35 Things To Do in Lexington

By Janet Benoir – May 20, 2024

Located in the scenic Bluegrass Region, Lexington, Kentucky is a treasure trove of experiences. It’s a place where history, culture, and natural beauty come together to offer something for everyone. Whether you’re drawn to its famous horse farms, historic properties, or renowned bourbon distilleries, here are the top 35 activities that showcase the best of Lexington.

Kentucky Horse Park

At the heart of horse country, the Kentucky Horse Park offers an unparalleled glimpse into equestrian life. Here, visitors can indulge in the excitement of horseback riding or spend time with some of the world’s most famous champion thoroughbreds. The park is a living museum, celebrating the bond between man and horse throughout history.

Kentucky Horse Park

Each visit promises engaging demonstrations, educational tours, and a chance to explore extensive trails on horseback. With museums, galleries, and live shows dedicated to all things equine, this park is not just for horse lovers but for anyone wanting to experience the cultural heritage of Kentucky’s beloved horse industry.

Keeneland

Keeneland transcends the typical racetrack experience, embodying the rich tradition and history of horse racing in Kentucky. During the vibrant spring and fall meet, enthusiasts from across the globe converge here to witness the majestic thoroughbreds compete, creating an electrifying atmosphere. The venue’s meticulously kept grounds and classic architecture enhance the timeless charm, reflecting Kentucky’s profound equestrian legacy.

Keeneland

Beyond the races, Keeneland offers a tranquil retreat where visitors can explore the grounds and delve into the sport’s complexities and its historical roots through guided tours. This iconic venue not only allows you to experience the thrill of horse racing but also provides a deeper understanding of why it’s celebrated as “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”

Historic Homes

Explore the rich history of Lexington by visiting the historic homes of some notable figures. The Mary Todd Lincoln House offers a glimpse into the life of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, showcasing her childhood and family life through preserved interiors and personal belongings. Nearby, the Henry Clay Estate, known as Ashland, delves into the life and times of the influential statesman dubbed “The Great Compromiser,” in the 1800s details.

Historic Homes

Visiting these homes offers a narrative about the people who shaped American history and the society they influenced. As you walk through these estates, you gain a tangible sense of connection to the past and a deeper appreciation for the pivotal figures who played a role in national affairs. These experiences promise to enrich your understanding of American heritage and the development of its political and social landscapes.

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky (UK) is more than an educational institution; it is a vibrant center of tradition, sports, and student life. Visitors to the campus can enjoy a beautiful mix of historic and modern architecture set amidst well-kept landscapes, with various events and activities appealing to diverse interests.

University of Kentucky

For sports fans, attending a basketball game at Rupp Arena is a must-do. As the home of the UK Wildcats, the arena bursts into life on game days with passionate fans dressed in blue and white, creating an electrifying atmosphere that embodies the spirited collegiate culture of Lexington.

Railbird Festival 

Immerse yourself in the Railbird Festival at Keeneland, where music meets Lexington’s vibrant cultural scene against the iconic backdrop of the historic racetrack. This festival is not just a music event but a celebration of Kentucky’s spirit, featuring an array of major artists across various genres. The live music and cultural richness transform the venue into a dynamic festival space that resonates with the energy and creativity of Lexington.

Railbird Festival

Feel the pulse of the crowd and the rhythm of the music at the Railbird Festival, where each note played is a testament to the city’s lively artistic vibe. Beyond the tunes, the festival offers a slice of local life with culinary delights and handcrafted goods available for festival-goers. It’s a deep dive into the essence of Lexington’s rich culture.

Old Friends Horse Retirement Farm

Old Friends Horse Retirement Farm offers an opportunity to visit a sanctuary where retired racehorses live out their days in tranquility. It’s a place that honors the contributions of these equine athletes, providing them with a peaceful retreat amid Kentucky’s picturesque landscapes. This farm is a living tribute to their racing legacies and a sanctuary where they receive the care and respect they deserve after their competitive days are over.

