On the congruence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers within the western reaches of Kentucky, the peaceable metropolis of Paducah is a spot to admire artwork, be taught native historical past, and eat effectively. It’s a metropolis the place probably the most stunning public paintings got here due to the town’s worst pure catastrophe. A spot the place artistic locals produce paintings, craft spirits, nifty buying, and savory delicacies. It’s dwelling to the nation’s fiber artwork museum and a genuinely distinctive welcome heart.
Paducah is a spot deserving exploration and welcoming to guests. And it was a spot the place I spent 4 days throughout a whirlwind street journey throughout the Southeastern United States.
Three months after leaving Charleston, South Carolina, I arrived in Paducah. It was early August, the climate was timid, and the crowds had been skinny – it was the proper time to go to. However weeks earlier than arriving within the metropolis, I started listening to tales about it.
The floodwall murals. The ice cream store. The brand new brewery, distillery, and vineyard.
I spent 4 days exploring the riverfront metropolis, beginning with visiting the Nationwide Quilt Museum, the place I discovered a brand new time period. On the River Discovery Middle, I received to pilot a ship simulator for 5 exhilarating minutes. Lastly, I visited one of the beautiful museums I’ve ever seen.
Leaving the historical past behind, I spent a night with craft beer in an previous Greyhound bus station, ordered a pizza whereas sipping beer at a brewery named for the town’s pure catastrophe, and met the proprietor at a distillery named for an intriguing piece of native historical past. I shopped for antiques, sampled the meals, and received that ice cream everyone had been speaking about.
My face harm from regularly smiling by the point I left Paducah. When folks ask about my favourite vacation spot, I at all times say, “Wherever I go to subsequent.” I’m at all times trying ahead to my subsequent street journey journey. However for a second, I glanced within the rearview mirror as Paducah trailed away.
Temporary Historical past of Paducah
In the course of the Revolutionary Conflict, George Rogers Clark was granted land on Kentucky’s frontier on the congruence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. After Kentucky was granted statehood in 1792 – the primary state west of the Appalachian Mountains – settlers rushed westward as quick because the Ohio River may take them.
In 1827, famed explorer William Clark bought 37,000 acres from his brother’s, George Rogers Clark, property for $5. Clark laid out the positioning for a city, and in 1830 Paducah was based.
By the point the town was included in 1838, it had already been established as an vital river port for steamboats and a railway hub for steam locomotives. Dry docks had been constructed alongside the riverfront. Locomotive workshops had been constructed within the heart of the town. By the early 1900s, Paducah was dwelling to lots of the barge firm headquarters and the Illinois Central Railroad’s largest steam and diesel locomotive restore outlets.
Within the late 1900s, factories had been shuttered, and industries left the town. However with its perfect location on the Ohio River between Shawnee Nationwide Forest and the Land Between the Lakes Nationwide Recreation Space, life in Paducah shifted towards tourism. In 2013, the United Nations Instructional, Scientific & Cultural Group (UNESCO) designated Paducah as a UNESCO Artistic Metropolis. Because the Artistic Cities Community was established in 2004, solely 5 United States cities have been added to the checklist.
Go to The Nationwide Quilt Museum
The very first thing I discovered at The Nationwide Quilt Museum is that quilts aren’t simply quilts – generally, they’re referred to as “fiber artwork.” The second factor I discovered is that quilting – combining no less than three layers of material with stitching – has been round for hundreds of years.
And with all these thick quilts hanging on the partitions, the museum was a tranquil place.
The museum close to Paducah’s waterfront was a surprisingly beautiful place to go to. A whole bunch of quilts are displayed all through the 30,000-square-foot museum, making it the biggest quilt show on the earth. After spending an hour meandering via the shows, I discovered a brand new appreciation for fiber artwork and the labor spent creating such stunning artistic endeavors.
The Nationwide Quilt Museum was established in 1991 by Paducah residents Invoice and Meredith Schroeder. In 2008, Congress formally designated it the Nationwide Quilt Museum of america – a title that signified the museum’s significance within the fiber artwork world.
Discover the Paducah Wall to Wall Murals
In 1937, the Ohio River crested at 60.8 toes in Paducah, flooding downtown companies and houses. In consequence, 27,000 folks had been pressured to evacuate, in search of increased floor additional away from the river.
