“Shaker Village is reconnecting its campus to inspire a new community of adventurers, learners, makers and doers…Find architectural wonders, plant a backyard garden and taste a new dish fresh from the garden.” — shakervillageky.org
John, my husband, and I were staying in Lexington, Kentucky, for a few days and wanted to visit new spots. As I read about Shaker Village, a year-round destination, it seemed right up our alley — a 3,000-acre attraction honoring and remembering what was the third-largest community of Shakers in the United States from 1805 to 1910.
The Historic Centre, The Farm and The Preserve, all part of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, provide activities for a wide range of interests. From history to religion, science to art, cooking to gardening, technological advances to Appalachian ingenuity, dining to shopping, day trips to overnight stays, hiking to boating, paddling to horseback riding, and so much more, it’s a one-stop source of inspiration and fun. Visitors can opt for self-guided tours or join in one of the group events.
“Inn fact” (pun intended), BBC once named this Kentucky icon a “top hidden travel destination.”
The onsite inn is unique in that visitors can stay in traditional guest rooms or suites, but can also choose to stay in one of 13 private cottages that are restored Shaker buildings. The rooms make use of Shaker furniture replicas, hardwood flooring, and offer Kentucky countryside views.
While staying overnight, visitors can dine at the onsite restaurant featuring seasonal farm dishes for a unique year-round dining experience.
While visiting Shaker Village, guests can browse all three shops on its campus featuring local foods, art and Shaker-style pieces and gifts. If shopping is not your thing, there is so much more to do at Shaker Village.
The Shakers believed that living a healthy lifestyle was an integral part of their spiritual life, thus the Village offers many outdoor adventures. There is a 36-mile trail system for hikers of all levels, including family friendly trails or more advanced treks. While hiking, take in a bird observational site, a 50-foot waterfall, High-Bridge, the first cantilever bridge in North America, or the 1866 Frame Stable, where the Shakers provided a change of horses for stage coaches.
If you prefer a more guided experience, most weekends in Shaker Village offer some form of special-emphasis experience or trek, focusing on topics such as wildflowers, geology, foraging, birding, conservancy and so much more. The village hosts seasonal runs, paddling expeditions, and other mind-body-spirit events.
There is just so much to do, see and experience. John and I were fully immersed and engaged for our entire day there, and we only scratched the surface. We look forward to a return trip to explore more.
Our explorations required proper fueling. Boy, did we EVER find the dream! Miracles Bakery, located on 145 Burt Road in Lexington, was about a 10-minute drive from the Airbnb apartment in which we were staying. What a miracle it was!
Since being diagnosed with celiac disease, I rarely indulge in decadent pastries, much less enjoy quality bread. Walking into an entire store dedicated to gluten-free baking as well as other allergies and diet specialties, I was overwhelmed with food choices for the first time in years. In fact, I thought I would cry.
Donuts, cookies, muffins, breads, cakes, cupcakes, pies, pizzas, pizza rolls, sandwiches, even biscuits — flakey, short and dreamy biscuits. Paleo, keto, vegan, and other dietary restrictions, such as egg, soy, or nuts? Not a problem. Miracles Bakery truly looked like heaven, but we had to put it to the taste test.
Drum roll, please — we ended up eating brunch there three consecutive days! Plus, we left each day with treats for later. If you, or a loved one, has ANY sort of dietary restrictions, and you’re visiting Lexington, Miracles Bakery is a must.
Another Lexington food discovery was Corto Lima, at 101 Short St. This cozy, stylish corner restaurant has limited seating, but the line of waiting customers that John and I saw on a Friday evening foretold a dining experience worth waiting for! Corta Lima describes itself as a “mid-scale Latin inspired restaurant specializing in a new brand of Latin cuisine with a modern interpretation.” According to its website, Chef Jonathan Lundy draws inspiration from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, as well as the American Southwest.
Corto Lima’s menu features house-made artisanal corn tortillas, fresh ingredients, plus gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options as well as plenty of meat-centric dishes.
John and I were challenged over all of the varied and eclectic options. We asked our server/bartender, Nigel Haddad, multiple questions as we considered the menu and noshed on a salsa trio, featuring salsa verde, pineapple serrano, and fire roasted tomato. Eventually, I chose a side of black beans and Quinoa Chaufa, and John gleefully selected freshly made tamales –two orders! Surrounded by a warm, sunny atmosphere, potted plants, a lively room of diners, and an attentive staff, our dining experience at Corta Lima was memorable. We highly recommend it and hope to return!
A mere two hour drive from the Tri-State area, Lexington is a great jumping off point for mini getaways at any point of the year. The town is welcoming to all walks of life. Its vibrant and full of the vitality and vigor for which Kentucky hospitality is known! Spend a weekend or spend a week, you’ll find something for nearly every interest in Lexington. Be sure to hit me up on social media with your favorite Lexington spot or share with me at stephsimply.com! And, if you visit any of the locations mentioned here, be sure to tell them Steph simply sent you!
Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at email@example.com. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.