This is a review of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, KY with a focus on family activities. I focus on the tours offered at Shaker Village as well as the Dixie Belle, which is a beautiful boat ride up the Kentucky River below the Palisades.
One of the luckiest things about living in Kentucky is that we have some of the most beautiful sights you can ever see right in our own backyards.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is one such place. Even better, it’s just a 15-minute drive from my house. They are gracious enough to offer a week free to Mercer County Residents, so my son and I decided to take a day and enjoy it!
One of the best things about Shaker Village is that no matter how often we visit, there is something else I never saw or experienced and it is always enjoyable. If someone who lives right next to it never tires of it, that’s a pretty good guarantee a visit to it will be worth your while.
What is Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill?
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is 3,000 acres located in Harrodsburg, KY that was home to the third largest Shaker community in the United States.
The village has 34 original Shaker structures that are surrounded by farmland, forests, and wetlands. This nature preserve is absolutely breathtaking as you gaze upon the rolling hills or venture into the hiking trails to find a waterfall.
You can read more about Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill at their About Us page.
Our Day of Tours at Shaker Village
I am going to focus on our day exploring and touring Shaker Village for this particular post. There are so many things to do there, from yoga to music on the lawn to evening hayrides. You can find out all events offered on their calendar here!
They also have several special events such as a Craft Fair and Harvest Festival. I will try to blog about those in the future as we attend them.
My son and I arrived shortly after they opened. The parking lot is right at the entrance and is easy to access. We walked straight into the Welcome Center to get our tickets for the village as well as the riverboat.
The Welcome Center at Pleasant Hill
The Welcome Center is where you will get those tickets, but it also serves as a small shop with plenty of Kentucky made items. From hand stitched items to Kentucky jellies, there are some amazing one of a kind items here. It also has some interactive areas for the children to learn more about the Village.
The Welcome Center also serves as the meeting place for the Historic Village Tour which is scheduled for one hour. These start at the top of every hour.
Since we arrived too late to start with the Historic Village Tour, we decided we would start with the Experience the Farm Tour. This was a 30-minute tour that met at the Farm. It’s a short walk down the gravel path in the middle of Shaker Village.
Experience the Farm Tour at Shaker Village
To start our tour, we were met by a lady named Kitty, who had been working in the garden prior to our arrival. She served as our farm tour guide and proved to be quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the farm. She answered any question we had and was happy to explain things to us.
We started in the barn where we discussed some of the Shaker farming equipment and what it was used for. There were several replicas of the old equipment as well as signs to discuss farming as well in the event you were doing a self-led tour.
We also met two beautiful pigs that are permanent residents. My son was very happy to pet them and learn all about them. (Did you realize that pigs are actually very clean animals and just have a really bad rap?!)
She talked to us about their sustainable farming practices and how everything is organically grown. We learned about companion planting and crop rotation. I can’t say that I have ever enjoyed gardening, but her enthusiasm was enough to make me want my own garden (at least a small raised bed garden!).
Taste of Fresh Tour
We enjoyed that guided tour so much, we decided to stay for the Taste of Fresh tour as well. This was also led by Kitty, and we got to taste things straight out of the garden!
We were all lead throughout the garden where we discussed a bit more about gardening while tasting the planted foods. My son tried everything offered, which for a 9-year-old, I felt was quite impressive.
He is still talking about the mint we tasted and what a great taste it had. He got to eat an edible flower as well. After walking through some tomatoes, he found a ripe one that he was able to pop in his mouth as well. What a great way to introduce new foods to children because it’s too fun not to try.
Once we wrapped that tour up, we did take a break which I’ll touch on in the next section. However, we did finally do the Historic Village Tour.
Historic Village Tour
We had a guide named Jim who took a very large group through Pleasant Hill and was very nice to get us in the shade at each stop! He was also very knowledgable and happy to answer any question.
My favorite fact about the Shakers (that was a derogatory term for them but they embraced it as they started to sell goods to the public) is that they viewed men and women as EQUALS. Talk about ahead of their time…..
Other Shaker Village Tours
While we only did three tours, there are multiple ones offered. Some of the other offerings include:
- Waterfall Walk
- Equine Demo
- Shaker Music
- History of Hospitality
- Family Nature Adventure
- Recipes for Health (Shaker Herbs)
- In Shaker Kitchens
- Objects + Stories (A Shaker Scarf)
- …. among others
The Craft Store At Pleasant Hill
After our two farm tours, we took our break/lunch at the Craft Store. It’s nestled back close to the Farm and also houses wonderful hand stitched and homemade Kentucky items.
However, it also has plenty of sandwiches and different foods and drinks to choose from. As you exit the Craft Store, there is a circle of Adirondack chairs around a fire pit which make for a great snack area.
The Dixie Belle at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
The Dixie Belle riverboat is a must do when visiting Shaker Village. It runs at 2 and 4 pm and is an hour long ride. It goes down the Kentucky River and right below the beautiful Palisades of US 68. It leaves from Shaker Landing, and you will drive down to it from the main parking area.
One of the unique features of the Dixie Belle is that you go right under High Bridge, the site of the first cantilever bridge in North America. If you get really lucky (we did), a train may go right over it as you look up.
It’s a narrated tour, full of great information on how the Shakers relied on the Kentucky River to facts about what lives in the river (paddlefish!!).
You can buy basic drinks and snacks on the boat, but be advised they only take cash if you want to do so.
Other Things to Do at Shaker Village
Like I mentioned earlier, this particular post is focused on the guided tours and the Dixie Belle riverboat. However, there is a multitude of things to do at Shaker Village.
Hiking Trails at Shaker Village
It has an amazing system of hiking trails that are multi-use. (You may be walking a trail and meet up with a horse named Amos, which might have been one of my best days ever.) At the Welcome Center, you can sign your waiver and get a map of the trails. They have them conveniently marked for the skill level of the hiker.
Music on the Lawn
There is music on the lawn on Fridays and Saturdays during the months of May-October. Plenty of food, drinks, live music around the fire pits along with games for the children and marshmallow roasts.
The Inn at Shaker Village
They do offer a beautiful inn for an overnight stay at Shaker Village, but as I live so close, I’ve never stayed there. It has been rated as a top hidden travel destination by BBC News as well as receiving a 2019 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence. You can read more about the Inn at Shaker Village here.
The Trustee’s Table
They have a restaurant, The Trustee’s Table, which is a farm to table restaurant. They rely on food from their own gardens as well as local farmers. We did not eat there on this trip but have several times in the past, and it is as delicious as you would hope.
While I tried to touch on everything, this is really only the tip of the iceberg on what Shaker Village offers when you visit. It seems every time I look at the calendar, they are adding something new and exciting. The list of things to do seems endless.
Have you ever been to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill? Were you a guest out of Kentucky? I’d love to hear about your experience there and what activities were your families’ favorite.
Also, as I add more travel into my blog, as that is one of my family’s favorite things to do together, I will be focusing a lot on Kentucky landmarks, tourist attractions, and more. If there is something you’d like to hear about that takes place in Kentucky, let me know and I’ll try to cover it!
I’m in love with my Kentucky, so why not write about it?