READY FOR a break in your routine, but tired of the same old vacation drill? Bowling Green, a charming city of 35 square miles where Southern hospitality rules, may well be the place. Bonus: You’ll only need a few days.
Favored hotels in Bowling Green are nothing if not elegant. A great example is The Kentucky Grand Hotel and Spa (270-779-8988). The all-suite boutique property sits in a prime downtown location with sweeping views of Circus Square Park. At the Derby Piano and Dessert Bar, adorned in crystal and deep, dark wood, you can nibble on more than sweets as you enjoy live music. Order panko-dusted fried pickles with housemade spicy ranch before that bourbon bundt cake. If a getaway isn’t a getaway without a round (or three) of golf, check into The Lodge at Olde Stone (270-393-4653). The genteel resort has renowned nine- and 18-hole courses designed by noted architect Arthur Hills.
Mammoth Cave (270-758-2180) is the longest cave system in the world, with more than 400 miles of cathedral-esque caverns and passages—and those are only the ones they’ve mapped. Tours include short or long walking, crawling, wheelchair-accessible, and lantern. If you prefer your underworlds wet, head to Lost River Cave (270-393-0077) for a boat tour of the aptly named Blue Hole. The area has served as a Civil War campground, Jesse James’s hideout, and an underground 1930s nightclub.
After all that exploration, you’ll be due for pampering. At the Be Happy Yoga & Salt Cave (270-799-8070), the cave is man-made, but no matter. Chilling in the Himalayan-salt lair, sitting in a zero-gravity chair, and cocooned in fluffy slippers and a blanket rejuvenates and relaxes.