The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is a must-do stop for anyone traveling in southeastern Kentucky along Interstate 75. This beautiful and modern arts center also doubles as a highway rest stop – complete with cooked food, hot sandwiches and tourist information. The Center makes for a convenient stop (within sight of the freeway and not miles away) and its 8-8 hours make it a perfect stop or destination.
The Kentucky Artisan Center is designed to showcase the many talented craftspeople that live and work in Kentucky. I have been to craft fairs and shows from coast to coast and I promise you that you will see many pieces unlike anything you have seen before. From the dramatic and pricey $24,000 art glass pieces to clever items for less than $10, there is definitely even something for the ‘person who has everything’. Christmas is not that far away and this would make for a great place to do some holiday shopping!
The food looked nice (we only had drinks and a giant cookie) and the eating area had soaring, skylight-filled ceilings and two walls of windows to let in the sunshine. Tables and chairs are also available outside to enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful rolling hills of the surrounding Kentucky landscape.
Don’t let the size of the place intimidate you into thinking it would take too long to stop here. There’s plenty of parking, admission is free, and the artwork is surrounded by large open spaces. Take a quick walk through the exhibits or a leisurely stroll to take in everything, either way you will be glad you came.
If you have the time, I would strongly recommend driving the few extra miles (couldn’t be more then eight round trip) to downtown Berea and have lunch or dinner at Papaleno’s. Papaleno’s is a great hometown Italian restaurant that we found great reviews of on the Internet and we weren’t disappointed. The pizza was some of the best we’ve had in a long time. They even sell it by the slice. The salads, sandwiches, and Italian dishes looked wonderful and most everyone cleaned their plates.
Parking for the downtown area is plentiful with a nice-sized, FREE parking lot on the next block. There are a number of fun shops located on the same block as Papaleno’s and are worth a look. If you have the time, be sure to check out the Appalachian Fireside Gallery and the Appalachian Arts & Crafts & Quilt Shop that are just around the corner from Papaleno’s.
We didn’t have the time to check out the Old Town Artisan Village but we did drive through it. In an area the size of most small southern downtowns, Old Town is home to 25 working artisan studios and retail galleries. The Village is definitely on our list for the next time we visit this area.
Everywhere we stopped, we were made to feel welcome and were never pushed to buy or move along. The tree-lined streets and litter-free roadways were just a small part of what made us truly free welcomed. This small Kentucky college town appears to be doing everything right and its people have much to be proud of.
For more information about the places mentioned, be sure to check out these websites: