20 Best Things to Do In Lexington (Kentucky)

Lexington is known as the Horse Capital of the World. This vibrant city is nestled in the heart of Kentucky’s scenic Bluegrass Region. There are various things to do in Lexington, Ky, and places to explore. You can explore the spectacular beauty of the Arboretum, enjoy hiking on numerous trails at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, and visit world-renowned Bluegrass horse farms and various historical landmarks. Lexington would be an excellent vacation destination for your family.

To make your trip to Lexington memorable, here is a list of the 20 best things to do, attractions, and places to visit in Lexington, Kentucky.

Lexington Ky Attractions:

Keeneland, things to do in Lexington ky
Image by David OhmerFollow / flickr

01. Keeneland, one of America’s most beautiful tracks:

Keeneland is located in the Horse Capital of the World. Founded in 1936, this National Historic Landmark host a wide variety of horse-related events annually, including the Blue Grass Stakes and the Phoenix Handicap. Horse races are held Wednesday-Sunday from April-October. Also, Keeneland is the world’s largest and most prominent Thoroughbred auction house.

It is one of America’s most beautiful tracks, with its tranquil setting and lovely stone fences and buildings. The extensive grounds of Keeneland comprise meticulous landscape, the paddock, Keene’s mansion, a training center, a combination of dirt and turf race tracks, and a prep area where visitors can view horses up-close just before the race.

You can enjoy a tour of the track and get to see the behind-the-scenes. If you are planning to watch a race, spend extra money to sit up in the grandstand. Also, during weekends, Keeneland is packed with people. It would be a good idea to plan for weekdays. Check out the official website for more information and to plan your visit.

Overall:

Watching a horse race at Keeneland would be one of the best things to do in Lexington ky. It is one of the most popular Lexington ky tourist attractions.

Address: 4201 Versailles Rd, Lexington, KY 40510.

02. Mary Todd Lincoln House:

Mary Todd Lincoln House is an early nineteenth-century home located in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. It is the first historic site restored in honor of a First Lady. Mary Todd Lincoln House is the girlhood home of Mary Todd, the first lady and the wife of the 16th President Abraham Lincoln. You can enjoy a self-guided tour of the house and the beautiful garden. 

This beautifully restored house has fourteen-room containing furniture, artifacts, and portraits from the Todd and Lincoln families. The beautiful gardens in the back contain trees, plants, herbs, and shrubs. In the museum, you will learn about the life of one of America’s most fascinating first ladies.

Mary Todd Lincoln House also includes a small gift shop on the 2nd floor featuring books and other souvenirs for sale. A couple of free parking spots are located directly behind the house. You can also park in the church parking lot directly across the alley from the house.

Check out the official website for more information and to plan your visit.

Overall:

Mary Todd Lincoln House would be one of the best places to visit in Lexington, Ky.

Address: 578 W Main St, Lexington, KY 40507.

03. Explore Kentucky Horse Park:

Kentucky Horse Park comprises over 1,200 acres of the horse farm, educational theme park, featuring competition, education, and exhibition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. At the park, visitors can visit the museum, see dozens of breeds of horses, enjoy horse-drawn tours, fun horseback and pony rides, and various horse shows and special events throughout the year.

The park’s International Museum is the world’s largest equestrian museum. The museum features permanent and featured exhibits, Al-Marah Arabian Horse Galleries, equestrian memorabilia, and to learn about American Saddlebreds. For children, the museum offers an interactive multimedia experience.

During the Main Season, you can enjoy the Parade of Breeds, the Big Barn Stall-Side Chat, and the Hall of Champions, a family-friendly spectacle to see magnificent champion horses of the racetrack on display.

You can also enjoy horseback trail rides, and the kids can enjoy pony rides. The park also features a specious campground with fire rings and picnic tables. Check out the official website for more information and to plan your visit.

Try to visit during park season and check the schedule before making your plan.

Overall:

Kentucky Horse Park is one of the most popular Lexington ky attractions. Visiting the park would be one of the top things to do in Lexington ky.

Address: 4089 Iron Works Pkwy, Lexington, KY 40511.

