There are endless things to do in Berea, KY to make a wonderful weekend trip. This destination is one of the best weekend trips from Cincinnati, Ohio. There is so much to explore and admire in Kentucky with it's rolling hills and beautiful landscapes. With all the things to do in Berea, you can decide on an action-packed or relaxing trip. Let's get to it!
This post is about all the best things to do in Berea, Kentucky for an unforgettable visit.
Where is Berea, Kentucky?
Berea is located 40 miles south of Lexington, Kentucky as well as a short drive from these other nearby cities.
- 121 miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio
- 132 miles north of Knoxville, Tennessee
19+ Things To Do In Beautiful Berea, KY for a Picture Perfect Trip
1. Visit the Berea Welcome Center
Get your bearings as you enter into Berea with a quick stop to the Berea Welcome Center. The center is actually housed in a restored 1917 L&N Railroad Depot and is, understandably, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the depot you can pop over to the next spot on the list! The Center has free parking and public restrooms so you can freshen up before heading out to explore!
2. Explore The Artisan Village
Berea has been named the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky and for good reason. There are countless places to visit in the Artisan Village that takes you down Artisan Way. I recommend popping into the Weston Glass Studio, Honeysuckle Vine, Dinah-Tyree Watercolors and wherever else catches your eye.
3. Visit the Kentucky Artisan Center
The Artisan Center is separate from the Artisan Village. The Artisan Center at Berea features the work of over 800 Kentucky artisans creating art of every kind including modern and traditional crafts, two-dimensional art, other visual arts, music, books, film and specialty foods. Many of the artists featured are also part of prestigious programs such as the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program, the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, and the Southern Highland Craft Guild, meaning these are some top-notch artists and you can enjoy their work right here in Kentucky!
You can find the Kentucky Artisan Center just off of I-75 at Exit 77. The center is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm and is also home to the Artisan Cafe & Grill so you can grab a bite for breakfast or lunch.
4. Shop Small and Support Local
Shop 'til you drop in Berea! We are still enjoying our candles from the Copperas Mountain Candle Company and our wooden serving boards from The Cabin of Old Town Artisan Gallery. I also suggest checking out Fine Wine Caddy for these unique (as the title implies!) "wine caddies" that hold your wine bottle, glasses and your cheese board! I can think of so many friends who would obsess over this.
5. Find all 12 Unsettling Hands Sculptures
One of the more unique things to do in Berea, KY is to explore and identify all 12 Unsettling Hand Sculptures throughout the neighborhood.
6. Wander Around Chestnut Street
Wander down Chestnut Street to explore the Fee Sculpture Park, Chesnut St. Mini Mall and visit the Berea Arts Council. I also suggest popping into the Something Old Antique Shop and Wildflowers Boutique.
7. Visit The Historic Boone Tavern
The Boone Tavern is historic and beautifully constructed. The building has been around since 1909 and is close to the nearby college so it makes a great place to stay for anyone visiting. It was named for Daniel Boone, an early Kentucky explorer. And if you dine in just know that the spoonbread is a must-have!
8. Things To Do In Berea, KY: Hike the Berea Pinnacles
The Pinnacles Hike is the most popular hike nearby and it’s a must-do. There are multiple routes to choose from so you can do a quick in-and-out hike or a full loop with multiple viewpoints. The Pinnacles in the Berea College Forest were recognized as the best hike in Kentucky according to Outside magazine in 2019. Compared to the often packed Red River Gorge, the Pinnacles are less-crowded with views that are just as gorgeous.
9. Make the Most of Nature
In addition the Pinnacles, here are other popular hiking trails in the area.
- Anglin Falls
- John B. Stephenson Memorial Trail
- Brushy Fork Trail
- Berea City Trails
- Boone Trace Trail
10. Take A Scenic Bike Ride
You can get bikes for free from the Boone Tavern Hotel or rent some for the day. The paths are scenic and relaxing with the freshest Kentucky air.
Biking trails to explore:
- Berea City Park
- Mayde Bebee White
- John B. Stephenson Memorial Trail
11. Go Golfing!
If you're a golfer, then you'll want to visit the Berea Country Club. They offer a scenic 9-hole course set in the Appalachian landscape.
