Travel Tips

The 10 Best Things to do in Berea KY

Things to do in Berea
Written by Eddie White

This Utopian town, framed by low mountains, has a history that began in the middle of the 19th century with the establishment of the first racially integrated and coeducational college in the South.

The town is a breeding ground for a wide variety of talents, and you may spend days exploring them to find unique pieces of art.

Here are the top ten suggestions for fun in Berea, Kentucky. Read on to know the 10 best things to do in Berea KY you shouldn’t miss out.

1. Visit Berea University

Berea College’s dedication to preserving and promoting the practice of traditional crafts from the Appalachian region, in part through work-study programs, helps make the town a mecca for high-quality folk arts and crafts.

This institution, established in 1855 by abolitionist John Gregg Fee (1816-1901), was the first southern college to admit women and students of other races.

Berea College is unique in that it does not charge its students tuition; instead, each student receives a scholarship that is worth the same as four years of tuition.

You can choose from the Historic Tour, the Crafts Studio Tour, and the Eco Tour, all of which leave from the Visitor Center & Shoppe and are given for free to school groups.

The beautiful Colonial Revival Draper Building (1938), the Frost Building (1905), and the student-built Phelps-Stokes Chapel are all must-sees if you’re exploring the campus on your own (1904-1906). 

 2. Berea Welcome Center

Berea has an overwhelming number of museums, galleries, studios, views, and activities for such a compact city, but there are a few hubs to help you find your bearings.

The Louisville and Nashville Depot, a historic building, now serves as Berea’s primary visitor information center.

The railroad arrived in the area in the 1870s, and the current, impressive brick depot was the third to be built there.

In 1987, it was repurposed as the Berea Welcome Center, and in 2011, it underwent a complete makeover.

The center is a must-see in its own right, and it also serves as a valuable resource, providing helpful information, directions, bookings, and brochures, and displaying intriguing pieces of public art on the lawn outside.

The log cabin on the grounds of the depot is used for classes, demonstrations, and live music, keeping the depot vital to the Old Town.

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3. HomeGrown HideAways is the perfect place to spend the night under the stars

Set a camp and listen to the sounds of nature while sleeping under the same ebony star-filled sky that pioneer Daniel Boone did.

When visiting during the fall or winter, book a stay in a contemporary cabin or treehouse to avoid the cold.

When you go camping, you can hire a kayak and paddle across Owsley Fork Reservoir or just lay in a hammock under a shady oak tree and read a book.

Kids can run around freely on the grassy area, and you can enjoy some downtime on the terrace of your cabin with a mint julep.

4. Owsley Fork is a great place to go kayaking because the waters are calm

Prepare your kayak for a relaxing paddle on Owsley Fork Reservoir and take in the sights of the dense evergreen forest that surrounds the water.

While paddling around the rivers in the summer, keep your ears out for the songs of local birds including warblers, hawks, and thrashers.

If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a bald eagle soaring over the lake, where it will likely be scouting for bass before swooping down for the kill.

Deer often come down to the water’s edge to drink, and you should be aware that local fishermen use the same waters.

You should keep your eyes out for the area’s other stunning native fauna.

5. Take a stroll through the Berea Farmers Market and see what you can find

Spend a warm afternoon at the farmers’ market perusing the many stalls and picking up some farm-fresh fruit.

Enjoy the bounty of the local agricultural community by eating fresh produce, meats, and eggs at their peak flavor and quality.

You can buy fresh bread, canned goods, jams, and paintings by local artists at any time of the year at one of the many stands set up in the plaza.

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6. Visit Old Town Candy Kitchen and Fudge Factory to indulge your sweet taste

Take a car ride through Berea and stop at a barn-like structure made of red bricks.

When you open the door, you won’t find any animals; instead, you’ll find a tempting assortment of gourmet candies like fudge, bourbon balls, truffles, caramels, and chocolates.

The proprietor will go out of her way to accommodate your sweet taste with milkshakes and hand-dipped ice cream in flavors like black walnut.

Get some of the store’s freshly prepared soft fudge, some turtles, and a jar of fudge sauce to use in your own sundaes before you go.

7. Enjoy a picnic in beautiful Memorial Park

Have some family fun by taking the kids to the park. Watch the youngsters go wild at Memorial Park’s expansive grassy area as they play on one of two playgrounds designed for different age groups.

Ready your picnic basket and spread your blanket on the grass or choose a seat at one of the tables for a relaxing afternoon in the sun.

Relax in the cooling breeze as it blows through the trees and away from the hot Southern sun.

Visitors to the park in the warmer months can see performances on the little stage and check out historic automobile exhibits.

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8. A Hub for Kentucky’s Creative Industries

There is a massive building off of I-75’s Exit 77 that serves as a showroom for more than 800 Kentucky craftspeople.

The Kentucky Artisan Center, housed in a limestone building, is open seven days a week and features vendors selling handmade goods in virtually every style of contemporary and historical craft.

There is a wide variety of handcrafted goods available, including but not limited to: pottery, oil paintings, furniture, sculpture, fashion accessories, bourbon-related items, textiles, blown glass, prints, seasonal decorations, handmade toys, essential oils, candles, spice rubs, sauces, and so much more.

The center also has an artisan Café & Grill where they serve traditional Kentucky dishes using ingredients from the state.

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9. The Berea Pinnacles

Around 9,000 acres of forest are managed by Berea College, an endeavor that began in 1897, at the dawn of the American conservation movement, under the direction of Forester Silas Mason.

The Pinnacles are a pair of peaks accessible through a network of trails within Indian Fort, with access points along Big Hill Road.

East Pinnacle, West Pinnacle, Indian Fort, Eagle’s Nest, and Buzzard’s Roost are all fantastic vantage points reached by these strenuous but relatively short ascents.

Locals consider the Pinnacles so integral to their way of life that Berea College celebrates an annual “Mountain Day” where students are encouraged to take a break from their studies and work to enjoy the outdoors.

10. The Russell Acton Folk Centre is the place to go to learn some traditional dances

Find yourself a dance partner and head on over to the activity center the locals have been working on to help preserve folk dancing.

Come to the center on the last Saturday of every month to observe or join in on the contra dances or participate in the community’s entertaining programs.

The center has a kitchen, restroom facilities, a huge terrace, a spacious hall, and a green area for large groups to enjoy, making it a great location to organize banquets, weddings, special occasions, talent showcases, etc.

About the author

Eddie White

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