HARRODSBURG--THE COOLEST PLACE IN HISTORY
Begin your adventures in a small town that’s bursting with historic charm. Once a frontier territory, “Harrodstown” was founded in 1774 as the first permanent English settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains. Named by Smithsonian Magazine as one of "The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014", you’ll discover a place where the pioneer past has a strong presence and southern hospitality is the backdrop for an appealing mix of history, architecture and culture. We invite you to experience the relaxing atmosphere of our historic area.
In the center of town stands a replica of the log stockade that James Harrod built when he founded what was then called Harrodstown. The cabins at Old Fort Harrod State Park are furnished with handmade utensils and furniture, and craftspeople in period costume demonstrate many skills of the pioneers. The park also contains the Mansion Museum, the Lincoln Marriage Temple and a pioneer cemetery.
Harrodsburg has long been a tourism destination, due primarily to the discovery of three warm mineral springs. These spas gave rise to several grand hotels and the community rapidly gained a reputation as the “Saratoga of the South.” From 1806 to 1853, Harrodsburg’s famous spas, Greenville Springs, Graham Springs and Harrodsburg Springs, offered mineral water, gambling, horse racing and gala entertainment to throngs of summer visitors.
Built on the site of Greenville Springs Spa in 1845 was one of the South’s most prestigious girls’ schools. Now known as Beaumont Inn, it has been operated as a country inn since 1919 by fourth and fifth generations of the same family. It enjoys an international reputation for its excellent service, genuine hospitality, traditional Kentucky fare and antique-furnished guestrooms.
A scenic seven-mile drive from Harrodsburg is the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, one of the finest examples of historic restoration in the country, designated a National Historic Landmark from boundary to boundary. Many of the Shakers’ crafts, such as broommaking, spinning, weaving and woodworking can be observed during a tour of the village. An historic farming program accurately interprets 19th century farm life, complete with teams of draft horses and oxen and crop-raising techniques. Shaker Village offers overnight lodging in original buildings, delicious southern food at the Trustees’ Office dining facility, and during summer months, narrated cruises throughout the Kentucky River scenic palisades aboard the paddlewheel riverboat, the Dixie Belle.
As you approach Harrodsburg, a distinguished Preserve America Community, you will begin to see some of the architectural treasures that reflect the history of the town. Pride of ownership is evident, as most of the antebellum homes are listed on the National Historic Register, and have been accurately restored. The first weekend each December features our Come Home to Christmas celebration, during which several of the historic homes are opened to the public on the Holiday Homes Tour.
Harrodsburg’s restored Main Street is a national model. Decorative shop fronts house antique, craft and a variety of specialty shops. In the heart of downtown lies Olde Towne Park, the site of a sculptured 14 X 32-foot cascading fountain. This unique creation of public art was inspired by the scenic palisades found along the Kentucky River located on the eastern border of Mercer County.
Come anytime--we've been preparing for your visit since 1774! Whatever season you plan to travel, Historic Harrodsburg has it all—scenery, history, entertainment, traditional food, unique accommodations and excellent shopping and souvenir hunting. We are easily accessible from major highways and interstates. For more than 240 years, visitors have found our history worth repeating!