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Lexington Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in LexingtonWhere to Stay
Hotel accommodations in Lexington, Kentucky range from budget to luxury, but you’ll want to book something downtown for easy access to the rest of the city. The city is set up like a wheel with spokes, with main arterial roads running from downtown Lexington out into horse country. Getting to and from downtown Lexington is easy, too.
Hot Tips: Blue Grass Airport is about a 10-minute drive away from downtown hotels (as are the famous horse farms, golf courses and major attractions such as the Kentucky Horse Park).
What to Eat
Downtown is home to many of Lexington’s most popular and creative restaurants including many nestled in hotels. Try the Triangle Grille at the Hilton Lexington/Downtown, The Blue Fire Grill at the Hyatt Regency or Jonathan’s at the Gratz Park Inn. Outside the hotels are more than 90 places to eat in downtown Lexington from fast food options at the Food Court at The Shops at Lexington Center to the Chase Tap Room for a cocktail before a show at the Lexington Opera House. Also venture to Jefferson Street, Lexington’s newest burgeoning restaurant district.
Take It or Leave It: Woodford Reserve Bourbon Academy offers instruction and hands-on experiences around the distillery.
Be Sure to Sample: Kentucky bourbon, mint julep.
Things to See
As the horse capital of the world, Lexington does love its horses. Enjoy horses and more in Lexington's Bluegrass Region including seeing nearly 50 breeds of horses at the Kentucky Horse Park or visiting the grounds at Keeneland Race Course. Take a tour of one of the four period historic homes of the area’s most famous citizens including Mary Todd Lincoln’s home. Or take another type of tour: visit all of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® distilleries. Historic downtown Lexington is filled with shops, galleries, restaurants and historic sights.
Caution: Lexington Center is home court to one of the top programs in college basketball, the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Tickets are difficult to obtain but you may call ahead to check availability.
Places to Party
Local theater, Broadway shows, concerts, bar hopping. . .there is no shortage of nightlife activities in Lexington. Live concerts are especially popular. The Rupp Arena seats 23,000 and hosts top country, pop and rock acts throughout the year. For smaller concerts, Bar Lexington downtown has an energetic atmosphere and features a variety of entertainers every week: local, regional and national. The new Buster's in the distillery district is a popular concert venue. Or grab your hat and boots and head out to Austin City Saloon in Woodhill, Lexington's original country bar and home of John Michael Montgomery.
Caution: Many clubs close at 1 am, but some remain open until 2:30 am.
Where to Shop
Hot Tips: An interesting used bookstore is located in the basement of the Lexington Public Library.
Best Local Souvenir: Rebecca Ruth bourbon ball.
Rich in history, progressive in thought, and renowned for bourbon and thoroughbreds, Lexington is inextricably connected to its roots — quite literally, in fact. Built on a limestone foundation, the central Kentucky town owes much to its setting. The lush expanses of bluegrass that help foster the horse industry thrive on limestone, whose mineral presence in local springs and streams also contributes to both the smoothness of locally made liquor and the strength of equine bones.
The city itself, like its highly touted trademarks, exhibits both refinement and fortitude. Founded in 1775 at McConnell Springs, Lexington takes its name from the Massachusetts town that stood up against British forces early in the American Revolution. Although troubled relations with Native Americans caused initial settlement to lag, once people came to the area, Lexington grew quickly. Its fertile soil and pristine pastureland helped wealth flow quickly into the frontier community, and residents developed a strong affinity for the finer things in life, from tobacco to the equestrian arts. By 1797, Lexington had its first organized jockey club, a bustling fine arts scene, and a reputation as the "Athens of the West." Fittingly enough,... Read more »