Home to the University of Kentucky and a major economic and cultural center, the city of Lexington is in the heart of Bluegrass Country. The region is famous for its horse breeding and Lexington claims the title of ‘Horse Capital of the World’. The horse pastures enclosed by white fences are characteristic features of the landscape.
In addition to the many equestrian-related things to do, Lexington is filled with numerous historical, natural, and other cultural attractions to explore. The Mary Todd Lincoln House provides perspective on this influential First Lady, and the Kentucky Aviation Museum highlights the state’s high-flying history. For a fun afternoon or evening activity, catch the latest indie or blockbuster movie at the historic Kentucky Theater.
1 Kentucky Horse Park
The world famous Kentucky Horse Park is located 10 miles north of Lexington (I 75, exit 120). This is a working horse farm that is open to the public. It offers all kinds of information about horses. Here in Bluegrass country, it’s all about horses and the horse park is a good first step in learning about Kentucky’s equine tradition.
There is a visitor center with films about the park and information about certain activities and events. The International Museum of the Horse, home to the Calumet Trophy Collection, provides a comprehensive look at the history and importance of the horse, while great racehorses are honored in the Hall of Champions. There is an interesting walk through the park with demonstrations of the crafts of blacksmiths, wagoners, harness makers and a parade of thoroughbreds. Visitors can also enjoy horseback riding and riding in horse-drawn carriages. The Kentucky Horse Center is a training center for thoroughbreds.
Adres: 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, Kentucky
Official site: https://kyhorsepark.com/
Read also: top tourist attractions in Lexington
2 Lexington Cemetery
The Lexington Cemetery was established in 1849 as a public cemetery. The monument highlights the social, political, military and environmental history of the community. The cemetery is also a beautiful green space, covering more than 170 hectares of land. A walk with labeled metal plates allows visitors to learn about the many types of trees in the cemetery. Bird watchers often visit, as the quiet environment lends itself to rare sightings. On the last Monday in May, the cemetery hosts a Memorial Day holiday with a symbolic service and anyone seeking respect is encouraged to attend.
Adres: 833 West Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky
Official site: https://www.lexcem.org/
3 Mary Todd Lincoln House
Mary Todd Lincoln House was originally built in 1803 to 1806 as an inn and in 1832 Mary Todd’s father purchased this home in Lexington for his family. Mary Todd, who would later become Abraham Lincoln’s wife, often visited her childhood home. The brick Georgian-style house is decorated in an old style and displays family portraits, as well as personal items from the Lincoln-Todd families. Visitors can tour the 14-room home on a one-hour guided tour, which also tells the remarkable story of the influential First Lady who grew up in the home.
Adres: 578 West Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky
Official site: https://www.mtlhouse.org/
Founded in 1936, Keeneland is a professional racetrack open to the public and surrounded by elegantly landscaped grounds. There are many reasons beyond race day to visit Keeneland, including simply touring the facility and enjoying the atmosphere of a thoroughbred racing culture. As a major leader in the industry, Keeneland also has some of the largest thoroughbred auctions in the country at various times throughout the year. Other fun things to check out include extensive historical archives of the thoroughbred industry, a gift shop for equestrians, and the Keeneland Kids Club for youth 12 and under.
Adres: 4201 Versailles Road, Lexington, Kentucky
Official site: https://www.keeneland.com/
5 Kentucky Aviation Museum
The Kentucky Aviation Museum in Lexington, located at the Bluegrass Airport, is designed to educate about the aviation industry and inspire those interested in pursuing a career in aviation. Several aircraft are on display both inside the 25,000 square foot facility and outside. Travel exhibitions are also on display throughout the year. The museum houses the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame , recognizing the achievements of Kentuckians. Special aviation camps take place at the museum throughout the summer for ages 10 to 18 and older.
Adres: 4029 Airport Road, Lexington, Kentucky
Official site: https://www.aviationky.org/
6 University of Kentucky
John Bowman started the Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1865, which was renamed the University of Kentucky in 1916. Tours of the Lexington campus are offered to the public and depart from the Visitor Center. One of the attractions is the University of Kentucky Art Museum with changing exhibits from the permanent collection. The works include paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs and decorative arts, as well as special loan editions. Other things to do on campus include the Buell Armory; a campus bookstore; and Rupp Arena , home of Kentucky Wildcats basketball.
