The historical western Kentucky city of Paducah was founded in 1827 by William Clark — of Lewis and Clark fame.
By Kellie B. Gormly
Some 600 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, along the Ohio River, lies the historical western Kentucky town of Paducah. The city was founded in 1827 by William Clark — yes, that Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame.
The town is a magnet for artists and arts enthusiasts, partially because of its Artist-in-Residence Program, which relocated international artists to the area as a member of the Creative Cities Network of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
National Quilt Museum
If you like sewing and quilts, your key Paducah attraction will be the National Quilt Museum, said to be the largest museum in the world devoted to quilts and fiber art. The museum draws more than 110,000 people per year. Exhibits at the museum feature fiber-art pieces made from prominent quilting artists.
Paducah has many large fabric-art shops, and hosts the American Quilter's Society QuiltWeek, held every year in late April. During QuiltWeek, Paducah turns into Quilt City, USA, and attracts about 30,000 artists and art enthusiasts.
Details: quiltmuseum.org; quiltweek.com; paducah.travel
Lower Town Arts District
Art enthusiasts must check out Paducah's Lower Town Arts District, which is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.
Lower Town is the city's oldest residential neighborhood, and headquarters for Paducah's Artist Relocation Program. The district has drawn artists including jewelry makers and painters, who set up their studios and galleries in the district. Every May, Paducah hosts the Lower Town Arts & Music Festival, in which the streets are buzzing with art displays and music performances. Details: paducahmainstreet.org
If you want to meet artists, check out the coffeehouse Etcetera, where they often hang out and exchange ideas.
Two other must-see art destinations are Make, a creative space where artisans teach workshops to visitors, and Paducah's Wall to Wall Murals, portraits that depict the city's history in a set of more than 50 life-sized panoramic murals by artist Robert Dafford and the Dafford Murals Team. The murals are named among the most popular Kentucky attractions by Trip Advisor.
Details: makepaducah.com or kentuckytourism.com
Craft beer and food
There are plenty of places to eat and drink in Paducah, but tourism officials point out two places that have special historical and cultural significance.
Dry Ground Brewing Co. is Paducah's first craft brewery, which has a historical story. The microbrewery and tap room is open in the repurposed Coca-Cola Plant, a Paducah landmark that was submerged during the 1937 flooding of the Ohio River. At Dry Ground, guests can get 28 beers on tap, including more than 10 that are brewed in-house. Details: drygroundbrewing.com
Another Paducah food treasure is Kirchhoff's Bakery & Deli, a fifth-generation German business. Opened in 1873 by a Prussian immigrant, the bakery offers traditional Old World and family recipes for breads, cookies and cakes, while the deli side serves sandwiches on the bakery's bread, along with soups and locally grown vegetables.
Paducah hosts other special events and festivals throughout the year that attract tourists.
Meat lovers might want to travel there from Sept. 24 through 26, where more than 35 barbecue teams will cook over 80,000 pounds of pork and chicken for the BBQ on the River event, a fundraiser for local charities. The event includes music, arts and crafts booths, and children's activities. Details: bbqontheriver.org
The River's Edge International Film Festival, held Nov. 5 through 8 this year at Paducah's Maiden Alley Cinema, showcases indie films from around the world. The festival, in its 10th year, attracts film lovers and filmmakers, who can network.
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Driving distance: 600 miles
Driving time: 9 hours