Lexington, Kentucky is known as the Horse Capital of the World, and for good reason. With its beautiful rolling hills and amazing race courses, this town is the place to be to see the beautiful animals.
In addition to horses — Lexington, Kentucky is also known for its bourbon! With many distilleries calling this city home, there are plenty of tours to take and drinks to be had here. In addition to horses and bourbon though, you’ll find so much more. From museums and gardens to outdoor adventures and historical sites, there is something for everyone in Lexington.
Ready to learn more? Here are 26 things to do in Lexington KY that we know you and your crew are going to want to explore on your next visit.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN LEXINGTON KY
- Best Near Rupp Arena: Only one mile away from the University of Kentucky and five miles from the Keeneland Racetrack, the Hyatt Regency Lexington offers ease of access to numerous Lexington favorites. For Wildcat fans, the hotel is connected to the ever-popular Rupp Arena which houses UK basketball games, concerts, and more.
- Best For Foodies: Elwood Hotel & Suites is a boutique hotel with a restaurant, free private parking, a fitness center and a bar. Located on the ground floor of the Elwood Hotel, Fiddletree is a place to dine and a place to take part in something that feels communal.
- Best Tried and True: Comfort Inn & Suites near Hamburg Pavilion provides friendly service, cozy accommodations and a delicious breakfast. Pair this with a convenient location right off Interstate 75 and you’ve clearly got a winner. It also has an indoor pool!
JAMES E. PEPPER DISTILLERY
Discover the legendary James E. Pepper Distilling Co. in the distillery district, which has been around for many years. The building brings to mind the story of the audacious American whiskey maker, James E. Pepper, whom the distillery was named after.
Want to know the story behind the historic, award-winning whiskey brand? This is your chance. More often than not, there are tour guides available to tell the historic tale of the brave Mr. Pepper and the fight to keep the distillery alive all century long. Travel back in time for a moment as you get to see the historical components in the distillery museum.
What’s more, you get a taste of the award-winning whiskey, along with a complimentary tasting glass. Now, sitting exquisitely on the shelf in your wine cellar, that glass is bound to draw some attention. If you would rather scan through the gift shop, then that option is available and very recommended. Several unique items in the store may catch your eye.
Who said you can’t do both? Make it a fun-filled day in Lexington by stopping by both the shop and bar. Would you rather savor this rich taste at the bar or on the patio? Whatever your decision, it promises to be an exciting tour.
CRANK AND BOOM
If you love ice cream (or even if you don’t, for that matter) you are going to love the Crank and Boom location in Lexington. There is nothing quite like tasting the delicious flavors of a C & B ice cream melting on your tongue, but don’t take our word for it, check it out yourself.
Experience a welcoming ambiance when you step into Crank and Boom. All of the ingredients used to make these cups of goodness are sourced locally whenever possible. Their dairy is sourced from JD Country Milk, and everything is made from scratch. The flavors are so creatively combined, you will be impressed.
The Sundae! No, you just have to taste the Sundae. It is flavor-filled, and there are so many delectable flavors to choose from. Makes sure to make a stop here during your next trip to Lexington!
LEXINGTON BREWING AND DISTILLING COMPANY
Immerse yourself in the taste of award-winning spirits and beers when you step into the Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company. The legendary Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is available here. Imagine the taste of beers and spirits made with formulas from someone, who not only has a passion for beers and spirit, but a Ph. D in solid-state fermentation.
Get an exceptional tour to pour experience when you visit this distilling company. You immediately feel the special warm welcome that accompanies businesses built on a family legacy. Since being established in 1794, this prestigious company has continued to thrive, against all odds, producing some of the best qualities of drinks made with natural ingredients.
Explore the large hall viewing area where you can see the entire bottling operation. There is also a gift shop with lots of spectacular items. Then you can opt to learn about the bourbon and craft beers making process. There is just so much fun to uncover in this location.
Get ready for some fun on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Get a taste of the legendary Kentucky bourbon, or find out in detail the distilling process, or do both! Discover secret ingredients and get to discuss the process with renowned brewers behind the scenes.
