On this recent road trip, our first overnight stop was in Lexington, Kentucky. We came armed with a lofty list of things we wanted to do and were able to get to quite a few of them. Come check out our recommendations for what to do in this comprehensive Lexington Kentucky City Guide.
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Lexington Kentucky City Guide
I’d never visited Lexington before and Natty Guy had only been in town for brief work meetings so we were both eager to get to exploring! Below is a summary of what we saw and some major sights that we didn’t get to on this trip.
Things to Do That we Actually Did
We started off one morning with a post-breakfast visit to the Mary Todd Lincoln House. This 14 room Georgian house was home to Mary as a child and now contains period furniture and some artifacts from the Todd and Lincoln families. It’s a short (30 minutes – 1 hour) but worthwhile visit and we learned a lot from both the guides and historical anecdotes spread throughout the house.
After the tour, we walked back along Short Street, admiring some of the architecture and stumbling across some street art. We ended up near the Old Fayette County Courthouse and the lovely Downtown Farmer’s Market that happened to be in full swing!
Our next destination was Kentucky Horse Park, about a 20-minute drive from downtown. This large property has a huge museum that summarizes everything you could possibly want to know about horses, as well as outdoor events and presentations. Be sure to catch the Hall of Champions Show and the Parade of Breeds. You can even sign up for a horseback riding excursion if you’d like. Plan to spend 3 -5 hours here depending upon your level of interest.
Later in the day, we drove through the campuses of the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University. We’d watched the movie American Animals about the theft of the Audubon books housed on Transylvania’s campus and were curious to see it in person. We also stopped in the Chevy Chase area, home to many historic houses.
Other Things to Do
- Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate. This lovely Italianate plantation was home to 19th century Kentucky statesman Henry Clay. Both home and gardens are available for touring.
- Keeneland. If you love horse racing, be sure to stop at Keeneland for either a tour or a race! Keeneland is about a half-hour from the downtown area.
- Bourbon Tasting. Confession: Neither of us is really into brown liquor. Scotch, Rye, Whisky, Bourbon – none of it. But if it’s your jam and you want to go Bourbon Tasting, this post lists some of the best distilleries.
- McConnell Springs. Nature lovers will want to check out this founding spot of Lexington. A short hike takes you past the springs and a 250 plus-year-old Burr Oak.
What to Eat & Where to Shop
On our first evening, we had reservations at Honeywood, celebrity chef Ouita Michel’s largest restaurant. It’s on every “must eat” in Lexington list so our expectations were high. It was good/fine but I think might be a bit over-hyped. It is located at The Summit at Fritz Farm, a small outdoor shopping complex, so we were able to kill two birds with this visit.
On our second night in town, we were excited to be meeting up with friends that we met while traveling in the Baltics. They are nearing 100 countries visited and many of our own trips are inspired by this incredible couple. Be sure to follow along with their photographic travel adventures on Instagram.
We met at Carson’s Food & Drink, located in the downtown area, and immediately fell in love with the cozy, prohibition-era decor.
The meal was amazing! We all had some form of steak – 2 filet medallions, 1 medallion/scallop combo, and 1 creole filet. Lots of other options available, including vegan and gluten-free. Great wine accompanied and I’d highly recommended you book a night here if you are in town. If you don’t have room in your schedule for dinner, our friends assured us that brunch here is a treat as well.
Below are a few other foodie places we had hoped to check out but we just ran out of time.
- Crank & Boom Craft Ice Cream Lounge. Ice cream cocktails? Yes, please! Crank & Boom is near McConnell Springs if you happen to be out that way.
- Greyline Station & The Julietta Market. This old bus company headquarters and maintenance hub is now home to a food hall and other vendors.
- West Sixth Brewing. This seems to be one of the more popular breweries in town. While we didn’t get to visit in person, we were able to try their beer in one of the restaurants we visited. Good stuff.
Where to Stay
We typically like to stay in the downtown area of a city. With that in mind, for this visit, we selected the Hilton Lexington Downtown. It’s located next to Rupp Center and is a very short walk to a couple of the sights listed above, including the Mary Todd Lincoln Home, the Farmer’s Market, the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University campuses, and most of the downtown street art.
Other properties that we looked at include the Lexington Marriott City Center and the 21c Museum Hotel Lexington. These other properties are in close proximity to the Hilton, have rooms at a comparable price point and are well-rated.
The 21c is unique in that it is in the historic Fayette National Bank Building, and also houses 7,000 square feet of exhibition space. Galleries rotate regularly and are open every day. The only downside on a hot, summer day is that there is no pool, which the other two properties do have.
Whether you’re into bourbon, bridles, or Big Blue, Lexington has something for you and is worth a visit! Happy traveling.