Aviation Museum of Kentucky
Image by Ken Mist / flickr

04. Visit the Aviation Museum of Kentucky:

The Aviation Museum of Kentucky is at the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky. It was first open to the public in 1995. The museum’s permanent collection showcases historic airplanes, photos, documents, and training equipment. The Aviation Museum of Kentucky features over 20,000 square feet of exhibit space, a library, a gift shop, the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame, and an aircraft restoration and repair shop.

The museum features interactive exhibits of military and civilian aircraft. Exhibits also include jet fighters, aircraft engines, sailplanes, satellites, and a wide range of scale aircraft models and artifacts. Check out the official website to plan your visit.

The most notable aircraft of the museum include an A-4 Skyhawk used by the Navy’s Blue Angels, a rare Crosley Moonbeam biplane, an Air Force T-38 supersonic trainer, and a Marine Corps F-4 Phantom fighter. You can enjoy flight simulators and try piloting a light plane and an Army helicopter.

Overall:

Visiting the Aviation Museum of Kentucky would be one of the fun things to do in Lexington ky.

Address: 4029 Airport Rd, Lexington, KY 40510.

The Arboretum, things to do in Lexington ky
Image by PEO ACWA / flickr

05. Explore the spectacular beauty of The Arboretum:

The Arboretum is Kentucky’s state botanical garden. Created in 1991, the 100 acres of stunning landscape feature gardens and natural areas. The Arboretum also features a “Walk Across Kentucky” section featuring plants and trees from Kentucky’s seven regions. It is a marvelous place where you can enjoy year-round activities with your entire family.

The beautiful gardens of the Arboretum include Home Demonstration Garden, all America Selection Trials Garden, the Rose Garden, horticulture display gardens, the Perennial Collection, the Fragrance Garden, Ground Cover Demonstration, Woody Plant Collection, and the Kentucky Children’s Garden.

The 2-acre Kentucky Children’s Garden encourages children to interact with many hands-on activities. It features small-sized representations of Kentucky’s landscapes. Also, the beautiful themed gardens include butterfly, vegetable, and transportation gardens.

The Arboretum would be a contemplative place to observe the natural environment. You will also find a memorial honoring the lives lost in the 2006 Flight 5191 crash. Check out the official website to plan your visit.

Children’s Garden hours: Wed.-Sat. 10 am-5 pm Admission: $3/person, and Admission is FREE to experience the grounds.

Overall:

Visiting the Arboretum would be one of the best free things to do in Lexington ky. 

Address: University of Kentucky, 500 Alumni Dr, Lexington, KY 40503.

06. Visit Kentucky’s first National Historic Landmark, Ashland – The Henry Clay Estate:

Ashland is Kentucky’s first National Historic Landmark. It’s an early 19th-century plantation home of U.S. statesman Henry Clay. This 17-acre National Historic Landmark once grew hemp, tobacco, and grain. Ashland now stands as a museum where you can enjoy a tour of the reconstructed 18-room mansion, grounds, and beautiful gardens.

Ashland is filled with family belongings and memorabilia from all five generations of the Clay family. You will enjoy a tour of the historic outbuildings, gardens, trees, and walking paths. Ashland also includes a Museum Store that features a great selection of books and gifts. Check out the official website to book tickets and to plan your visit.

You can also enjoy your lunch at the seasonally open Ginkgo Tree Cafe, which features a beautiful patio sitting area. It offers a selection of sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts.

Overall:

Ashland would be one of the best places to visit in Lexington, Kentucky.

Address: 120 Sycamore Rd, Lexington, KY 40502.

Waveland State Historic Site, things to do in Lexington ky
Christopher L. Riley, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

07. Experience 19th-century plantation life at Waveland State Historic Site:

Waveland State Historic Site is located in southern Lexington. This Greek Revival home is one of Kentucky’s most dignified and gracious antebellum mansions. It was the home of the Joseph Bryan family and their descendants in the nineteenth century. You can enjoy a tour to learn about the Bryan family and life on a 19th-century Bluegrass Kentucky plantation.

