If you are unfamiliar with Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill or you visited as a child in the 90’s, it’s time for a visit!
It has evolved over the years and offers so much more in experiences and adventures than just the buildings between the fences.
Each time that I visit I discover more reasons to come back! I’m sharing things to do during your visit that you probably didn’t know even existed!
This article was written in partnership with Shaker Village and contains affiliate links.
If you are unfamiliar with Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, let’s address your first question.
Who were the Shakers and what’s Shaker Village?
The 3,000 acres were the former site for the Shaker community who at one point were the third largest Shaker community in the country with nearly 500 members at their peak, between the years 1805-1910.
As a celibate community, men and women even entered the buildings through separate doors and each Shaker had a job that was rotated. The men and women worked separately so that they would not be tempted by each other.
The Shakers believed that their work was worship and were known for their quality craftsmanship.
The name “Shaker” was a description of how they moved during their services. Their official name of the Shakers was “United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearance.”
They were progressive for their time because they believed in both gender and racial equality.
There were some children that resided at Shaker Village who came with their families when they made the decision to become Shakers. The Shakers also took in many orphans.
I’ve visited Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill several times over the years and it’s always a place that is so peaceful and beautiful. You feel it within moments of arriving and feel refreshed before you depart.
Located about 40 minutes from Lexington, Kentucky, Shaker Village is the retreat that you didn’t know you needed!
Shaker Village is Bigger Than You Think
When I was a kid we would tour a few buildings and eat at the restaurant. I thought that was all there was to basically see and do…but there is so much to do there!
Top Things to Do at Shaker Village
In fact, Shaker Village prides itself as 3000 acres of discovery. There is SO MUCH to discover beyond the buildings in between the fences.
Explore 35 Miles of Hiking Trails at Shaker Village
I had no idea that Shaker Village even had hiking trails until my most recent visit!
The Preserve has 1200 acres native grasses attracting 500 plant species and diverse wildlife including 150 species of local and migrating birds.
The trails at Shaker Village are open to the public and there is even an observation area where you can observe birds from the comfort of inside.
Shaker Village offers a variety of special guided hikes and outdoor events for nature lovers of all ages too.
If you happen to be there during a special guided night hike taken without flashlights, I highly encourage you to take it!
You can even bring your horse to take on a trail ride at the Preserve
There are 33 miles of horseback riding trails and 15 miles of carriage-friendly trails for the public and overnight guests to enjoy at Shaker Village.
*There is a Daily Equestrian Trail Fee to help cover the cost to maintain and improve the trails. There is trailer parking near the stable and Shaker Village does not provide horses to ride, so you need to bring your own.
Shaker Village has several Waterfalls on Property
I’ve visited Shaker Village several times over the years and I had no idea that there were several waterfalls on the property!
You can find the Fulling Mill waterfall on the Shawnee Run trail. This trail has shortcut connectors to see the waterfall so that you don’t have to do the whole 6-mile loop if you don’t want to.
You Can Fish at Shaker Village
Paying guests with admission stickers can go catch and release fishing on the property at Shaker Village. You must have a Kentucky Fishing License and you need to bring your own tackle and bait.
You Can Borrow a Bike
You can borrow a limited number of loaner bicycles at the Trustees’ Office through the bike share program. Select the bike number that you want and leave your ID with an employee and enjoy a bike ride around the property.
Just don’t go too far because those hills are bigger than you realize and the bikes are one speed!
Shaker Village Has Unique Stone Fence Architecture
There are 25 miles of historic stone fence on the property. There are several different types of architectural styles of brick fence throughout the property.
I LOVED the fences with the steps built-in on both sides!
There is a section of the fence near the garden that showcases all of the styles to look for during your stay. (Pictured above)
The stone fences are also part of the talk on “How fences changed society” where you can learn about the different styles of fence at Shaker Village and how fences play a role in modern day society.
You can take a Hands-on Class
Learning isn’t limited to a specific age at Shaker Village. Guests of all ages can participate in daily adventures and special programs for all ages in a range of interests and specialties. Summer camps for kids are also very popular and fill up quickly.
We participated in a special broom making class led by Andrew who showed us how to make a broom and pot scrubber that we got to take home. The Shakers were known for their brooms and sold around 50,000 a year in their prime.
Get Inspired by the Garden
You can learn a lot from the gardeners at Shaker Village who don’t use any chemicals in the garden. The head gardener did tell us that he does use diatomaceous earth as a natural option along with planting combinations that animals and insects don’t like.
One thing that I also found pretty fascinating was that the gardens didn’t have fences around them to keep animals out. We learned that because the local wildlife has so many acres to roam, they already have an abundance of options and typically don’t bother the garden.
The garden has also been used to help teach others interested in planting their own organic garden.
The gardener rotates what’s planted and where it’s planted with many of those items ending up at the table for guests at the restaurant on site.
You Can Enjoy a Literal Farm/Seed to Table Dinner
Special dinners can be arranged for you with views of the garden that was the source for your meal. This truly gives new meaning to “seed to table.”
During our visit, we were WOWed by the skills of head chef, Amber Hokams and Mike Moore the farm manager.
Meals for special events and at the Trustees’ Table restaurant are locally sourced from the garden and outsourced from local farmers and vendors within very close proximity whenever possible.
I’ve experienced breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Shaker Village…and they are all my FAVORITE!
Seriously, you can’t have a bad meal there and please save room for dessert!
The Shaker Lemon Pie is an Original Recipe
Speaking of dessert, the AMAZING lemon pie is the original Shaker recipe that uses every part of the lemon including the rinds. I highly recommend trying at least a bite of it because it’s not a typical lemon pie and it’s definitely part of the experience.
