Top Things to Do in Paducah, Kentucky | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Paducah, Kentucky

A weekend escape to historic Paducah might mean surprising art finds and Southern-style comfort food.

What to Do

Historic Coca-Cola Plant In the Midtown area, a young dreamer named Ed Musselman is resurrecting the city’s iconic plant. His ambitious renovation honors the landmark’s Art Deco design, while ushering in new businesses like Pipers Tea and Coffee ( The Coke Plant on Facebook

Historic Coca-Cola Plant. Paducah, Kentucky.

Historic Coca-Cola Plant

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area Set aside a few hours to explore the 170,000 acres 30 miles east of Paducah. Hike one of the many trails or see attractions such as the Elk and Bison Prairie, Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum, and Woodlands Nature Station.

Lower Town Arts District Artists have rehabbed homes as live-work spaces in a 25-square-block area that was Paducah’s oldest residential neighborhood. It’s a lovely place to stroll; stop at the cute Texaco station visitors center to learn more.

The National Quilt Museum The diversity of styles at Paducah’s biggest tourist attraction will impress even nonquilters. From afar, many pieces look like stained glass or oil paintings. The intricate stitching only becomes apparent when you inch closer.

The National Quilt Museum

Paducah Wall to Wall Fifty-plus hand-painted murals on the city’s floodwalls skirt the riverfront for three blocks, tracing Paducah’s history as a Native American site, Civil War battlefront, railroad hub, atomic energy production area and more.

Paducah Wall to Wall

Paducah Wall to Wall

River Discovery Center Interactive displays enlighten visitors on Paducah’s devastating flood of 1937, the inland waterway system, the impact of locks and dams, river habitats, notable steamboat captains, and the role of rivers in the Civil War.

Where to Eat

Freight House In an old railroad complex across from The 1857 Hotel, chef-owner Sara Bradley reinterprets Southern fare with a farm-to-table sensibility. Expect dishes like pork shoulder with black-eyed peas and mustard greens.

Freight House. Paducah, Kentucky.

Freight House chef-owner Sara Bradley

Kirchhoff’s Bakery and Deli In 1873, German immigrant Franz Kirchhoff began selling bread to riverboat travelers. Today, Franz’s descendants offer pastries, sandwiches  and coffee at a spot with wood floors that are charmingly uneven.

Kitchens Cafe If you’re in the Lower Town Arts District at lunchtime, the cafe at the Paducah School of Art and Design is the best bet for a quick bite. The fresh and varied menu includes options like a hummus wrap.

Max’s Brick Oven Cafe The diverse menu includes wood-fired pizza and cedar-plank salmon in a courtyard that feels straight out of New Orleans. Max's Brick Oven Cafe on Facebook

Where to Stay

The 1857 Hotel Paul Gourieux and Jorge Martinez turned Paducah into a weekend-worthy overnight destination when they refurbished a warehouse into a lodging. The 10 rooms feel like big-city lofts, with high ceilings, exposed-brick walls and mod furniture. A sleek lobby bar hosts live music several nights a week.

The 1857 Hotel. Paducah, Kentucky.

The 1857 Hotel

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