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8 Quick Things to do in Lexington, Kentucky - California Globetrotter

8 Quick Things to Do in Lexington

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Many people have mentioned that they had never even considered visiting Kentucky before as they wouldn’t know what to do there. Is there anything to DO in Kentucky?

Until recently I also was under the same impression. The only thing I knew about Kentucky prior to visiting was that the Kentucky Derby and KFC originate from, of all things… Kentucky! Beyond that, I had no idea what there was to see or do.

Well then why on earth did I go to Kentucky?

My parents like to move. A lot. And in 2016, they moved to Kentucky and we managed to make it home for Christmas. So I searched and searched on Pinterest for things to do in Kentucky. And Lexington came up.

Lexington is not the capital of Kentucky, as one might think. Nor is Louisville. Actually, that title goes to Frankfort. But as Kentucky’s second largest city, we thought we would give it a go!

Turns out Lexington is nicknamed both “The Thoroughbred City” and “The Horse Capital of the World” and is best known for its horse racing. 

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Here are some quick things we found to do with an afternoon in Lexington

1. Visit the Old Friends Farm (25 min outside of Lexington)

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Ok, ok, this one isn’t technically IN Lexington, but if you’re headed to Lexington, then you HAVE TO visit this non-profit retirement farm for Thoroughbred horses, many of whom have either ran in the big name races such as the Kentucky Derby or who have had a parent who did.

Founded in 2003 by former Boston Globe film critic Michael Blowen after discovering that Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand had perished been sent to a slaughterhouse in 2002. Today, Old Friends cares for more than 160 horses across three states who have retired from racing and breeding.

Why EVERYONE Should Visit Old Friends Farm

Book a tour to visit these beautiful creatures who now live out the rest of their days happy as a clam, chopping on carrots from visitors who spoil them rotten and frolicking in the grass.

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Silver Charm

My favorite moment, besides getting the chance to feed the horses as many carrots as we wanted, was meeting the horse (Popcorn Deelites) who played Seabiscuit in the movie.

Address:

Website: Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm

Tours: $10 for adults, $5 6-12 and children under 5 are free

  • Winter: November 4 – March 14 – 11am daily
  • Summer: March 15 – November 4 – 10am, 1pm, 3pm daily

2. Stroll Through the Thoroughbred Park

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As you’re driving through town, pull over and take a stroll through this park dedicated to the unique history of Thoroughbreds. You’ll find 42 plaques honoring historic figures in the Thoroughbred Industry, such as Queen Elizabeth II and George Washington as well as 13 life-sized horse sculptures.

Address: On the corner of Midland Ave and East Main Street

3. Meander Through ‘The Square’

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Since the 1880’s, the Square has been the heart and soul of Lexington flourishing with restaurants, saloons, hotels and an opera house.

A modern renovation in 1985 brought them all together, preserving the Victorian era buildings. The original decorative metal ceilings, ironwork and exterior balconies have been preserved. Today, it is the perfect blend of both historical and modern architecture.

Address: Main Street and Broadway (US 68)

4. See How Candy is Made at Old Kentucky Candy

Lexington’s own Willy Wonka, Don Hurt founded the Old Kentucky Candy shop 50 years ago with a batch of peanut brittle. And if you’re from Kentucky, you know nothing goes better together than Bourbon and Chocolate. Since 1966, Don has been using Jim Beam in his confections.

Take a tour and watch how candy is made up close and personal and not behind the glass. Get the chance to try some of the best selling chocolates

Address: 450 Southland Dr, Lexington, KY 40503, USA

Website: Old Kentucky Candy

Tours: Monday – Friday 10am and 2pm

5. Watch a Movie at the Kentucky Theater

Opened in 1922, this historic theater still operates and you can watch independent films. To top it off, you can have a beer or glass of wine while watching the movie!

Website: Kentucky Theater

Address: 214 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40507, USA

Prices:

Before 6:00pm:
All Seats $6.00

After 6:00pm:
General Admission – $8.00
Children under 13 – $6.00
Seniors 60 & over – $6.00

6. Find Some Street Art

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Street art (or wall murals) are popping up all over the place as artists take to the streets to express themselves by transforming dull corners of our neighborhoods into vibrant masterpieces. Turn any corner and you’re bound to find one!

Most of the wall murals I found in Lexington were on West Short Street and I do have to admit, the wall art here is very peculiar!

7. Visit the Mary Todd Lincoln House

Prior to becoming the wife to one of America’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd was born and raised in Lexington. Built in 1803 to 1806 as an inn, Mary Todd’s father bought the house in 1832 for his family. She often visited her girlhood home. The Georgian-style brick house is furnished with pieces from the 1830s and 1840s and displays family portraits as well as personal items of the Lincoln-Todd families.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to visit on this visit to Kentucky as they were closed for the winter.