Join the list of over 2.5 million visitors to explore all 38 distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Tick items on your wish lists and increase bragging rights when you make stops at world-famous distilleries including the Heaven Hill Distillery, Woodford Reserve, and Jim Beam American Stillhouse.
The amazing thing about Woodford Reserve is that it is handcrafted in small, special batches. The tiny size of this reserve makes it even more fun to explore, as it houses such outstanding tastes. If you notice any familiar taste in a drink from Woodford, it is likely because they are big on local ingredients. The corn used is grown locally from Shelby County, and the water used in the whiskey production is got from nearby Glenn’s Creek.
Take a tour of the iconic building, and listen to the interesting history of the Woodford Reserve while you savor the taste of whiskey aged in 1870 stone barrel houses. Get to meet and communicate with master distillers, and leave the spot with a souvenir – a Woodford Reserve-branded rocks glass.
Want to get a Spanish feeling while in Kentucky? The Four Roses Tour is perfect for you! The historic building has Spanish Mission-style architecture that is worth seeing. The distillery produces Four Roses Yellow Label, Four Roses Small Batch, Four Roses Single Barrel, and Four Roses Small Batch Select. You get a chance to sample three out of four of these exquisitely tasting drinks during your tour.
Get a complimentary Four Roses bourbon glass after your tour. This tour is completely worth it, but don’t take our word for it, get the experience yourself- it promises to be an unforgettable one.
What’s better than homemade recipes in a special glass of bourbon? Experience the true meaning of nature in a glass when you sip the Bluegrass Distillers bourbon. Located in the heart of the city of Kentucky, you cannot afford to miss a stop by this smaller, craft distillery.
Enjoy an informative tour and taste session where you’ll get to learn the exact recipes and processes used in making the particular type of bourbon in your glass. The passion behind the distillers is evident in the high-quality taste of the drink.
Two things immediately come to mind when you say Kentucky: bourbon and horses. Keeneland has spectacular grounds open to the public, where they flaunt their thoroughbreds either for ecstatic racing or for sales purposes.
On the side, you can catch a sight of the Blue Grass Airport (Keeneland sits across the street from the airport). Get a close view of the elegant horses from the paddock just before they set out on a race.
Guided walking tours will give you a deeper insight into the history of Keeneland, and the behind-the-scenes activities for both the racing and the horse sales. There is also a Keeneland Library, with tons of information about the horses, races, and the city in general.
Explore a collection of modern and historic aviation equipment that will interest you at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky. This museum aims at providing in-depth aerospace knowledge to the public. Spend the day increasing your aviation and history knowledge in this 20,000 square foot location.
Explore the modern military and classic and historic aircraft hangars. Get to see the famous A-4 Skyhawk of the US Navy’s Blue Angels. Learn about renowned aviation masters in Kentucky who pioneered the industry like, Matthew B. Sellers and Willa Brown Chappell.
You may not think of a cemetery as a must-visit place when in Lexington, but this one is an especially beautiful one. Explore the Lexington Cemetery, where tranquility and nature combine to give it absolutely amazing views.
With over 200 species of trees, this location is a beauty to behold, especially in the spring. Enjoy a walking tour in the park-like setting of the cemetery as you see the markers and monuments of some of national figures, including the Todd Family.
You simply cannot visit Lexington without a stop at McConnell Springs Park. This beautiful park happens to be the founding site of the city of Lexington in 1775. Over two centuries later, this scenic park has been preserved and is a center for various special events.
Receive a warm welcome from sweet-smelling flowers in the rich-vegetative area. The pond wetlands from the grassy slope at the corner, the natural spring with fresh water on the right, and the small abandoned quarry at the corner all combine to make this location a must-see.
Discover the official state botanical garden of Kentucky at The Arboretum, located on the University of Kentucky’s campus. With 100 acres of land and a wide collection of plants from each of the 7 physiographic regions of Kentucky, a visit here is one of the best things to do in Lexington KY.