The next 12 months, the Military Corps of Engineers surveyed the communities alongside the Ohio River. They developed a plan to guard the cities from future floods. From 1939 till 1949, a 3-mile-long, 14-foot-tall concrete and metal floodwall was constructed round downtown Paducah.
For 50 years, the uninteresting partitions left folks feeling like they had been residents inside a concrete fishbowl. In 1995, the Paducah Floodwall Mural Advisory Board employed muralist Robert Dafford to color a collection of murals on the partitions. Every mural depicts a second in Paducah’s historical past, from frontier exploration via shipbuilding to the fashionable age.
Accomplished in 2007, the Paducah Wall to Wall Murals are usually not distinctive however beautiful to go to. A sidewalk in entrance of the floodwall lets guests rapidly stroll together with the murals. From the general public parking zone on the finish of Broad Road, it takes about 20 minutes to see many of the murals.
Expertise the River Discovery Middle
The River Discovery Middle takes company behind the scenes of the river business all through Paducah’s historical past. Fascinating reveals for all ages discover the river’s geology, the know-how of riverboats and barges, and life on the river for pilot boat captains. It’s the most effective museums to know Paducah’s historical past.
The Boat Simulator is the most well-liked exhibit on the museum. Constructed by the identical firm that furnishes simulators for riverboat coaching facilities, the simulator presents youngsters – and generally adults – an opportunity to expertise what it’s like piloting a ship on the river. The steering wheel vibrates, a three-screen show creates a panorama view, and the physics are actual.
Insider Tip The Boat Simulator has a time restrict per consumer – offering the consumer solely performs one spherical. So be ready to attend on your flip on the simulator and be ready solely to look at as others get pleasure from a couple of minutes piloting a ship on the simulated river.
Opened in 2003, the River Discovery Middle has modified as many instances because the course of the Mississippi River. The thought started in 1988 to create a museum showcasing the river business heritage all through the area. The museum expanded with new reveals and a ship simulator 5 years after opening.
Go to the Paducah Railroad Museum
The Paducah Railroad Museum interprets the opposite half of Paducah’s historical past. The guts of the museum is a miniature railroad set with just a few working mannequin trains and dozens of shows. All through the museum, discover the historical past of railroads within the metropolis and find out how steam and diesel locomotives function.
The museum options a number of reveals of railroad equipment and workplace tools. Handcarts, practical railroad crossing indicators, and instruments are a part of the show. Essentially the most fascinating exhibit is the railroad operator’s board.
Go to the William Clark Market Home Museum
After strolling into the Market Home Museum, my jaw dropped. A second later, I involuntarily laughed out loud. That is probably the most beautiful museum I’ve ever visited, I believed.
Constructed over 100 years in the past as Paducah’s market home, the inside was a cavernous area with uncovered trusses beneath a cathedral ceiling two tales above the museum’s floor flooring. Intricate wooden show cupboards with glass doorways wrapped the inside, the final remnants from Record Drug Retailer. Within the heart, a horse-drawn carriage was draped with a ravishing quilt.
Guests to the Market Home Museum can discover the town’s historical past from its founding in 1838. An previous hearth engine sits in a nook, historic artifacts fill glass show instances, and interpretive panels clarify key moments via time. It was my final cease in Paducah after a four-day go to – nevertheless it ought to have been my first cease.
Did You Know? The William Clark Market Home Museum is called after famed explorer William Clark. In 1804, the Corps of Discovery Expedition, extra generally often called the Lewis and Clark Expedition, started in Illinois and ended on the Pacific Ocean six months later. The expedition handed via the realm on the Ohio River, and almost thirty years later, Clark returned to put out the unique streets of Paducah.
Catch a Present on the Market Home Theatre
Ever since eight folks fashioned a “little theatre group” in 1963, the Market Home Theatre has placed on a whole lot of performances within the historic market constructing. The theatre’s schedule is filled with performances for half the weekends of each month. E-book the following efficiency throughout your go to to Paducah and benefit from the present within the snug high-backed chairs.
View Reveals on the Yeiser Artwork Middle
The Yeiser Artwork Middle occupies a portion of the historic Market Home together with the Market Home Museum and Market Home Theatre. Established in 1957 because the Paducah Artwork Guild, the artwork heart hosts a number of exhibitions all year long and promotes schooling in regards to the visible arts.
Discover the everlasting assortment, take a stroll via the present exhibition, and go to the present store on the Yeiser Artwork Middle.
