If you are looking for one of Kentucky’s hidden gems, it’s Berea, Kentucky.
Berea is a college town that’s also an artisan community with lots of outdoor recreation for locals and tourists to enjoy.
I’m sharing fun things to do in Berea, Kentucky during a day trip or overnight getaway.
Where is Berea, Kentucky?
Berea is located in Central Kentucky around 15 miles south of Richmond.
Driving Distance and Time to Berea, Kentucky
- 40.2 miles/ 46 minutes from Lexington, Kentucky
- 114.5 miles/ 1 hr 43 minutes from Louisville, Kentucky
- 118.5 miles/ 1 hr 46 minutes from Cincinnati, Ohio
- 134 miles/ 2 hr 4 minutes from Knoxville, TN
What is Berea, Kentucky Known For?
Berea, Kentucky is home to Berea College, (a private National Liberal Arts College), artisan festivals, historic buildings, and outdoor adventures.
Berea is the only one of America’s top colleges that makes a no-tuition promise to every enrolled student, which means that no student pays for tuition. That’s pretty mind-blowing!
Stop at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
200 Artisan Way, Berea, KY
Open daily from 9am- 6pm, you’ll find an assortment of Kentucky-made items for sale from 1000+ Kentucky artisans who reside all over the state.
The Kentucky Artisan Center also has exhibits on display inside that are open to the public, free of charge. Check the Kentucky Artisan Center event calendar to learn about upcoming special events and demos offered to the community.
There is an artisan cafe inside offering breakfast, sandwiches, soups, and salads in a cafeteria-style setting.
Many road trippers know that this is also a great stop off of the expressway for a clean bathroom too.
If you are newer to the area, ask the staff for a map of Berea and check out the brochures to learn more about the attractions in the surrounding area.
Explore the Hiking Trails at The Pinnacles
2047 Big Hill Road, Berea, KY
The Pinnacles have been named the best hike in Kentucky by Outdoor Magazine.
This hiking gem is not as well known as Red River Gorge making it a less crowded and dog-friendly scenic trail option.
You’ll find lots of parking available for hikers in the lot that’s open from dawn until dusk. This lot also connects to the paved bike path.
The trail begins with a paved path but quickly progresses to a trail with an incline that has an elevation change of 700 ft from the parking lot to the summit.
There are a few benches along the way if you need to stop and catch your breath on the way up.
I would also recommend borrowing one of the walking sticks before you go up.
The views are totally worth it once you make it to the top!
Some of the signage can get a little confusing at the top because some of the trails on the sign don’t start directly next to the sign.
I would recommend taking a picture of the trail map before you start your hike so that you can go back to it as an additional point of reference.
I’m also directionally challenged and maps on my phone have helped me many times.
Trail Distances at The Pinnacles
It always helps to know what you are getting yourself into ahead of time when it comes to the trails.
- 1.2 miles -Parking Lot to Indian Fort Lookout
- 1.3 miles- Parking Lot to East Pinnacle
- 1.7 miles -Parking Lot to West Pinnacle
- 1.8 miles- Parking Lot to Buzzard’s Roost
- 1.0 mile- Indian Fort Lookout to East Pinnacle
- 2 miles – West Pinnacle to East Pinnacle
Indian Fort Lookout and Eagle’s Nest were definitely the highlights of our hike.
On-site near the parking lot there is a Forestry Outreach Center. The hours can vary by the season which means that the indoor restroom facilities may be closed.
Other Local Hikes in Berea, KY
If you want to explore more hikes in the area check out Anglin Falls, a mile-long hike that leads to a waterfall in the John B. Stephenson Memorial Forest.
Another option is to explore Brushy Fork offering 5 miles of wooded trails with multiple loop options.
Drink and Eat Local in Berea
During our visit, we tried Native Bagel Co. for the first time. We had more limited options for restaurants because we visited on a Monday and were glad to find this spot.
I decided to carb up for my hike with a panini made with county ham, jalapeno cream cheese, and blackberry jam on an everything bagel.
Their hazelnut latte was also a great boost of caffeine to help get me ready for my hike.
Great Restaurants to Try in Berea
The following options came HIGHLY recommended by multiple locals that I talked to before and during our visit.
Stop Inside the Berea Tourism Welcome Center
3 Artist Circle, Berea, KY
The building is open daily from 9am- 5pm and closed on Sunday.
This former train depot has a lot of history on display inside, along with restrooms open to the public, and staff available to answer your questions about the area.
There is parking in front of the building and there is additional free parking within a short walk.
Meet and Support Local Artisans at the Artisan Village in Berea
When you visit Artisan Village in Berea there is a good chance that you can observe a local artisan in action while they create in their studio or shop.
The hours for shops in Artisan Village can vary so be on the lookout for a flag outside the building to signal they are open.
There are 16+ shops within a few streets to explore.
Discover Public Art Throughout Berea
There is art on display all over Berea in a variety of mediums.
Be on the lookout for the “show of hands” art installations throughout the city, sculptures, a giant rocking chair, and several murals while you are walking around Artisan Village.
Find Deals on Hotels in Berea
Save on your stay as you compare prices on local hotels in Berea using the map above.