A Guide to the Very Best Things to Do in Lexington, Kentucky

Known as the horse capital of the world, Lexington, Kentucky is the second-largest city in the state.

Considered as an important economic and cultural center of the state, this vibrant city boasts its Southern charm and hospitality. Thus, making the city an interesting holiday destination 

With a mix of historical and natural locations, here are some of the popular things to do in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Historical Sites and Landmark

30+ Most Romantic Things To Do In L...

The history of Lexington dates back to 1775. It used to be considered Fincastle County before it was dissolved, naming Kentucky as one of the states in the US.

Around 1780, 45 original settlers were staying in the area in what was known as Fort Lexington. 

Lexington is rich in history. For tourists that are interested to learn more about the formation of the city and the story behind it, we have compiled several historical sites and landmarks for you to visit. 

Waveland State Historic Site

The family of Joseph Bryan was among the early settlers of Lexington. Their house was converted into a historical site and museum in 1957.

Naming Bryan’s ancestral house as the Waveland State Historic Site, tourists will notice the vast cultural influence in the early Lexington days. 

Touring the Waveland State Historic Site will give visitors a glimpse of how the people lived during the mid-19th century. 

Ashland Henry Clay Estate

The house of former Kentucky statesman, Henry Clay, the Ashland Henry Clay Estate was converted to a museum and is one of the historical sites in the city.

To understand the historical story of Lexington, the estate was converted into a museum. The house was remodeled by Thomas Lewinski, under the employment of James Clay, to improve its weak structure.

Mary Todd Lincoln House

The Mary Todd Lincoln House was the childhood home of Mary Todd, the wife of Abraham Lincoln. The house hosts the life of the Todd and Lincoln families.

It features period furniture, artifacts, portraits, among others. It also showcases the complex life of Mary Todd Lincoln.

The Mary Todd Lincoln was built in 1803 as an inn and tavern. When Robert Smith Todd, Mary’s father, purchased the building, he converted it into a three-story home for his family. 

Hopemont, The Hunt-Morgan House

Constructed in 1814, Hopemont, The Hunt-Morgan House was constructed for hemp merchant John Wesley Hunt. For tourists that wish to learn more about the history as well as explore the place’s architectural features, this is the place to visit.

The Hunt-Morgan House has an impressive entrance door with artistically carved mantels and a three-story staircase.

Waveland

For tourists that wish to learn more about pre-Civil War hemp plantation, the Waveland is the ideal place to explore. It was built in 1847 for Joseph Bryan and is considered an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture in the state of Kentucky. Today, Waveland is a Historic Site preserved by the state.

Latrobe’s Pope Villa

If you have an interest in architecture and preservation, Latrobe’s Pope Villa is the perfect place for you. The villa is one of only three remaining homes designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe.

Benjamin Latrobe is a notable architect and is one of the designers of the Capitol Building of the United States found in Washington. 

Museums

Although there are historical sites that serve as a museum, there are some items that are specifically exhibited in designated establishments. It features arts and artifacts, aviation, and horses.

To find out more about the unique displays showcasing the artistry of Lexington, here are some notable museums you can visit. 

University of Kentucky Art Museum

Tourists that wish to understand and appreciate art from diverse cultures and historical periods, The University of Kentucky Art Museum has a vast collection of arts that you can discover.

They have around 5,000 collections of various objects that promote understanding of art from a different civilization. They also have special traveling exhibits through augmented reality. 

Aviation Museum of Kentucky

For travelers that are avid fans of airplanes, the Aviation Museum of Kentucky features various aviation artifacts.

Situated at the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, the museum hosts aircraft, equipment, interactive displays, and simulators.

It also has a gift shop for you to purchase some souvenir items for your family and friends.

Headley Whitney Museum

Founded in 1968, the Headley Whitney Museum offers distinctive collections. The museum features works by George Headley, the Fine and Decorative arts collection, and the Whitney Estate DollHouse collection.

The George Headley collection features unique jewelry, bibelots, and semi-precious designs. 

The Headley Whitney Museum also features art collections from fellow artists, bought from auctions, and during their trips.

International Museum of the Horse

The International Museum of the Horse showcases the history of horses and their unique relationship with people.

The museum is dedicated to information regarding horses, their history, and how they impact human civilization.

Their notable exhibitions are All the Queen’s Horses: The Role of the Horse in British History, Imperial China: The Art of Horse in Chinese History, and A Gift from the Desert: The Art, Culture, and History of the Arabian Horse.

So, if you love horses, the International Museum of Horses is a wonderful way to learn more about their story.

American Saddlebred Museum

Lexington is known as the horse capital of the world. Of course, travelers would be curious to know why the city is famous for it.

The American Saddlebred Museum showcases the importance of American Saddlebred throughout the history of the US. From elegant and athletic breeds to a more versatile breed they are known today. 

The American Saddlebred Museum also has a vast collection of Saddlebred artifacts. It features photographs, artworks, trophies, among others.

