The Commonwealth of Kentucky, also known as the Bluegrass State, has numerous cities and counties that are worth your visit. The state is known for other things aside from the world-renowned Kentucky Fried Chicken and of course, it would be a mistake to not get the best out of the state when you are in it. If you are looking to get a full feel of what the city life is like in the state of Kentucky, then there’s no other place to be aside from Lexington, which is the largest state in Kentucky. Known as the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington is not only the largest city in Kentucky, it is also the heart of the state itself as well.
The area we know now as Lexington used to be a massive landmass of fertile soil and abundant wildlife. It was also inhabited by Native Americans up until European explorers began trade with them. However, the explorers really didn’t get to interact with the former inhabitants up until they began coming in large numbers during the late 18th century.
The city was later on founded by European American in June 1775. Back then, it was considered as a part of the Fincastle County, Virginia territory but that was because Kentucky wasn’t recognized as a state back then. William McConnell once camped at the site of the present-day McConnell Springs. After hearing word of the victory of colonists during the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, McConnell and his men decided to name their campsite as Lexington, hence the name of the city.
As the years rolled by, Lexington turned from a simple campsite, into a rising city. By 1806, it was already booming with trade and industry. Now, it has become a center point for tourists and locals alike. We’re sure you’re very excited to visit this amazing city but before anything else, here’s a rundown of the essential things you should know beforehand.
- 1 How To Get To Lexington
- 2 Budget For Lexington
- 3 Best Time To Visit Lexington
- 4 Free Things to Do in Lexington, Kentucky
- 4.1 Stroll Keeneland Thoroughbred Racing
- 4.2 Enjoy nature at the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
- 4.3 Tour a horse farm at Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau
- 4.4 Get to know Lexington’s past at the Lexington History Museum
- 4.5 Take a sneak peek of Lexington’s state government at the Capitol Complex
- 4.6 Sample some chocolates at the Old Kentucky Chocolates
- 4.7 See how cars are made at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing
- 4.8 Enjoy the recreational activities at Jacobson Park
- 4.9 Go hiking at Camp Nelson National Cemetery and Civil War Site
- 4.10 Stroll through Lexington Cemetery
- 4.11 Dig deeper into the “Big Blue” traditions
- 4.12 Appreciate art even more at the Loudoun House
- 4.13 Go back in time at the Gratz Park
- 4.14 Visit the Farmers’ Market
- 4.15 See a collection of early medical instruments at Transylvania University
- 4.16 Join the Big Lex Scavenger Hunt
- 4.17 Tour downtown Lexington
- 4.18 Join special events around the city
How To Get To Lexington
As it is a major city in the state of Kentucky, you should have no trouble whatsoever when getting to Lexington. If you are arriving by air, you should book a flight that lands you to Lexington’s own Blue Grass Airport which is approximately 10-minutes away from downtown and is surrounding by horse farms. If you are one to be amazed by huge farms and animals, you’ll be in for a treat here.
Some of the carriers that service the Blue Grass Airport include Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Express and U.S. Airways.
From the Blue Grass Airport, we suggest that you rent a car from one of the many service providers in the area. As usual, you should book your car ahead of the trip so that it’ll be ready once you arrive at the airport. If you are looking for other modes of public transportation, then you can take the intra-city bus system from Lextran. Alternatively, Uber and Lyft are available in Lexington too.
Budget For Lexington
The good thing about traveling to major cities in states is that the budget range is vast as there are a number of choices for accommodation, restaurants, public transportation, and everything else. The same goes when you are visiting Lexington but of course, it helps to come to the city with a budget in mind.
For accommodation, your expenses could range from $50-150 a night. If you are looking to save up on the room you are going to stay in, we suggest avoiding rooms located in near the airport. The downtown area is filled with luxury and budget hotels so do your research before you make a booking.
One of the reasons why we always suggest renting a car is that it is more cost-efficient especially if you are traveling as a group. In Lexington, you can spend $20 per day on a 4-person car with gas included. If you all decide to take public transportation, then you could end up spending several dollars more.
For food and drinks, you’ll be in for a treat as there are many hole-in-the-wall restaurants at Lexington. There are also fancy ones as well. To avoid going over budget, make sure you keep your food spending at $15 per person daily. Lastly, make sure to set aside at least $200 as a budget for entrance tickets, souvenirs, and other extra goods.
Best Time To Visit Lexington
You should go to Lexington during early spring. During that time of the year, the room rates will be much cheaper as there are fewer tourists in the city. In total, you could end up saving up to 45% on rooms! As for the weather, you can expect it to hover in the high 40s which is still cool all in all. What’s the best about visiting during this season is that there are not many tourists. This means short lines at attractions, and more tables at restaurants too.
