Jack and Rachel Holman never intended to run a bed and breakfast named after a 1960s television show, yet there they are, in tiny Glendale, an antiques shopping destination cuddled primly at the outskirts of Elizabethtown, the successful innkeepers of the very busy Petticoat Junction, now in its 16th year of operation.
Like the sitcom’s Bradley family, the Holmans have three (grown) daughters. And, just as the Hooterville Cannonball chugged along the railroad tracks to come to a rattling halt at the Bradleys’ hotel, train traffic adds its own flavor and a touch of nostalgia to the Holmans’ establishment.
“Because we’re so close to railroad tracks, the name ‘Petticoat Junction’ kept coming up and then it stuck,” says Rachel Holman. “It sort of lets people know there’s a railroad involved.”
With its charming blend of country and Victorian décor articulated sweetly through vintage linens and antique furnishings, the renovated 1870s farmhouse features guestrooms outfitted with either an old-fashioned claw-foot tub or a contemporary whirlpool, an outhouse-turned-garden shed, and working hand-operated well pump. It is just one of Kentucky’s many bed and breakfast inns tucked into settings chock-full of character and warmly welcoming for guests seeking to repair to the burgs for a winter break.
The Log House Bed and Breakfast, sitting in the midst of a 15-acre hardwood forest in Russellville 30 miles west of Bowling Green, is constructed of hand-hewn logs that were recovered from old cabins and barns in the Logan County area. So while the house itself isn’t terribly old (built just 30 years ago), the individual logs—some nearly 20 inches thick and marked by the original builder—date back to at least a century and a half ago.
Dressed with antiques, auction finds, and folk art from around the world, the inn presents a cheery, homespun atmosphere in keeping with its rugged roots.
Each guestroom has a different, albeit countrified, theme that was already in place when Mike and Sam Hossom bought the bed and breakfast seven years ago: Noah’s Ark, Toy Room, Rabbit, and Cat. Working wood-burning fireplaces are in the Noah’s Ark and Rabbit rooms, and are among the six working fireplaces in the Log House. Many of the inn’s materials and interior fittings were salvaged from old buildings in the surrounding area.
“Sam and I are spinners and weavers, and these ancient crafts fit quite well with the rustic theme of a log house. The studio is attached to the main part of the house by a small gift shop, where we have the fruits of our labors in the studio for sale.”
The Blue Heron Bed and Breakfast is a working goat farm in Richmond that looks like a life-size English dollhouse with its stately symmetrical lines bracketed by brick chimneys. Established in 2001 to provide a quiet getaway for those seeking spiritual refreshment and respite, innkeepers Liz Huffman and Connie Hubbard provide two large yet cozy rooms—the Meadow Creek Room and the Otter Room—as well as areas in the house and grounds that are designed specifically for reading, relaxation, and reflection.
The house sits on 30 rural acres of woodlands, pastures, and meadow splashed with two noisy waterfalls that can be seen and heard from the front porch. Flat trails follow the paddocks and are interrupted with benches; Otter Creek runs alongside the entryway and, depending on the water level, offers a more rigorous walk several months of the year. An on-site health spa and licensed massage therapist further add to the restfully rejuvenating atmosphere of Blue Heron.
Blue Heron B&B and Retreat Center
270 E. Prong Road, Richmond, KY 40475
223 High Street
P.O. Box 36
Glendale, KY 42740
The Log House Bed and Breakfast
& Hollow Tree Fiber Studios
2139 Franklin Road, Russellville, KY 42276
B&B Agritourism Trail
The Bed & Breakfast Association of Kentucky has a new agritourism trail called Kentucky Farm Stays. The program was created to encourage tourism on farms that promote farm products and provide enjoyable and educational visits.
According to the BBAK, it is one way to preserve family farms and green spaces by opening them to the public as a bed and breakfast, winery, or ranch where visitors may purchase farm products and plants, eat a meal, or take part in farm activities or entertainment.
In addition to Blue Heron mentioned above, here is a sampling of other farm B&Bs with the Kentucky Farm Stays trail:
1851 Historic Maple Hill Manor
2941 Perryville Road, U.S. 150 East
Springfield, KY 40069
Alpaca and llama farm, fiber farm store, and fruit orchard.
Farm House Inn
735 Taylor Branch Road
Parkers Lake, KY 42634
Farm animals and demonstrations.
The River House
1510 Riverview Drive, Lewisport, KY 42351
Wildflowers, dried flowers, and herbs.
