10 Things to Do in Lexington, Kentucky

Enjoy historic sites, bourbon tours and other highlights in the Horse Capital of the World.

September 13, 2019

Photo By: www.visitlex.com

Photo By: www.visitlex.com

Photo By: www.visitlex.com

Photo By: www.visitlex.com, photo by Jeff Rogers

Photo By: www.visitlex.com

Photo By: www.visitlex.com

Photo By: www.visitlex.com

Photo By: www.visitlex.com

Photo By: www.visitlex.com

Photo By: www.visitlex.com

Photo By: www.visitlex.com

Autumn in Lexington

Any season is a good time to visit Lexington, Kentucky which is also known as the Horse Capital of the World. But the city is particularly inviting in the fall with its colorful autumn foliage and numerous events and activities for both residents and tourists.

Horse Country

If you want to understand Lexington’s importance as an equestrian center, you’ll want to visit at least one of the many horse farms in the area which offer private, group or custom tours amid beautiful pastoral surroundings such as Coolmore, WinStar or the Three Chimneys Farm (all tours must be booked through Horse Country). An essential visit is the Kentucky Horse Park which offers riding lessons, parade of breeds shows and is home to the International Museum of the Horse.

Step Back into History

One of Kentucky’s most famous politicians and senators was Henry Clay, who was known as "The Great Compromiser." You can visit Ashland, his lovely 19th century home and estate (pictured) which also hosts a variety of events throughout the fall like the popular Hemp Social, book signings and candlelight tours. Other recommended sites are the Mary Todd Lincoln House, The Hunt-Morgan House with the Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum, and the Lexington Cemetery which offers a guided history walk and tree tour.

Take a Bourbon Tour

Serious bourbon drinkers usually plan out an eight day trip to 17 distilleries around the state of Kentucky which is known as the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. But you don’t have to leave Lexington to visit some of the most famous bourbon makers in the state which are nearby like Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve and Buffalo Trace (tours are offered year-round).

Louisville and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Sightseeing in the City

A great way to get acquainted with downtown Lexington is to take a guided historic walking tour. Thoroughbred Park is a wonderful place to hang out in the fall and is divided into four sections for exploring – The Knoll, The Meadow, The Winner’s Circle and The Track with its seven life-size bronze horses and jockeys (pictured). You can also get a fine arts culture fix at the historic Loudoun House or the ArtsPlace on N. Mills Street. As for shopping, explore the shops in the new City Center complex. If you’re looking for collectibles, try Heritage Antiques. On Saturdays, make sure you check out the downtown Farmers' Market.

Lexington Nightlife

Fans of live music have plenty of options in this town such as The Lyric Theater which hosts the live filming of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour each week. The Lexington Opera House is the place to go if you want to see a live production of Carmen, a ballet or a touring Broadway musical. Other musical choices include Tee Dee’s Blues Club and Austin City Saloon which specializes in country music. Another popular option is watching a first-run film or repertory classic on the big screen of The Kentucky Theater (pictured), a beautifully restored 1920s movie palace.

Family Friendly

There is no shortage of fun activities for families in Lexington and the Hummel Planetarium at Eastern Kentucky University offers laser light shows and exhibitions with cosmic themes. The Explorium is a unique children’s museum with an emphasis on science and interactive exhibits. Candy lovers flock to Old Kentucky Chocolates to indulge in homemade fudge, sea salt caramels and bourbon truffles. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, try the zip line canopy tour at Boone Creek Outdoors (pictured).

Rolling on the River

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Lexington area is Shaker Village in nearby Pleasant Hill. This 3,000-acre historic community includes an Inn (with 72 guest rooms, suites and private cottages), a working farm, The Trustees’ Table (the on-site restaurant serves seasonal dishes daily) and family activities like the Dixie Belle tour (pictured), a 115-passenger paddlewheeler that travels past unusual rock formations and other scenic wonders along the Kentucky River.

Culinary Highlights

Exploring the local restaurant scene is always a top priority for any foodie and Lexington has plenty of options for every kind of appetite. Smithtown Seafood (pictured) is recommended for its farm-raised tilapia, buffalo catfish bites and shrimp po' boys. Beef brisket, pulled pork and smoked ribs are among the specialties at Blue Door Smokehouse. Lockbox in the 21c Museum Hotel offers upscale dining at its finest while Alfalfa is a favorite choice among vegetarians. If you’re looking for simpler fare, try one of the homemade sandwiches at Sunrise Bakery.

For Nature Lovers

Located in Nicholasville, Kentucky (approximately 12 miles southwest of Lexington) is the Kentucky River Palisades, a nature wonderland of limestone cliffs, gorges, caves, springs and waterfalls. It is an excellent hiking destination but also a great place for those who want to paddle in scenic areas along the river.

Special Fall Events in Lexington

If you visit during October, try to catch a fall race meet at the internationally renowned Keeneland racecourse. One of the most eagerly anticipated events is The Blessing of the Hounds (pictured) in late November which takes place at Shaker Village and inaugurates the hunting season. This picturesque ceremony which precedes the official hunting season features riders, horses, hounds and French horns along with a gourmet country breakfast with mimosas. Also recommended is The 26th Annual Southern Lights at Kentucky Horse Park which showcases a dreamland of festive light displays for the holiday season.

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