I won’t lie: My sweet tooth and my shopping addiction are a dangerous combination. So when I ventured to historic downtown La Grange on a beautiful Thursday morning, you can imagine my joy – and my companions’ fear.
The trip took about 30 minutes, but when I arrived in the gorgeous town, I could immediately tell that it was well worth the wait. Complete with train tracks running through East Main Street, downtown La Grange maintains an old Southern charm.
La Grange is the type of town where people have no qualms stopping their cars mid-drive to say “hello” to a friend and carry on a short conversation. Seriously, I witnessed it. But what would seem like a nuisance in busy Louisville is commonplace and accepted in this town.
Though I’m used to the Southern hospitality most storeowners show in Louisville, I quickly realized that you couldn’t find nicer people than those in La Grange.
The first stop of the day was Karen’s Book Barn and Java Stop, a new and used bookstore and coffee shop with a great Kentucky section. Karen Eldridge, who has owned the store for the past 12 years, was excited to tell me all about her town.
She informed me that the train rolls through East Main Street about 26 times a day. I didn’t get to witness the train’s appearance but, with my inability to cross a street properly, I’m kind of glad I missed it.
She also told me about some of the awesome events in town, such as Friday Night Live, in which local entertainers play on the street on the second Friday of the month, and Cruisin’ with the Quads, an antique car show on the fourth Saturday of the month. Last month, it featured 114 cars.
After learning all about La Grange’s interesting events, it was time to satisfy my appetite, especially my sweet tooth. As soon as I entered Serendipity Café, an adorable two-story gift shop, café and sweet shop, I knew I’d need to hold off on my diet for a day.
I forgot about lunch and skipped straight to dessert as soon as I saw the delectable selection of CJ’s Candies. Serendipity’s motto is, “Experience the Unexpected,” and boy was I surprised by what I got.
Becky Kimbler, who owns Serendipity with her mom, Lillian Bayer, told me I had to try the chocolate-covered Twinkie. Now, I’ve never been much of a Twinkie fan, but I’ll admit that I devoured that thing like it was my business.
Doing things a little out of order, I had the olive nut spread on swirled pumpernickel bread for lunch. It was a delicious blend of cream cheese, green olives and walnuts. And to top it all off, every drink comes with a warm scone that I exclaimed was “crazy good” as soon as I bit into mine.
After all that wonderful food, I was surprised I could even move, but I was on a mission: to find my favorite shop in La Grange. The winner – the 1887 Corner Store – won my heart the second I walked in and smelled the aroma of eucalyptus, heard the Cat Stevens music and saw the cutest collection of bohemian bangles (of which I bought three) on display.
I also enjoyed browsing the store’s different styles of home décor, kitchenware and other odds and ends.
Though most of what I saw in La Grange was wonderful, the local businesses haven’t had it so easy in the past couple of years. The economy took a toll on them, but the storeowners have fought to revitalize their town.
Especially passionate about the subject, Kimbler told me about the new addition of Mom’s Music to the area as well as a project that students at the University of Cincinnati are working on to boost development in the Oldham County region.
I’d say the town has serious potential. I already like it the way it is, and I have no doubt that, with the new additions being discussed, the city will be booming in no time.
Visit La Grange. You’ll leave with a full stomach, a few new accessories and a smile on your face.
For more information, visit www.discoverlagrange.org.
How to get there
Take I-71 North toward Cincinnati. Take Exit 22 for Ky-53 toward La Grange Ballardsville. Turn left at the light onto Ky-53. Downtown La Grange is less than a mile up the hill.
A Piece of History
Visit the Oldham County Historical Society (106 N. Second Ave.) during your visit to La Grange and find out how the town came to be.
Pioneering film director D.W. Griffith, Order of the Eastern Star founder Rob Morris and actor and musician Buddy Pepper are all La Grange natives.
Category: Out & About