Shaker Village, Kentucky
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, just outside of Louisville, KY is a place my parents used to take my sister and me when we were kids. They would stop here anytime we were headed north and always bragged about what a perfect place it was to stop with kids. Well, I didn’t want the opportunity to pass us by, so I added Shaker Village to our PCS (Permanent Change of Station – a military thing) road trip from Florida to Colorado. I am so glad we did. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill lived up to my parents’ stories and gave us two days of rest and relaxation as a family midway through our road trip.
This is one of those posts where I just have so many photos I want to share. Everything about Shaker Village is just lovely. Yes, it is a historic town. Buildings have been put back to how they were during the Shaker “hayday” of the 1820’s. This took some work on the part of the non-profit. They started buying back the buildings in the 1960’s and restoring them. There are 34 historic structures and 3,000 acres that you can explore.
We stayed at Shaker Village. They have 72 guest rooms spread across 13 of the historic buildings. We were in the West Family House. Our room had two double beds and a twin bed, perfect for our family of five. Jeff’s parents joined us for this leg of the trip and were in the Old Stone Shop. The rooms are spacious with high ceilings and Shaker furniture. You get the creature comforts though of comfortable bedding and excellent Wifi. (Which is how I am writing this right now, with the kids happily on iPads for a little rest before dinner.)
Your stay includes grounds admission so staying the night leaves you plenty of time to pop in to some of the houses to explore. Signage around the village explains the Shaker culture. The Littles were happy to visit the houses as they are full of stairs to run up and down (always in sets of two – as men and women used different stairs). They loved the windows, which have deep sills, perfect for sitting, and are large, making for lovely views. Plus the wooden floors make a lovely noise.
The farm is a kids paradise. There are plenty of animals to see and pet. We attended the farm tours, included with admission, and learned all about the animals. No matter where we went in the village, the kids kept asking to return to the farm.
The real beauty of Shaker Village though is the ample grass for the kids to roam. The adults went on the introductory tour when we arrived on a Friday night. The boys ran happily in the grass, picking flowers and fencing with wooden swords while we listened to the guides. We spent much of Saturday afternoon lounging in the Adirondack chairs scattered around the property, while the kids ran wild, enjoying the swings hung from trees and the birds that are just everywhere. It was the most relaxed I have been in a while, maybe since we left the Netherlands. The kids could truly just explore.
The historic buildings are open to visit and contain signs to explain the Shaker life. We loved that we could pop in and explore one building, then run around in the lawn a bit before exploring another. The Littles loved the photos that showed the village throughout the years. The foundation had to buy back all the buildings, which had been put to many different uses over the years.
There are also tours around the property throughout the day. We caught the introductory tour at 5pm on Friday when we arrived. It lasted an hour and gave us a great overview of the Shakers. The kids ran around on the grass fields while we attended the tour.
You won’t want to miss the ducks going into their enclosure, they march in together and it is all very cute. There are also demonstrations at the barn and generally just staff all around the property to answer your questions.
Shaker Village also has miles of trails extending out from the property. We did not have time to explore many of the trails. The Middle Little and I spent one late afternoon, while everyone else was napping, exploring parts of the Meadow Trail. We saw so many birds and a few deer. There are many trails though if you want to hike to the waterfalls or further reaches of the village. You can download a trail map here.
There is one on-site restaurant that serves a limited menu of farm-to-table dishes. The food was delicious. They offer an excellent gluten free menu. The service was hit or miss. Reservations are highly recommended for all meals as they do book up for all meals, even when lodging isn’t full.
We had breakfast both mornings in the restaurant. The food took a while both mornings. The first morning we attempted to tough it out, which led to pre-meal meltdowns. The second morning we previewed the online menu before going in, decided on what everyone wanted and placed our order immediately. Then we sent one parent out into the garden with the kids to run around until the food was ready. This worked out much better! (Ask for a to-go coffee cup and you can take your coffee out with you.)
We opted to picnic for our lunch. We always travel with picnic supplies. The buildings all have large shared refrigerators where we stored all our stuff during our visit. They also have an ice maker and a microwave. We spread out our picnic blanket under a tree behind the West Family House. We read books, played some nature games and enjoyed our picnic. Jeff ran over to the restaurant and picked up a few types of pies for us all to share as an after meal treat.
We were lucky to be visiting during their Summer Music Series. On Friday and Saturday nights the restaurant has music out on the grass that they invite anyone to join. We ordered takeout from the restaurant for the adults one evening, and they brought it right to us on our picnic blanket. The kids enjoyed the remainder of the picnic food. The next night Jeff picked up pizza from town and we enjoyed that on the lawn and ordered drinks from the outdoor bar.
Shaker Village is such a great easy family getaway. Expect to relax and take things slow.