20 Things To Do In Lexington 

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Lexington is one of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s largest cities and has many fun attractions. The city lies just 78 miles (125 km) from Louisville and is renowned for its bourbon, thoroughbred horses and Bluegrass music. Home of the University of Kentucky’s main campus, the city has a budding arts scene and thriving nightlife. 

When it comes to the great outdoors, Lexington more than has you covered, with the Daniel Boone National Forest and the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary all within a short drive from downtown, providing Lexington with a good mix of indoor and outdoor activities and attractions to enjoy. Here are the best things to do in Lexington. 

Lexington, Kentucky

Top Tours

Old Architecture Of Lexington
If you’re looking for things to do in Lexington, check out our top 20 suggestions.

20 Things To Do In Lexington 

Historic Building In Lexington
Admiring architecture is one of the things to do in Lexington, Kentucky.

1- Visit World-Renowned Keeneland

One of the world’s largest and most prominent thoroughbred auction houses, Keeneland is a must-visit destination for thoroughbred horse racing fans in Lexington.

The venue is situated just 6 miles (10 km) outside the bustling college city’s downtown district and was first opened back in 1936.

More than just an auction house, Keeneland also hosts horse races throughout the year and was rated the top thoroughbred racecourse by the Horseplayers Association of North America in 2009.

Keeneland is at 4201 Versailles Rd, Lexington, KY 40510.


2- See Where Lincoln’s Wife Grew Up At The Mary Todd Lincoln House

The Mary Todd Lincoln House is, as the name suggests, the childhood home of former US President Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd, who moved into the two-story home in 1832 with her family when she was 14 years old.

Mary Todd Lincoln lived in the house until 1839 when she moved to Springfield to live with her sister, marrying promising lawyer Abraham Lincoln three years later in 1842.

Opened in 1977, the Georgian-style house has been turned into a living museum where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the former First Lady’s childhood, with the venue added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

The Mary Todd Lincoln House is at 578 W Main St, Lexington, KY 40507.

Recommended tour: Mary Todd Lincoln House Self-Guided Tour Ticket

3- Stroll Through The Arboretum

Officially known as the “State Botanical Garden of Kentucky”, The Arboretum as its most commonly called, is a 100-acre (40 ha) outdoor attraction in the heart of downtown Lexington on the campus of the University of Kentucky.

The world-class arboretum opened to the Lexington public in 1991 and houses well over 1,200 species of plants and trees native to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Several attractions can be found within the large arboretum, including the Kentucky Children’s Garden, the Home Fruit and Nuts Garden, the Herb Garden and a manicured rose garden.

The Arboretum is at the University of Kentucky, 500 Alumni Dr, Lexington, KY 40503.

4- Visit The Aviation Museum of Kentucky

The Aviation Museum of Kentucky, at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport, is an aerospace and aviation museum celebrating and preserving Kentucky’s aviation roots.

Opened in 1995, the museum has more than 20,000 square feet (1,858 m2) of total space dedicated to exhibits, the venue’s library and aircraft restoration, with the museum also serving as the home of the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.

The museum’s vast collection includes military and civilian aircraft, photographs, documents and training equipment collected and donated to the museum by members of the Kentucky Aviation History Roundtable throughout the years.

The Aviation Museum of Kentucky is at 4029 Airport Rd, Lexington, KY 40510.

5- Learn About Kentucky’s Rich Thoroughbred Traditions 

A Pair Of Mares And Foals Grazing On Early Spring Grass
Visiting a thoroughbred farm is one of the iconic things to do in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Kentucky Horse Park is an international equestrian competition venue, educational centre and working horse farm rolled into one location nine miles (14 km) north of downtown Lexington.

Covering an area of more than 1,220 acres (494 ha), the park opened in 1978 and has since established itself as one of the premier attractions in the United States for equine lovers.

The park draws over 500,000 annual visitors and is home to a wide range of notable attractions, including the 60,000-square-foot (5,574 m2) International Museum of the Horse, live equestrian competitions and a series of horseback trails.

The Kentucky Horse Park is at 4089 Iron Works Pkwy, Lexington, KY 40511.

Recommended tours:

6- Explore The University of Kentucky Art Museum

The University of Kentucky Art Museum, or “UK Art Museum” for short, is a state-of-the-art cultural institution situated on the campus of the University of Kentucky that showcased art from the Old Masters to contemporary pieces.

The venue opened in 1976 and forms part of the university’s on-campus Singletary Center for the Arts, with the museum free to enjoy for all visitors.

