Horses and History
When I think of Kentucky, I think of the Kentucky Derby and horses. I think of beautiful rolling hills of bluegrass and horse farms throughout the countryside. I also think of family and summer vacations.
My love of Kentucky started young and runs deep. My grandfather drove a bus for the City of Lexington for over 30 years. Every time I was in town to visit as a child, I rode with him on his bus and he would point out famous horse farms along his route. He would often take me out for famous derby pie at the end of his shift too. These memories are precious to me.
I still visit Kentucky almost every year as I have many relatives in and around the Lexington area. Even now, driving the country roads is a thrill for me and seeing horses up close is ever exciting. I try to time my visits around the running of the horses at Keeneland Race Course. The thoroughbreds run in April and October every year. Many thoroughbreds that race at Keeneland go on to race in the Kentucky Derby and other major races. I love going to the horse races, although I never seem to win. Besides racing, Keeneland also offers different types of tours from walking to horse farm tours, a library, a clubhouse, a gift shop and a kids club.
Horse Capital of the World
Being the “Horse Capital of the World”, Lexington has horses front and center. Everywhere you look you see all things horse related. There are murals of horses to horse statues to horse parks and farms for visitors to spend their time. Here are some of the main attractions:
Kentucky Horse Park
The Kentucky Horse Park is probably the most visited attraction in Lexington. There are museums, trail rides, working barns that visitors can tour, plus statues and trails that meander through this incredible park. The park also has over 1200 acres of pastures with horses grazing everywhere you turn.
For more information about this park, check out their website, https://kyhorsepark.com, for the latest information and upcoming events. Cost of admission is $20 for adults, $10 for children 6-12 and $18 for seniors. Children 5 and under are free.
Henry Clay Estate
Lexington is also rich in history and visitors can visit several historic homes and estates while in town. Henry Clay’s estate, Ashland, is one of the most visited. Henry Clay was a famous 19th-century politician and a 3-time Presidential candidate, known as the “Great Compromiser”. His Lexington home, Ashland, sits on 20 acres that are a National Historic Landmark.
Visitors can tour the 18-room mansion as well as the grounds, which have walking trails, gardens, outbuildings and a Civil War Monument. This estate is open for tours Tuesdays through Saturdays generally. Please check their website, https://henryclay.org, to learn more about Henry Clay and get more information about the estate. Admission is $15 for adults and $7 for students. Children 5 and under are free.
This may seem an unlikely attraction but Lexington Cemetery is worth a visit. Not only is Henry Clay buried at Lexington Cemetery, but other notables are also buried within the 160 acres. This cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the prettiest cemeteries I have been to and is worth a drive through. You will not only find an arboretum, gardens and a small lake, but you will also notice a 130-foot tall Henry Clay monument sticking up above the trees. They say that Henry Clay is looking towards his beloved Ashland estate.
Other Historic Landmarks
- Mary Todd Lincoln’s childhood home – see where Abraham Lincoln’s wife spent her childhood
- The Hunt-Morgan House – built in 1814 for millionaire hemp merchant, John Hunt Morgan
- Waveland State Historic Site – known for its Greek Revival Architecture
- Latrobe’s Pope Villa – Benjamin Henry Latrobe helped design the U.S. Capitol Building and this villa is one of only 3 left in the United States designed by Latrobe
- Shakers Village – America’s oldest restored Shaker community sits about 25 miles southwest of Lexington.
University of Kentucky
No post about Lexington, Kentucky would be complete without a little mention of the University of Kentucky. I was actually just in Lexington at the beginning of May for my cousin’s graduation from the university. This massive university sits in downtown Lexington and the city consistently shows its pride for the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
Rupp Arena is a huge basketball arena on campus that not only holds graduations every year, but is a popular entertainment venue for concerts. If you are in the downtown district take a stroll across campus among the brick buildings and huge trees.
Lexington has many small parks throughout the city with walking trails, benches and fountains. Thoroughbred Park is one of my favorites. The statues of racing thoroughbreds are one of many statues in this small park. Thoroughbred Park was established to showcase the town’s love of horses and it does around virtually every corner. Wander the many walking paths to enjoy the statues, fountains and flowers and see why it’s a great place to relax and hang out. Don’t forget to look for the baby foal nestled among the bushes within the park.
Triangle Park is also very popular. It has an amazing long wall of cascading water to lure visitors to sit and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. The park basically encompasses a city block and has many places to relax and enjoy the water views. During the warmer months, the park has a revolving schedule of events from concerts to classes. In the winter, the park transforms into an ice rink with public ice skating. Triangle Park has free wifi and a small outdoor cafe.
One of my favorite things to do in Lexington is to simply drive the country roads outside the city center. I love seeing majestic barns, structured horse pastures with their beautiful fences and the bluegrass that gives the state its name. As you fly down these two lane roads on the outskirts of town, horses are everywhere grazing and frolicking in the fields. Farms are framed by pasture fences and elaborate gates. This is why I love this town! There is nothing quite like the beauty of the rolling hills and horse farms.
If you want more information about Lexington and all there is to do on your next visit, check out the VisitLex website which has a pretty comprehensive look at the city.
You can also check out the City of Lexington’s website for more city related information.
Don’t forget to check out my posts on other interesting towns: