Welcome to the “Horse Capital of the World” and the host city of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Settled in the rolling hills of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region, Lexington is a horse-lover’s haven. Although renowned for raising some of the best Thoroughbred racehorses, this southern city is quickly making a name for itself in the sport horse world as well. But it’s not just a city for the equine-inclined; as a visitor to the area, you’ll find something for everyone.
Where to Eat
As the second largest city in Kentucky, Lexington’s epicurean scene boasts an array of restaurants and delis for even the most food-savvy individual.
Situated directly across from Lexington’s newly-built Courthouse Plaza, a la Lucie is an area favorite. Serving modern French fare with a Kentucky twist, an evening in a la Lucie’s small but charmingly-decorated dining room is surely one you’ll remember. A great place for dates!
A favorite weekend brunch spot, Alfalfa is known for “feeding vegetarians and carnivores alike with innovative and eclectic homemade eats for over 30 years!” A long-standing supporter of local arts, Alfalfa features Lexington artists’ work in the restaurant. A Chronicle staff favorite!
A newer restaurant, Azur has quickly made a name for itself locally and nationally thanks to their creative dishes which feature fresh seafood and Kentucky Proud meats, among other innovative American cuisine. Away from downtown Lexington in Beaumont Centre, their patio is a refreshing refuge in an otherwise corporate area.
Romantic and decorated with vases full of fresh, long-stemmed roses, Bellini’s is usually abuzz with an attractive dinner crowd. Their menu of traditional and modern American-Italian cuisine changes seasonally, and specials are always offered. In warmer months, dine at their sidewalk tables for a view of downtown Lexington.
One of Lexington’s finest dining establishments; Dudley’s is the full package. Award-winning cuisine, extensive wine selection, and an ambiance that is hard to beat, this restaurant has a strong “regular” crowd. Their location at Cheapside Park is central to the late-night bar scene.
Get an authentic taste of New York deli offerings in downtown Lexington! Giacomo’s corned beef and pastrami are shipped in from Carnegie Delicatessen in New York. Serving up enormous sandwiches and other deli fare, this little place offers a lot of taste.
A favorite for horse show people, you can almost always find someone here in breeches and boots talking horses! Either one of their Lexington locations serves fresh and authentic Mexican food at affordable prices. Accommodates large groups well.
Enjoy a taste of Paris in downtown Lexington. Le Deauville offers traditional French cuisine and an impressive wine list.
You’ll get a true taste of southern hospitality at Malone’s. As Lexington’s only Prime Beef steakhouse, each of the three locations are almost always packed. A warm, homey atmosphere, Malone’s offers delicious steaks, fresh seafood, pastas and other house favorites, as well as their own Aqua sushi. You don’t want to miss this place!
A campus hot-spot, Pazzo’s has been a university hangout for years. Arguably the best pizza in town, you’ll not just find college kids here. With 40 beers on tap and “Pint Night” every Wednesday, Pazzo’s is an ideal place to meet friends, watch your favorite sports team and have a good time.
This adorable eatery’s popularity increases every day. Serving southern “home-cooking” with fresh, locally grown ingredients and Kentucky Proud meats, Stella’s is a great choice for comfort food. Its tiny, diner-like atmosphere adds to its charm. A top choice for lunch with a friend.
A short drive out scenic Old Frankfort Pike is well worth it to get to Wallace Station. Frequented by many of the racing crowd due to its location in the middle of gorgeous Thoroughbred farms, this deli will serve you up a real country breakfast or craft you a gourmet sandwich to go. Most well-known for their Kentucky Proud burgers, Guy Fieri of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” named Wallace Station’s “Big Brown” one of his Top 5 Burgers.
What to Do
Right in the middle of horse country, you can find an awful lot of other stuff to do too!
Sure, when you hear Kentucky, you might think “horses,” but for the non-equestrian population, the colors blue and white and the word “basketball” come to mind. The University of Kentucky campus calls downtown Lexington its home, and no sports fan would miss a chance to see the Kentucky Wildcats play basketball at Rupp Arena. Baseball fans can enjoy a game at Applebee’s Park while cheering on the city’s minor league team, the Lexington Legends.
Spend a day strolling through historic downtown Lexington. Take in a matinee at the Kentucky Theatre and then wander down the street to the Victorian Square Shoppes, where you can browse the many boutiques. Serious shoppers need not miss Bella Rose, situated a few streets over on Maxwell Street. Finish your day up in the Dining District at East Jefferson Street, where new restaurants are opening daily.
A visit to Kentucky would most certainly be incomplete without a trip down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail where you can spend an afternoon (or several!) at bourbon distilleries like Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve and Jim Beam. On your way, stop off in the town of Midway for some antiquing and an impressive line-up of restaurants, such as Heirloom.
Of course, take full advantage of all the equine-related places and activities Lexington has to offer. In April and October, spend a day at the races! Keeneland Racecourse is one of the country’s most beautiful tracks, and its sales produce some of the world’s top racehorses. For a change of pace, visit the Red Mile where Standardbred Harness and Quarter Horse racing is an exciting time July through October.
Experience the true beauty of the Bluegrass and have a chance to meet your favorite Kentucky Derby winner by going on a horse farm tour. Famous horse farms such as Calumet, Three Chimneys, and Ashford Stud offer daily tours of their extraordinary facilities.
For those traveling to Lexington for the spring or summer shows at the Kentucky Horse Park, leave your horse to relax and munch on some hay while you explore all that the Park has to offer! With events and exhibitions happening 365 days a year, there is a lot to see. The Parade of Breeds, Hall of Champions and American Saddlebred Museum are entertaining but also educational options for passing the time.
Your horse would definitely appreciate the chance to get off the showground, so load them up in the trailer and take a short drive to Shaker Village. Spend a day bonding as you explore the 3,000 acres that Shaker Village has for trail riding. Want to make a weekend trip of it? Accommodations are available for both you and your horse.
Although during show season, the Kentucky Horse Park is full of tack and supply vendors, Lexington has two free standing tack stores. Wise Choice Tack is close to the Horse Park and Bob Mickler’s is located near downtown Lexington.
Where to Stay
Lexington is full of lodging accommodations, in town or on the interstate.
Inns & Beds and Breakfasts
Lyndon House Bed & Breakfast
In the heart of historic downtown Lexington, you’ll find the Lyndon House nestled between other gorgeous Victorian homes. Stylish, but still homey, its location makes it a short walk from many of the city’s attractions. Weekend packages often available.
A short commute from the horse show, Blackridge Hall is a fantastic choice to get away from the bustle of the showgrounds. Decorated in the classic style of an countryside home, this mansion really brings to life the feel of the “Deep South.”
Named one of the Top Ten Bed & Breakfasts by Bedandbreakfast.com, Storybrook Inn is southern hospitality at its finest. A short drive to the airport or to Keeneland Racecourse, you’ll find yourself surrounded by some of the area’s most prestigious and picturesque horse farms. The service, food and location make this place top-tier!