Featuring a range of permanent and rotating exhibits totalling some 5,000 individual works of art, the art museum has one of the most extensive collections in Kentucky.

It includes Western as well as non-Western art forms among its vast collection.

The University of Kentucky Art Museum is at 405 Rose St, Lexington, KY 40508.

7- Plan A Visit To Historic Ashland

Ashland, not to be confused with the Kentucky city of Ashland, is the name of famous Kentucky statesman Henry Clay’s former estate built in 1812.

The estate spans a total area of about 17 acres (7 ha) and became a National Historic Landmark in 1960 before being added to the National Register of Historic Places list later in 1966.

The estate is the namesake of the Ashland Stakes Thoroughbred horse racing event held annually at nearby Keeneland.

It’s a living museum you can tour and explore to get a sense of Henry Clay’s wealth and lavish life.

Ashland is at 120 Sycamore Rd, Lexington, KY 40502.

8- Catch A Show At The Kentucky Theatre

The famous Kentucky Theatre is a historic cinema and live performance venue in the centre of downtown Lexington.

It’s one of the last true movie palaces still operating in the United States.

Since 1922, the theatre has hosted concerts, movie screenings and special events throughout the year, and has a seating capacity of just over 810 patrons.

The historic theatre remains a popular tourist attraction in Lexington, especially during summer, when it screens Hollywood classics every Wednesday evening as part of the annual Summer Classics series.

The Kentucky Theatre is at 214 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40507.

9- Stop By The Lexington Opera House

Built in 1886 to replace Lexington’s former opera house that was burned down following a fire, the Lexington Opera House is one of only 14 1,000-seat theatres in the United States built before 1900 that’s still in operation today.

The opera house/theatre was designed by esteemed theatre architect Oscar Cobb and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

The venue hosted live productions until 1926 and vaudeville shows and burlesque shows until 1936, before being converted into a movie house.

Today its used as a live event space for local performance groups and travelling artists.

The Lexington Opera House is at 401 W Short St, Lexington, KY 40507.

10- Learn About Lexington’s Founding At McConnell Springs Park

McConnell Springs
Exploring McConnell Springs Park is one of the things to do in Lexington KY today.

McConnell Springs Park is a scenic 26-acre (10 ha) outdoor recreation space near downtown Lexington that’s renowned for its natural hot springs and verdant scenery.

The park opened in 1994 and is an immensely important historic landmark, as it was here where the city of Lexington formally received its name following the arrival of William McConnell and his party of surveyors to the area.

Today, the park is one of Lexington’s most popular outdoor attractions and is littered with hiking trails and native plant life that allows visitors to take a break from the city for a few hours.

McConnell Springs Park is at 416 Rebmann Ln, Lexington, KY 40504.

Recommended tour: Fully Guided Zipline Canopy Tour through Kentucky River Palisades

11- Taste Bourbon In The Distillery District

Situated just outside downtown Lexington is the Distillery District, a bustling entertainment, dining and shopping hub centred around the city’s early bourbon distilleries.

The district was abandoned for over 50 years before being revitalised and developed by a group of locals beginning in 2008, blossoming into what is today one of Lexington’s busiest tourist hotspots.

Art galleries, eclectic bars and lime music venues can be found dotted throughout the district, as well as the recently-renovated James E. Pepper Distillery, one of early Lexington’s most storied bourbon producers.

Recommended tours:

12- Spend An Afternoon At The Headley-Whitney Museum

The Headley-Whitney Museum is a compact art museum dedicated to showcasing the decorative arts and hand-made jewellery produced by local artist George Headley III.

Named after Headley and Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, the museum’s main benefactor, the venue first opened its doors in 1966 and has since grown to host several local and international exhibits in addition to its permanent line-up.

The venue is capable of accommodating up to 200 visitors and is one of Lexington’s go-to cultural institutions for fine and decorative arts.

The Headley-Whitney Museum is hosted at 4435 Old Frankfort Pike, Lexington, KY 40510.

13- Stroll Through Lexington’s Thoroughbred Park

Thoroughbred Park is a unique public outdoor recreation space covering an area of about three acres (1.2 ha) that pays homage to Lexington’s thoroughbred horse racing roots.

The park’s five areas treat visitors to a lifelike vignette of bronze thoroughbred racehorses in motion, as well as an outdoor museum featuring a series of plaques commemorating important thoroughbred horse racing figures of the past.

Thoroughbred Park is at 100 Midland Ave, Lexington, KY 40507.