Springhill Winery & Plantation
3205 Springfield Road, Bloomfield, KY 40008
Kathy Witt is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.
When you’re tired, sick, or stressed out, it would be nutritionally advisable to drown your sorrows in a nice bowl of salad.
But expanding waistlines aside, it just wouldn’t be comfort food unless it was something warm, satisfying, and filling, preferably oozing with cheese and followed by something sweetly decadent.
At The Lighthouse Restaurant in Sulphur Well, located in Metcalfe County, the country ham may hold the same restorative powers as the mineral-rich well water that gave the town its name. Many dishes are prepared with recipes from the old hotels built for visitors attracted to the water’s reputed medicinal properties.
Manager Rodney Deckard says the eatery, formerly known as Porter’s Restaurant and established in 1968, is known for its $11.95 all-you-can-eat country ham, catfish, or fried chicken buffet with fried apples, green beans, and potato variations galore—potato salad, wedges, mashed, stewed, or tater tots.
On busy Saturday nights, the restaurant has about 300 people cross its waiting list, Deckard says, even arriving from Lexington, Nashville, or southern Indiana.
At The Whistle Stop in Glendale, you might think you feel the earth move while dining, but don’t worry, it’s just a passing train. Blissfully delve into the crispy fried green tomatoes and fried chicken hand-dipped in buttermilk, and after you’ve dutifully remembered to eat your vegetables (creamy corn pudding, mashed potatoes, or broccoli casserole!), reward yourself with a wedge of peanut butter, sugar cream, or coconut cream meringue pie or a steamy apple dumpling.
Co-owner Mike Cummins says some recipes concocted by Idell Sego, who founded the restaurant in 1975, are available on request, while others, like the meatloaf, are closely guarded. The pie crusts contain a four-letter word eschewed by diet gurus but ideal for tender, flaky pastry.
“It’s the lard—L-A-R-D!” Mike unabashedly exclaims.
After you’ve slept off a meal at The Whistle Stop, rise and shine and head to Paula’s Hot Biscuit in Hodgenville for Sam’s Big Country Breakfast with country ham, eggs, biscuits, and gravy or toast, or Paula’s Favorite, eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns, biscuits with or without gravy, and toast.
Owner Paula Varney says there’s an inextricable link between food and family, and that’s what her restaurant provides in a country casual atmosphere. At the entrance, a sign reads, “Friends gather here.”
“I come from a big family and the kitchen was the hub of our existence growing up,” Varney says.
Head north to Louisville and visit Cottage Inn where, since 1929, hungry diners have flocked for old-fashioned fried chicken.
Owner Cliff Meadows says 75 percent of people arriving for the Wednesday and Saturday night specials order the chicken, usually accompanied by homemade mashed potatoes and green beans cooked with ham to seasoned perfection.
Meadows says comfort food isn’t served to impress your co-workers or neighbors—it’s meant to dig in, enjoy, and remember the idyllic meals served in mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchens for generations.
“It just warms you up and makes you feel good,” he says.
570 Eastern Parkway, Louisville, Kentucky
Open 10:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. weekdays, 4 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday. No reservations
The Lighthouse Restaurant
1500 Sulphur Well Knob Lick Road (Hwy. 70)
Sulphur Well, Kentucky
Open (Central Time) Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Reservations taken weekdays.
Paula’s Hot Biscuit
311 W. Water Street, Hodgenville, Kentucky
Open 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. (breakfast) Saturday. No reservations.
The Whistle Stop
216 E. Main Street, Glendale, Kentucky
www.historicglendale.com – click on Restaurants.
Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations for parties of 20+ or buffet in Iron Horse dining room 4 to 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
More Comfort Food
1201 W. Main Street, Glasgow, Kentucky
Open 5:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Central Time) weekdays; serves old-fashioned country comforts like fried apple and peach pies, homemade biscuits, and more. Reservations accepted
Ooriginal location 496 E. High Street, Lexington (among five Lexington locations), is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. weekends. Owner Rob Ramsey’s grandmother’s meatloaf recipe is popular, served up with your selection of 18 fresh vegetables like creamed corn cut fresh off the cob, mashed potatoes, Southern-style green beans, kale greens, squash and onions, stewed tomatoes, and more. Reservations for parties of six or more
Billy Ray’s Restaurant
101 N. Front Street, Prestonsburg, Kentucky
Open 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 6 a.m.-10 p.m; Friday-Saturday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Reservations accepted. Known for hand-mixed homestyle burgers, prime rib, roast beef, and fried chicken.
Shannon Leonard-Boone is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.