The 10 acres historic site includes a Greek Revival mansion, two-story slave quarters, a smokehouse, a barn, an ice house, and a gift shop. The house property has been renovated and furnished to illustrate Kentucky life from pioneer days to the Civil War.

You can enjoy strolling through the small trails and bridges on the grounds and explore two beautiful tranquil flower and herb gardens. For kids, they have a playground. Also, from February through December, you can attend a Tuesday Tea in the mansion. Check out the official website for opening hours and to plan your visit.

Overall:

Waveland State Historic Site would be one of the best things to see in Lexington, Ky.

Address: 225 Waveland Museum Ln, Lexington, KY 40514.

McConnell Springs

08. Explore the lovely McConnell Springs:

McConnell Springs is a 26-acre nature sanctuary with historical and environmental significance. It was a campsite for the first settlers in the Bluegrass. McConnell Springs features trails, natural springs, an education center, restored limestone fences constructed in the early 1800s, the remains of a historic grist mill, a small rock quarry, and remains of an old dam and the foundation of an old creamery.

At the park, you will get to see a complex system of sinking springs, including the two major natural springs, the Blue Hole and the Boils. You can also enjoy hiking on the family-friendly 2 miles of dirt trails and a half-mile paved loop.

McConnell Springs also attracts various wildlife, including raccoons, opossums, squirrels, and groundhogs. It would be a lovely place for birdwatching. At the park, you will also see an around 250 years old Bur Oaktree. Check out the official website for more information.

Overall:

McConnell Springs would be a lovely place to visit in Lexington with your family and friends.

Address: 416 Rebmann Ln, Lexington, KY 40504.

09. Visit the historic Federal-style house “Hopemont”:

Hopemont, also known as the Hunt-Morgan House, is a Federal-style house in Lexington, Kentucky. It was built in 1814 by John Wesley Hunt, one of Lexington’s most prominent citizens of the time. It was also home to John Wesley Hunt’s great-grandson, Dr. Thomas Hunt Morgan, Kentucky’s first Nobel Prize winner. You can enjoy a guided tour of the house. They also host events, including art shows and weddings.

Hopemont has many beautiful architectural features, including a mid-19th century interior, a conference room, the Hon. Foster Pettit Auditorium, impressive staircase, chandeliers, furniture, paintings, and a period garden. Also, the second floor of the house includes a room devoted to a Civil War Museum, which contains many Civil War artifacts. Check out the official website to plan your visit.

Overall:

Visiting Hunt-Morgan House would be one of the best things to do in downtown Lexington, Ky, especially if you are interested in the history of the 1800s.

Address: 201 N Mill St, Lexington, KY 40507.

Activities In Lexington Ky:

Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Schwaltz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

10. Enjoy hiking on various trails at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary:

Raven Run Nature Sanctuary is a 734-acre woodland preserve located in Lexington, Kentucky. This beautiful nature sanctuary features over 10 miles of hiking trails providing access to streams, meadows, forests, creeks, wildflowers, and historical and geological landmarks. You can enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, and visit historical sites. Raven Run would be one of the best places to enjoy various activities in Lexington, ky.

You will enjoy hiking on the various trails. Raven Run trails include Red Trail, Green Trail, Orange Trail, Blue Trails, Yellow Trail, White Trails, and Freedom Trail. The Red Trail will take you to through most of the park. On the Orange Trail, you can enjoy superb views from a high elevation. On the Green Trail, you can experience the meadows of Raven Run. The Yellow Trail offers incredible views of spring wildflowers during their peak blooming season of April to May.

To enjoy scenic views of the Kentucky River Palisades, you will find a 70 ft overlook. At the Raven Run, you will see a historic grist mill built by Peter Evans in 1833. You can also enjoy various events at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. Visit the official website to check out ongoing programs and to plan your visit.

Address: 3885 Raven Run Way, Lexington, KY 40515.

Jacobson Park, things to do in lexington ky

11. Enjoy various activities at Jacobson Park:

Jacobson Park is a 216-acre park located in Lexington, Ky. It is one of the city’s most popular parks and offers various recreational opportunities. You can enjoy paddling, kayaking, and fishing in the park’s lake. Jacobson Park features a dog park, spray ground, playgrounds, and the attached Lakeside Golf Course.