12. Things To Do In Berea, KY: Kayak At Owsley Fork Lake
Get Outside KY company offers kayaks and paddle board rentals so you can get out on the water at Owsley Fork. Owsley Fork is a great place for kayaking as well as hiking, birdwatching and just taking in the scenery. The reservoir does not allow any motorboats so you can expect a calm kayaking experience.
13. Relax At Clover Bottom Bed & Breakfast
Get away from it all at the Clover Bottom Bed & Breakfast. You can check out all the details on Clover Bottom in my full review. I honestly still think about how comfortable that bed was! Ha. The B&B is cozy, welcoming and a wonderful location nearby all the attractions in Berea. Plus, the complimentary breakfast was the perfect fuel for the day.
14. Places To Eat In Berea, KY
In addition to dining at the Historic Boone Tavern, here are several other casual spots to check out in the city.
- Native Bagel Co. offers fresh bagels and good coffee with some cute ambiance.
- Noodle Nirvana serves up delicious noodle bowls with lots of Asian-inspired flavors.
- Apollo Pizza is the spot for classic, fresh and very cheesy pizza.
- Berea Fudge Shop for ice cream and decadent fresh fudge.
15. Explore College Square
Get a taste for what brings so many students to Berea in the College Square. You can take in the student crafts, more galleries and find some of the great food mentioned above. I recommend the Berea College Visitor center & Shoppe, Appalachian Fireside Gallery. Peace Craft and The White Stitch shops.
16. Trace Daniel Boone's Footsteps
You can walk through history by following the John B. Stephenson Walking Trail which beings at the Berea Municipal Utilities lot. The trail connects with the hiking trails at Indian Fort Mountain and since it's level and paved it's suitable for walking, running, strollers, bikes and wheelchairs. Plus, you can find benches and picnic tables along the route.
When you get to the bridge, you can look southwest to see the crossing point where Daniel Boone and his team created the trail through the Cumberland Gap to Boonesborough in 1775. This became the first road ever into Kentucky and west of the Appalachian Mountains, which was monumental to the founding of Kentucky and opening the west to settlers. It became known as Boone Trace and by 1792, over 200,000 settlers passed along the Trace. How fascinating it is to see today what seems so simple to us was such a transformational area for the state and beyond.
17. Take a Learnshop and Create Your Own Art
You can take live in-person classes to practice your craft and create your own art in Berea. The Learnshops were offered in Spring 2023, so I suggest checking out the Berea Tourism website to see when they are offered again, or reach out directly to the featured artists to see if they offer 1-1 learning opportunities.
18. Berea Craft Festival
If you're visiting in July, you might want to time your trip with the Berea Craft Festival. You'll be able to admire and shop the work of over 110 artisans from all over the United States and see live demonstrations. For 2023, the festival runs Friday, July 7th through Sunday, July 9th.
19. Catch a show at The Spotlight Playhouse
The Spotlight Playhouse is a theater and event center that produces weekly performances including dinner theater, musicals, children's theater, pay-what-you-can shows and more.
Things to do in Berea, KY Recap
- Start at the Berea Welcome Center
- Explore The Artisan Village
- Visit Kentucky Artisan Center
- Shop Small & Support Local
- Find the 12 Hand Sculptures
- Wander Chestnut Street
- Historic Boone Tavern
- Hike The Pinnacles & Other Trails
- Go on a Biking Trail
- Go Golfing
- Kayak at Owlsey Fork
- Stay at Clover Bottom Bed & Breakfast
- Where to Eat in Berea
- Explore College Square
- John B. Stephenson Walking Trail
- Take an Art Class
- Berea Craft Festival
- Spotlight Playhouse
Berea, KY Travel FAQs
What is Berea Kentucky Best known for?
Berea is best known for being the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky, with countless artisans in the community, for it's historic setting and as home to the Berea Pinnacles.
What is the closest lake to Berea Kentucky?
The closest lake to Berea, Kentucky is Owsley Fork Lake Reservoir. You can kayak and paddle board at the lake and enjoy the gorgeous nature setting.
What college is in Berea KY?
Berea is home to Berea College which was the first integrated, co-educational college in the South, and it has not charged students tuition since 1892.
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Casey is the founder of Casey La Vie & has been running this travel and lifestyle blog since 2016. She’s on a mission to balance her career as a social media manager with exploring her home of New York City and seeing more of the world.