• Leigh Roach

21 Things To Do in 2021. Lord Knows, We Are Ready!

Last year on this day, I was super excited. I was preparing for a big night out with Stevie J., my then boyfriend, now husband. We had plans to attend a posh New Year's Eve shindig at the swanky 21C Hotel in downtown Lexington. It was a night of cocktails, light shows and dancing with an overnight stay to boot. It had been 20 years at least, since I had NYE plans like this. And I must say, the night did not disappoint. It was fabulous.


Quite obviously, as we fast forward to December 31, 2020, it goes without saying that this year is very different. My expectations for 2020, like most people, were HUGE. After all, as a kid, I thought I would be flying around in a spaceship by now. Albeit not the case, my hopes for the new year were still high. In 2020, there were certain things I knew were going to happen: My daughter would be graduating high school and off to college, I would be undergoing a major home renovation, and most life-changing of all, I would be getting married. And while all of those things happened and I am very blessed, 2020 carried many disappointments and fails. No need to spend any time harboring on those points as they are not the focus of this article. No, I'd much rather shine a light on the many great opportunities ahead of us in 2021.


If 2020, did nothing else, it gave us all an appreciation for our previous freedoms. Freedom to visit places we wanted, eat at restaurants we desired and to visit anyone we hoped to see. And while some of those limitations are still in place, I believe most of us are starting to feel a change in direction. Therefore, it's my hope that you take life by the reigns with a renewed spirit this year and here to help are 21 things to enjoy in our state during 2021.


1. Visit a distillery. If you live in Kentucky, it's my belief that everyone should tour a distillery. Tam and I have developed a deep appreciation for our 8.6 billion dollar industry, so rich with history and state pride. Kentucky bourbon is a global phenomenon. Distilleries offer everything from bourbon tastings, to facility tours, to magical dinners. Some of our favs are Wilderness Trail Distillery, Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve but there are plenty more for us to explore. We can't wait! Check out this complete list from the Bourbon Trail.


2. Go kayaking at one of our many great lakes or rivers. I am not much of an outdoorsy girl so when Tam suggested we go kayaking, I must confess I wasn't very excited. To be honest, I thought we might die. LOL. Not kidding. But it's one of my favorite experiences to date. There is something really liberating about disconnecting with the world and joining forces with nature. And if you get really brave, do a little paddle boarding like Tam.  Here is a list of our intern Seth's top places to kayak.


3. Shoot a gun. I am not advocating violence by any means, in fact, I thought I was getting super tough after my first visit to the shooting range, but last week I shot a .38 Special for the first time and DID NOT LIKE IT! However, I have shot a 22 mm and a shotgun and pretty much felt like a badass. At 5' 3, that's saying a lot. I encourage every woman to try it - just start easy. Read about our experience at the gun range here. This place is super accommodating to women.


4. Visit an in-state Bed & Breakfast or Air BnB. I love staying in hotels but B&B's/Air BnB's are the best! Some of our Kentucky recommendations are Snug Hollow, Chateau Bourbon, and Willis Graves. You will thank us! And if you are really in the market for something unique, check out the Game of Thrones Fantasy Room that I stayed in this year! It reminded me so much of Winterfell.

5. Go to the Corvette Museum. It's all about Corvettes! Need I say more? In case I do, check out our blog which explains it all!


6. Break out of an escape room. What's that you might ask? Well according to Wikipedia, "An escape room, also known as an escape game, is a game in which a team of players cooperatively discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to progress and accomplish a specific goal in a limited amount of time. The goal is often to escape from the site of the game." It's a great activity to do with family or friends. It will also make you feel very dumb or very smart or both! Click here to see if we were able to breakout of the King's Castle and to find one near you, just google "escape room".

7. Visit a winery. Kentucky is not all about bourbon - we have our fair share of wineries too! In fact, did you know we have over 50? A few of our favorite local vineyards are Talon Winery, Harkness Edwards and Chrisman Mill Winery. In fact, Chrisman Mill also has a fabulous restaurant on site. Check out our blog here for details.

