Paducah is a quaint little city in southwest Kentucky. Whether you are there for Quilt Week or just passing through, here are nine things to do in Paducah.
Paducah is a fun, charming little city that can easily be explored in a couple of days. You should visit and see why it was named the World's 7th City of Crafts and Folk Art by UNESCO in 2013.
1 - Eat at a Fifth-Generation German Bakery
I listed Kirchhoff's Barkery and Deli first on this list of things to do in Paducah because it is an absolutely incredible bakery and I could eat my weight in croissants there. If you are there during an event, expect to see a line forming outside the door just prior to opening. In addition to the best croissants and pastries, they also bake fresh bread, dessert bars, cookies, cake, and pie. For lunch they serve fresh made deli sandwiches, salad, and soup.
The croissants are flaky and the pastries are sweet and delicious. A plain croissant is only $1.25 and a small danish will only set you back $2.00. Get there early to get a hot ham and cheese croissant for breakfast and then walk next door to the coffee shop for a cup of coffee. Alternatively, sit outside at one of the tables and you might feel like you have been transported to Europe.
Kirchhoff's Bakery and Deli is located at 118 Market House Square - just down the street from the Market House Theatre. It opens Monday thru Friday at 7 am and at 8 am on Saturday. (For more information, click here to visit Kirchhoff's website.)
2 - Eat at Paducah's First and Only Farm to Table Restaurant
The Freight House is another place that you should dine at when you are in Paducah. Chef Sara Bradley is the brains and creative genius behind this one-of-a-kind restaurants. She's a Paducah native who places emphasis on fresh, local ingredients.
Shrimp and Grits
The Freight House has become a family business, with Sara's mom, Beverly, making desserts and coleslaw.
Upside Down Strawberry Pie
If you are a bourbon connoisseur, then I have some good news for you. The Freight House has been listed as one of the Great Bourbons Bars of America. It has a huge collection of bourbons from around Kentucky as well as from around the world. (Hakushu single malt, anyone?)
The Freight House is located in the former Paducah Freight Depot at 330 South 3rd Street. Click here to see a sample menu.
3 - Eat and Drink inside an old Cocoa-Cola Bottling Plant
The art deco Cocoa-Cola Bottling Plant in Paducah was built in 1939 and served the area for about 50 years. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and has found new life repurposed as a mixed-used facility housing diverse entities such as a yoga studio, tea & coffee shop, brewery, and pizza restaurant.
Paducah's Mellow Mushroom occupies a good portion of the facility and stone-bakes their pizzas and serves beer in a lively environment with a nod to Paducah's creative side.
If you are a craft beer aficionado, then you will want to make haste and get yourself to Dry Ground Brewing - it's next door to Mellow Mushroom. There you will be able to sample Paducah-brewed craft beer, classic beers, guest taps, and some hard cider. You can even eat your Mellow Mushroom pizza there.
What I found pretty cool about Dry Ground Brewing was the absence of televisions and the addition of board games that patrons can use. The emphasis is on disconnecting from technology and connecting with people. (Curious about the name? Visit the Dry Ground Brewing website and read the interesting story behind it.)
If beer isn't your cup of tea...or if you want an exceptionally good cup of tea, then you should make your way to Pipers Tea & Coffee.
This tea and coffee shop is the real deal. It was founded by a husband (he's from the UK) and wife (she's from the US) team. Together they have a passion for brewing the perfect tea and coffee. They taught me a thing or two about both of those well-loved beverages and I am grateful for that information. Oh, and that Matcha Strawberry Lemonade pictured below - it was fantastic. I recommend that you try it - just be sure to stir the two together before drinking for optimal satisfaction.
Matcha Strawberry Lemonade
4 - Discover the Importance of America's Rivers
Paducah is located at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, making it a vital stopping point early on in our country's history. Many people probably do not realize how important and how efficient shipping via America's rivers is even during this modern age. The River Discovery Center is dedicated to preserving the heritage of America's rivers with featured exhibits and educational programs. It is a great place for children to explore. My favorite thing there? The boat simulator that allows you to "drive" a boat of your choice during a daytime or nighttime scenario. Check out the video below for a quick glimpse.
5 - Visit the World's Most Awesome Quilt Museum
Sun-Bathing Blue Tit by Inge Mardal
The National Quilt Museum calls Paducah home. It is the top tourist attraction in Paducah with over 115,000 visitors annually. Once you step inside and see how today's quilters are creating artistic masterpieces, you will understand why. And that picture you see above is just one of a great collection of quilts in the world's largest facility devoted to quilts.
6 - Visit the Local Art Center
The Yeiser Art Center houses rotating exhibitions that spotlight various art forms and techniques created by regional as well as international artists. There is also a small gift shop on site that sells Kentucky crafted items, original art, and craft media.
7 - Learn About Paducah's Past via the Flood Wall
Paducah's worst natural disaster was The Flood of 1937. During this time, 27,000 residents had to be evacuated as the river swelled to over 60 feet and submerged 95 percent of Paducah. Because of this devastating event, the flood wall was erected in 1939 to help protect the city. The wall is 14 feet tall (3 feet higher than the 1937 flood) and part of a 12.25-mile concrete and earthen levee system. Being that Paducah is a creative city, 50 murals that tell Paducah's story have been carefully painted on the floodwall by the Dafford Murals Team. It's free to visit and a great way to burn off some of those calories you consumed at one of the places mentioned above.
8 - Get Creative and Make Something
Kijsa is a classically trained artist with her BFA in Painting from Baylor University and graduate work in historical techniques through Art History at Vanderbilt University. But don't let her credentials intimidate you - she's down to earth and just wants to help you be creative.
MAKE Paducah offers scheduled classes and private art/crafting events. They also allow you to create on your own with uninstructed MAKE time. If you are in Paducah in April or May, check MAKE's calendar to see when the 656 Feet Painting Event is offered. It's MAKE's way of honoring an employee's legacy by painting and providing shoes to people in Uganda.
Another interesting shop that just opened next door to MAKE is Beads & Rugs.
If you like to make jewelry, then you need to visit this store which has a large selection of beads that you won't find at one of those chain craft stores.
9 - Attend a Local Theatre Production
Now you might think that a town with fewer than 30,000 residents wouldn't have a theatre, but Paducah does indeed have one. The Market House Theatre has been nationally recognized and has been producing musicals, dramas and comedies for five decades. They also have fall ghost tours and murder mystery dinners. Tickets go on sale 4 to 6 weeks before the performance.
That concludes my list of 9 Things To Do in Paducah. What's your favorite thing to do in your hometown?
For more information about Paducah, visit the Paducah Visitors Bureau website at www.paducah.travel.
Where is Paducah, Kentucky?
Paducah is located in the southwest corner of Kentucky at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. It is midway between Nashville, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri and is in the Central time zone.