Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Gluten-free Miracles, and Corta-Lima: Lexington, KY, part 2 June 2021

 . . . “Shaker Village is reconnecting its campus to inspire a new community of adventurers, learners, makers and doers. . . . Find architectural wonders, plant a backyard garden and taste a new dish fresh-from-the-garden.”–shakervillageky.org

“Have you heard of Pleasant Hill?” I was asked.

In fact, I had not.  Hmm . . .

John, my husband, and I were staying in Lexington, KY, for a few days.  Since this wasn’t our first visit, we wanted to ensure we were visiting new spots.  As I read about Shaker Village, a year-round destination, it seemed right up our alley.  A 3,000 acre attraction honoring and remembering what was, at one time, the third largest community of Shakers in the United States from 1805 to 1910. 

The Historic Centre, The Farm, and The Preserve, all part of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, provide activities and events for a wide range of interests.  From history to religion, from science to art, from cooking to gardening, from technological advances to Appalachain ingenuity, from dining to shopping, from day trips to overnight stays, from hiking to boating, from paddling to horseback riding, and so much more, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is a one-stop source of inspiration and fun.  Visitors can opt for self-guided tours and activities, or join in one of the multiple-daily group led events. “Inn fact” (pun intended), BBC once named this Kentucky icon a “top hidden travel destination.”

The on-site Inn is unique due to the fact that visitors can stay in traditional guest rooms or suites, but can also choose to stay in one of 13 private cottages that are restored Shaker buildings.  The rooms, whether choosing a cottage or Inn room, make use of Shaker furniture replicas, hardwood flooring, and offer Kentucky countryside views.  While staying overnight, visitors can dine at the on-site restaurant, likewise appointed with Shaker-style furniture.  The restaurant’s menu features from-the-farm dishes and meals–changing as the growing seasons change–making for a unique year-round dining experience.

While visiting Shaker Village, guests can browse all three shops on its campus featuring local foods, art, and, of course, plenty of distinctive Shaker-style pieces and gifts.  Plus, they offer an on-line shop; therefore, allowing you to shop their one-of-a-kind wares at any time.  If shopping is not your thing, there is so much more to do at Shaker Village.

Since the Shakers believed that living a healthy lifestyle was an integral part of their spiritual life, Shaker Village offers numerous out-of-doors adventures.  There is a 36-mile trail system for hikers of all levels of experience, including family-friendly trails or more advanced treks. While hiking, take in a bird observational site, a 50-foot waterfall, High-Bridge, the first cantilever bridge in North America, or the 1866 Frame Stable, where the Shakers provided a change of horses for stage coaches.  If you prefer a more guided experience, most weekends in Shaker Village offer some form of special emphasis experience or trek, focusing on topics such as wildflowers, geology, foraging, birding, conservancy and so much more.  The village hosts seasonal runs, paddling expeditions, and other mind-body-spirit events. Additionally, you can even volunteer the third Saturday of every month to help the village in their efforts to remove invasive species.  There is just so much to do, see, and experience at Shaker Village. John and I were fully immersed and engaged for the entirety of our day there, and we only scratched the surface. We look forward to a return trip to explore more of what this destination has to offer!

The Farm at Shaker Village

Our day-long exploration of Shaker Village, as well as our previous day-tripping experiences, required proper fueling.  Boy, did we EVER find the dream! Miracles Bakery, located on 145 Burt Road in Lexington, was about a 10 minute drive from the Airbnb apartment in which we were staying.  What a miracle it was!  

“Miracles Bakery is a faith driven organization changing lives through the power of food, while helping folks with their journey.”–miraclesbakery.com

Since being diagnosed with celiac disease in my forties, all products containing gluten, wheat, barley, and rye are off limits. Therefore, I rarely ever indulge in truly decadent pastries, much less enjoy quality tasting bread.  Walking into an entire store dedicated to gluten-free baking as well as other allergies and diet specialties, I was overwhelmed with food choices for the first time in many years.  In fact, I thought I would cry.  

Meet Meghan Kerbyson, Manager, at Miracles Bakery.

Donuts, cookies, muffins, breads, cakes, cupcakes, pies, pizzas, pizza rolls, sandwiches, even biscuits–flakey, short and dreamy biscuits . . . .  Paleo, keto, vegan, and other dietary restrictions, such as egg, soy, or nuts?  Not a problem here.  Miracles Bakery truly looked like heaven, but John, who does NOT have any food allergies, and I had to put it to the taste test.  

Drum roll, please. . . We ended up eating brunch there three consecutive days!  Plus, we departed their store each day with a treat, or five, for later in the day.  On our last day, Saturday, their donut day, we brought home ½ dozen of those precious gluten-free and vegan gems.  Sweet blessings from above!  If you, or a loved one, has ANY sort of dietary restrictions, and you’re visiting Lexington, KY, Miracles Bakery is a MUST eatery.  Dine-in or carry-out.  You won’t go away hungry or leave disappointed.

“Corto Lima is a mid-scale Latin inspired restaurant specializing in a new brand of Latin cuisine with a modern interpretation.”–cortalima.com

Another food discovery, while visiting Lexington, KY, was Corto Lima, located at 101 Short Street.  This cozy, stylish corner restaurant has limited seating, but the line of waiting customers that John and I saw on a Friday evening, reinforced what we experienced: a dining experience worth waiting for!  Corta Lima describes itself as a, “mid-scale Latin inspired restaurant specializing in a new brand of Latin cuisine with a modern interpretation.”  According to their website, Chef Jonathan Lundy, creates delectable dishes, drawing inspiration from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, as well as the American Southwest.  Corto Lima’s menu features housemade artisanal corn tortillas, fresh ingredients, and offering gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options as well as plenty of meat-centered dishes.  Additionally, their beverage menu, created by Director of Operations/Owner TJ Cox, focuses on Tequilas, Mezcals Rums, and wines of Latin origin.  In fact, Corta Lima boasts the best Margarita in Lexington!

John and I were challenged over all of the varied and eclectic options.  While pursuing the menu, and asking our server/bartender, Nigel Haddad, multiple questions, we noshed on salsa trio, featuring salsa verde, pineapple serrano, and fire roasted tomato: so, so good!  Eventually, I chose a side of black beans and Quinoa Chaufa, and John gleefully selected freshly made Tamales–two orders!  Surrounded by a warm, sunny atmosphere, plenty of terra-cotta potted plants, a lively room of diners, and an attentive staff, our dining experience at Corta Lima was certainly memorable. We highly recommend it and hope to return!

Nigel Haddad, Bartender and server extraordinaire

A mere two hour drive from the Tri-State area, Lexington is a great jumping off point for mini-getaways at any point of the year!  The town is welcoming to all walks of life. It’s vibrant and full of the vitality and vigor for which Kentucky hospitality is known!  Spend a weekend or spend a week, you’ll find something for nearly every interest in Lexington.  Be sure to hit me up on social media with your favorite Lexington spot or share with me at stephsimply.com!  And, if you visit any of the locations mentioned here, be sure to tell them Steph simply sent you!

Lexington, KY, June 2021, Part 1: The Adventure Begins

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”–Marcel Proust

Ready, set, go . . . travel!  Yes! After months of not traveling, like many people across the country, John, my husband, and I, were ready to hit the road for adventures.  As educators, we have the opportunity to use June and July as months readily available for travel, but last year, of course, was a different story.  In fact, our biggest trip last year was to local home improvement stores for plants!   While we debated the merits of one big, blow-the-budget-trip, we instead settled on more frequent, pocket friendly exploits.  Thus, for our first short venture we decided to visit a beloved friend, Lexington, KY.

Having been to Lexington on several previous trips, we decided to add a twist:  stay downtown.  Looking on Airbnb, we found a cute downtown apartment just off Short Street–which made me giggle since I am 4’11”!  Hostesses Susannah, and assistant, Heather, were excellent communicators to ensure we had a clean, comfortable place to stay.  Additionally, Susannah provided us with her personal guidebook to Lexington.  Full of information, this guidebook proved to be a valuable asset as we wanted to explore new parts of the city.

Rainy weather and storms forced us to modify plans and go with the flow.  However, Lexington is the perfect place in which to do this as there are plenty of indoor and outdoor sites.  One such modification led to a serendipitous stop.  

One of my student’s parents recently gifted me with two books by Kentucky & Appalachian author, Crystal Wilkinson’s books.  According to the backs of both books, Wilkinson and her partner, a poet and an artist, owned a bookstore in Lexington–Wild Fig Books and Coffee.  Based upon the book cover’s description, the store sounded right up my alley (Plus, I would have personally loved to chat with Ms. Wilkinson if the opportunity presented itself.), but I was unsure if the bookstore was still in operation due to conflicting Google searches.  John and I were never able to find it, and I later sadly read afterwards that it was permanently closed.

