Harrodsburg has a population of about 8,377.
This quaint, small town has been attracting a lot of attention lately. Smithsonian Magazine named it one of the “20 Best Small Towns To Visit” in 2014, and Best Choice Reviews awarded them with a spot on their “50 Best Small Town Downtowns In America” list.
Harrodsburg is the oldest permanent American settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains.
The town was founded on June 16, 1774 by pioneer, solider, and explorer James Harrod. He had been exploring the area for several years, and eventually recruited around 30 men to settle the area near the Salt and Kentucky Rivers. They divided the land into plots, and named the town Harrodstown, after its founder. They had to abandon the town later that year, but returned to resettle a year later in 1775.
The monument pictured above commemorates the first settlers, and was visited by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934.
See what life was really like during the days of James Harrod at Old Fort Harrod State Park.
This park is like a living history museum that transplants you back into a day in the life of a pioneer living in the newly founded town. A full-scale replica of the fort that was built by James Harrod is the main attraction, as well as other cabins and buildings that would have been around at the time. Actors in costume put on demonstrations to show you what life was like for these pioneers, such as animal corralling and tool and craft making. Other attractions at the park include the cabin where Abraham Lincoln's parents were married, a George Rogers Clark Federal Monument, and the Mansion Museum, which showcases pieces of Civil War history, Native American artifacts, a gun collection, and more. Old Fort Harrod State Park is located at 100 S. College Street, Harrodsburg, KY 40330.
Old Fort Harrod State Park is also home to the oldest cemetery west of the Alleghenies.
This pioneer cemetery is located just south of where the original fort stood. More than 480 gravestones are still in the cemetery.
Return to simpler times at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.
This 3,000-acre site used to be home to the third largest Shaker community in the United States between 1805 and 1910. Explore some of the 34 surviving buildings, meander around the farm to see the source of the food served at The Trustees' Table, which is the restaurant at Shaker Village. Watch for wildlife as you trek through the surrounding forests, streams, and prairies. There's more to see at Shaker Village than you could possibly explore all in one day, so consider renting a room at their inn for a peaceful getaway.
Cruise down the Kentucky River on the Dixie Belle Riverboat.
While you're at Shaker Village, take a ride aboard the 114-seat riverboat, the Dixie Belle. You'll see the geological wonders of the Kentucky Palisades, and dense, untouched wilderness. You'll also pass underneath High Bridge, which was the first cantilever bridge in the U.S. It was constructed in 1876.
Another option for both dining and lodging is the Beaumont Inn.
The Beaumont Inn is Kentucky's oldest family-operated bed and breakfast country inn. Their restaurant has received many accolades, most recently in 2015, when they won the James Beard Foundation America's Class Award. The Beaumont Inn is located at 638 Beaumont Inn Drive, Harrodsburg, KY 40330.
Looking for a quick and casual bite to eat? Stop in at the Kentucky Fudge Company.
Located in an early American drug store, the Kentucky Fudge Company feels like an old-fashioned soda fountain. They serve full meals here, but be sure to get a delectable ice cream dessert or piece of fudge. The Kentucky Fudge Company is located at 225 S. Main Street, Harrodsburg, KY 40330.
For a more secluded and rustic place to lay your head, try the Canaan Land Farm.
This 18th-century farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a Kentucky Historic Farm. Relax and enjoy some peace and quiet on this secluded farm.
That’s just a quick look at this historic Kentucky town, so be sure to check it our for yourself. Has anyone visited Harrodsburg before?