Today I am sharing a guide of what to do in Lexington, Kentucky!
My friend Jenny and I just spend two nights in Lexington and in that time we managed to visit seven restaurants, three distilleries, one bar, one race track, and a street festival. There are so many things to do in Lexington – and I already have a list of things I want to see on my next visit.
What to do in Lexington
There are several distilleries on the bourbon trail that are a short drive from Lexington. Buffalo Trace, Castle and Key, and Woodford Reserve are all and in Woodford County and within 45 minutes of Lexington. If you ask a local what to do in Lexington visiting a distillery will likely be the first thing they suggest.
The Distillery District
This bustling section of Lexington is home to the James E Pepper Distillery and Barrel House Distilling Co, and it gets its name since historically the area has been home to distilleries. Today you can find more than distilleries here, the Distillery District is home to Ethereal Brewing, Goodfellas, Middlefork Kitchen and Bar, and Crank & Boom. It’s a can’t miss section of Lexington, and a place where locals spend time.
Lexington is the “Horse Capital of the World” and a trip to Lexington isn’t complete until you visit the Keeneland Race Track. Keeneland is a National Historic Landmark and the grounds are open year round. The race track hosts thoroughbred races in April and October. Tours are available all year, and special behind-the-scenes racing tours are available in April and October when the races taking place. This is a can’t miss destination – make sure you put Keeneland on the top of your list when you are planning out what to do in Lexington!
The first two floors of this hotel in downtown Lexington are a museum! The collection rotates, and several people recommended that we go to the bar at Lockbox for a cocktail and then walk around seeing the art. The current exhibition features contemporary art.
The farm closes for the annual Yearling Sale – so we couldn’t visit during our trip, but it was highly recommended. The farm is nearly 100 years old and today it is a thoroughbred breeding and training farm. The farm is just beside Keeneland and there are tours available that take visitors to both Calument Farm and Keeneland.
Admire the Murals
Downtown Lexington is filled with street art! It seemed like nearly every block had a mural. You can find over 25 murals in Lexington – and the number keeps growing.
This large estate in downtown Lexington was home to Henry Clay, a lawyer and planter who served in both the United States Senate and House of Representatives. The estate was the site of Lexington’s largest Civil War engagement and today the mansion and grounds are open to tours.
The girlhood home of the First Lady is in downtown Lexington. This year there are special tours and events to celebrate the bicentennial of Mary Todd Lincoln’s birth.
Where to Eat and Drink in Lexington
This restaurant is right in the heart of the Distillery District, a section of Lexington that is perfect for a half day of exploring. We had dinner at Middlefork Bar and Kitchen and we loved it. The menu creatively blends global inspirations resulting in menu items like Cacio e Pepe Spätzle and Scallion and Cheddar Pancakes. We loved it, I highly recommend this restaurant.
If you like Mexican and Latin food, you will love Corto Lima. After visits to two distilleries, Jenny and I needed to eat. We feasted on queso, guacamole stuffed arepas, tacos, and elotes at Corto Lima. We loved every bite and I am wishing they had a Chicago location.
We didn’t have time to make it to Belle’s Cocktail House, but it was recommend a few times so I wanted to let you know about it. They are known for their cocktails and their rooftop with views of downtown Lexington.
Crank & Boom is the place to get ice cream. The scoop shop is located in the Distillery District beside Middlefork Kitchen Bar and James E Pepper. They offer a variety of composed sundaes and ice cream flights! And they take inspiration from their location and make bourbon ice cream! Jenny got a sundae with bourbon ice cream and I had a flight for 4 different ice creams. My favorite was the honey and bourbon.
Stella’s was serving up the local specialty, burgoo, at the Jefferson Street Soiree and of course we had to taste it! I hadn’t heard of burgoo before, and it seems to be one of the foods that everyone makes a bit differently. Burgoo is a soup that is usually it is made with with beef and lots of vegetables and it is thick like a stew. We loved it – it would be delicious on a cold day.
This cafeteria at the race track has seriously good Southern food. I feasted on grits, scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, and a biscuit! Get there early so that after breakfast you can go watch the Thoroughbred’s morning workout – it’s a Lexington tradition!
This low key bar has been repeatedly named one of the best bourbon bars in the South! We stopped in for a round of Old Fashions. Bluegrass Tavern is known as a place to try some hard to find bourbons.
Lockbox is the place to go for brunch. This restaurant within the 21c Museum Hotel serves up brunch with a Southern twist. I got baked eggs with cheesy grits and one of the best biscuits I have ever tasted. The breakfast potatoes are outstanding too.
I received several recommendations for this gastropub via Instagram. Jenny and I snacked on spicy fried cauliflower and beers before we went to the Jefferson Street Soiree.
We didn’t have time to make it here, but a trusted source recommended it. This pub is located in the Downtown Courthouse Entertainment District. The pub is named after Henry Clay, the statesman who helped to develop the Mint Julep and had it entered into congressional record as Kentucky’s official drink.
Annual Events in Lexington
Keeneland hosts thoroughbred races in April and October.
We were lucky to be in town for this one night event where restaurants and live music take over Jefferson Street.
Keeneland Yearling Sale
This annual event is where you can buy a thoroughbred. These colts and fillies cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a couple million!
Have you been to Lexington? I would love to hear about your recommendations for what to do in Lexington in the comments!
Read more about what to do in Lexington:
This post was sponsored by Visit Lex. The opinions expressed are my own.