14- Go Hiking Through The Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

Spanning over 734 acres (297 ha), the sprawling Raven Run Nature Sanctuary is a serene outdoor attraction near downtown Lexington that offers an escape from the city.

The sanctuary features a series of meadows, woodlands, streams and nature trails, as well as historic artefacts left over by the region’s first European settlers who arrived in the area during the early 1800s.

Raven Run perfectly embodies the Inner Bluegrass region of Kentucky and is ideal for hiking, bird watching and nature photography.

The Raven Run Nature Sanctuary is at 3885 Raven Run Way, Lexington, KY 40515.

15- Tour Lexington’s Historic Hunt-Morgan House

Known historically as “Hopemont”, the Hunt-Morgan House in downtown Louisville was built in 1814 by John Wesley Hunt, the first millionaire west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The historic estate features a Federal-style design and was also the birthplace of John Wesley Hunt’s grandson, Thomas Hunt Morgan, who became the first person from Kentucky to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Among the museum’s grand interior is the Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum, on the estate’s 2nd floor, which exhibits a range of Civil War artefacts for historians to explore.

The Hunt-Morgan House is at 201 N Mill St, Lexington, KY 40507.

16- Watch The Wildcats Play At Kroger Field

The official home of the University of Kentucky’s Wildcats football team since 1973, Kroger Field, or Commonwealth Stadium as it was known for most of its existence, is the place to be during autumn Saturday nights.

Kroger Field features a seating capacity of about 61,000 spectators for football games but can accommodate more for other events such as music concerts.

The venue has undergone extensive renovations since its opening and is always an exciting place to be when the Wildcats are enjoying a successful season in college football’s Southeastern Conference.

Kroger Field is at 1540 University Dr, Lexington, KY 40506.

17- Plan A Visit To The Kentucky Castle

Castle Near Lexington
Castle near Lexington, Kentucky, USA.

Perhaps one of Lexington’s more bizarre attractions, The Kentucky Castle, is a unique Southern estate based upon the design of the romantic Romanesque castles and chateaus of Europe.

The entire estate covers an area of more than 100 acres (40 ha) and was commissioned by Rex and Caroline Martin in 1966.

Converted into a lavish boutique hotel and restaurant, the castle is a popular venue for weddings and special events in Lexington and is also a bust tourist attraction due to its photogenic appeal.

The Kentucky Castle is at 230 Pisgah Pike, Versailles, KY 40383.

18- Go On A Brewery Crawl Across The Brewgrass Trail

Jar Of Beer
A brewery crawl is one of the fun things to do in Lexington Ky.

Although more famous for its award-winning bourbons, Kentucky is also home to a pretty unique adult attraction called the Brewgrass Trail.

The trail consists of a series of breweries linked together to create one easy-to-navigate bar-hopping tour across Kentucky.

The trail is a play on the popular Bluegrass Trail and was formed in 2011 with a couple of local Lexington breweries offering a unique beer attraction in the region.

Some 26 different breweries are part of the trail today, each offering visitors their own selection of locally-produced beers and light meals to sip and nibble on.

Rewards are offered to those who manage to stop by all 26 breweries.

19- Plan A Visit To The Central Library

More than just a public book depository, Lexington’s Central Library is a fully-fledged tourist attraction in its own right that’s home to some pretty unique features.

One such feature is the library’s central rotunda, which houses the world’s largest ceiling clock and an Adalin Wichman-designed Foucault pendulum.

Completed in 1989, the library also boasts an art gallery which displays works of art through a variety of rotating exhibits.

The Central Library is at 140 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40507.

20- Explore Red River Gorge

Beautiful Fall Colors At Red River Gorge, KY
Exploring nature in Red River Gorge is one of the things to do near Lexington KY this weekend.

The Red River Gorge is a canyon system just outside Lexington, with sandstone cliffs, natural bridges and rock shelters.

The gorge falls within Kentucky’s sprawling Daniel Boone National Forest and is a designated National Natural Landmark, as well as an entry on the National Register of Historic Places.

Some of the gorge’s most popular recreational activities include hiking, rock climbing, biking and zip lining, with cabins also available for booking if you prefer to spend a weekend exploring the Red River Gorge. 

Recommended tour: Daniel Boone’s Challenge: An Adventure in the Trees

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Jessica Shaw
Jessica Shaw is a storyteller who has lived in four U.S. states - Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and Illinois - and has visited many others. She loves history and nature and is a big fan of road tripping.