Top 10 Ways to Discover Downtown Charm
Downtown Elizabethtown is a beacon for those looking to relax and explore
By Bella Portaro-Kueber
Seeking adventure? Set your navigation to the city of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The city has been important to U.S. history since it was established in 1793. But Elizabethtown is more than a historical landmark—there’s also a wide variety of things to do.
1. The Historic State Theater
Built in 1942, the Historic State Theater operated as a movie theater for 40 years. The Art Deco space closed in 1982 and reopened in 2009 due to the efforts of local residents and the city itself. Located in the same building as the live-theater Hardin County Playhouse, the State Theater is now a venue for classic movie showings, weddings, theater productions, concerts and comedy shows. Watching classic movies in a place full of history, the romance and nostalgia come alive again.
2. The Brown-Pusey House
This Georgian mansion was built by state legislator John Y. Hill in 1825 where he lived with his wife, Rebecca until his death in 1859. They began operating the home as a boarding house in the 1840s, which brought a notable historical figure to their doorstep. From 1871 through 1873, General George Armstrong Custer lived in the Brown-Pusey House as he combated the influence of illegal distilleries. Now the house acts as a library and a space for private and public functions with a serene garden. If you’re visiting from June through September, experience the Tavern in the Garden, a period replica bar serving refreshments and featuring live music between 6 and 9 p.m.
3. The Downtown Historic Costumed Walking Tour
Visiting Elizabethtown wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the Downtown Historic Costumed Walking Tour. Take a stroll through downtown with George Custer and other important figures from the town’s storied past. Listen to tales and experience reenactments every Thursday evening from June through September. You might even hear about how a dedicated swindler and his partner pulled off one of the most spectacular scams known as the Great Diamond Hoax of 1872.
Coming during the off-season? Elizabethtown’s free mobile app has everything you need. Check out the Tours category where you can take a self-guided tour and discover the other hidden gems of Elizabethtown.
4. The Cannonball
You can’t visit Elizabethtown without seeing ‘The Cannonball’ that was fired by General John Hunt Morgan’s forces during the 1862 Christmas Raid. This Civil War artifact remains embedded in the wall of the Depp building. Although the original location burned down in 1887, the cannonball was placed back into the new building in as near the same spot as possible. Visitors often take photos of and with the Cannonball, bringing them as close to history as possible. It’s a can’t-miss stop during any visit to Elizabethtown.
5. The Hardin County History Museum
The city of Elizabethtown resides in Hardin County. As a county-proud area, it’s been an important mission of the Hardin County History Museum to provide an educational space to tell the rich history of the county. From exhibits to educational programs, visitors can learn from the past to provide a better understanding and perspective for the future. Talk about hometown pride! Admission is free as the museum’s goal is to provide access to all.
6. The Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame Museum
Kentucky is the unofficial “Basketball Belt” of the country. While college ball dominates the nation with the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, Elizabethtown brings the focus to the young athletes at the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame Museum. This museum highlights the contributions of men and women who’ve played and coached Kentucky’s basketball games; proudly preserving and displaying it to remind all that our love for basketball in this state starts when we are still young.
7. Bourbon Barrel Tavern
This Kentucky classic continues to draw thousands of visitors year after year. In Elizabethtown, you can visit Bourbon Barrel Tavern, a bar offering more than 140 different bourbons and ryes. If you’re not into bourbon and you want something else to indulge in, try one of their craft beers or spirits. Enjoy the atmosphere and the decor that has the same qualities as your favorite rustic Pinterest board.
8. Downtown Restaurants
If you’ve worked up an appetite, head to downtown Elizabethtown for an impressive selection of eateries. There’s something for every taste bud.
For delicious food and a friendly atmosphere, there’s no better place than relaxing at a café. At Roxie’s Café, be sure to try the Angus burger and beer-battered mushrooms. Cobbler’s Café offers a variety of gourmet drinks and food (fun fact: the establishment gets its name from its previous life as a shoe-mending shop). Recharge at Vibe Coffee and sip locally roasted specialty coffee in a cozy historic building.
Fill up on some food at area restaurants. Like any proper English pub, The Wicked Eye Woman Public House brings its comfort food and unique taste to Elizabethtown. Local foodies even contributed and helped to create some of the delicious combinations on your plate. Back Home Restaurant serves up some of that family-friendly flair by featuring a full restaurant and an upper level called O’Neal’s Boutique. Shopping and eating; what’s not to love?
Finally, two upcoming eateries, Impellizzeri’s Pizza and The Dreamery Ice Cream Shop, promise to expand the options available downtown and saturate your taste buds even more.
9. Second Saturday
Explore Elizabethtown’s Second Saturday for some local flavor. This monthly event in the historic downtown district features a variety of vendors, downtown businesses, and live music. Support local artisans at their booths set in downtown, and even create your own arts & crafts with their help. This is a kid-friendly event, so bring the family for some fun. Each Second Saturday has a different theme, so be sure to plan ahead and explore your favorite.
This event is the best way to get a taste of the city, but if you’re not visiting during Second Saturday, you can also be your own tour guide by discovering shopping and dining in downtown Elizabethtown at your own pace.
10. Boutiques and antiques
Elizabethtown is the ideal place to stumble upon local must-haves in area boutiques and antique stores. The boutiques offer a place to find those items filled with history and a story only it can tell. With a little exploration you’re sure to find local antique stores that welcome you and transport you back in time. Spark some nostalgia by finding pieces from your childhood years and take a peek even further back as you wonder about everyday life in olden times.
Elizabethtown offers the cozy feeling of a charming environment; welcoming smiles and unique things to do that can satisfy any adventurer regardless of age. With places to shop, eat, and learn about local culture and history, there’s no limit to what you can experience in Elizabethtown.