Just 75 miles north of Nashville, Hopkinsville, Ky., provides residents with unparalleled access to outdoor recreation, live music, the arts, entertainment and shopping. As the capital of rapidly growing Christian County, Hopkinsville is the sixth-largest city in the state.
Known for fine Kentucky bourbon, rolling hills and affordable housing, Hopkinsville provides a small-town atmosphere and quaint country living. Many members of the 101st Airborne Division, stationed at nearby Fort Campbell, call Hopkinsville home.
A downtown revitalization program continues to restore the historic center of the city, creating millions of dollars worth of both public and private improvements. Although the majority of the area consists of single-family homes on large lots, there are some apartments available in the downtown area. The average commute time for workers here falls far below the national average at just 17 minutes each way.
Restaurants & Nightlife
The food draws raves from diners, but one of the best things about Harper House remains the extensive bourbon list. This upscale restaurant does Kentucky proud with no fewer than 22 different bourbons offered on the rocks or in a cocktail. An extensive craft beer and wine list provides options for those who choose not to partake in the state's famous spirits. If you can get past the drink list, be sure to enjoy southern comfort food like Mike's meatloaf, crispy barbecue-dipped chicken or braised baby back ribs. Shrimp and grits is made with local corn meal and a large helping of jumbo shrimp cooked in a garlic lemon sauce. A free basket of corn bread comes with every meal.
For a step back in time, visit Ferrell's Snappy Service, an old-time lunch counter that has been serving burgers and chili in the same spot since the 1930s. The assembly line process provides the entertainment as the seasoned workers deftly take your order from start to finish. There are no fries or onion rings here -- the uniforms, location and food are exactly as they were almost 100 years ago. In keeping with that spirit, they don't accept plastic, so be sure to bring cash.
For a heaping helping of traditional Italian food, don't miss DaVinci's Little Italian Restaurant. Although this restaurant only began serving in 2009, its instant popularity forced the owner to move to a bigger location in 2011. With a trained European chef at the helm, the restaurant serves up classic dishes like manicotti, gnocchi and spaghetti al pomodoro. Seafood, steak medallions and rack of lamb also grace the menu.
This small town has little nightlife to speak of, although there are a few bars where you can drink beer, eat wings and listen to the jukebox. For real nightlife, residents and visitors must hit the road and drive a little more than an hour south to Nashville, better known as Music City, U.S.A.
Printer's Alley is an out-of-the-way location that features such Nashville staples as Miss Kelli's Karaoke Bar. The Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar features a tribute to New Orleans, done Nashville style. Lonnie's Western Room on Church Street features local music, where you might see the next Garth Brooks or Trisha Yearwood on stage.
Revelers who want some upbeat dance action put on their best duds and head to SEEN Nashville, which rocks the area with its Saturday night dance party. The music changes from night to night, making this a popular place for a repeat visit. Once you arrive in Nashville, just head down to lower Broadway for an assortment of honky tonks where many country stars first began.
History & Culture
Bartholomew Wood, known to his friends as "Bat" Wood, first settled the area in 1796. He and his wife donated land for a courthouse and the town began to grow. The Civil War split the county, with Hopkinsville showing support for the Confederacy. The city itself changed hands several times during the war, as Union and Confederate forces took turns as the occupying force.
The railroad came to town in 1868, opening up markets for locally grown tobacco. Although a price war in the early 1900s resulted in violence, Christian County maintains a thriving agriculture-based economy.
The Pennyroyal Museum in Hopkinsville pays homage to the African-American experience in Kentucky and also to hometown legend Edgar Cayce. Cayce, who died in 1945, was a well-known clairvoyant who reportedly spoke to the dead. A military exhibit and reproduction of a pioneer living home are also in the museum. Other museums in town include the Charles Jackson Circus Museum and Woody Winfree Fire and Transportation Museum.
A self-guided downtown walking tour reveals almost 30 historic buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The tour gives an excellent picture of the history of this southern city.
There is no public transportation in Hopkinsville, so the majority of residents use private vehicles for transportation. Hopkinsville does have taxi service available by phone, but it is impossible to hail a cab from the street. There are no ride sharing services in this area.
Public parking is free and plentiful. Access to Interstate 24 is just south of the city and provides a direct route to Nashville. State route 68 runs east and west, connecting Hopkinsville residents with the larger city of Bowling Green just an hour to the east and the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area to the west.
Its small downtown and paved sidewalks make Hopkinsville a very walkable city. Quiet streets also make this a good location for bikers who either want to commute or just want some exercise.
The cost of living in Hopkinsville is about 15 percent lower than the United States average. Although there aren't a lot of apartments in the area, a one-bedroom rents for a little more than $500 a month. The cost of both food and health care also come in markedly lower than the rest of the nation.
The cost of gasoline runs about 5 percent below the national average. A pint of beer at a local bar goes for approximately $4.
Griffin's Studio adds an eclectic shopping experience to downtown Hopkinsville, focusing on unique gifts, learning toys and art. Local artisans display works here and on-site art classes provide an opportunity to create something to take home. Griffin's also hosts art birthday parties and classes for adults and children.
Gracious Me provides unique gift ideas from jewelry and clothing to housewares and linens. This award-winning shop has a full-time wedding consultant to help make that special day even more amazing.
Bradford Square Shopping Center provides a centralized location for local shoppers to pick up items from stores like JCPenney, Claire's Boutique or Dollar Tree. A movie theater shows first run films here.
The Downtown Farmers Market sells fresh fruits and vegetables every Wednesday and Saturday morning from April through October, along with a holiday selling season that runs the month of December. Farmers bring fresh produce from all over Christian County and neighboring areas. The market also sells fresh baked goods, wine and specialty products.
Kroger, Aldi and Piggly Wiggly provide the convenience of large chain grocery stores to local residents.
The family aquatic center at Tie Breaker Park delights adults and children alike with a fun place to cool off during the summer months. Whether you like the adventure of swooshing down the twists and turns of Hurricane Alley or prefer a lazy ride down Ripple River, this park has something for everyone. Splash zones provide different features for different sizes, and a concession stand doles out sustenance after a hard day of having a blast.
Tie Breaker Park also houses five softball fields, three picnic shelters and two volleyball courts. There is a paved walking trail, a children's playground and horseshoe pits. Pets are welcome, but must remain on a leash.
Hopkinsville kicks off the summer each year with the Little River Days celebration. The three-day event always starts with an evening devoted to carnival rides and games. On Friday and Saturday, artists and street vendors line the streets with pop-up tents. Evenings are devoted to live music and dancing.