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Thanks to our friends at opens in a new windowVisitLEX and Patti Nickell, travel writer for the Lexington Herald Leader, for the insider tips!

We know the primary reason Show-me-Staters are coming to the Bluegrass October 7th is to watch the Tigers collide with the Wildcats on the gridiron. But there’s no reason they can’t take advantage of what else our beautiful city has to offer.

Lexington skyline at duskJeff Rogers, courtesy VisitLEX

Let’s start with horses as this is the Horse Capital of the World. Book a tour through Horse Country, and you’ll be able to visit a number of the 450 Thoroughbred farms that surround Lexington.

The 1,200-acre Kentucky Horse Park is the only park in the world dedicated exclusively to the horse. Watch a parade of breeds – from the stately Arabian to the stalwart Appaloosa; visit retired equine superstars in the Hall of Champions, or learn all about these magnificent creatures at the International Museum of the Horse.

horses and riders at Keeneland fall meetKeeneland Fall Meet, courtesy Cornett

You’ll be here during the fall race meet at Keeneland Race Course, often described as America’s most beautiful race track. If you’re lucky enough to score tickets, and you can work it in, dress up in your finest, order a mint julep and learn the difference between an exacta, a trifecta and a superfecta.

exterior of Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate in Lexington, KYPaul Atkinson, courtesy VisitLEX

Okay, a history lesson may not top your “to-do” list for the weekend, but just in case it was your favorite subject in college, take time to visit one (or all) of the four historic homes in the city: Mary Todd Lincoln House (the 16th president’s wife was a Lexington native); Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate (pictured); John Hunt Morgan House and Waveland, a plantation built by a descendent of Daniel Boone who, as you already know, has a Missouri connection.

Feeling a bit dry after all that history? Wanting to celebrate your victory or drown your sorrows after a defeat? That brings us to the “hooch” part. This is not just Horse Country; it’s also Bourbon Country.

There is no shortage of places to sample the commonwealth’s native spirit. Town Branch Tavern in downtown Lexington offers tours and tastings, or take a short drive through rolling horse country to Woodford Reserve Distillery. Situated on the banks of picturesque Glenn’s Creek, this National Historic Landmark is the oldest and smallest distillery in Kentucky.

5 women sitting in visitors center lounge at Woodford ReserveSarah Jane Sanders, courtesy VisitLEX

Savvy a sample, but don’t have time for a tour? Check out one of the bars in Lexington’s Distillery District; head to the rooftop bar at Belle’s Cocktail House, or indulge in a few of the 200 bourbons (bet you didn’t know there were that many) at Bluegrass Tavern, named one of the 10 Best Bourbon Bars in America by Men’s Journal Magazine.

One more tip: If you have time before or after the game, you can wander over to the Arboretum, located just across from the football stadium. Kentucky’s state botanical garden is a 100-acre paradise offering year-round color.

Finally, while we won’t welcome a Tiger victory, we will happily welcome all Tiger fans.

thoroughbred farm with three horses running, autumn treesBrett Hait, courtesy VisitLEX

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Thanks to our friends in Lexington for providing this blog to help our Traveling Tigers – be sure to add a few of these activities to your weekend itinerary!

You’ll be traveling East on I-64, but you’re definitely headed in a Southern direction to get to Lexington. Our hospitality and cuisine is distinctly Southern, and our history is truly American with the influences of Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln and the Great Compromiser Henry Clay.

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Horses at Donamire Farm – Jeff Rogers

Missouri has Clydesdales and the King of Beers, but Lexington also has something to offer when it comes to horses and cold beverages. Come early and stay late because SEC football isn’t the only event on the books during the last weekend of September.

From historic horse farm and distillery tours to culinary programming and libations, Lexington serves up hospitality at its finest. You’ll understand why people say “Southern Starts Here.”

Historic Horse Farm Tours: Lexington is known as Horse Capital of the World. And although you may not be able to decide whether the rolling landscapes or majestic horses are more beautiful, there’s no question that scheduling a horse farm tour should be on your list of places to visit. There are about 150 horse farms in Lexington alone, many with grand estates dating back to the 1800s.

Keeneland Race Course, with its tranquil setting and lovely stone fences and buildings, is one of the most genteel and beautiful racetracks in the world. The next Live Thoroughbred racing meet won’t start until October and will culminate with the Breeders’ Cup featuring Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah, but visitors are welcome year-round to this National Historic Landmark. You can hang out with jockeys and owners as they eat breakfast in the track kitchen, which is open to the public. Or get an up-close view of horses as they go through their early-morning workouts.

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Kids love horses – Lee Thomas

And the Kentucky Horse Park is home to more than 50 different horse breeds at work and play. The horse is showcased through daily equine presentations, horse-drawn tours, riding, museums and special events.

Bourbon Distillery and Brew Tours: Heritage and history is bottled in the region’s bourbon distilleries. From the large household name bourbons to the hidden gems of small batch distilleries, you’ll have an opportunity to see how they have blended time-honored methods, added a dash of science and restored spirits to an art form. And you just might have time for a sample – or two.

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Craft Beer Flight – Lee Thomas

Or, be one of the first to travel the newly created Brewgrass Trail, where craft brewers are infusing a local variation on the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverage.

Beyond Grits: Lexington’s artisan chefs are constantly exploring and redefining Southern cuisine by adding a local flair — a dash of irreverence, paired with a passion for the land and the hand-crafted, time-tested traditions of past generations. But they also embrace innovation and twists that enliven in all things culinary in Lexington. Sure, they do all the Southern staples, and do them well. But in Lexington, Southern goes way beyond grits! More than 100 independent restaurants will help you sample the local flavor.

Check out more things to do at Or ask a local. There are no shortages of opinions on where to get the tastiest breakfast, best burger or finest filet.

Welcome to all my fellow alums. I hope you love my adopted home of Lexington as much as I do.
Carla Blanton
BJ ‘91

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