Old Friends Horse Retirement Farm

During your visit, you can meet these legendary horses and learn about their storied pasts from the dedicated caregivers who share each horse’s history and current life. This experience is more than just an enjoyable outing; it’s an educational journey that offers a deeper understanding of these majestic animals and supports a commendable cause dedicated to their well-being.

Lexington Farmers’ Markets

Explore the vibrant Lexington Farmers’ Markets, a lively hub where Kentucky’s agricultural essence comes alive. Local farmers and artisans display a colorful array of fresh produce, handmade goods, and culinary delights, ranging from crisp vegetables to artisan cheeses and homemade preserves. This market is a bustling scene of activity that encapsulates the rich bounty of the region.

Lexington Farmers’ Markets

Don’t miss the excitement of Thursday Night Live at the market, where the atmosphere buzzes with live music and a festive vibe. This event offers a fantastic opportunity to mingle with locals, savor farm-to-table treats, and experience the true community spirit of Lexington. It’s an essential experience for visitors seeking to immerse themselves in the local culture and lifestyle.

Kentucky River

Experience a river adventure in Lexington as you paddle down the scenic Kentucky River. This journey is ideal for those seeking to connect with nature and enjoy some physical activity. As you glide through gentle currents, the river will unveil breathtaking views of verdant banks rich in wildlife and scattered with historical landmarks.

Kentucky River

Choose between a canoe or kayak to navigate these tranquil waters, offering a serene getaway from the urban rush. This aquatic excursion not only soothes the soul but also invigorates the spirit, allowing you to experience the splendid natural beauty of Kentucky in an exhilarating new way.

The Arboretum

The Arboretum, a 100-acre botanical wonder in Lexington, offers a vibrant display of nature’s diversity through its themed gardens, educational exhibits, and scenic walking paths. Each season transforms the Arboretum, from the fiery reds and oranges of fall foliage to the vivid blooms and fresh greens of spring. This natural sanctuary provides a perfect backdrop for reflection, strolls, and family picnics, immersing visitors in the beauty of the changing seasons.

The Arboretum

Spring at The Arboretum ushers in a burst of life with flowers blooming and trees budding in an array of vibrant colors, while autumn wraps the landscape in a warm, fiery embrace. It’s an ideal spot for those seeking tranquility and a touch of nature’s magic in the heart of Lexington, inviting everyone to enjoy the rhythmic change and beauty of the environment.

Lexington Cemetery

Lexington Cemetery is more than a burial ground; it is a tranquil oasis where history echoes among the ancient trees and ornate gravestones. As you stroll through this living museum, you’re surrounded by the stories of notable figures like Henry Clay and Adolph Rupp, their plots woven into the serene landscape that doubles as an arboretum and art gallery.

Lexington Cemetery

This picturesque site bursts with the hues of seasonal blooms and the songs of various bird species, creating a vibrant tapestry of natural beauty. It offers a peaceful retreat from the urban hustle, providing visitors a space to reflect on the rich tapestry of nature and history seamlessly blended within its grounds.

Red Mile Harness Track

Experience the thrill of harness racing at Red Mile Harness Track, one of the oldest of its kind in the United States. As Standardbred horses thunder down the track, pulling their sulkies at exhilarating speeds, you’ll be enveloped in an atmosphere charged with excitement, offering a distinct take on Kentucky’s famed racing scene.

Red Mile Harness Track

A visit to Red Mile not only allows you to witness the raw speed and power of harness racing but also offers a deep dive into the local culture and storied history of the sport. Whether you’re a seasoned racing enthusiast or a first-time visitor, the vibrant, pulse-pounding ambiance of race day at Red Mile guarantees a memorable and immersive experience.

Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

Explore the pristine Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, where over 734 acres of protected landscapes create a sanctuary for diverse wildlife and a retreat for nature enthusiasts. Hike through varied ecosystems, from lush meadows to dense forests, leading to breathtaking views of the Kentucky River Palisades. This isn’t just any park visit—it’s a deep dive into Kentucky’s rich natural beauty, offering a refreshing escape into the wild.

Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

During your visit to Raven Run, you’ll also discover historical treasures from the 19th century scattered throughout the land. These relics share stories of the area’s past residents, enhancing your walking experience with historical insights. Raven Run is a unique destination where nature and history intertwine, providing a mix of educational and exploratory experiences in the tranquility of Kentucky’s great outdoors.

Aviation Museum of Kentucky

At the Aviation Museum of Kentucky, situated at the Blue Grass Airport, aviation history takes flight. The museum boasts a wide array of aircraft and artifacts that trace the journey of flight from its pioneering days to contemporary advancements. Its exhibits offer a captivating exploration of aviation, appealing to visitors young and old.

Aviation Museum of Kentucky

The museum doesn’t just display aircraft; it enriches visitors’ understanding through educational programs and detailed tours focused on the technical and historical milestones of aviation. Celebrating Kentucky’s significant contributions to air travel, this museum is a treasure trove for enthusiasts and history buffs, making it an essential destination for anyone fascinated by the storied past of those who soared the skies.

Triangle Park 

Located in the bustling heart of downtown Lexington, Triangle Park offers a peaceful retreat with its expansive green spaces and captivating water features. Visitors can relax by the soothing cascades of the fountains or engage in the lively atmosphere during the winter when the park becomes a charming ice skating rink, perfect for family outings or romantic evenings.

Triangle Park

The park is more than just a place for quiet reflection; it’s a vibrant venue for community events and social interactions. Whether enjoying a picnic on a warm day or skating under twinkling lights, Triangle Park beautifully combines natural scenery with the convenience of urban life, making it an ideal spot for both relaxation and entertainment.

Lexington Opera House 

The Lexington Opera House is a pinnacle of cultural refinement, showcasing an array of performances from Broadway plays to intimate concerts. Its lavish interiors and superb acoustics offer an evening of elegance, with the venue’s grand architecture amplifying the allure of each event, transforming them into truly special occasions.

Lexington Opera House

Visitors to the Opera House are treated to a vivid representation of Lexington’s thriving arts scene. Each performance is carefully chosen to create an engaging and rich experience where the historical grandeur of the venue meets the exceptional talents of the performers. For anyone keen on experiencing the artistic heart of the city, the Opera House is an indispensable destination.

The Kentucky Theatre 

The Kentucky Theatre in downtown Lexington is not just a venue for movies; it’s a gateway to a bygone era. With its lavish interior and vintage marquee, the theater offers a nostalgic escape with a lineup of classic and independent films that transform each screening into a special occasion. This historic gem enhances the cinematic experience, making every visit a memorable trip into the past.

The Kentucky Theatre

Beyond its regular showings, the Kentucky Theatre also hosts various special events and film festivals that spotlight different genres and cultures. These gatherings provide an opportunity for visitors to connect with the community and immerse themselves in the collective excitement and appreciation of cinema. It’s an experience that transcends mere movie watching, celebrating the art of film in a setting that unites film enthusiasts from all walks of life.

The Summit at Fritz Farm

The Summit at Fritz Farm elevates the traditional shopping experience by blending high-end retail with the charm of an outdoor setting. This meticulously crafted mall is a place to savor the day. With a variety of local boutiques and international brands, the Summit caters to diverse tastes, while its open-air layout and modern rustic design offer a delightful backdrop for leisurely spending the day shopping and relaxing.

The Summit at Fritz Farm

Beyond retail, The Summit at Fritz Farm serves as a lively community hub, hosting an array of events and activities that enhance its appeal. From outdoor concerts to seasonal festivals, it stands as a vibrant center for shopping, dining, and socializing. The dining options are extensive, ranging from trendy cafes to traditional eateries, ensuring that every visit is as tasty as it is enjoyable.

Gallery Hop 

Lexington’s Gallery Hop, held bi-monthly on the third Friday, offers a feast for the senses for art enthusiasts and newcomers alike. Wander through vibrant galleries each featuring a diverse mix of artistic expressions, from modern masterpieces by emerging talents to timeless classics. This event not only showcases the city’s rich artistic heritage but also transforms the heart of Lexington into a lively hub of creativity and community interaction.

