day trip: Cave Run Lake

Enjoy the fresh fall air by taking a hike in beautiful Morehead, Kentucky.

Whether you’re driving the length of the Zilpo Scenic Byway, or hiking a trail in this section of the Daniel Boone National Forest, Morehead is a great daytrip for taking in scenic vistas.

Above:  View from the top of the Cave Run Dam on the Licking River



Clockwise from the top: Tree canopy on the Fire Tower Trail;  Lake view from the top of the mountain on the Zilpo Scenic Byway;  Picnic lunch included sopressata, manchego cheese, olives, dolma, and apples.


Happy hiking!

daytrip: shakertown

Undoubtedly one of my favorite bluegrass spots, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill or Shakertown, has been the site of many of family memories and special occasion dinners.  Shaker Village is the perfect place for a family staycation or a romantic trip for two.

This is me waiting to board the riverboat last summer.  I would highly recommend a ride on the Dixie Belle. The captain, who narrates your one-hour cruise, is incredibly knowledgable and points out the native species and geological landmarks, as you coast down the Kentucky River palisades.


Above:  View of High Bridge from the deck of the Dixie Belle; photo by dthoskins

Don’t miss out on a delightful breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Trustees Office Dining Room, home to the gorgeous shaker staircase.  My last visit was for dinner on my fifth anniversary and it was absolutely wonderful!  (On a side note, they are great about accommodating gluten allergies.)



Above:  Staircase in the Trustees’ Office; photo by dthoskins

Another must place to stop is the craft store.  Everything is so gorgeous, you’ll have to pick something up!  I’ve always wanted to stay on the property, but have only gone for day visits.  I hear that their rooms are great!

Summer vacation is here in the bluegrass, consider Shaker Village for your next day trip.  Check out the special events calendar for more information on featured events on property.

Have you been to Shakertown?  Do you have a favorite thing to do there?  Do share!

katherine Greene

free local concert at opera house {central kentucky concert band}

c3-concert-posterposter by Andrew Owens

Need a fun outing for Cinco de Mayo (pre-margaritas, that is), the Central Kentucky Concert Band is performing a free concert at the Lexington Opera House on Sunday, May 5 at 3 pm.

“The C3 concert will feature several great musical offerings including “Celebration Fanfare” [Reineke], “Third Suite” [Jager], “Carlyle Trilogy” [Halferty], “Amparito Roca” [Texidor], “Toreador Song” from Carmen” [Bizet, featuring Peter Pickett and TJ Thomas] and “Malaguena” [Lecuona].  Featured Soloist Charlie Kahn will share his incredible artistry with the North American debut of “Concerto del Simun” by Ferrer Ferran.” (CKCB)

Hope to see you there!


daytrip: a taste of Japan

Whether you are a local resident, or just visiting Central Kentucky, let this daytrip transport you to another culuture right here in the Bluegrass!

Above: The end of the line in the production of the Toyota Camry

To begin your journey, take a free tour of the the Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant located in Georgetown, Kentucky.  This 45 minute tour is a fascinating glimpse into the Toyota Manufacturing process and philosophy.  See how they make the Toyota Venza, Camry, Avalon and hybid models from rolls of steel to a finished product.  Make sure you make reservations in advance because the tours fill up quickly.  Click here for tour information.

After your tour, travel to Lexington for a bite to eat at Osaka Japanese Restaurant.  Good service and delicious food, Osaka offers sushi, noodles, tempura, and beautifully comprised bento boxes.  Enjoy a complimentary pineapple to finish your meal.

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest


After lunch, stay in town and check out the origami exhibit located in the atrium of the University of Kentucky’s William T. Young Library.  The exhibition, running now through May 24, 2013 is co-sponsored by the UK Asia Center and UK Libraries and is free and open to the public.  Click here for more information.


Above:  Origami crane created by Diana.  Click here for the video tutorial;  photo by dthoskins


last minute ideas for christmas

Here a few things to take your Christmas over-the-top or to help you relax and enjoy the season:

  • Make an easy cheese board for guests to nibble on while dinner gets prepped or for a festive treat during present opening
  • Need a last minute hostess gift?  This wine is my new favorite and so affordable!
  • Love these as a substitute for all that holiday butter.
  • Still need a little holiday pizzaz at home?  There is plenty to time to assemble these snow globes.
  • Need to get out of the house after the christmas fun?  Take your holiday guests to one of these bluegrass spots—one, two, three!
  • Serve a festive holiday cocktail instead of fully stocking the bar.  I like these.
Relax and have fun!  Remember to enjoy the little things.  Plus, you might try this for a bit of de-stressing before or after company.
Happy Holidays!
May your days be merry and bright,


biking in the bluegrass {guest post by ashley koch}

Almost immediately I fell in love with the Bluegrass after relocating to attend school in Lexington.  My fate was fully sealed when I finally started exploring the region from two wheels instead of four.  Fall easily became my favorite time to explore.  The cool, crisp air, which I find refreshing, turns away many riders and gives those brave souls more freedom on the road.  The diversity of foliage found in the area also makes for breathtaking rides as you enjoy the full array of colors fall has to offer.  Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned rider, start pedaling.