Jacobson Park features an ADA pedal boat and accessible kayak launch, providing a recreation opportunity to enjoy individuals with disabilities. You will find various fishing docks throughout the park. For fishing, you need a valid Kentucky fishing license if you are age 16 or older. The park’s fishing docks are also wheelchair accessible.

The dog park is eight acres, featuring two paddocks, a tree line, benches, and a water station. Spray grounds have interactive water features, ideal for children of all ages. Check out the official website for availability and more information.

Overall:

Jacobson Park would be a wonderful place to enjoy various family activities in Lexington ky.

Address: Jacobson Park, 4001 Athens Boonesboro Rd, Lexington, KY 40509.

12. Enjoy Boone Creek Zip Line Canopy Tour:

Boone Creek Zip Line Canopy Tour showcases the spectacular Boone Creek Limestone Gorge. From the series of zip lines, suspended bridges, and staircases, you will get lovely views of the old-growth hardwoods, rare palisades, wildlife, and historic ruins. You can enjoy zip-lining on 1400 feet zip lines and soar up to 200 feet in the air. It would be one of the fun activities in Lexington ky.

You can enjoy zip line canopy tours, challenge courses, and hiking on the trail of Boone creek gorge.

The zip line canopy tour features six zip lines, three sky bridges, a rappel, a spiral, and a floating staircase. It would be a thrilling experience for the entire family. You will enjoy soaring over Boone Creek and the spectacular Boone Creek Gorge.

The challenge course features 16 different obstacles where you will enjoy a self-guided experience. Challenge course obstacles include Kentucky swinging barrels, the Timber Bluegrass Forrest, and the pioneer log swinging bridge.

You can also enjoy a guided hiking tour into the amazing Boone creek gorge. You will hike through the stunning Boone Creek gorge, past historic sites, and a waterfall. Check out the official website to plan your visit.

Overall:

Zip lining and hiking at Boone Creek Gorge would be the best outdoor activities in Lexington, Ky.

Address: 8291 Old Richmond Rd, Lexington, KY 40515.

Thoroughbred Park, things to do in Lexington ky
Chris McFarland, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

13. Enjoy strolling through Thoroughbred Park:

Thoroughbred Park defines Lexington’s devotion and dominance in the equine world. The 2.5-acre park has seven life-size and lifelike bronze racehorses reaching toward the finish line. In the park, you will see forty-four plaques honoring the historical figures of the horse-riding industry. Thoroughbred Park also features renowned artist Gwen Readon’s twelve exquisite bronze statues, including the nineteenth century’s greatest Thoroughbred stallion and a splendid broodmare.

There is a free playground just across the street. You will also find plenty of free parking.

Overall:

If you are visiting downtown Lexington, try to stop by and enjoy a relaxing walk in this beautiful park.

Address: 100 Midland Ave, Lexington, KY 40507.

14. Headley-Whitney Museum, Lexington Ky:

The Headley-Whitney Museum is a decorative arts museum established in 1968 by artist and jewelry designer George Headley. In the museum, you will get to see pieces from Headley’s impressive collection dating from the early 1930s to the late 1970s, including jewelry and bibelots. The museum also features an extraordinary collection of four classic dollhouses: the main house, artist studio, guest house, and pool atrium.

Headley-Whitney Museum also features the shell grotto and library. It also hosts major rotating exhibitions and workshops. The grounds of the museum are lovely, especially in the spring and fall. Check out the official website for the opening dates and to plan your visit. 

Overall:

The Headley-Whitney Museum would be one of the best places to go in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Address: 4435 Old Frankfort Pike, Lexington, KY 40510.

15. Lexington Visitors Center:

Lexington Visitors Center is located in Lexington’s historic Courthouse Square. In the Visitors Center, you will find all the necessary information to make travel plans for the Lexington and the Bluegrass Region. You can pick up the latest Visitor Planning Guide, get restaurant suggestions, and browse brochures.