Official site: https://www.uky.edu/
7 Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Raven Run is a 734-acre nature preserve and outdoor destination with more than 10 miles of hiking trails, a nature center and a bird blind for nature observation and education. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of birds and offers a range of events throughout the year, including weekly yoga sessions, special programs for little explorers and organized running events. Within the sanctuary, the Joe Pulliam Memorial Garden is a Monarch waystation, attracting and supporting butterflies as they make their way across North America.
Adres: 3885 Raven Run Way, Lexington, Kentucky
Official site: https://www.lexingtonky.gov/index.aspx?page=276
8 Waveland State Historic Site
Also known as the Joseph Bryan Estate , the Waveland State Historic Site offers a glimpse of plantation life in the 19th century. The main tourist attraction is the Greek Revival mansion built in 1847. Also on site are an ice house, smokehouse and servants’ quarters, all of which have been restored. Visitors can take a tour and walk through the gardens. Special events at the Waveland include Tea Tuesdays, Derby Day Breakfasts and vintage baseball games with costumed characters throughout the summer.
Adres: 225 Waveland Museum Lane, Lexington, Kentucky
Official site: https://parks.ky.gov/parks/historicsites/waveland/
9 Red Mile Harness Track
The Red Mile in Lexington is a twelve-kilometer oval trail for trotters and pacers. It is the second oldest harness racing track in the world, with live racing from July to September. Daily workouts can be seen from sunrise until late morning on this historic course. Many on-site dining options, such as the 1101 Grill, offer affordable and satisfying fare. When races are not taking place at the Red Mile, the facility simulates races from around the world on more than 175 HD televisions.
Adres: 1200 Red Mile Road, Lexington, Kentucky
Official site: https://redmileky.com
10 Hunt-Morgan House
John Wesley Hunt, the first millionaire west of the Alleghenies, built this Federal period home in 1814 in Lexington. Features of the house, also called Hopemont, include a three-story cantilevered staircase; the garden and walled courtyard; a collection of Kentucky furniture; portraits from the early 19th century; and porcelain. The house is part of the larger Gratz Park Historic District in downtown Lexington, which consists of the city park and many 19th-century homes and mansions.
Adres: 201 N. Mill Street, Lexington, Kentucky
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/lexington/hun.htm
11 Kentucky Theatre
From the first “talkies” to air conditioning and midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show , the Kentucky Theater of Lexington in downtown Lexington has a near-eternal history in the community. In all that time, this now historic movie theater has ebbed and flowed with the economy and currently hosts the latest blockbusters and a long line of alternative and indie film screenings. A big part of the appeal of seeing a film at the Kentucky Theater is the immediate sense of history surrounding the screening.
Adres: 214 E Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky
Official site: https://www.kentuckytheater.com/
Where to Stay in Lexington for Sightseeing
Many of Lexington’s top attractions are located downtown or just a short drive away. For first time visitors this is the best place to stay. Below are some highly rated hotels in convenient locations:
- Luxury Hotels: The Hilton Lexington Downtown is ideally located downtown and connected to the Lexington Convention Center. Within walking distance of the hotel you will find a wide range of interesting restaurants and the Mary Todd House. The new 21c Museum Hotel Lexington is a great boutique option for anyone looking for something completely different. Located in the historic Fayette National Bank building, the hotel offers modern rooms and a gallery of trendy artistic works. Just north of downtown is the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa, a full-service resort with an on-site spa, an award-winning restaurant and an 18-hole golf course.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Located a five-minute drive north of downtown, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Lexington offers rooms with a kitchen and separate sitting area. A full cooked-to-order breakfast and evening snacks are included in the price. Another all-suite option, five minutes southwest of downtown, is the Home2 Suites by Hilton. This new property is pet-friendly, features a saltwater pool and is located in a vibrant neighborhood near the University of Kentucky. The DoubleTree Suites, with hot tubs in each suite and a seasonal outdoor pool, are a standout feature of the European-inspired décor.
- Budget Hotels: The best budget hotels are located outside the city center. Located just east of downtown on a quiet side street, the Country Inns & Suites By Carlson offers large rooms at an attractive price. Nine miles south of downtown and easily accessible from I-75 is La Quinta Inn & Suites. This hotel has extensive grounds and is within walking distance of many chain restaurants.The newly renovated GuestHouse Inn & Suites offers good value and features decent rooms, free breakfast and an indoor pool.