Spring is the best time to visit The Arboretum, when the flowers are in bloom and the colors are really popping, but any time of a year is a good time to visit. The Kentucky Children’s Garden is a must-visit if you have kids, or take a trip on the Walk Across Kentucky Trail. The paved patch features two miles of hiking trails that takes you through gardens that represent the seven physiographic regions of Kentucky.
The Arboretum and botanical gardens are open year-round to the public, except on the days of UK football home games.
Take a memorable visit to Rupp Arena, the legendary home to the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. Nothing can describe the atmosphere of watching fervent basketball players run around the court with vigor.
The national championship banners displayed boldly combined with the old jerseys from past legendary players and the intimidating size of the area will certainly give you the pride chills.
In addition to UK games, many special events are held here throughout the year.
No matter what you’ve heard about the Kentucky Castle, you really have to see it for yourself. Marvel at the royal treatment you will receive at this iconic castle. The reception is warm and encouraging, the cuisine is nothing short of exquisite, and there are several glamorous amenities that will make you enjoy every minute of your visit here.
The Kentucky Castle is more than just a hotel. The farm-to-table restaurants, event venues, and spa are a wonder. Events for all ages are held all year long, and event spaces are available for booking. The exhilarating murder mystery dinner at the ballroom gives an indescribable thrill.
Get a taste of heaven when you bite into the bourbon chocolates made at Old Kentucky Chocolates. This confectionery has been making candies for over 50 years, and their consistency is amazing.
Join available tour groups to visit this site where you can get to watch the chocolate-making process of some of these goodies. Get to visit the gift shop where you most likely will find a treat to buy.
Kentucky Horse Park is an iconic horse park that is a pride to the city of Lexington. Take a tour here, which includes a visit to the Big Barns to get acquainted with some of the thoroughbred horses. Pet them, take a selfie with them, and learn their names.
The museum here is large and displays several images and artifacts, which show the relationship between horse and man. There is always an upcoming event on this historic site, and you do not want to miss an event here.
About an hour away from Lexington, you’ll find Natural Bridge State Resort Park and the Red River Gorge area. These natural wonders are worth a day trip.
At this state park, you can hike the scenic trail to the Natural Bridge or take the skylift. Explore the amazing Red River Gorge Area, or go caving, fishing, kayaking, or canoeing on Mill Creek Lake. Visit the Historic Nature Center, hike Henson’s Arch, or tour Natural Bridge Cave.
After all that adventuring, take a swim at the swimming complex, watch birds, organize a picnic, or shop at the gift shop for souvenirs and crafts. If you want to stay even longer, they’ve got cabins available for rent.
Discover the notable Mill Ridge Farm, one of the industry-leading horse farms in the breeding and racing of thoroughbreds. The tour begins in the breeding shed and educates the participants about the uniqueness of the land and its suitability for thoroughbreds.
Catch a glimpse of some first-class thoroughbreds laying in the grass, feeding or taking a casual walk. Get a rundown of all the services offered by Mill Ridge Farm, including selling, breeding, boarding, consigning, and consulting.
If you are searching for a cool place where you can explore, dine, shop, and stay for a while, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is your destination. Several hot spots, like the historic center, the preserve, and the farm, are available for your exploration. Discover spaces to learn and play with your family and make new pet friends.
Here you’ll find delicious garden-fresh meals at The Trustees’ Table, which features seasonal ingredients from their gardens. In addition to yummy eats, you can also stay here. The Inn features 72 guest rooms, and there are also cottages available too. Each room is beautifully appointed with Shaker reproduction furniture.
If you’re looking for live music, you can find it at The Burl, located in the Lexington Distillery District. Averaging about 300 nights of live music a year, this is the place to be.
The food menu options are broad here, with several options to suit every taste. The stage has a captivating setting, and if you are lucky, you might find your favorite band performing!
