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Does your taste run towards funky, handmade glassware? Are you searching for the perfect architectural antique to add to your home? Are you looking for something handwoven for your floors or something designer for a night out on the town? Do you want to sample the freshest produce while enjoying live music? The shops, markets and outlet malls of Kentucky can satisfy any retail impulse.
Whether you are looking for the freshest produce, handmade jams or handcrafts, you can find it in the Farmers’ Markets of Kentucky. Not restricted to one city, no matter where you roam in the state, you will get a chance to sample Kentucky’s famous agricultural offerings, as well as homemade offerings.
Among the most popular markets is the Bluegrass Farmers’ Market in Lexington. Locally grown produce, herbs, jams and even grass-fed beef is here from April through October. Meanwhile, the Lexington Farmers’ Market has been a popular downtown attraction since it began in 1975. In addition to fresh produce, herbs, eggs and other goods, you can watch cooking demonstrations by area chefs while live music flows through the stalls.
Fresh eggs and handmade soaps are standouts at the excellent Richmond market which makes a much-anticipated opening every April (it’s only closed during the winter months). Positive word of mouth continues to spread about the produce available at the London Laurel Market and the market in Mercer County’s Harrodsburg, Kentucky offers seasonal goodies like tomatoes, pumpkins, butternut squash, honey and blackberry jam, along with summer crops.
With so many options to choose from, visitors should ask at their hotel’s front desk to find the favorites in that area.
One of the best ways to get to know an area is to go exploring for antiques. These items, often produced by hand with extraordinary craftsmanship, reveal Kentucky’s heritage. Luckily, there are numerous places throughout the state that will allow you to take this step into the past.
What interests you most? If it’s antique farm implements and tools, look no further than Quarter Moon Antiques in Smiths Grove in South Central Kentucky. They have an impressive collection of instruments set up in a majestic old barn and farmhouse on Main Street. If antique kitchen tools are on your radar, drive up to Carrollton in North Central Kentucky to browse The Homestead’s array of “primitives.” Wooden bowls, pottery and cabinets, along with glassware and other items have all been lovingly curated here.
Speaking of glassware, Somewhere in Tyme, in Eminence, Kentucky features the charms of vintage glassware, as well as hand-carved wooden furniture and decorative items. Black Sheep Antiques in Utica (Western Kentucky) displays of handmade items from biscuit boards to pillows, while Fleur De Lis Antiques and Collectibles in Paducah features jewelry crafted before 1900.
If you are redoing a house back home, or just on the lookout for larger items, think about stopping in at Architectural Salvage in Louisville. It’s the ideal spot for vintage mantle pieces, antique mirrors and even a gargoyle or two. And if you just want to browse for items ranging from carousel horses to antique door knobs, Joe Ley, also in Louisville will captivate your imagination.
If your attentions run toward one-of-a-kind, handmade jewelry, pottery, glassware, woodworks and other finely crafted items, the craftsmen of Kentucky have treasures waiting for you. Are you visiting the Northern Kentucky River Region? If so, drive over to browse the impressive crafts at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea. Heavily influenced by local heritage and traditions, this is a wonderful spot to shop for gifts, particularly if you enjoy woven crafts – you can even relax and plot your next purchases while you sample specialty foods.
While you are in Berea, you can take a trip over to Tater Knob Pottery and Farm. It’s an opportunity to watch potters at work. Handcrafted pottery items are available for sale, but it’s the unique experience of watching colorful art in motion that makes this such a unique experience. From there, drive north to Rabbit Hash to experience the Rabbit Hash General Store. Collectible pottery, handmade brooms, woven items, soaps, utensils and antiques line the shop that has become a major destination for those traveling in the area.
If you are staying Louisville, don’t forget to visit Flame Run Glass Studio and Gallery. Noted as being the “largest privately-owned glassblowing studio in the Midwest” the studio is a fun, interactive experience. If you love the artistic beauty behind these glass creations, you’ll want to add this to your itinerary. Mellwood Art Center is also a “must see.” Once a meat packing building, this facility is now home to galleries, cafes, artist studios and even the occasional wedding. For those always on the lookout for handmade silver jewelry, you’ll find it here.
Malls and Outlets
Shopping complexes in Kentucky range from high-end shops to sought after chain outlets. Whether you want to indulge in a little retail therapy or are looking for a specific item, be sure to ask the locals, including at your hotel’s front desk, to narrow down each area’s best stores. You’ll find that each town has its favorites, but there are a couple of experiences that are becoming destinations, including Newport on the Levee, in Newport, and The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass in Simpsonville.
Newport on the Levee enjoys a multitude of retail options and celebrates its reputation as an entertainment and dining destination. It’s so close to Cincinnati, Ohio, that you have views of the impressive skyline and there are live events scheduled here throughout the year.
The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass is a 50-acre complex that lives between Lexington and Louisville in North Central Kentucky. The outlet seems to be continuously adding new shopping options to their already impressive 80+ store count, with shops offering everything from designer options to campus gear. It sports covered walkways, which are a definite plus in the cold weather months and an always tempting food court.
Residents and visitors in the lively city of Lexington have access to fresh fruits, vegetables and more, from April through October. Stroll through the Bluegrass Farmers' Market, southeast of Georgetown, to find a variety of 100% locally grown herbs, honey, fruit, eggs, vegetables, jams and even grass-fed beef.
All of the products sold at the market are locally grown and fresh in eastern Kentucky, promoting the efforts of the state's farmers. In addition, each market vendor is a member of the Kentucky Proud program, promoting safe foods native to Kentucky. Market shoppers will also find plants, soaps and flowers.
Participate in one of the mainstays of the downtown Lexington economy during your next visit to the Horse Capital of the World. Shop at the Lexington Farmers' Market for a fabulous selection of fresh produce and hand-made crafts, from over 75 vendors. This wonderful eastern Kentucky farmers' market has flourished throughout the years, since its opening in 1975. It's a short drive from nearby Paris or Georgetown.
Shop a selection of organic vegetables, fruits, breads, cheeses, honey, pastas, flowers, coffees, herbs, eggs, wines, meats, game birds. and body care products. Take your time strolling through the booths, since the parking is free. Learn tips from local chefs as they perform cooking demonstrations and enjoy the live music.