Nicole Brown, Marketing Intern
In many ways, Lexington is a “college town,” ruled by the University of Kentucky and its students. Campus even bridges the gap between downtown Lexington and busy Nicholasville Road, which is lined with restaurants, department stores, smaller stores, movie theatres and entertainment, and home to both Lexington Green Mall and Fayette Mall. So naturally, when classes are in full swing, there are plenty of things to do to keep busy. Campus may be quieter during the summer, but there are still many activities in Lexington!
Whether you’re visiting for your summer advising conference, living in Lexington, or visiting friends for a few days, take advantage of all that this city offers with some of the following ideas:
Thursday Night Live—Free!
Every Thursday from April 26 to October 18, at the Fifth Third Pavilion at Cheapside Park, you’ll find local food and music as part of Central Bank Thursday Night Live. Pets are welcome. Tents set up at 4:30 p.m. but the music runs from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Check out the website for a band schedule and more information:
Keeneland or The Red Mile—$5 and up
Check out the horse races at the beautiful Keeneland Race Track on the edge of town or The Red Mile closer to campus. “Meets,” or racing periods, run during the spring and fall. Though the spring meets ended in May, the fall meet at The Red Mile starts on August 5 and at Keeneland on October 5. Until then, take a free tour of the grounds, watch some of the horses work out, shop at the gift shops, or keep your eyes out for special events on their websites.
Visit a Horse Farm—Free, but tipping is recommended
Instead of watching the horses at the races, see them at home by visiting one of the many nearby horse farms. You might even see a past Kentucky Derby winner! The Lexington Visitors Center can offer suggestions and tell you which farms don’t charge for visitors. Call them at 859-233-7299 or 800-845-3959.
Enjoy a Legends Game at the Whitaker Bank Ballpark—$4 and up
Catch a minor league baseball game, enjoy some ballpark hotdogs, and “watch the stars of tomorrow, today.” Games are played multiple nights a week through September. Buy tickets and see the complete schedule online. Many nights even have dedicated themes and deals, so you can find one that appeals to you.
Take a stroll through the Lexington Cemetery, nationally recognized for its arboretum and gardens, and visit the final resting place of many famous Kentuckians, including basketball coach Adolph Rupp and Kentucky politician Henry Clay.
Every fourth Friday of the month from 6 – 9 p.m., enjoy this Lexington Art League party, concert, and exhibit featuring different activities: one to see, one to taste, and one to listen to. The next Fourth Friday is this Friday, June 22. Visit their website for specific activity information.
Parks and Hiking—Free!
Lexington offers many different parks for hiking, playing with your dog, or just relaxing while reading a book. Try Masterson Station Park, the fitness trail at Shillito Park, historic McConnell Springs (where frontier explorers named Lexington after the first battle of the American Revolution in Lexington, Massachusetts in 1775), the 734-acre Raven Run Nature Sanctuary in the scenic Kentucky River Palisades area, or the University of Kentucky Arboretum near campus. To combine a park and the arts, shop the Woodland Art Fair at Woodland Park on Saturday and Sunday August 18 and 19.
For other hiking areas, check out this website:
For more information on the Woodland Art Fair, use this link:
Kentucky Theater—$5 and up
On days when you want to take a break inside, you’ll find first-run films, independent films, and concerts at the historic Kentucky Theatre. Located on Main Street, the theater is close to campus and in the heart of the city. For a schedule and other information, visit the website.
The Living Arts and Science Center: Children and Community Programs
Just three blocks from Main Street, this non-profit offers many activities from art classes and exhibits to discovery exhibits that explore the relationship between art and science, and much more. Visit their website for offerings, schedules, and pricing information.
Tours and Museums:
Find a museum that fits your taste and spend the afternoon exploring. Check out their websites for specific hours, pricing, and exhibits. Here are some options:
o Downtown Tours—Take a walking tour of downtown and look around on your own, or contact the Lexington Visitor’s Center for an official tour.
o Mary Todd Lincoln House—It’s $9 to tour this fully restored house in downtown Lexington and explore the city’s history.
o Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate—Marvel at this 18-room mansion with a guided tour for $9.
o The American Saddlebred Museum—Explore not only this interactive museum, but the Kentucky Horse Park as well. The $16 (summer price) admission grants you access to the entire park.
o The Aviation Museum of Kentucky—Located at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport, this museum is full of planes of every kind to admire. Admission is $7.
o Old Kentucky Chocolates—Tour the factory and see how candy’s made or just shop at the store.
o Ale-8-One Bottling Plant—This Kentucky soda has been bottled in Winchester since 1926. Call in advance to tour the plant on any Friday.
o LexArts’ Gallery Hop—A self-guided tour of many of Lexington’s art galleries, the next LexArts’ Gallery Hop is on September 22 from 5 – 8 p.m. Before September rolls around, browse some of the participating galleries one by one.
Vineyards (must be 21 year or older)—Free, if you don’t buy any drinks!
Central Kentucky, site of the first commercial vineyard in the U.S., is still home to many vineyards. Find a free tour or music night or buy a wine tasting at nearby Talon Winery, Equus Run Vineyards, Chrisman Mill Winery, or others.
Kentucky Bourbon (must be 21 year or older)—Free, if you don’t buy any drinks!
Explore the Kentucky bourbon-making tradition by touring Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, or Wild Turkey bourbon distilleries. Or tour Four Roses and Wild Turkey distilleries near Lexington, then explore the Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve (costs $7), and Maker’s Mark distilleries throughout Kentucky to complete “The Bourbon Trail.” The distilleries even have gift shops and bars.
Check out these links for more information:
Two other blogs by The Study:
An iPhone app called “LexWalk” that’ll show you around downtown:
More arts activities:
Top attractions lists (you’ll just have to filter through the golf courses and spas, unless that’s what you’re looking for):
For special events, a list of free things to do, and more, contact the Lexington Visitors Center:
o www.visitlex.com or (859) 233-7299