Living Arts and Science Center

Travelers that wish to take part in workshops can visit the Living Arts and Science Center.

They offer more than 400 workshop activities for children and adults regarding arts and science. Aside from arts and sciences, they also included astronomy in their exhibits. 

The Living Arts and Science Center is perfect for field trips and excursions amongst students. With its interactive exhibits, children get to explore and participate in their various workshop activities. 

Parks and Aquariums

Traveling to Lexington is not all about exploring historical sites and known landmarks.

It is also nice to visit places where you can relax and do outdoor activities.

If you prefer to explore some of the wildlife areas in the city, here are some of the places you can visit with your family. 

Jacobson Park

Considered as the largest park in Lexington, Jacobson Park has a total land area of 216-acre.

The park features a basketball court, dog park, fishing area, open play fields, volleyball court, and many more. You can also enjoy some water sports activities such as pedal boats and kayaks. 

If you are visiting the park in large groups, Jacobson Park offers shelters that accommodate at least 50 people. It is the perfect place for picnics and family gatherings.

Masterson Station Park

Your trip to Lexington will never be complete without trying their equestrian program.

Since the city is known as the horse capital of the world, why not allow yourself to fully immerse in some of their local activity programs. 

The Masterson Station Park provides an equestrian program to its guests. They offer affordable horseback riding lessons from age 10 and up. You can enroll in their beginner, intermediate, or advanced classes. 

Raven Run

Travelers that are outdoorsy kind of people would certainly love exploring Raven Run. It is a 734-acre unique sanctuary that provides a great place for outdoor activities such as hiking and wildlife viewing.

The park provides several trails that give visitors an idea of what they can discover during their walk. You can also find some 19th-century historic remnants of the early settlers. 

Veterans Park

Veterans Park is for travelers that wish to explore their mountain trails. It is approximately 3.5 miles long.

Their mountain trails are for beginners and intermediate riders. The trail is open from dawn until dusk. 

Not only is the Veterans Park for bike riders, but is also a popular place among joggers, runners, among others. If you are traveling with your pets, you can explore the area with your furry best friend and enjoy the wonderful wildlife that nature has to offer.

Kentucky Horse Park

The Kentucky Horse Park is one of the popular parks that features a unique combination of museums, galleries, theaters, and working farm exhibits.

Upon arriving at the place you will see nearly 50 breeds of horses that are grazing in the park.

Kentucky Horse Park also provides a campground with 260 spacious suites. Not only is the park popular amongst tourists, but it is also a popular event place. They have excellent venues for barbecues and casual parties. 

Top Nightlife Spots in Lexington

If you are in Lexington either on holiday or on a business trip, take the time to discover the city during the nighttime.

Explore what the city has to offer at night. Get out with friends and enjoy the bright lights. 

Barrel House Distillery

Situated in the historic distillery district of Lexington, Barrel House Distillery is the ideal place to experience some of its award-winning spirits. Listed as a Travelers’ Choice for 2021, this distillery serves its finest spirits such as Rockcastle Bourbon, Pure Blue Vodka, Devil John Moonshine, and many more. 

You can also enjoy a Tour and Tasting of Barrel House Distillery. They have a unique gift shop that you can browse as souvenirs or mementos of the place you visited.

Tee Dee’s Lounge

For travelers that wish to unwind the night with live music and good food, Tee Dee’s Lounge is the place to go.

They offer great live music such as blues and jazz genres. They have a friendly staff that is quick to deliver good customer service. 

Tee Dee’s Lounge also serves some dine-in options if you wish to listen to live music while eating. Mondays are considered the best time to place with their live blues and jazz music. 

Seltzer Club

Seltzer Club is another bar in Lexington that you can visit for a night out with friends. They serve some of the best cocktail drinks. If you prefer neutral spirits with a touch of old fashion, like bourbon, this place got you covered.

Their cocktail craftsman is gifted in mixing drinks. Try some of their wine and spirits combinations. You will surely love its unique taste.

Al’s Bar

If you are looking for a relaxing place with bar food and live music, Al’s Bar is the place to go. This bar is not only a local favorite, but many tourists enjoy the place as well. They have a great selection of craft beers. 

If you wish to enjoy the night at Al’s Bar, it is advisable to come to the place early.

Since it is a popular place, the bar fills up with people easily. 

Henry Clay’s Public House

If you wish to explore a wide range of premium bourbons and craft beers, Henry Clay’s Public House is a popular place to visit. Situated in a historic 1805 residence, the atmosphere is ideal for enjoying a night gathering with friends. 

Henry Clay’s Public House is not only a favorite among residents, but tourists will also love the friendly atmosphere. 

Where to Shop in Lexington

While there are tourists that love to explore historical sites, landmarks, museums, and other outdoor places, there are also visitors that love to shop.

They love to explore shopping centers and browse items such as clothing, shoes, accessories, and many more.

To know more about the best shopping centers in Lexington, here is a list of malls to visit. 

