The first impression as you drive near Lexington is “What gorgeous horse farms they have!” And, for sure, the horse business is prominent in this part of the country — racing, feeding, doctoring, studying, grooming, training, riding, encouraging a boy horse and a girl horse to make a baby horse. You get the idea. We saw many horse barns that were more elaborate than mansions in other parts of the country. And, oh that lush bluegrass!
Racing season is in high gear at Keeneland in April and October, but many other activities happen there throughout the year. You can also visit Kentucky Horse Park and the American Saddlebred Museum for first-class displays and demonstrations, you can tour The Thoroughbred Center, and many of those beautiful horse farms you passed welcome guests to come in for closer looks. After all, this IS the “Horse Capital of the World!”
Horse decor is everywhere — in gift shops, in artworks, and even in the shapes of candies, candles and lamps. Horse lovers, this is a place you will love.
Probably the second most popular thing on the minds of Lexingtonians would be University of Kentucky basketball. Yes, they are a part of the SEC, and their football team does play other teams in the conference, but their main bragging rights come from the basketball court, specifically Rupp Arena. They have won eight national championships under five different coaches, the latest one was in 2012. So, visitors can expect to see a lot of Kentucky blue and wildcat paraphernalia in store windows.
Lexington has plenty of connections to people in American history, too. Ashland, the estate of famous Kentucky statesmen Henry Clay, is located at 120 Sycamore Road and is open for tours through the 18-room mansion and the 20 acres remaining of this plantation. The Mary Todd Lincoln Home, at 578 West Main Street, was where Mary lived as a girl, and later she brought husband Abraham and their children for a three-week visit with the Todd family. Very informative tours are also conducted at this site.
If you want a place to stay that is itself full of fascinating history, antique reproduction furniture, comfort and an ideal location, consider the Gratz Park Inn, 120 West Second Street, in the heart of Lexington’s historic district. Restaurants and shops are within easy walking distance, in addition to the campus of Transylvania University.
Based on the recommendations of friends, we wanted to try several foods associated with Lexington. The first was a Kentucky Hot Brown — an open-faced sandwich with slices of turkey and ham, covered with cheese that is melted and topped with bacon and slices of tomatoes. We sampled this concoction at Winchell’s, along with fried banana peppers and Derby pie. The Kentucky Derby is actually run in Louisville, of course, but Derby pie is served in Lexington as well. Think rich chess pie with chocolate chips and pecans. Oh my.
At a very neat place called Windy Corner Market, we sampled chili, corncake, and a recommended appetizer of beer cheese with soft pretzels and raw veggies. It was tasty, smooth and creamy.
And, once we heard of a place called Old Kentucky Chocolates, we knew we’d need to visit it as well. We didn’t try them, but we spotted the Bourbon Cherries — definitely a connection to Lexington’s place on the Bourbon Trail.
We found other great restaurants and shops and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in Lexington. I recommend that you put it on your list of places to spend a few days in the near future.