Russell Theatre, Maysville, Kentucky
Russell Theatre/Melanie Warner Spencer

Here’s one for vintage and history lovers: Maysville, Kentucky was an important port for bourbon, tobacco, and ironwork on the Ohio River in the 1800s — and a vital stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, historic theaters, art galleries, and museums, along with pubs and a drugstore soda fountain, are all a part of its charm. You can still see examples of the city’s splendid ironwork — once sent as far as New Orleans to embellish homes and business — on many buildings around town. From historic homes and floodwall murals, fascinating museums to Southern cuisine, here’s what else to look forward to in Maysville.

Activities: Catch a show at the circa-1889 Washington Opera House; shop for antiques, gifts, and other goodies downtown or in the historic Old Washington neighborhood; and duck into one of the countless galleries for one-of-a-kind original works of art. (We especially love the Ohio River Valley Artist Guild, housed in the beautifully restored historic Cox Building.) Summer visitors and oenophiles will want to check out Maysville Uncorked on the second Saturday in June, which features wine from wineries across the state and art and crafts from regional artists, as well as live music.


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Museums: Learn about Maysville’s role in the Underground Railroad at the National Underground Railroad Museum, located at the Bierbower House that served as a safe house. The Kentucky Gateway Museum Center combines the Genealogical and Historical Research library, Regional History Museum, and the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collection in one vast, state-of-the-art space.


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Food: For breakfast, lunch, and coffee, Parc Café is the place to be. This charming café and its courtyard would be right at home in Paris. Find a creative and ever-changing daily menu of tempting items, like duck bacon and chicken sandwiches or lamb stew, and fresh pastries and breads. For fine dining, head to Chandler’s on Market for views of the Ohio River while you nosh on everything from hearty fresh tuna steaks, prime rib, and shrimp and grits to pastas and quiche.

Stay: The French Quarter Inn is located downtown and is within walking distance to all of the shops galleries, bars, and restaurants, not to mention the theater. Dine in the hotel’s Tippedores Restaurant overlooking the river, sip drinks in the Gazebo Bar, and swim in the outdoor pool. Each room, $89 to $199 per night, has an oversized Jacuzzi tub and is lushly appointed with traditional décor.

Getting there: Fly into the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport and drive one hour southeast on the AA Highway.

620_Cox Fountain Row, Maysville, Kentucky
Melanie Warner Spencer

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