State offers plenty of places to recharge and reconnect
By Katherine Tandy Brown
Our great-grandparents would be amazed at how fast today’s families zoom through their activity-filled days and how busy schedules can eat into quality family time. Over-scheduling can also be a stressor for single folks. Though technology expands our worlds, it also puts so much information at our fingertips and gives us many more ideas for ways to spend our time. Occasionally, we all crave a simple time out.
Fortunately, Kentucky has plenty of opportunities for families and individuals who want to recharge their lives and reconnect with the important things that may have been neglected in day-to-day busy-ness. “Take a break” spots run a wide gamut across the commonwealth. Following are a few ideas for carving out time for a bit of peace. Just pack up the family, hop in the car, turn off the technology and find your nirvana.
Nearly every corner of Kentucky houses a museum where you can spend time perusing whatever you fancy to your heart’s content. Just pick one and start exploring.
Take a quiet step back in time at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill (800-734-5611) in Harrodsburg, where you can marvel at the creativity of this nearly-extinct sect, watch traditional craftsmen at work and gorge on luscious Shaker lemon pie.
In Western Kentucky, check out three new Picassos recently donated to the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art (270-685-3181).
At the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History (502-564-1792) in Frankfort, stroll through the Bluegrass State’s past, from its prehistoric natives to such luminaries as master of the boxing ring Muhammad Ali, revered bluegrass musician Bill Monroe and movie hunk George Clooney. Or admire needlecraft from old-fashioned patterns to contemporary creations at the world’s largest museum devoted to quilt and fiber art, the National Quilt Museum (270-442-8856) in Paducah.
For spiritual refreshment, a number of retreat centers provide varying choices, from silent retreats to group experiences to denominational-based facilities.
Prolific writer Thomas Merton found his life’s calling as a monk south of Bardstown at the Abbey of Gethsemani (502-549-4133), a Bavarian castle lookalike offering silent retreats for men and women of any denomination. Old timber roads provide miles of lovely walking trails through the wooded knobs of Central Kentucky.
Tucked into 800 acres of Daniel Boone National Forest in the Red River Gorge, Furnace Mountain Zen Retreat Center (606-723-4329) invites individuals and groups for monthly retreats lasting from two to 30 days. Activities include walking and sitting meditation, yoga, trail walking and maintenance of buildings and grounds. Introductory retreats at the center for those new to meditation occur several times a year. The next scheduled beginners’ retreats are Oct. 5 and Nov. 7-10.
“The nation’s finest” is the slogan of the Kentucky Park System and you’ll see why when visiting any of its 18 state resort parks, 23 state recreational parks, and 12 state historic sites. All offer up-close contact with nature and a slew of things to do if you want to be busy.
For instance, at Dale Hollow State Resort Park (800-325-2282), you can chow down on a sumptuous Kentucky Proud meal and put your feet up in a limestone-and-timber cliff-top lodge overlooking a 28,000-acre lake surrounded by lush woods. Birders can ogle everything from eagles to Cooper’s hawks and wild turkeys; fishermen can rent a boat and drop in a line for five species of bass; and outdoor types can swim, play golf (real or miniature), ride a horse or take a 15-mile hike before chilling in a cool pool.
Book a cottage at John James Audubon State Park (270-826-2247) and learn more about the park’s namesake in its Museum and Discovery Center. A bigger-than-life bird-in-a-nest provides terrific kids’ photo ops, while mom and dad can browse original Audubon oils and watercolors.
Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site (859-332-8631) commemorates the most destructive Civil War battle in the state, which left more than 7,600 people dead, wounded or missing. Today, the battlefield vista is one of the least altered in the country, much like a Confederate or Union soldier would have seen on Oct. 8, 1862. Twelve miles of trails tell the story of the conflict through 40-plus interpretive signs, while a museum contains fascinating artifacts and a layout of the battle.
Bed and breakfasts
And of course, the state’s bed and breakfast inns run the gamut from mountain hideaways to city stopovers to lakeside lounges for lazy afternoons.
One of National Geographic’s “50 Best Girlfriends Getaways in North America,” Snug Hollow Farm Bed & Breakfast (606-723-4786) lies at the end of a dirt road in an Estill County Appalachian “holler” 20 miles east of Berea. Proprietor Barbara Napier, an organic gardener and outstanding vegetarian cook, built this treasure from scratch with the help of friends. Its cozy farmhouse, 180-year-old chestnut log cabin, and secluded creek-side cabin are magnets for artists, writers and others seeking solace surrounded by woodsy nature and its inhabitants, including wild turkeys, deer and a resident Jane Russell terrier, Miss Hillary Rotten.
Animals abound on a sustainable working farm at Country Girl at Heart Farm Bed and Breakfast (270-531-5276) in Hart County near Munfordville. Worker bees will want to help gather eggs, do some gardening and play cowboy in a weekly horse roundup. Chillers can wrap their paws around a tall, cool lemonade or sweet tea on the porch and watch the world go by.
Whichever of the aforementioned relaxers you choose, enjoy your aahhs.
Katherine Tandy Brown is a correspondent for The Lane Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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