Take pleasure in Downtown Purchasing
Broadway is the “Predominant Road” via downtown Paducah. Two lanes of visitors moved in a single course with free parallel parking on both facet of the road. Flat brick sidewalks flanked the roadway, sometimes coated within the shade of bushes and awnings. Broadway ended on the Ohio River, so there was no busy visitors wanting to get wherever.
Between century-old facades on a summer season afternoon, the serene soundlessness was a welcome break from the busy world all over the place else. And it was the proper place to do some native buying.
The PAPA Gallery – Paducah Space Painters Alliance – options paintings from dozens of native artists. On the Artwork Guild of Paducah’s gallery, browse the wide-ranging paintings from guild members, together with fiber artwork, work, woodworking, and pictures.
When US Military veteran Nathan Antonites returned dwelling, he based the Kentucky BBQ Provide Firm. The renovated industrial constructing on Broadway is an out of doors chef’s dream store. Each possible sort of grill covers the concrete flooring. Alongside the brick partitions, metallic cabinets are stacked with spices, rubs, and charcoal baggage. It’s the place to buy something associated to grilling – and also you would possibly discover one thing on your subsequent tenting journey to the Land Between the Lakes.
BBQ & Extra is an fascinating boutique store. It’s extra than simply clothes – it’s a group of trinkets and instruments excellent for any room of the home. However when you’re searching for a boutique clothes store, Selcouth Store and McLaran Method are the place you need to go.
In 1993, three native businessmen based Hooper’s Out of doors Middle to supply clients with high-quality out of doors gear and technical coaching. Situated in a 5,500-square-foot constructing on Broadway, the retail retailer options gear for each form of Western Kentucky out of doors journey – kayaking, biking, tenting, and mountain climbing amongst them. Together with attire, maps, books, and many native recommendation, any out of doors journey within the space ought to start right here.
Go for a stroll on Broadway from the waterfront to North 5th Road to expertise native buying in downtown Paducah. You’ll discover antiques, jewellery, boutiques, and quirky outlets that’ll make your metropolis go to productive and entertaining.
Take a Tour of the Whitehaven Welcome Middle
The Whitehaven Welcome Middle is the one customer within the nation positioned in an antebellum home – and you may take a guided tour to see all of it. The unique two-story brick farmhouse was in-built 1864. Nevertheless it was the second proprietor, native businessman Edward Atkins, who renovated it within the Greek Revival fashion, added the kitchen wing, carriage home, and painted the home white.
In 1981, Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown Jr. visited the realm and discovered in regards to the historic home. Interstate 24 was not too long ago accomplished via the county and ran throughout the home’s entrance garden. Brown thought it could make a wonderful welcome heart for southbound visitors out of Illinois, so the state bought the home and restored it.
Opening in 1983, the Whitehaven Welcome Middle presents clear restrooms, merchandising machines, picnic tables beneath the shade of large bushes, and journey brochures. However along with all the everyday facilities, guests also can take a guided tour of the historic home. The tour contains the lobby, grand staircase, and the second flooring with reveals on Paducah native Alben Barkley, a congressman and vp beneath Harry Truman.
Get a Drink at Silent Brigade Distillery
When Keith Bundy and John Brown opened Silent Brigade Distillery in 2016, they provided 5 sorts of moonshine straight from a nonetheless behind a renovated industrial constructing. However in 2020, the distillery diversified and provided a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – identical to all Kentucky distilleries ought to provide.
The façade of the constructing on Broadway has an Artwork Deco fashion that lights up fantastically at evening. Tables are unfold throughout a painted concrete flooring, and excessive chairs butt up in opposition to the picket bar.
Whereas visiting Silent Brigade Distillery, ask the bartender in regards to the Tobacco Wars. It’s an interesting story – and a darkish chapter – from the early 1900s. By the point you’ve completed your bourbon and heard the complete story, you’ll know why Bundy and Brown selected the title of the distillery.
Take pleasure in an Night at Paducah Beer Werks
When Paducah Beer Werks opened in 2015, guests had been handled to one thing new inside a journey hallmark – the historic Greyhound Bus Station. Exterior, the patio seating is roofed with the unique awning that protected bus passengers. Inside, retro indicators left over from Greyhound’s days cling on the partitions.
Proprietor Todd Blume wished to convey the craft beer scene to Paducah, however he wished to be greater than only a native brewery. Faucets characteristic beers from breweries all through the area and around the globe. However you’ll additionally discover their very own English Ale-style beers starting from IPAs to Lagers.