Nonetheless, in our search for the book store, we happened to encounter Greyline Station, which describes itself as, “A dynamic public marketplace in the heart of the bluegrass.”  This 65,000 square foot marketplace felt very grassroots and community driven as John and I walked around, visiting the numerous and varied vendors. Built in 1928, the building was home, in the 1940s, to Southeastern Greyhound which was, at one point in time, the largest employer in Lexington.  As the years progressed, this building had several reincarnations before becoming forsaken. Then, in 2014, the abandoned building was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places. Four years later, revitalization began, and it now houses eateries, bars, offices, a radio station, retail stores, event space, and a public market. John and I can only imagine the exponential potential this unique area has for growth.  We are eager to return to Greyline Station in the coming months to witness the further expansion of this vibrant and community-centered hub. 

“Greyline’s 65,000 square foot building has a storied history. For almost 100 years, the building was home to bus & transit companies, and was deemed historically significant in 2011. Come explore Lexington’s newest place to Shop, Eat, & Meet.”–as seen on the official website

With the rain clouds tentatively staved off, it appeared that we had a decent window of time to visit what was described by AirBnB hostess, Susannah, as a local favorite, the Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, located on the UK campus near the football stadium.  Described by Susannah as a “three-mile walk/run path through beautiful gardens,” John and I were positively stunned by the sheer number and variety of flowering plants.  Identified as Kentucky’s official botanical garden, this 100-acre public garden provides visitors with both native and not-so-native flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants. From the Children’s Garden to the Visitor Center, from the Walk Across Kentucky displays to distinctive horticultural displays, and from the Kentucky Utilities Ornamental Tree Collection to the fragrance and roses gardens, this botanical paradise has much to offer visitors.  It was clear this was a favorite spot for exercise due to the number of walkers/runners we saw in the parking area and exercising on the various paths–until lightning flashed, the thunder clapped, and the heavens dumped buckets of rain.  John and I earned an extra cardio boost as we ran to the car during this gully washer, ending our visit far too soon.  Therefore, the Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky will definitely be at the top of our list of places to return!

“The Arboretum celebrates nature, fosters an understanding of relationships between humans and their natural world, provides cultural opportunities for the community, and serves as a community center for environmental education, horticulture, and urban forest renewal.”–as seen on the official website

Heading back to the apartment to wait out the storm, we discussed dinner plans.  The great thing about Susannah’s location was our ability to walk to dinner each night.  On the previous evening, we walked around and through Thoroughbred Park. Dedicated to the Thoroughbred Industry, this 2.5 acre park features numerous bronze sculptures by artist, Gwen Reardon, and it was located right across the street from one of our favorite Lexington eateries, Carson’s Food and Drink. Their diverse menu offers John plenty of meat-centric dishes as well as gluten-free plant based options for me.  Carson’s service is always on-point, and the food never disappoints.  This is one restaurant upon which we always look forward to returning.

“A rustic, yet refined atmosphere with chef-driven recipes paired with prohibition cocktails, hand-selected wines, and craft beers.”–Carson’s Food & Drink

Another one of our favorites places to dine is Pies and Pints, and Lexington has one!  Conveniently located across the street from both Triangle Park and the Lexington Convention Center, it is also a short walk to Rupp Arena.  Thus, making it one hot location on the night of concerts, basketball games, and other public events. Pies and Pints, personally speaking, offers me a rare opportunity to eat a pizza that is both gluten-free and vegan while still offering all of the traditional favorite pizza toppings, such as sausage and pepperoni, for John.  Plus, they have wonderful apps, salads and sandwiches, all of which have gluten-free options.  With attentive service, 35 taps for those so-inclined–including ciders and root beer, and a wide array of one-of-a-kind pizza toppings, Pies and Pints remains high on our list of go-to eateries in Lexington.

“Stop by for lunch, dinner, happy hour or anytime you want to enjoy a delicious pie & brew while cheering on the Big Blue.”–Pies & Pints, Lexington, KY location

Next week, I will share more of our Lexington adventures–including two, new-to-us food stops and a historical location that is also a base for several types of out-of-doors adventures.  In the meantime, if you haven’t put Lexington, KY on your short-list of friendly, tourist attractions, be sure to take time to add it.  Then, plan your visit soon, and hit me up on Instagram, Facebook, or at stephsimply.com with any questions you may have.  With so many points of appeal and interest, you’ll be glad you visited Lexington, KY!  And while you’re there, be sure to tell them Steph simply sent you!