Starting in Midway, this trek out to Woodford reserve and back is my favorite fall ride.  While it is beautiful any time of year, it is the perfect way to enjoy two gems of Kentucky while absorbing the changing colors of the regions varied trees.  The ride itself follows the gently rolling hills on the western edge of the bluegrass and truly showcases the colors of fall.  Not to mention a taste of some of the best Kentucky has to offer to warm you up after the first half, or to get you going for the ride back, makes this ride phenomenal with or without the added bonus of the fall colors.  Don’t forget to take in a late lunch or dinner in downtown Midway to finish the entire experience.

For those looking for a longer ride or a ride that can be broken into individual pieces, this ride is a great place to start.  I have never completed this ride in an entire run (245 miles can be hard on the butt…) but I have pieced almost the whole thing together over many different rides.  While you cannot go wrong choosing any section of this trail, my favorite section is the loop around Lexington-Fayette.  As you travel around the heart of the bluegrass you get to see all that the region has to offer historically, culturally and geographically; the horse farms, and rolling (some more than others) hills, homes dating back to the first settlement of the area, and historical markers from the Civil War, just to name a few.

For a family friendly ride, or for those looking to stay more urban, follow this route and explore the remarkable history Lexington has to offer.  When I bring my little girl to Lexington for the first time she will definitely enjoy the tour from atop two wheels.  This ride, with all of its memories, reminds us that biking is definitely more about the journey than the destination.

For more rides I highly recommend consulting the Bluegrass Cycling Club.  I was a member for a year once I finally found the courage to try riding with a group of experienced cyclists.  I could kick myself for not joining them earlier; they welcome any willing riding with open arms.  Their website also has great maps and rides with cues that are very easy to follow.  Do not hesitate to walk into a bike shop and ask for recommendations from the workers.  They make their living working with bikes for a reason.

There is never a bad time to take a ride around the Bluegrass but if you are looking to start out, fall is the perfect time.  If you are still not sure of which route to follow, just grab your bike, a map, maybe a friend or two and head out and get lost for a while.  There is no such thing as a bad ride around the bluegrass.


Ashley is a mother and science teacher currently living in the Bay Area. She can’t wait until her daughter is big enough to join her for biking adventures.  She was a 2007 graduate from Transylvania University.

images by dthoskins

leaf peep: Natural Bridge State Park

Clockwise from the top:  The Skylift at Natural Bridge; Shadows of my hubby and I on top of the Natural Bridge in the Red River Gorge;  Underneath the bridge–the sky was so blue!

My fall day-trip pick this year is Natural Bridge State Park.  This is a favorite spot for my husband and I for hiking and taking in great views of the Red River Gorge.

It looks like the leaves will definitely be peaking this weekend, which makes the easy drive (about an hour southeast of Lexington) even more pleasant.  When you arrive, you can either drive up to Hemlock Lodge and hike, or if you are looking for something less strenuous, you can follow the signs to the Skylift which carries you straight up to beautiful views of and from the bridge.

Even if you decide to take the Skylift up, you can still get in a good hike from the top with several trails of varying lengths to choose from.

There were two huge rocks that looked as though there were faces carved into them in two separate areas of the park.  Left: Facerock on the Hood’s Branch Trail; Right: Facerock on the Skylift ascension (Sidenote: Skylift Ascension would be an awesome Styx tribute band name).

If you go down on the Skylift, check out the fudge in the gift shop.  Tip: Hash out your fudge plans during your hike instead of on the Skylift.  It’s hard to resist fudgey thoughts as you descend toward the inviting little cabin that is the gift shop.  My husband and I spent half of our Skylift time discussing impending fudge–rookie mistake–the Skylift ain’t cheap, so enjoy every minute.

Above: A DIY Instagrammed (is this a verb yet?)  photo of the bridge from Lookout point, which is easily accesible from the Skylift

Trail maps are available at both Hemlock Lodge and Skylift gift shop.

If you go:

Natural Bridge State Park
2135 Natural Bridge Rd
Slade, KY 40376

Follow signs to either Hemlock Lodge or The Skylift.

The Skylift is open daily at 10am and runs through the last Sunday in October.  Adults $10, Children 12 and under $7 (children 3 and under free), Seniors $8, Military $9.  Call Hemlock Lodge for more info at (800) 325-1710.

All images by dthoskins

morning hike: Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

An early morning hike on these hot days is a great way to enjoy nature and get a great cardiovascular workout.

Raven Run Nature Sanctuary has a number of well marked trails in a range of distances for hikers of all abilities.  Head out for some scenic vistas and a range of flora and fauna–the meadow portion has some great birding!

Click HERE to visit the Raven Run page on