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48 Hours | Southeast States
48 Hours in Lexington

LEXINGTON CLASSICS AND UNEXPECTED ACTIVITIES AWAIT—LIKE HORSE RACING AT KEENELAND, TEA AT THE KENTUCKY CASTLE, AND MORE

A hint of Nashville’s music scene and a dash of Napa’s vineyard-hopping culture blended together creates the essence of Lexington Kentucky. Rolling hills with spaced out distilleries, hundreds of thoroughbred farms, a charming downtown, and a relaxed pace of life make Lexington an ideal spot to unwind with a stiff drink and enjoy the outdoors. Lexington may be best known for horses, bluegrass, and bourbon, but it has had a recent influx of modern boutique hotels, revitalized neighborhoods, and talented multicultural chefs.

The horse capital of the world is within a day’s drive from much of the U.S. If you gallop away for a weekend, here are some ways to spend 48 hours in Lexington.

Photo by Try Media/istock.comThoroughbred mare and Pony. Photo by Try Media/istock.com

VISIT THE KENTUCKY HORSE PARK
The Kentucky Horse Park, located on 1,200 acres of bluegrass farmland, is like a theme park for horse lovers! You can spend a day—or even overnight—at the 260-site campground, learning and interacting with rare breeds of horses. Start at the International Museum of the Horse, where you can see memorabilia, trophies, and displays on Kentucky’s rich horse-racing tradition.

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The Arabian Horse Galleries displays photos and educational content about the role of horses in Middle Eastern culture. Then go outside to meet working and retired champions, their trainers, and caretakers. There are also horse-drawn carriage tours, educational demonstrations, and equestrian events including steeplechase, cross country competitions, and polo.

TASTE A BLEND OF CULTURES
Sri Lankan cuisine meets Southern comfort at this James Beard Award-finalist restaurant. Try some curry-brined fried chicken and wash it down with a spiced old fashioned cocktail. You’ll find creator and acclaimed Chef Sam Fore serving up plates of flavorful curry-rice bowls, lentil fritters, and butter cake at Tuk Tuk Snack Shop.

Visitor center of Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company.Photo by volgariver/iStock.com
Visitor center of Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company.Photo by volgariver/iStock.com

SAMPLE SUSTAINABLE WHISKEY
At Bespoken Spirits, you can taste a sustainably made whiskey, created using less wood, water, and energy—all without losing the flavor and quality. You can also view cocktail demos, visit the liquor shop, and take a distillery tour at this brand-new space.

Downtown. Photo by Joel CarilletDowntown. Photo by Joel Carillet

STAY AT A LUXURY HOTEL
When it comes to lodging, downtown Lexington offers new and modern hotels that are distinct in design and atmosphere. The 21c Museum Hotel has an airy farm-to-table restaurant and bar and a contemporary 24-hour art museum.

The Manchester
hotel at the Distillery District—a revitalized walkable area that was once home to the historic James E. Pepper Distillery in 1879—has a chic lobby and rooftop bars that attracts locals and celebrities who want to be seen.

The hotel’s Granddam restaurant serves creative cocktails and South American-fusion cuisine using local produce. After dinner, walk around to catch a blues, jazz, or funk concert at one of the venues in the Distillery District.

WATCH HORSE RACING
Wake up with the first rays of the sun and watch championship horses at work at Keeneland, a national historic landmark racetrack. From 5:30AM – 10AM, you can get up-close to the athletes and watch them practice before their big races. Afterward, grab a country breakfast at the unassuming Keeneland Track Kitchen and you may find yourself sitting next to a famous jockey, trainer, or racer. Thousands of people from around the world gather here during derby days (in April and October), so plan your trip in advance.

SIP TEA IN A CASTLE
Be mentally transported to Europe when you enter a dramatic castle surrounded by fields of horses. This 110-acre estate and castle is a must-visit in Versailles KY. Check into the boutique hotel inside The Kentucky Castle, surrounded by gardens and a greenhouse. If you only want to visit for the day, book yourself a yoga lesson, horseback ride, breakfast, or afternoon tea. Check their calendar for a list of community events.

TAKE A DISTILLERY TOUR
Lexington, home to 16 renowned Kentucky bourbon distilleries, is a bourbon-lover’s paradise. You can take one of the organized distillery-hopping tours or simply drive to one of them and park yourself for the day. At Castle & Key Distillery, you’ll find a limestone castle surrounded by a river and manicured gardens, where you can tour and taste. Admire the diverse birdlife, listen to live tunes, and sip on award-winning bourbon.