With a full meals menu, snug indoor seating, and occasional stay bands, it’s simple to spend a night sampling their craft beers and enjoyable in Paducah.
Get a Drink at Dry Floor Brewing Firm
In 2015, Ed and Meagan Musselman went in opposition to the grain of Kentucky bourbon distilleries and opened Paducah’s first brewery. The brewery and plenty of of its beers are named after the catastrophic 1937 flood that devastated Paducah. Luckily, the floodwalls defend the town at present, so everybody can simply get pleasure from a superb drink.
The brewery is positioned contained in the previous Coke Plant. The commercial area includes a painted concrete flooring, uncovered ceiling, and high-top tables. The room is flanked by shiny stainless-steel fermenters and tanks – the place the great things occurs.
The easiest way to spend a night at Dry Floor Brewing is to reap the benefits of the Mellow Mushroom subsequent door. Ask the bartender for a menu and place an order after getting a seat within the brewery. Wait twenty minutes, stroll subsequent door to gather your pizza, and produce it again to the brewery.
Go to the Purple Toad Vineyard
Paducah isn’t an enormous metropolis, however you possibly can nonetheless escape the town into the countryside with a go to to Purple Toad Vineyard. After a fateful household trip to Napa Valley, Allen and June Dossey planted 2,500 vines on their dwelling property. In 2009, the vineyard and tasting room opened to the general public.
The tasting room is conveniently open seven days every week and appears like dwelling. Couches, tables, and chairs are unfold all through a sitting room surrounded by giant home windows. Strive a flight on the bar to search out your favourite wine – and admire the handfuls of awards hanging on the wall.
After discovering your favourite wine, take a glass outdoors to the coated patio and benefit from the peacefulness of the winery.
Begin the Day at Etcetera Coffeehouse
What occurs when highschool academics open a espresso store? For one, they select a unusual title like Etcetera Coffeehouse. In 2006, Johanna and Allan Rhodes opened the espresso store just a few blocks from downtown. Since then, it has grown into a neighborhood staple and hangout place.
Inside, snug tables and chairs are excellent for a brief break from exploring the town or some much-needed distant working. Exterior, umbrella-covered tables are scattered throughout a stone patio and surrounded by stunning murals.
Etcetera Coffeehouse presents drip espresso, espresso drinks, tea, and plenty of specialty drinks. They solely use fair-trade, natural espresso beans from around the globe and recent floor for each espresso served.
Get a Dozen at Pink’s Donut Store
In 1955, Howard “Pink” Clark opened the Nunn Higher Donut Store throughout the road from a drive-in movie show. The enterprise was sluggish, regular, and sure as he baked the savory sweetness from completely different places across the metropolis. Lastly, in 1988 he bought the present location for his rebranded Pink’s Donut Store.
Pink retired in 1997, however not earlier than passing on all his secrets and techniques to his sons and present homeowners, Howard Jr., David, and Nicky. Contained in the small store, glass instances are crammed with recent donuts every single day of the week. Select from yeast or cake donuts, crammed or conventional, glazed or iced.
Oh, and particular person donuts are lower than a greenback. Eat your coronary heart out. Actually.
Eat at a Native Restaurant
Cajun, seafood, brick oven pizza, and American staples – Paducah is a small foodie vacation spot.
Broussard’s Cajun Delicacies opened in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 1986. In 2019, Jason Coalter approached homeowners Hunter and Stephanie Clark about opening a second location for the restaurant in Paducah. The menu contains savory Cajun staples like crawfish, frog legs, and po’boys. For those who’re uncertain the place to start out, order a sampler and luxuriate in it on the snug seating inside the massive restaurant.
In 1941, Dominick “Doe” and Mamie Signa opened a small honky tonk within the entrance of the household grocery retailer in downtown Paducah. The recognition of Mamie’s scorching tamales recipe rapidly boosted the restaurant’s enterprise, and shortly he closed the honky tonk to open Doe’s Eat Place. Comfy tables and chairs are unfold throughout the painted concrete flooring and surrounded by rustic brick partitions. It’s the proper place to get pleasure from a menu of sandwiches, steaks, and salads.
The Freight Home is one of the best farm-to-table restaurant within the metropolis. When Paducah native Chef Sara Bradley opened the restaurant in 2015, she knew she wished to work straight with native farmers to get the freshest substances for her meals. The menu adjustments all year long relying on the season however sometimes contains salads, appetizers, burgers, steak, and fish.