They Serve Alcohol at Shaker Village
Contrary to what most probably think about the Shakers, they actually did drink.
In recent years Shaker Village also serves alcohol. You can enjoy a special cocktail during a meal at the restaurant or during a special event. Shaker Village is a great stop on a Bourbon themed adventure around Kentucky.
There is an Another Option for Meals On the Go
If you don’t want a sit-down meal and prefer to purchase drinks or sandwiches on the go. You will find a great assortment of snacks and healthier items in the Craft Store that was formerly the Post Office in 1845.
Shaker Village is Committed to Reducing Waste
Shaker Village has a commitment to reducing waste and that includes food waste. This is why the food at the restaurant is no longer served family-style for daily meals. You will also find areas throughout the property that encourage recycling.
There is Incredible Architecture Everywhere
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill has the largest collection of buildings from the 1800s in the United States with 34 of the 250 original structures still on the property.
The Shakers were ahead of their time in many ways when it comes to building.
Each building at Shaker Village has an interesting story to tell both inside and out.
On my most recent trip, I went inside the Water Tower Building for the first time.
The Water House dates back to 1833 and Shaker Village was the site of one of the earliest public water systems west of the Allegheny Mountains! I told you they were ahead of their time!
There is also another building that I found really interesting where they washed their clothing that is over a creek so that they could wash their clothes inside.
It’s Worth the Extra Steps for the Spiral Staircase View
Each time that I visit Shaker Village I always have to walk up and down the incredible spiral staircases.
Inside the Inn, there is a spiral staircase located on each side before you enter the restaurant, the Trustees’ Table.
Shaker Village has Seasonal Events All Year Long
I’ve visited Shaker Village in every season and I have to say that each season is worth experiencing.
The Holiday Scenes from Shaker Village bring back a simplicity that I’ve longed for as commercialism for the holidays now creeps into July.
The Community Sing at the Meeting House is another event to be on the look for filled with music and a glimpse at what a weekly meeting by the Shakers would have sounded like.
Shaker Village has a variety of seasonal special events offered to appeal to both families and kid-free guests including special music events, Halloween, Easter, and Christmas.
You can meet the Farmily
Shaker Village has lots of farm animals to visit on site. Animal lovers of all ages will enjoy viewing the animals up-close.
The farm has a philophosy that quality of food leads to quality of life for both the animals and humans. Make sure that you check the daily schedule for activities going on around the farm.
You can even participate in the Poultry Parade: “Bedtime for the Ducks” each afternoon.
Evening Hayrides are Available for Guests Seasonally
Check the calendar so that you can take advantage of the evening hayrides or horse-drawn wagon rides are offered seasonally throughout the year.
This is a great way to see more of the grounds and enjoy the peaceful scenery with loved ones.
You Will Be Challenged to learn more about yourself through a Shaker lens
If you visited Shaker Village as a kid in the 90’s you probably remember that all of the employees were dressed in attire that resembled the Shakers.
Times have changed and the employees no longer dress in period costumes and there is more of a focus on connecting the stories of the Shakers from the past to the present.
Shaker Village offers more hands-on exhibits, daily activities, lectures, special exhibits, events and hands-on learning that really challenge you to find common ground and learn from other perspectives.
You Can Take a Riverboat Cruise
Enjoy a peaceful ride on the Dixie Belle Riverboat on the Kentucky River. Guests will depart from the same landing that was used by the Shakers who regularly traded with travelers along the river.
You will learn more about the history of the area and spot unique rock formations and wildlife along the way on the paddle wheeler that can hold up to 115 guests on the one hour cruise.
You can call for reservations or purchase tickets at the Welcome Center at Shaker Village.
Due to its limited public access the Kentucky River is also a nice place to kayak or take a special Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) ride. (There are Glow SUP events offered in warmer months)
You Can View High Bridge from Underneath
You will pass under High Bridge during the riverboat cruise on the Dixie Belle. High Bridge is the tallest bridge above a navigable waterway in North America.
The original stone towers, that are no longer standing at this site, were designed by John A. Roebling who also designed the Roebling Bridge connecting Covington, KY to Cincinnati, OH and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
If you want more of a hotel experience, that is close to dining and all of the activities, I recommend staying at The Inn.
The room looks simple with Shaker reproduction furniture, but you still have a tv and single-cup brewing systems in your room along with access to libraries and game rooms. Save on your stay at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.
After your stay, you might start considering adding more wall pegs at home (a signature Shaker design) because they are so practical.
You can hang clothing on pegs, hang chairs on them to make it easier to sweep and adjust your candlelight in the room by your placement on the peg.
All overnight guests receive complimentary admission during their stay and pets are permitted in certain rooms with a non-refundable pet fee per pet.
Large Groups Can Stay at Shaker Village
There are 13 buildings and 72 overnight rooms for guests at Shaker Village.
You can rent out whole buildings, perfect for large families or retreats.
A Visit to Shaker Village is Relaxing and FUN!
Kids and adults will enjoy unplugging and reconnecting with simpler things. It’s a great reset whether it’s a daytrip or an overnight.
Kids will find indoor and outdoor games to play with and enjoy exploring in large open spaces on the grounds.
As adults we found the overnight to be a great recharge to help us come back to our families refreshed by tapping into our sense of adventure and an overall slower pace.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill Directions
3501 Lexington Rd, Harrodsburg, KY
Less than 2 hours from Cincinnati, OH
40 minutes from Lexington, KY
Less than 1.5 from Louisville, KY
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