You can also learn about different interesting facts about the Bluegrass Region on interactive screens. At the visitor center, you can also purchase souvenirs of your time in Lexington. Lexington Visitors Center also has a life-sized blue horse.

The visitors center is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 5:00; Saturdays from 10:00 to 5:00. Visit the official website for more information.

Address: 215 W Main St Suite 75, Lexington, KY 40507.

16. Experience Lexington with Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Farm Tours:

Horse farm tours would be one of the best ways to experience Lexington, Ky. You can enjoy a guided horse farm tour with Family-owned Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Farm Tours. They will provide you a unique experience of the Kentucky Bluegrass horse country. On your tour, you can see the thoroughbred horse lifestyle when exploring horse farms and visit up close their thoroughbred horses.

The tour is about three hours, which includes a drive-by of Calumet farm, a tour of historic Keeneland Race Track, an up-close personal encounter with majestic Thoroughbreds, and points of interest from Seabiscuit, Dreamer, and Secretariat movies. Check out the official website to reserve a tour.

Overall:

A horse farm tour with Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Farm Tours would be one of the top things to do in Lexington, Ky.

17. Enjoy a tour of world-renowned Bluegrass horse farms:

Your trip to Lexington, the Horse Capital of the World, won’t be complete without a horse farms tour. To get the best of your experience in Lexington, you shouldn’t miss a behind-the-scenes tour of world-renowned Bluegrass horse farms. With The Unique Horse Farm Tours, you can visit three horse farms and enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at how the horses are bred, raised, and prepared for their racing debuts.

The tours last 2.5 to 3 hours and provide opportunities to interact with the horses and feed them their favorite peppermint treats. You’ll be able to visit with mares and foals while learning all about the history of racing. On your tour, you will also learn about the prestigious facilities and families who have been working for generations. Check out the official website to book your tour.

Overall:

A horse farm tour throughout some of the most popular Thoroughbred horse farms of Lexington would be one of the fun things to do in Lexington, Ky.

18. Mill Ridge Farm:

Mill Ridge Farm, located near the iconic Keeneland Racetrack. It is renowned for raising and selling first-class Thoroughbreds. You can enjoy fantastic tours through Horse Country.

The tour starts with a brief history of the farm, why Mill Ridge exists, and what they do there. Then you will have a wonderful time going around the farm and petting and feeding the horses. On your tour, you will learn about the process of breeding horses and the life of a racehorse.

You will also get an excellent opportunity to feed carrots to some adorable foals and meet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Oscar Performance.

Overall:

You will have a great time exploring the Mill Ridge Farm. You can book your tour on this website

Address: 2800 Bowman Mill Rd, Lexington, KY 40513.

19. Enjoy delicious Southern fare at Merrick Inn Restaurant:

Merrick Inn Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Lexington, Ky. It has been owned and operated by the Murray family for nearly 40 years. The Merrick Inn offers traditional southern dining and innovative specials in a manor house with a beautiful patio area. The restaurant specializes in Southern fare, fresh seasoned vegetables, homemade bread, and fried chicken.

The restaurant also offers a wide selection of appetizers and entrees from locally sourced foods. You will enjoy eating in their beautiful patio area. You can make a reservation with OpenTable

Overall:

Merrick Inn Restaurant would be one of the best restaurants in Lexington to enjoy delicious Southern fare and fried chicken. Reservation is required.

Address: 1074 Merrick Dr, Lexington, KY 40502.

20. Enjoy the best barbeque in Lexington at Blue Door Smokehouse:

Blue Door Smokehouse is one of the most popular restaurants in Lexington, Ky. It was started in 2013 by two Lexington natives. The restaurant offers the best barbeque in the city with friendly and efficient service.

It’s a small restaurant near downtown and serves delicious foods. Blue Door Smokehouse is known for its Texas-style barbecue, and particularly its brisket. The restaurant is open Mon – Thu from 11:00 am – 03:00 pm, and Fri – Sat from 11:00 am – 08:00 pm.

Overall:

Blue Door would be one of the best restaurants to eat in Lexington, especially if you love BBQ.

Address: 226 Walton Ave, Lexington, KY 40502.

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