Where can you taste the world's best bourbon, make the acquaintance of the world's most famous thoroughbred, tour the home of the "Paul Revere of the South," shop for high-end antiques in a converted schoolhouse, and spend the night in a castle — all in the same county?

That would be Woodford County, Ky. Located in the state's scenic Bluegrass Region just west of Lexington, Woodford offers enough to keep a visitor well occupied.

Start with the thoroughbreds. Drive along Hwy. 60, and you will quickly discover that you are in an upscale neighborhood where the sprawling farms belong to folks such as the Sheikh of Dubai (Gainsborough at Darley) and Barbara Jackson, widow of California wine magnate Jess Jackson (Stonestreet).

Most visitors make a beeline for Coolmore at Ashford Stud, where Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup winner American Pharoah stands at stud. The superstar stallion, along with his stablemate, fellow Triple Crown winner Justified, will happily pose for pictures with adoring fans. These guys preen, prance and mug for the cameras.

If you want a thoroughbred farm with history, opt for Airdrie Stud, which occupies part of fabled Woodburn Farm, considered by many to be the birthplace of the American thoroughbred breeding industry. Prior to the Civil War, it was Belle Meade Plantation outside of Nashville that was considered de rigueur for quality blooded horses. During the war, however, these valuable thoroughbreds were routinely confiscated by both Union and Confederate forces. Belle Meade's owner sent his best stallions and mares to Woodburn for safekeeping, sowing the seeds of the Kentucky thoroughbred industry.

Many of Woodford County's farms are available for touring through visithorsecountry.com.

Bourbon royalty

By now, you're ready for some Kentucky elixir, right? Take a drive through some of America's most scenic countryside (Old Frankfort Pike has been designated a National Scenic Byway) to arrive at Woodford Reserve Distillery.

Situated on picturesque Glenn's Creek, Woodford Reserve is the oldest distillery in the state, with a tradition dating back to early-1800s distiller Elijah Pepper. On a tour, get a close-up look at the triple distillation process — from the copper pot still to the only surviving stone aging warehouses in America. Afterward, enjoy a tasting of the official Kentucky Derby bourbon.

Head four miles down McCracken Pike where Glenn's Creek narrows to a trickle, and you will see a turreted castle rising above the trees. Welcome to Castle & Key Distillery, where the legendary E.H. Taylor Jr. began making bourbon in 1887. Taylor spared no expense in making what was then the Old Taylor Distillery a showplace.

Following Prohibition, the distillery fell into ruin for half a century — increasingly looking more like a decaying Southern Gothic mansion. In 2018, a multimillion-dollar renovation brought Castle & Key back to its original elegance. The castle, peristyle and springhouse with its chandelier and elegant columns were restored. The original sunken gardens were re-created and are at their best in summer when the hydrangeas are in bloom.

In 2022, the distillery's Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon became the first bourbon produced there in nearly five decades.

Southern comfort food

Want to soak up the bourbon with some regional cuisine? The Stave, where the food is described as "sleekly sophisticated without being pretentious," sits between the two distilleries. In the summer, you can dine on a wooden deck among trees backing up to the creek and listen to live music. The rest of the year, grab an inside table and indulge yourself with all manner of home-style cooking — from bacon jam grilled cheese and hot honey fried chicken to blackened catfish and grits and confit chicken leg served with creamy grits, roasted wild mushrooms, chili oil and herbs.

No talk of dining in Woodford County can be complete without mentioning multi-James Beard-nominated chef Ouita Michel. Michel has amassed a restaurant empire in the Bluegrass Region, but her flagship is Holly Hill Inn, located in the charming railroad community of Midway.

Originally an early-19th-century tavern, the inn has Southern charm equaled only by Michel's inventive cuisine. She makes a cheddar crab puff to die for. Follow that with a boneless ribeye with Henry Bain sauce and horseradish cream and a cheeseboard composed of all local cheeses for dessert.

More exploring

Browse the boutiques and galleries of Midway before heading to the hamlet of Nonesuch and Irish Acres Antiques, where staid New England drawing room meets 1930s over-the-top Hollywood glamour. At this rehabbed former elementary schoolhouse turned upscale antiques emporium, you can pick up a beautifully crafted Christmas ornament for $20 or walk out with a 200-year-old mahogany cupboard for $38,500.

In what was the school cafeteria, the Glitz restaurant resembles a Tinseltown movie set, with its color scheme of black, silver, mauve and pink and its decor of smoky mirrors, gauzy drapery and hundreds of twinkling lights.

Tour the Jack Jouett House, an unassuming Federal-style home built in 1797. Jouett isn't a household name outside of Kentucky, but here he is known as the Paul Revere of the South, having ridden 40 miles to Monticello in 1781 to warn Thomas Jefferson that the British were coming.

Kentucky Castle

After a full day of touring and eating, head to a well-appointed luxury hotel for the night. Especially if that hotel is the Kentucky Castle, Woodford County's version of Downton Abbey.

Originally built by a Kentuckian with deep pockets as a home for his bride, the Castle now offers a regal experience on a property spread across 110 acres of rolling Bluegrass countryside. Accommodations are in the castle's main building, with opulent features such as gilded mirrors, chandeliers, decorative molding, ceiling frescoes and a sweeping staircase. The turrets, or cabins on the outskirts of the estate, offer a glamping experience.

Dine in the restaurant and then cap off the evening with a bourbon cocktail in the bar. Or unwind in the tranquility of the Castle's gorgeous spa, where you can opt for a Warm Himalayan Salt Stone Massage or one of their signature body scrubs, combining mint and lavender from the hotel gardens with … what else? Bourbon.