Spend a glorious afternoon in the family home of one of America’s most fascinating first ladies, Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
A tour of the Mary Todd Lincoln House is a great trip for guests of all ages — they even have special games designed to entertain kids ages 5-9.
Take a self-guided tour and explore the rooms of the home. Uncover secrets about the Todd and Lincoln families during your visit.
Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate is a historic estate dedicated to educating the public about the life of statesman Henry Clay. This estates includes over 600 acres of land, and includes a 19th-century mansion, buildings, gardens, and paths.
Take a tour of Ashland, and learn more about Clay and his contributions to the United States. You’ll also find amazing artistic sculptures located throughout the grounds, along with special events throughout the year. The seasonal Ginko Tree Cafe is a great place to grab a bite.
With over 200 years of national significance, Ashland is one of the most valued locations in Kentucky.
Although Lexington has some great art museums, like the University of Kentucky Art Museum, one of the best ways to see art in Lexington is checking out the amazing street art throughout the city.
One of the most popular murals to visit is Lincoln, which has the privilege of being known as the “Largest Abraham Lincoln Mural in the World!” Created by Eduardo Kobra in 2013, this mural has drawn attention from all over.
Located on the back wall of the Kentucky Theatre, it’s just one of many stops you can make to see the amazing street art in Lexington. Get your camera ready!
Waveland State Historic Site is home to a 19th-century Antebellum house, and it’s worth a visit.
Guided tours of Waveland focus on the everyday lives of the family who lived here, and the enslaved people who lived and worked at Waveland in the 1850s.
Children will love the playground here, and everyone will love to stroll the trails and bridges located throughout the property. You’ll also find an old Mill House structure, a natural spring, and footbridges to explore.
Check out the museum filled with historic artifacts, or plan for a picnic at the tables and grills on the lawn.
Take a trip back to the 19th century when you visit the Hunt-Morgan House, also known as Hopemont. The family was famous for producing the first millionaire west of Alleghenies, and giving Kentucky its First Nobel Prize.
Get an insight into the happenings of this prestigious family. Explore the iconic museums with a collection of early Kentucky furniture, paintings, and antiques, all displaying the sophisticated nature of the family.
The Civil War museum is on the second floor of the house, and it contains several relics from the war. Enjoy the information-packed, thrilling tour of the Hunt-Morgan House.
You’ll be able to soak up the beautiful nature in Lexington with a visit to the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. The nature sanctuary borders the Kentucky River, and if you look hard enough, you may see remnants of the early settlers from the 19th century.
Explore several points of interest, like Evans Mill, the Moore Grave, where Archibald Moore was buried, Prather Homestead, and the Kentucky River outlook.
Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the U.S. and even the world’s longest cave system, with more than 400 miles explored. It has been attracting visitors for more than 125 years!
Temperatures inside the cave vary somewhat, but usually hover around 54°F year-round. A light jacket or sweater is recommended, as are good shoes for walking. Here you will find rolling hills, deep rivers, and a diverse animal and plant life.
WHERE TO STAY IN LEXINGTON KY
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO KENTUCKY
- YOUR KENTUCKY VACATION
- LOUISVILLE: 23 OUTSTANDING THINGS TO DO IN LOUISVILLE: BOURBON COUNTRY
- BOWLING GREEN: 13 THINGS TO DO IN BOWLING GREEN KY YOUR FAMILY WILL LOVE
- BEST OF KY: 25 BEST THINGS TO DO IN KENTUCKY YOU CAN’T MISS
What is Lexington, Kentucky known for?
Lexington, Kentucky is the second largest city in the state of Kentucky and the Horse Capital of the World.
Why is Lexington, Kentucky a popular stop of Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail?
The distilleries in Lexington, Kentucky sit above an underground limestone shelf. This naturally filters the iron out of the ground water making it very pure. The Bourbon is said to be the purest in Lexington.
What are the top Lexington, Kentucky attractions?
The top attractions in Lexington, Kentucky are the Kentucky Horse Park, Keeneland Race Course, Ashland – The Henry Clay Estate, and the Mary Todd Lincoln House.
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