Hidden away in the knobs of central Kentucky lies a vintage Shaker village. While this historic commune is no longer in practice, it still offers many of the homegrown benefits of self-sustainability entwined within its rich history and culture. Retro TravelingMom Mary Moore recently spent the night in one of these restored Shaker homes and found out what there is to do on a 200-year-old farm as a family. What she found surprised her.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Harrodsburg, Kentucky
Have you ever heard of the Shakers? This was a movement that I was not well aware of before embarking on this trip. Apparently, the Shakers lived on this property in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky many years ago. Their community was set up as a commune situation, each member having a job to do within the village to keep it running smoothly and self-sustainably.
Most notable, however, were the strict guidelines the Shakers agreed to. Upon entering into this community, the men and women were no longer allowed to interact. At all.
Today, this location welcomes guests who are looking for something a little bit different than its original intent. Guests coming to the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill are typically coming for a connection-based experience, not one of separation.
In my opinion, guests might want to visit Shaker Village to experience a closer connection to nature through the dining and farming programs, to family and friends through the on-site and local activities, or to history through Shaker Villages’ interactive learning opportunities.
Connect with History
As soon as you step foot on the grounds of Shaker Village, it is easy to tell that this place is full of history. The buildings are mostly original, with just a few updates here and there. Look closely and you might be able to find hidden doors around the buildings!
The village’s historic buildings are peppered on either side of an old dirt road that runs through the village center. Some of them are now used for educational purposes and are filled with photos and historical artifacts. Others are now used as pretty unique and historic places to stay.
Stay in a Historic Room
My favorite part of checking into my room at Shaker Village was being handed an old key attached to a wooden key chain.
“Your room is up the first flight of stairs to the left,” I was told.
“Up one flight of stairs and to the left,” I repeated as I looked down at my luggage, realizing I should have probably packed a lot lighter. No elevators in the historic buildings meant that I would be pulling my luggage up to my room one step at a time.
Though very winded, I knew it was worth it upon opening the bedroom door. The historic rooms were updated but still shared the original charm of their past.
Connect with Nature
It’s hard not to feel like you’re a part of nature when spending time on a working farm that is over 200 years old. While staying in the village, you can open your lodging door to find gardens, farm animals, and a couple of wandering cats which have rightfully become the village guests’ most adored locals.
If you’re staying at Shaker Village, you have access to the grounds nature and historical inspired educational programs. These activities include an introduction to the farm animals, exploration of music, or various education-based tours around the campus.
Also, if you’re looking to add a little more adventure to your stay, guests can also sign up for horseback riding or hayrides. These activities may have additional fees.
During my stay, I was able to meet the onsite farmer. He was passionate about sharing his knowledge about rotating crops and pairing them for the best natural method of pest control, just as they did in the past. He also took the time to introduce me to the resident sheep, chickens, and goats. A fun experience for someone like me who doesn’t get a chance to interact with farm animals on a daily basis.
Farm to Table Dining
After roaming the grounds, soaking up all of the knowledge about farming that I never knew I needed, we headed inside to enjoy an artfully prepared meal made from ingredients cultivated within the village.
Dinner was exquisite and fresh. Eaten in a room full of natural light, overlooking the gardens.
These vintage inspired meals are served at the Trustee’s Table which is located within the main building. They serve three meals a day.
Connect with Friends
While the Shakers once wanted to keep men and women separate, today the village is all about bringing people together. Because of this, there are many places within Shaker Village to connect with friends. Be sure to check out the firepit near the Trustee’s Table restaurant or within the communal spaces in some of the hotel buildings. Some of these communal areas include couches and games to play as a family.
If adventure outside of the village is what you seek, be sure to check out the local bourbon trail in Kentucky. You can also schedule a ride with Central Kentucky Tours. This guided Bourbon Trail program will pick you up at Shaker Village and bring you back when you’re done. Plus, they help you find the best spots to visit. Easy!
Ready to plan your visit? See what Research TravelingMom has to say about it.