Churchill Downs (flickr); Louisville Slugger (wikipedia)


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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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