Fayette Mall

Considered a premier shopping destination, Fayette Mall has over 170 retailer and dining options that guests can explore.

Some of their retail stores are the popular H&M, Michael Kors, and Sephora. The mall also provides a children’s play area that is perfect for tourists traveling with kids. 

Peddlers Mall

If you like to explore stores that have a flea market concept, the Peddlers Mall is perfect for you. It is a family-owned business.

The store specializes in vintage items, antiques, collectibles, and any items that are either old or new. It is the ideal place to shop for souvenirs and gift items.

You can purchase cute trinkets for your family and friends back home.

Southland Shopping Center

For travelers that prefer quaint shopping centers, the Southland Shopping Center is the go-to place. The mall features small shops and various dining options.

They also sell some organic products for guests that love natural ingredients or herbs. 

The Mall at Lexington Green

The Mall at Lexington Green is a hybrid shopping mall. It opened to the public in 1986 as a two-level shopping center.

In 2011, the mall was positioned as an upscale retail center that serves as both a shopping mall and an outdoor lifestyle center. 

One of the region’s largest bookstores, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, is a tenant of The Mall at Lexington Green. So tourists that are avid readers will surely love to explore this place. 

Where to Dine in Lexington

If you are traveling to Lexington and are unsure where to dine, the list below will help you decide what is the top diner’s choice in the city. 

Carson’s Food and Drink

For travelers that are searching for a dining area that showcases classic Kentucky elegance, Carson’s Food and Drinks is a popular choice.

The restaurant features a casual setting yet provides a comfortable atmosphere. Their recipes and cocktails are exceptionally prepared by their experienced chefs. 

Carson’s Food and Drink’s popular dishes are the barbeque ribs, scallops, and the creole filet. 

Dudley’s on Short

The Dudley’s on Short is a local favorite. Opened in 1981, the restaurant has been a mainstay in the city’s dining scene.

They offer delicious American cuisine. Their popular dishes are Salmon Salad, Steak Frites, and Wilted Brussels Sprout Salad.

The Dudley’s on Short also serves an impressive wine list that you can try on.

Merrick Inn

For tourists that prefer contemporary southern cuisine, Merrick Inn is a good choice. They are a popular choice for guests that prefer an intimate dining experience.

Their popular dishes are Southern Fried Chicken, Grouper Fingers, and Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloin. 

Distilled on Jefferson

If you wish to experience a fine dining option, Distilled on Jefferson is an excellent choice. Their award-winning restaurant boasts a farm-to-table fare to all its guests.

Their chef and team ensure that the approach to southern cuisine is artful and elevated leaving guests an artistic expression of their food.

Distilled on Jefferson’s popular dishes are Fried Chicken, Pernod Mussels, and House Meatballs.

Giuseppe’s Ristorante Italiano

For tourists that wish to dine in an Italian restaurant, Giuseppe’s Ristorante Italiano boasts of its finest Italian cuisine.

The restaurant has served the busiest intersection of Lexington for 25 years. To make their diners feel more relaxed, they serenade their guests with live music.

Where to Stay in Lexington

Whenever tourists go on a holiday trip, they always search for places to stay. There are numerous hotels in Lexington that you can check-in.

Depending on your preference, here are some hotel options.

Lexington Griffin Gate Marriott Golf Resort & Spa

A four-star hotel, the Lexington Griffin Gate Marriott Golf Resort & Spa offers refined quarters in a high-end resort.

The hotel features polished rooms, a steakhouse, 2 lounge/bar areas, and a coffee shop. Their amenities include both indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, fitness center, golf course, and sports courts.

The Lexington Griffin Gate Marriott Golf Resort & Spa is also near to some of the city’s historical sites and landmarks, as well as museums.

Hyatt Regency Lexington

A three-star unpretentious hotel, Hyatt Regency Lexington is situated within the downtown area. It has an excellent location that is within walking distance to Mary Todd Lincoln House and the Explorium of Lexington museum.

Tourists that are traveling to the area can avail themselves of the airport shuttle service that is complimentary. 

Hyatt Regency Lexington’s amenities include a restaurant, gym, indoor pool, and a terrace. 

Courtyard by Marriott Lexington North

Courtyard by Marriott Lexington North is another three-star hotel that has an excellent location. This modern hotel offers contemporary rooms and spacious suites.

They also have a social space that includes a living room-style lobby and an outdoor courtyard. Amenities of Courtyard by Marriott Lexington North include an indoor pool with a whirlpool tub, an exercise room, and a business center.

Elwood Hotel & Suites

For guests traveling with pets, the Elwood Hotel & Suites is the best option. It is a simple hotel with modern amenities that provides comfort at an affordable rate.

The hotel is also near some of the popular places to visit such as the Kentucky Horse Park, McConnell Springs, and the University of Kentucky Art Museum.

With all these things to do in Lexington, your vacation is surely filled with fun and excitement. So, what are you waiting for? Book yourself a relaxing trip to this charming city.