Gallery Hop

During each Gallery Hop, the streets buzz with the excitement of artists and art lovers gathered to celebrate Lexington’s dynamic art scene. It’s an opportunity to meet the creators, engage in conversations about their work, or simply immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere. Each event provides a fresh perspective on the local culture, making it an essential experience for anyone visiting or living in Lexington.

21C Museum Hotel

The 21C Museum Hotel in Lexington offers more than just a place to stay; it’s a vibrant fusion of contemporary art and luxury hospitality. Open to both guests and the public, this hotel features rotating art exhibitions from international artists, turning every visit into a unique cultural experience. The dynamic installations and luxurious accommodations make it a prime destination for art enthusiasts and travelers looking for an engaging and memorable stay.

21C Museum Hotel

Each space within the 21C Museum Hotel is carefully curated to tell a story, inviting guests to immerse themselves in a world of artistic exploration and intellectual engagement. Whether you’re planning an overnight stay or just stopping by to soak in the art, the hotel ensures a deeply enriching experience that captivates and inspires, leaving a lasting impression long after your departure.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill offers a peaceful retreat into the lives of the Shakers, a community celebrated for their simple living, skilled craftsmanship, and forward-thinking designs. As you stroll through the restored 19th-century buildings set against idyllic landscapes, you’ll witness live demonstrations that showcase the Shakers’ innovative approaches to everyday living and their dedication to sustainability and communal living.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

The village is a haven of tranquility with its sprawling trails and lush gardens. Whether you’re delving into architectural wonders, taking part in hands-on craft workshops, or simply soaking in the serene atmosphere, Shaker Village provides a meaningful escape from contemporary life. It stands out as an enriching destination for both history enthusiasts and nature lovers looking to explore a distinctive part of American heritage.

The Grove Lexington

The Grove Lexington serves as a sophisticated retreat right in the city’s heart, where visitors and locals alike can unwind in style after a busy day. This fashionable bar and lounge boasts a selection of fine wines and craft cocktails, set against a backdrop of elegant decor and a welcoming atmosphere, making it a top choice for those looking to enhance their evening.

The Grove Lexington

Ideal for a romantic date or a casual meet-up with friends, The Grove offers a serene setting to enjoy a quiet glass of wine or a specially crafted cocktail. With knowledgeable staff on hand to ensure every beverage is tailored to your liking, The Grove combines exceptional service with a cozy ambiance for a memorable night out.

Headley-Whitney Museum

Visit the Headley-Whitney Museum, located just outside of Lexington, where a stunning collection of jewelry and decorative arts awaits in an architecturally remarkable setting. Surrounded by tranquil gardens perfect for wandering, the museum offers a unique blend of artistic and natural beauty, providing an ideal backdrop for both reflection and exploration.

Headley-Whitney Museum

Inside, you’ll find a diverse range of exhibits from exquisite Fabergé pieces to intricately designed dollhouses, appealing to lovers of fine crafts and miniatures. With regularly updated special exhibitions, each visit to the Headley-Whitney Museum offers new insights and discoveries, ensuring a continually refreshing experience filled with creativity and elegance.

Explore McConnell Springs

Explore the historic and natural allure of McConnell Springs, the birthplace of Lexington. This 26-acre park is not only a gateway to the city’s origins but also a beautiful retreat into nature. Here, visitors can wander along trails dotted with educational panels that tell the tale of the area’s rich history and its first water sources, including the storied Blue Hole and the Boils.

Explore McConnell Springs

McConnell Springs offers a unique blend of verdant landscapes and flowing waters, enriched by its historical significance. The park’s well-maintained paths lead through lush greenery to natural springs, providing a serene escape that connects the past with the present. Whether you’re a history buff or a nature lover, this park provides a perfect backdrop to learn about Lexington’s beginnings while enjoying the tranquility of its preserved natural environment.

