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  • Writer's pictureTamara Schneider

Beautiful Berea, KY: Your perfect itinerary for a weekend getaway.

Nestled against the rugged Cumberland Plateau, Berea, Kentucky is a town with a deep soul and a vibrant artistic spirit. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an art lover, or simply seeking a unique experience, Berea has something to offer. Here's your ideal itinerary for a weekend getaway.

Day 1: The best place to stay in Berea is the historic Boone Tavern Hotel. Originally opened in 1909, this iconic establishment continues to thrive. Immerse yourself in its rich history and enjoy a delightful meal at this historic gem. The staff at Boone Tavern exemplify southern hospitality and will make sure your stay is a pleasant one. The accommodations are warm and inviting with blue and gold accents in the lobby areas, rich wood tones, and displays of fresh flowers everywhere you look. Check into your spacious room decked out with all the amenities one would expect from such a historic hotel (including plush robes and in-room coffeemaker), and then stop by Frost Cafe and indulge in a coffee or cocktail. If you are looking for something active to do, check out their complimentary bikes and tool around College Square. If you prefer a more relaxed afternoon, take your beverage and sit on the expansive wrap-around porch and simply watch traffic go by.

Start the weekend off right by having dinner reservations at Boone Tavern, a 2023 Open Table's Diner's Choice award recipient. The star of the show is the famous spoonbread, a cross between a souffle and cornbread which is complimentary with every meal. The spoonbread comes with three different butters to highlight this Southern dish. For an appetizer, we recommend the Kentucky country ham and pimento cheese fritters. They're delicious! For a unique entree, try the Chicken "flakes". It is poached chicken, cranberry orange relish, chicken veloute, and mashed potatoes. Be sure to save room for dessert as they have a variety of sweet treats including cheesecake and strawberry shortcake.

Following dinner, take a bourbon and sit on their outside patio under the hanging lights as you visit with other guests and anticipate all that is to come the next day.

Day 2: Start the day with breakfast at Native Bagel Company. There, you can score a cup of their award-winning Little Waves coffee and authentic bagels that have been recognized as some of the best in American by Food & Wine magazine. The hours are 8-1p on Saturday for breakfast and brunch options. If you're looking for something later in the day, the business transitions into Nightjar, a separate concept under the same roof, that serves up delicious burgers, salads, sandwiches and cocktails from 5-9p.

After fueling up, you can head over to Estill Street to Get Outside KY where you can schedule an outdoor adventure like kayaking on the beautiful Owsley Fork Reservoir. You will be transported to the reservoir by the Get Outside KY guides and they will give you all the equipment and instruction you need to enjoy some time on the pristine waters of Owsley Fork. Enjoy two hours of peace and tranquility as you glide across smooth-as-glass water.

All that exercise and fresh air will have you hungry again, so make plans to visit the best Italian place in town, Papa Leno's. Located on the same block as the Boone Tavern Hotel, this gem has a variety of menu items like hot and cold sandwiches, lasagna, soups and salads to entice you, but don't be swayed...order the pizza. We are not exaggerating when we say it is probably one of the best pizzas we've ever had. They also serve breadsticks that are very similar to the ones at the iconic Joe Bologna's in Lexington.

You can follow the carb-heavy lunch by walking around and visiting the many shops around Papa Leno's, including the Log House Craft Gallery that displays and sells crafts from over 500 artists. The log house is staffed by Berea College students and includes 3 stories of arts and crafts. You can shop knowing each dollar spent contributes to Berea College and its mission of supporting students in Appalachia without charging tuition.

A short drive from College Square will take you to "Old Town". There you can check in at the Berea Welcome Center which is located inside the old L&N Railroad Depot, one of the last brick stations still in existence from the Cincinnati to Knoxville line. If you have kids who are into trains, this is a must see. Each June, they host L&N Day to celebrate the unique railroad history of Berea. This year's event happens on June 17th from 9a-4p. Festivities will include model train set-ups, train-themed vendors, food trucks, children's activities, and a classic car show.

Leaving the Welcome Center, stroll over to The Cabin of Old Town and check out the beautiful wood products by resident artist Tim Wade. Just down the block, you can visit the Weston Glass Studio to see the magical glassblowing process in action. Numerous other shops and galleries abound in Old Town, so you can spend as much time there as you would like before making your way to the next stop.

For an even more extensive art gallery experience, a visit to the Kentucky Artisan Center, is a must. Driving up and down I-75, you've probably noticed this impressive gray stone building on the side of the road. The Artisan Center has been around for a little over 20 years, and it is the place where you can most accurately see why Berea is often referred to as the Folk Arts & Crafts Capital of Kentucky. Special curated works from over 800 Kentucky artists are on display in this massive building. The admission is free. There is ample parking and also a cafe where you can grab a drink or a snack and sit at one of the outdoor patios to take in the lush natural surroundings.

Dinner on night two has to be at Berea's most popular restaurants, Honeysuckle Dining and Bourbon House that is located inside Churchill's, a 100-year-old former weaving factory. This restaurant combines Southern cuisine with modern flavors and has an expansive bourbon selection. Their menu changes seasonally and they use the freshest ingredients. The shrimp and grits would make any Southern chef proud, and dessert is a must. Take an after-dinner drink out to the patio and sit around the fire pit to finish off the evening as you listen to crickets chirping and watch the fireflies light up the night.

Day 3: Soak in your last morning in Berea by having breakfast at the Boone Tavern Hotel. You will appreciate the vast array of breakfast items including omelets, biscuits and gravy, buckwheat banana pancakes and smoked beef brisket hash. For late risers, they serve brunch from 11a-2p. It's the ideal ending to your visit to beautiful Berea!


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