On your way from Mammoth Cave to Louisville (or vice versa), consider a stop in the area around Elizabethtown. Among the attractions is the Lincoln Heritage House, a cabin built by Abe's father. There's a driving tour of historic homes and, in summer, a walking tour of downtown, with costumed characters representing famous figures who passed through the community—P.T. Barnum and George Custer, for instance.

The Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia is a huge collection of Coke bottles, novelties, vending machines and even the side of a barn, all devoted to promoting the soft drink (tours include a free sample of the beverage made the old way, with real sugar instead of the corn syrup that's now used). And while in town, be sure to ask about that mysterious cannonball that's lodged in the second floor of a downtown building.

From Elizabethtown you can also make a brief trip to Fort Knox Military Reservation, well-known as the site of the U.S. Bullion Depository. Don't plan to see much gold—the granite and steel-reinforced structure can be viewed only from the outside. But you can visit the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor, where you'll find a wide range of armored vehicles and weapons, from models of Leonardo da Vinci's designs for wooden tanks to Russian-made tanks captured during Operation Desert Storm. The museum's Patton Gallery contains many personal items used by Gen. George S. Patton throughout his life, including his command vehicle and the Cadillac sedan in which he was killed. The museum is free. Every 4 July, it hosts a demonstration of armored weaponry—take along some earplugs.

Just a hoot and a holler away is Glendale, a small community that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. A longtime whistle-stop, the town has capitalized on its railroad heritage by establishing a small but worthy complex of eateries and shops right where the trains used to pull in. Three restaurants draw folks from around the area for home-style and classic southern cooking, and there's a bed-and-breakfast and a number of crafts and antiques shops (we saw some real bargains in handmade wicker and wood furniture). In October, Glendale stages the Glendale Crossing Festival (with 200 exhibits and craft booths).

South of Glendale, near Hodgenville, is the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site. This is the farm where the future president was born in 1809. A cabin that resembles the original is housed inside the huge Greek Revival memorial building. Lincoln buffs will also want to visit Hodgenville's Lincoln Museum (wax figures re-creating scenes from Lincoln's life) and Lincoln Statue. The Lincoln Boyhood Home, another farm where Lincoln lived as a child, is 7 mi/11 km northeast of town on Highway 31E. Elizabethtown is approximately 40 mi/65 km south of Louisville.

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