Why Shaker Village is the Retreat You Didn’t Know You Needed

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!

Road at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

Thanks again to Shaker Village for hosting my village. All opinions are my own and this article contains affiliate links. 

If you are unfamiliar with Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, let’s address your first question.

Shaker Meeting House

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.

Walking the road at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill

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!

3000 Acres of Discovery at Shaker Village

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!

What Are The 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.

Hiking at Shaker Villlage

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.

bird observation at Shaker Village

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!

horse at Shaker Village in Kentucky 1

Bring your horse 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.

waterfall on the Heritage Trail at the Preserve at Shaker Village

See Several Waterfalls on Property at Shaker Village

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.

Fishing at Shaker Village

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.

bike loaner at Shaker Village

You Can Borrow a Bike

There are 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!

unique stone stairs at Shaker Village

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!

stone fence sample wall at Shaker Village

There is a section of the fence near the garden that showcases all of the styles to look for during your stay. (Pictured above)

types of stone fence at Shaker Village

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.

broom making class at Shaker Village

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.

broom making class at Shaker Village 1

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.

garden at Shaker Village 1

Get Inspired by the Garden at Shaker Village

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.

plants at Shaker Village

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.

garden at Shaker Village in KY

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.

farm to table dinner at Shaker Village

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.”

vegtables at Shaker Village

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.

desserts at Shaker Village

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!

Shaker lemon pie

The Shaker Lemon Pie is an Original Recipe

Speaking of dessert, you need to try the AMAZING lemon pie!  The 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. It’s not a typical lemon pie and it’s definitely part of the experience.

alcohol at Shaker Village

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.

Craft Store Shaker Village

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’ll find a great assortment of snacks and healthier items in the Craft Store that was formerly the Post Office in 1845.

recycling at Shaker Village

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.

building at Shaker Village

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.

Shaker Village architecture
architecture Shaker Village e1568723153358

Each building at Shaker Village has an interesting story to tell both inside and out.

water tower building

On my most recent trip, I went inside the Water Tower Building for the first time.

water pump Shaker Village

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!

historic building at Shaker Village

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.

spiral staircase Shaker Village

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.

Shaker Village Spiral Staircase

Inside the Inn, there is a spiral staircase located on each side before you enter the restaurant, the Trustees’ Table.

Shaker Village sunset 1 e1568289767665

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.

ornament at Shaker Village 1

The Holiday Scenes from Shaker Village bring back a simplicity that I’ve longed for as commercialism for the holidays now creeps into July.

shaker meeting house

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.

Check the event calendar to plan your upcoming visit.

farm animals at Shaker Village

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.

donkey at Shaker Village

The farm has a philosophy that the 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.

Barn at Shaker Village

You can even participate in the Poultry Parade: “Bedtime for the Ducks” each afternoon.

tractor ride at Shaker Village

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.

Shaker Village

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 definitely changed.

The employees no longer dress in period costumes. Now 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. They really challenge you to find common ground and learn from other perspectives.

Riverboat Cruise at Shaker Village

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.

Dixie Belle Riverboat

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)

High Bridge in Kentucky

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.

High Bridge in Kentucky

The original stone towers, that are no longer standing at this site, were designed by John A. Roebling. Roebling also designed the Roebling Bridge connecting Covington, KY to Cincinnati, OH and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

Room at the Inn at Shaker Village

You can Sleep Overnight at Shaker Village

If you want more of a hotel experience, I recommend staying at The Inn. The Inn is close to dining and all of the activities.

The room looks simple with Shaker reproduction furniture. You’ll find that 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 and chairs on the pegs to make it easier to sweep. Room lighting can also be adjusted by changing candlelight placement on the peg.

All overnight guests receive complimentary admission during their stay. Pets are permitted in certain rooms with a non-refundable pet fee per pet.

sleeping quarters Shaker Village

Large Groups Can Stay at Shaker Village

There are 13 buildings and 72 overnight rooms for guests at Shaker Village.

room at Shaker Village

You can rent out whole buildings, perfect for large families or retreats.

swing at Shaker Village

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.

Games at Shaker Village 1

Kids will find indoor and outdoor games to play with and enjoy exploring in large open spaces on the grounds.

friends at Shaker Village

As adults we found the overnight to be a great recharge. 

Shaker Village helped us come back to our families refreshed by tapping into our sense of adventure and an overall slower pace.

fire pit at Shaker Village

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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Why Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is the Retreat You didnt know you needed

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