8. Go to Bardstown. We love many cities in Kentucky, but Bardstown is definitely one of our favorites. From My Old Kentucky Home, to the Old Talbot Tavern, to many great bourbon distilleries, Bardstown is full of FUN. Click here for more proof why you should visit!

9. Ride a beer bus. The craft beer industry is an emerging business in Kentucky and many cities are now starting to offer beer tours. Whether it's a walking tour like that of Derby City Brew Tours or riding a bus to several craft breweries like our friends offer at Lexington on Tap, this is a great way to do something different! Read our blog for five more reasons why you should try this!


10. Visit Shaker Village. Shaker Village is full of history, outdoor entertainment and good old-fashioned fun! And what a lot of people don't know is that they also have an amazing restaurant on site serving farm-to-table fresh food! Plus, you can also spend the night! Check out why we love Shaker Village in our blog.

11. Ride a train. Before COVID, Tam and I took a dinner ride on the My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. It was a relaxing and one-of-a-kind experience. After all, when is the last time you have been on a train? We are hopeful that the dinner train will be back in action soon. Read our story for more details about why you too should ride a train!

12. Visit our state Capitol. Regardless of your stance on politics, Frankfort is a must visit for everyone. Many of us do this as children, but you will have more appreciation as an adult. Frankfort is also a great city for other offerings. Our article explains it all.

13. Go square dancing! I know I say everything we do is my favorite thing, but holy cow, square dancing is AWESOME! Tam and I attended a class and I was amazed at how much I loved it. In fact, when the restrictions ease, I am seriously on the lookout for weekly classes. So. Much. Fun. Check out our experience here.

14. Take a cooking class. Anyone who knows me, knows I do not like to cook. However, cooking classes are fun! Why, you might ask? First of all, you learn and lord knows I need all of the help I can get. Second, the meal always comes out good... yes, even mine did. SURPRISE! Third, there is no clean up! Read about our experience at Williams-Sonoma. (Yes, they have cooking classes!)

15. Go to a gaming center. Video gaming centers are not just for kids however, they will make you feel young again. In addition to the latest technology, Game Warriorz in Lexington, has old school gaming systems like Sega and Nintendo. Plus, they have a cereal bar (how cool is that). But the best part is when Tam and I tried Virtual Reality. TOO FUN!

16. Visit a small town. There are so many fun places to explore in Kentucky. Tam and I love to scout out small town boutiques, bakeries and diners. One of our biggest surprises was Lawrenceburg. You got to check out this article which highlights five reasons we love this city as well as other small towns!


17. Go camping at one of our great state parks. If you told me 10 years ago I would be a fan of camping I would have laughed hysterically in your face, but I have come to thoroughly enjoy a weekend at the lake. There are too many reasons why to list here so you must check out the epiphany I had during my first time camping.


18. Attend the Gingerbread Festival or any small town festival. Often times, we become complacent about the annual festivals in our hometowns but this year, travel out of your city to somewhere new. It's fun to experience the traditions and heritage of other Kentucky counties.

19. Visit the state fair. I attended my first state fair two years ago last summer. It's an experience that everyone in Kentucky should try. If nothing else, do it for the deep fried foods. I swear I gained 10 pounds that day.

20. Visit a new restaurant you have always wanted to try. This sounds so basic but after the year we've had and so many dining establishments closing, don't take these businesses for granted. There are several great opportunities to explore and if you ever need a recommendation, just let us know. After all, we are the Taste Buds.

21. Attend Derby. We know the pandemic may still be in force but we are hopeful for an in-person Derby this year. It took Tam and I forty-something years before we attended our first Derby. From picking out our hats, to singing our state song, to watching the glorious Derby race. It's amazing. Everyone should try it! Read our blog about our Derby experience here.

Tam and I have been extremely blessed to partake in so many great adventures these last few years. We are looking forward to bringing more great experiences to our fellow Kentuckians. Please be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to keep up with all of our shenanigans. You can also subscribe to our newsletter here. And if there is a place you think we should try out, email us at info@kytastebuds.com.


Happy New Year our friends!! May 2021 be your best!