Jacobson Park

Jacobson Park invites visitors to immerse themselves in a variety of outdoor activities set against the backdrop of expansive skies and a large, shimmering lake. Whether you’re looking to engage in a serene day of fishing, take to the water in a paddle boat, or enjoy a lively family picnic, this park offers ample space and facilities to accommodate all.

Jacobson Park

For families, the park is a haven of joy with its extensive playgrounds designed to captivate children’s imaginations and provide safe, fun-filled play areas. The park also hosts community events throughout the year, making it a central hub of activity and enjoyment for locals and tourists alike.

Bluegrass Distillers

Step into the world of traditional bourbon making at Bluegrass Distillers, a craft distillery located in the heart of Lexington. Here, visitors can witness the meticulous process of distilling, from mashing to fermentation to aging, which results in richly flavored, high-quality spirits.

Bluegrass Distillers

Tours of the facility offer an insightful look at the art of bourbon production and conclude with a tasting session where you can savor the distinct notes of their handcrafted products. It’s an educational and delightful experience for spirit enthusiasts looking to deepen their appreciation for Kentucky’s famed bourbon heritage.

The Break Room at Pepper

Step into The Break Room at Pepper, where the atmosphere buzzes with the eclectic energy of a reclaimed industrial space turned social hub. This spot offers a uniquely relaxed setting, inviting you to unwind with a refreshing beverage. The warehouse’s raw aesthetic, paired with modern touches, creates an inviting backdrop for both lively gatherings and serene moments alone.

The Break Room at Pepper

At The Break Room, the community comes first, hosting an array of events that showcase local talents and bring people together. Whether it’s a live music night, an art showcase, or a casual meet-up among friends, this venue provides the perfect blend of entertainment and relaxation. It’s not just a bar; it’s a vibrant community space that reflects Lexington’s spirit of inclusivity and creativity.

Malibu Jack’s

Malibu Jack’s offers an escape into a world of fun, packed with activities that cater to all ages. This indoor theme park is a family favorite challenge your skills in vibrant arcade games, or enjoy a friendly round of mini-golf. It’s a place where laughter and joy are around every corner, making it a perfect spot for family outings or just a day out with friends.

Malibu Jack’s

Beyond the games, Malibu Jack’s atmosphere is buzzing with energy, making every visit a memorable adventure. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, hosting a party, or just looking for a day of fun, Malibu Jack’s delivers excitement and smiles for everyone involved. Dive into this playful paradise and make lasting memories with your loved ones.

Lexington Art League

The Lexington Art League serves as a vibrant center for contemporary art, showcasing cutting-edge exhibitions from local and regional artists. Beyond just displaying art, this hub fosters dialogue and deeper understanding through its thought-provoking installations and rich visual narratives, positioning itself as a cornerstone of cultural exploration in Lexington. Visitors are invited to delve into the diversity and depth of modern artistry, experiencing the dynamic essence of the art community.

Lexington Art League

Additionally, the Lexington Art League offers a range of interactive events that engage and connect the art community. From artist talks and creative workshops to community collaborations, these events aim to inspire, challenge, and educate, fostering a profound appreciation for the arts. In this picturesque setting, art transcends mere observation, offering an immersive experience that enriches the cultural fabric of Lexington.

The Plantory

The Plantory in Lexington is more than just a coworking space; it’s a beacon for those dedicated to social change and community betterment. Here, you can participate in workshops and events designed to advance social justice or collaborate with local activists and innovators. It’s an ideal spot for visitors looking to make a meaningful impact during their stay.

The Plantory

The Plantory is a hub of creativity and social engagement, buzzing with ideas that aim to improve community life. Whether you’re attending a seminar on urban development, a non-profit management workshop, or simply networking with like-minded individuals, The Plantory provides a dynamic atmosphere for connection and growth. It offers more than just a place to visit—it’s a chance to become part of Lexington’s progressive community.

Victorian Square

Victorian Square in Lexington, Kentucky, is a beautifully restored block of historic buildings that now serves as a delightful destination for shopping and dining. As you stroll through this quaint area, you’ll be transported back in time, blending the old-world charm of Lexington’s rich history with the modern appeal of boutique shops, artisan eateries, and vibrant galleries.

