Some come for the horses, and others visit for the bourbon. There are even those who make a yearly trek to watch the top-ranked University of Kentucky basketball team play.
Whatever the reasons may be - and there are plenty - many are drawn to the city of Lexington
Located in the heart of Kentucky Bluegrass region, the "Horse Capital of the World" is within a day's drive of the U.S. population making it a perfect long-weekend getaway.
Here's a sampling of what you can experience in and around Lexington.
About 30 minutes from Lexington, in Frankfort, is Buffalo Trace
, one of five distilleries in the area. As the oldest continuously ran distillery in the country, it was one of four that was running during Prohibition. Whiskey could be purchased as long as one had a doctor's prescription. By the time Prohibition ended, it is said that doctors had written six million whiskey prescriptions. Learn more about the art and history of distilling on a tour
. Choose from five different ones that include the "National Historic Landmark Tour" and a ghost tour.
Feeling hungry after visiting Buffalo Trace? Satisfy your appetite at Wallace Station Deli
in Versailles. Choose from cold and hot sandwiches, burgers, soups and more.
Tour a horse farm
. There are three ways you can do this: guided, custom and self-guided. A guided tour includes one or two farms and other horse-related points of interest. Budget three to three-and-half hours for the experience. For those who want a more personal tour, customized it. A handful of companies offers this option. If you are pressed for time and can only visit one farm or have a certain interest, call up the individual farm(s) to arrange a visit.
The Kentucky Horse Park
is the place for everything "horse." Set on over 1,200-acres is the International Museum of the Horse
and American Saddlebred Museum
as well as equine competition facilities, horseback riding opportunities and so much more. Don't miss the visiting Hall of Champions
and the Breeds Barn Show
. There is even a campground
with 260 sites, amenities and access to the Legacy Trail
, a 12-mile walking and biking trail leading from the campground to downtown.
Even if you aren't into horseracing, it's worth taking a guided tour
. Aside from learning about the history of this National Historic Landmark, you'll also get a close-up view of its daily operations. Afterward, check out the Keeneland Library
, said to be "one of the world's largest repositories of information related to the Thoroughbred."
Whether your interests lay in history or architecture, or both, Lexington has you covered. History buffs can take guided tours of either or both Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate
, and the Mary Todd Lincoln House
. The Hunt-Morgan House
appeals both history and architecture lovers. Built for John Wesley Hunt, whose descendants include a Confederate general and a Nobel Prize winner, the structure represents the state's adaptation of the Federal style. Tours are provided on Wednesdays. Latrobe's Pope Villa
is a must-see for serious architecture aficionados. It's one of only three remaining homes in America designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who was one of the designers of the U.S. Capitol building.
Want more? Bring your bike or rent one through Griffin Gate Marriott Resort and Spa
to ride the "??Cycling through the Centuries" tour developed by the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation. Download LexArchTour
from either the AppStore or GooglePlay and hit the pavement as you learn more about historical buildings in the area around the Old Fayette County Courthouse.
Drive out to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
, located twenty-five miles southwest of Lexington. In the 1830s, around 500 people lived in the community on nearly 4,000 acres. Pl
easant Hill was the third largest Shaker community in the country between 1805 and 1910. However, as the country moved forward, the Shakers community began to fade and in 1923, the last Shaker died, leaving a shell of Pleasant Hill.
About 40 years later, a preservation group was formed to restore 34 of the over 260 original buildings built between 1809-1875 and saved 3,000-acres of farmland. It's the country's largest private collection of original 19th-century buildings. Today, you can enjoy talks, stories, demonstrations, hands-on activities and more going on in The Historic Centre
Farm and The Preserve
. If time permits, cruise along the Kentucky River Palisades aboard the Dixie Belle paddle wheeler
Turn in for the night at Gratz Park Inn
. Located in the heart of downtown Lexington, the pet-friendly
boutique hotel offers 41 rooms, a garden courtyard, a Guest Experience Coordinator and more. Sit down for a meal at Distilled at Gratz Park
. Indulge with Fried Chicken N' Gravy for breakfast, Vanilla Bourbon Roasted Parsnip Soup for lunch or Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin for dinner. A brunch menu is available as well.
photos personal collection