How to experience Frankfort, from a local hospitality expert My Frankfort - Marc Stone

We are debuting a new feature in our News – a column entitled My Frankfort – where Frankfort residents, both long-time residents and newcomers, tell us what they love most about Frankfort.

We kick off this column with Marc Stone, chairman of the Board of Directors for Visit Frankfort and local businessman. He is the president of Stonebridge Hospitality, which includes four hotels: Capital Plaza, Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn and Best Western.

Q. Where is your favorite place to stop in for breakfast?

A. It has to be Main Street Diner. I love the 50s décor and nostalgic feel. Since I’m a no-frills kind of guy, I usually order the pancakes and bacon. I also love that it’s locally owned and has been a great addition to downtown.

Q. What is Frankfort’s best kept secret?

A. I don’t know if it’s actually a secret, but I think that Kentucky River Tours is often not given enough exposure. These tours, which start and finish at Buffalo Trace Distillery, provide an overview of the river’s beauty and showcase the best Frankfort has to offer.

Q. Where is the best place to get a sense of Frankfort’s history?

A. That’s a tough one. Frankfort has so much history and we do an excellent job of showcasing it. Something that immediately comes to mind is the Tourist Commission’s historic walking tours. I remember one where the tour guide dressed up as Col. E. H. Taylor (founding father of the bourbon industry). And around Halloween, they offer a Murder & Mayhem tour that’s really popular. They come up with different themed tours throughout the year to make learning our history fun and exciting.

Q. Where is the best place to go on a date night?

A. It would have to be Serafini for dinner and if they are having a performance of some kind, the Grand Theater afterward. I love the rotating specials at Serafini and of course, the filet mignon. Afterward, it’s easy to walk half a block to the theater where I have seen fabulous performances by big stars one would normally not think would come to Frankfort. Aaron Neville and the Neville Brothers were terrific, but my favorite had to be the Bacon Brothers. Actor Kevin Bacon and his brother have a band and they played at the Grand. It was great because the theater is intimate enough to allow interaction between performer and audience. The Bacon Brothers loved it so much they came back a second time.

Q. Where do you like to go for outdoor recreation?

A. I’d probably say Cove Spring Park. It’s a real gem with hiking trails, spectacular scenery and in the summer months, a beautiful waterfall. I used to hike there all the time with my kids, but sadly, I don’t get there as often as I’d like to these days.

Q. What is the one spot that you keep returning to?

A. The river. I have a 20-foot power boat and I’m on the water every chance I get. If I’m not on the boat, I like to be on the river in other ways, like having a meal on the riverside terrace at Goodwood Brewing.

Q. Is there any place you want to go that you haven’t made it to yet?

A. After 30 years in Frankfort and 15 years on the Tourist Commission, there is pretty much nothing I haven’t seen that is open to the public. There is a Frank Lloyd Wright house here in Frankfort that I am curious about. However, it is privately owned and I’m not sure the owners would appreciate it if I knocked on their door and asked for a tour.

Q. If you had a completely free day how would you spend it?

A. On the water, of course. I’d get my boat and cruise the river, especially during the summer months when everything is so lush and green. With the locks open, you can go all the way to Cincinnati from Frankfort.

Q. What is the one thing no visitor should miss in Frankfort?

A. We have so many attractions that it’s difficult to narrow it down to one, but I would have to say Buffalo Trace Distillery. It’s the city’s number one attraction and for good reason. Not only is it a National Historic Landmark, it has multiple tours that offer the total bourbon experience, and they have spent a lot of money on improving the visitor experience.

Q. What would you like to see happen in Frankfort that would boost tourism?

A. That’s easy – more development along the river. I feel our stretch of the Kentucky River is woefully underused. I would like to see something along the lines of what San Antonio has done with its Riverwalk, or what Louisville and Cincinnati have done with theirs. The Tourism Commission has been pushing for more usage of the river for quite a while. Prior to the COVID pandemic, we did an informal study on what we could do to upgrade our riverfront. The study recommended such things as a riverfront park similar to Louisville’s, more dock space for overnight visitors and walking and biking trails that would intersect at various places along the river. I would really love to see formalization of this plan as I think waterfront development is key to the future of tourism.