Victorian Square

Every shop in Victorian Square has its own unique story, reflected in its captivating architecture and delightful offerings. Enjoy a gourmet meal at a chic café or explore local art that adds to the square’s charm. This essential Lexington experience invites visitors to linger and soak in the ambiance of days gone by, making it a must-visit for anyone wanting to experience the city’s historic charm and contemporary culture.

The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center

The Lyric Theatre is a vital center of African American culture in Lexington, celebrated for its rich history and diverse offerings. This historical venue features an impressive lineup that includes jazz concerts, dramatic plays, and engaging community dialogues. It not only entertains but also serves as an educational platform with various programs and exhibitions that aim to enrich and inspire the community.

The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center

Beyond its role in entertainment, The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center stands as a communal space that emphasizes cultural preservation and education. It actively contributes to celebrating and understanding Lexington’s African American heritage, making it an essential destination for those looking to immerse themselves in the local culture and its historical narratives.

Legacy Trail

Explore the scenic beauty of Kentucky by journeying along the Legacy Trail, a 12-mile stretch that connects downtown Lexington to the Kentucky Horse Park. Ideal for biking or walking, this trail offers a tranquil retreat into nature, allowing you to enjoy the serene landscapes and spot local wildlife as you traverse through lush fields and beside meandering creeks.

Legacy Trail

The Legacy Trail is more than just a pathway; it’s an immersive experience that binds you to Kentucky’s picturesque outdoors. Winding through vibrant green spaces and past gentle streams, it provides the perfect setting for a day of leisure or adventure. For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts visiting Lexington, this trail is a delightful must-do, offering a unique way to connect with the natural beauty of the region.

Lexington Public Library

The Lexington Public Library transcends its traditional role by serving as a bustling cultural center filled with learning and entertainment opportunities. From engaging author readings and historical lectures to lively children’s story times, the library is integral to Lexington’s cultural fabric, welcoming everyone to connect, discover, and grow.

Lexington Public Library

The library’s diverse programs cater to all interests, whether you want to delve into Lexington’s rich history or participate in interactive art exhibits. It’s a place where knowledge meets community, creating a dynamic environment for exploration and engagement for people of all ages.

The Thirsty Fox

The Thirsty Fox captures the essence of Lexington’s vibrant nightlife with its speakeasy-style ambiance and an impressive selection of Kentucky bourbon. This cozy bar provides the perfect backdrop for an evening of relaxation and indulgence in finely crafted cocktails. It’s an intimate spot that invites both lively conversations with new acquaintances and quiet evenings with close friends.

The Thirsty Fox

As you enjoy a signature bourbon cocktail, the warm and inviting atmosphere of The Thirsty Fox offers an ideal setting for both making new memories and cherishing old ones. Tucked away as a hidden gem, it embodies Lexington’s rich distilling heritage within a modern and welcoming environment, making it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the local culture.

The Barrel House Distillery

Discover the essence of Kentucky’s distilling culture at The Barrel House Distillery in the historic Distillery District. This boutique distillery offers insightful tours that reveal the intricate craft of spirit making and tastings that highlight the rich, complex flavors of artisanal spirits. The rustic setting provides a perfect backdrop, embodying Lexington’s deep distilling roots and creating an immersive journey through the city’s storied past.

The Barrel House Distillery

At The Barrel House Distillery, visitors gain a hands-on understanding of the distillation process, from the meticulous care taken in each step to the final product’s intricate flavors. This educational experience is paired with the opportunity to taste and appreciate the craftsmanship that characterizes Kentucky’s renowned distillery tradition, making it both a learning adventure and a sensory delight.

Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, foodie, or arts enthusiast, Lexington, Kentucky offers an array of activities that promise to enrich your visit with unforgettable experiences. Each corner of this city brims with the promise of discovery, making it a perfect destination for travelers seeking both adventure and the warmth of Southern hospitality.