Korey Vasquez took his childhood ardour for cooking and maturity pursuit of culinary faculty severely when he opened Gold Rush Café in 1999. Vasquez places his personal spin on traditional American dishes like omelets, waffles, sandwiches, and burgers. Comfortable tables and chairs are unfold all through the small, quiet restaurant on a nook of Broadway.
In 1873 – simply forty-three years after Paducah was based – Prussian immigrants Franz Kirchhoff and his spouse Hannah Baumer opened Kirchhoff’s Bakery. Recent bread was baked every single day within the bakery’s wood-fired oven whereas the household lived upstairs. Immediately, the bakery is owned by Ginny Kirchhoff-Elmore, the fifth era of the household to personal and function the enterprise. Artisan breads are nonetheless made out of scratch every single day, and now you’ll additionally discover a collection of sandwiches from their deli.
Max Bastani has a level in electrical engineering, nevertheless it was his ardour for cooking that chartered the course of his life. After working as a chef at a Chicago restaurant, Max and Judy moved to Paducah to be nearer to Judy’s household. In 1998, they opened Max’s Brick Oven Café. The renovated industrial constructing includes a hodge podge of architectural kinds from salvaged supplies. White linen cloths cowl the tables, however you’re greater than welcome to put on blue denims whereas having fun with brick oven pizza, pasta, and particular entrees.
Brian Shemwell opened Barrel & Bond in 2019 with a single objective: to supply one of many nation’s largest choices of bourbon and American whiskey. And he succeeded with over 1,600 labels. A bar constructed from brass and bourbon barrels wraps round floor-to-ceiling cabinets crammed with bourbon and whiskey from around the globe. The bartenders will enable you to discover one thing nice to drink, order a charcuterie board, after which you possibly can get pleasure from it on snug couches and armchairs.
Over/Beneath is one thing completely different – it’s a sports activities bar that includes industrial décor with a child’s menu and meals served on glass plates. Over thirty televisions are held on the partitions above tables, over cubicles, and behind the bar. The menu is twenty laps forward of typical sports activities bar meals with burgers, tacos, sandwiches, and sides. And also you gained’t go thirsty with a dozen beers on faucet!
After an extended day of exploring, buying, and eating, get dessert at Craving the Curls. When Randy and Renee Hayden opened a dessert store in downtown Paducah, they selected the novelty of rolled ice cream. Step inside their stylish store and watch them roll recent ice cream made to order.
Over time, the brownstone three-story constructing on Broadway has been dwelling to many ice cream outlets. In 2022, Susan and Stewart Lofton opened the most recent model – Perpetually Candy Creamery. The homeowners like experimenting with ice cream flavors to go together with do-it-yourself waffle cones and bowls.
The place to Keep
Paducah has quite a lot of good lodges surrounding the Interstate 24 hall – with one downtown exception.
The Pink Roof Inn is an older constructing, however all of the rooms have been renovated not too long ago. Visitor rooms characteristic hardwood flooring, new furnishings, loads of shops, and safe entry contained in the constructing. Select from rooms with two queen beds or a king mattress.
Nation Inn & Suites is among the finest lodges within the metropolis, with an indoor swimming pool and cozy visitor rooms. Select from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or suites with two queen beds or a king mattress together with a sleeper couch.
Auburn Place Lodge & Suites includes a informal class with a towering foyer, indoor swimming pool, and cozy visitor rooms. The accessible rooms solely characteristic a king mattress, however the different visitor rooms characteristic both two queen beds or a king mattress together with a sleeper couch. That is the finest resort in Paducah for households.
La Quinta Inn & Suites is a bit awkwardly positioned, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a superb resort for a weekend go to to Paducah. The resort options an indoor swimming pool and scorching tub. Select from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or suites that embody a sleeper couch.
Hampton Inn & Suites includes a small indoor swimming pool with lounge chairs and one of the best complimentary scorching breakfast of any chain within the nation. Select from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or the King Suite with a king mattress and a sleeper couch.
Vacation Inn is the one downtown resort and the finest place to remain in Paducah. The resort includes a pretty indoor swimming pool and a very good out of doors patio behind the floodwall. Riverfront rooms characteristic a balcony overlooking the Ohio River. Select from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or suites that embody a sleeper couch.