Website: Mary Todd Lincoln House

Address: 578 West Main Street Lexington, KY 40507

Tours: $12 Adults, $5 Children 6-12 yrs, Children ages 5 yrs and under are free

  • March 15 – November 30 Mon. – Sat. (closed Sun.)
  • Tours hourly 10AM – 3PM

8. Do a Bourbon Distillery Tour

Town Branch / Alltech Brewing

Woodford Reserve

Wild Turkey

Four Roses

If you’re looking for some extra guides to prepare your trip, we enjoyed these the following items, both before and after our trip to Kentucky! The first gave us a lot of history and information about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail while the second we purchased along our journey for some home cooked meals in the future! And of course, my faithful Travel Guide Bible, the DK Travel Guide: USA!

        

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!

Other posts related to Kentucky:

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Author: California Globetrotter

At 14 I started traveling the world with my parents and was hooked! By 21 I was studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. By 26 I sold all of my belongings and bought a one way ticket to Germany to teach English. Little did I know, I'd meet the love of my life and end up traveling to the most romantic and idyllic towns in Europe and becoming a long-term expat in Bavaria! My name is Lorelei and I'm just your typical CaliGirl, Sunset Chaser, Fairytale Dreamer, Dress Lover, Traveloholic, Beer Drinker!

31 thoughts on “8 Quick Things to Do in Lexington

  1. Pingback: Where to Find Louisville’s Street Art | California Globetrotter

  2. Pingback: An Intensive Beginner’s Guide to Louisville, Kentucky | California Globetrotter

  3. Pingback: A COMPLETE Guide to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail | California Globetrotter

  4. There is definitely more to do there than I would have expected. #citytripping

  5. What a sad tale about poor old Ferdinand! Sounds as though it’s led to happier things, though. Fascinating post – I never knew you could use bourbon in sweet-making, for instance! #citytripping

  6. Another great introduction to somewhere I don’t know well – the street art looks interesting, amazing how it’s popping up everywhere. #citytripping

  7. Thanks for this guide, I’m getting to know Kentucky a bit more through your posts! I’d definitely be visiting the Old Friends farm. Such a wonderful concept. Thank you for linking to #citytripping

  8. Definitely looks like you could spend a little time there and find enough to do following your guide. #citytripping

  9. seems interesting!:) #farawayfiles

  10. The retirement farm alone is enticing enough for me to want to visit Lexington! What an interesting fascination in horse racing to dedicate statues and plaques to them. #CityTripping

  11. I loved down town Lexington when we were there last year, although it looked a little different under 3 foot of snow. I thought all the street art was great and there were some fantastic bourbon bars for an evening out. #citytripping

  12. I’d love to see those horses and stroll down those streets. Not sure about Bourbon and chocolate though 🙂 Those streets really look like something out of a film. Thanks so much for sharing it on #FarawayFiles

  13. I’d love to visit the old friends farm and walk around the square, admiring those lovely 19th century buildings. I am enjoying reading about your travel exploration around Kentucky, a state that I never thought of visiting before. #CityTripping

  14. Nice to know there are things to do in Kentucky! I also have been under the assumption that there is nothing to do there. As we are trying to visit all 50 states before the kids graduate from high school (we’ve got awhile since they’re 3 and 1), we’ll just go straight to Lexington. #wkendtravelinspiration

  15. Kentucky is a beautiful state with lots to do! Especially if you like horses, country music, outdoors and bourbon. To me, Lexington is all about UK basketball (not the United Kingdom. The University of Kentucky. Wildcats.) It is seriously business down there. We saw U2 at Rupp Arena back in the day when we lived in Cincinnati (another big basketball town!) Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles! Erin

  16. These are all great ideas and I want to do all of them! Top of my list would be the Thoroughbred Park and Mary Todd’s House. I hope you get to see Mary Todd’s house next time you are there. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  17. Lexington seems like a great place to get a feel for Kentucky. The only two things I really know about Kentucky are the derby and bourbon so good to see both feature here haha. Thanks for continuing to show me places I’ve yet to consider visiting. #wkendtravelinspiration

  18. I never thought there would be much to see and do in Kentucky, but your post proves otherwise. At the top of my list would be seeing the street art followed by seeing how candy is being made. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  19. Great list! The horse farm seems so appropriate, the horses have earned a peaceful retirement! My aunt has been talking about wanting to do the Kentucky Bourbon Trail lately, thanks for the info!

  20. Pingback: Why EVERYONE Should Visit Old Friends Farm | California Globetrotter

  21. Like you, I don’t know much about Kentucky other than the derby and KFC 🙂 This is an interesting and unique list of things to do. Would love to visit the horse farm and the candy shop and see street art. My husband would be all over that bourbon trail. Great list!

  22. Kentucky is one of those places I’d love to visit simply because I know nothing about it (until now!).I’m not a horse person, but meeting the horse that played Seabiscuit would be really cool. #farawayfiles

  23. The Square looks super pretty and that street art is amazing! Ok, I’m sold 😉 #TheWeeklyPostcard

  24. I’ve got to say that I’m shocked that winning horses were being sent off to the slaughterhouse after retirement as late as 2002. Thank goodness for Old Friends Farm. I also think I’d enjoy wandering around The Square since I like Victorian era buildings. Thanks for linking up with #WkendTravelInspiration.

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