If a busy crowd is something you are hoping to avoid, don’t visit Lexington mid-spring. Hotel and other rental rates will peak during this period. Ideally, you may also want to avoid key Lexington events such as The Keeneland week (October 5th – 9th), the KY – Derby week (May 3rd – 7th) as well as the Rolex week (April 25th – 30th). These key events will bring out locals as well as tourists so expect heavier crowds everywhere.
Free Things to Do in Lexington, Kentucky
They say that the best things in life are free and Lexington, Kentucky can prove it. Often, when traveling, it could cost us a hefty amount of money. But not in Lexington. Yes, you read it right. You can travel to Lexington and still get to enjoy a lot of its attractions at a cheap price or even without spending a dime! And the best part of it is that it is for people of all ages. In case you want to try it out, here is a list of some of the cheap and free things to do in Lexington, Kentucky.
1Stroll Keeneland Thoroughbred Racing
Keeneland Thoroughbred Racing is known as one of the perfect venues to watch horse racing. Many people, both locals and tourists alike flock this place to see live equestrian races. But don’t worry if you’re not much of a fun of such sport as you can still enjoy it and for free. Every morning, this place opens for free for those who want to enjoy an early morning workout. You can also stroll along its tracks too.
2Enjoy nature at the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Enjoying nature is also one of the free things to do in Lexington, particularly at the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. Here, you have more than 700 acres of natural beauty to enjoy. There are hiking trails through woodlands, meadows, and stream as well.
3Tour a horse farm at Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau
Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau offers horse farm tours and it’s also one of the best free things to do in Lexington too. See how these horses are taken care of and learn more about them through this tour.
4Get to know Lexington’s past at the Lexington History Museum
Known as Lexington’s only free historic site, this place can give you a glimpse of what it Lexington was like in the past through its exhibits. The museum offers several activities as well and they are all perfect for the whole family.
5Take a sneak peek of Lexington’s state government at the Capitol Complex
This place is also open for tourists and locals alike who want to see a glimpse of Kentucky’s government. You can tour the capitol and see murals of historic figures as well as some dolls dressed in replicas of the state’s First Ladies’ inaugural gowns. And if you’re lucky enough, you might even see the state’s legislators in action. It’s definitely one of the free things to do in Lexington that you shouldn’t miss adding to your itinerary.
6Sample some chocolates at the Old Kentucky Chocolates
If you want to see how candies are made and take a sample, visiting the Old Kentucky Chocolates is one of the cool and cheap things to do in Lexington that are for you. Here, they let people see how they make their candies via tour that are available from Mondays to Thursdays at 10 AM at $5.
7See how cars are made at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing
Toyota Motor Manufacturing offers tours where you can get to see how they manufacture their cars and even learn more about their motors and it’s one of the unique and cool free things to do in Lexington too. See how they create cars from scratch at an hour-long tour in America’s first and largest Toyota Plant. And again, you don’t have to pay even a cent. You just need to fill out a form to reserve your spot.
8Enjoy the recreational activities at Jacobson Park
You can also enjoy the recreational activities that Jacobson Park offers for free. Here, you have more than 200 acres of the park where you can play basketball and volleyball. It also has open play fields where you can have a picnic with the whole family and creative playground structures that kids will surely love too. Jacobson Park also offers fishing activities for free but only if you have a state fishing license.
9Go hiking at Camp Nelson National Cemetery and Civil War Site
Camp Nelson National Cemetery and Civil war Site is basically known as a cemetery where you will be able to see the graves of approximately 1,600 soldiers. However, this place also offers some activities and, in fact, these are some of the best free things to do in Lexington, especially if you’re looking for some outdoor adventure. One of the highlights of this place is its trails where you can enjoy hiking more than 5 miles through the site’s Civil War base.
10Stroll through Lexington Cemetery
Strolling through a cemetery might sound weird and you might just pass on this idea. But don’t just yet. Apparently, Lexington Cemetery also doubles as an arboretum. Hence, aside from tombstones and graves of many Lexingtonians (even notable ones like Milton K. Barlow, Gay Brewer, and Solomon Lee Van Meter, Daniel Carmichael “DC” Wickcliffe), you can also get to enjoy nature more and it’s one of the best free things to do in Lexington too.
11Dig deeper into the “Big Blue” traditions
In case you don’t know yet, the Big Blue Nation is the fan base of University of Kentucky athletic programs. But you are still welcome to get to know it more through the guided tours in the campus from Mondays to Fridays. Tours are held twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. And have we mentioned that you don’t have to pay a cent for this? It’s one of the best free things to do in Lexington, especially if you’re a fan of the campus’ athletic programs.
12Appreciate art even more at the Loudoun House
If you’re an art lover, you would want to visit the Loudoun House. Located in Castlewood Drive, this place is filled with art works that you will surely love. And the best part of it is that you can do it for free. But its exhibits aren’t the only thing that is worth talking about. The house alone is a work of art too with tis Gothic design. Appreciate the beauty of art more and even get to share the visions of the artists at Lexington and visit this place. It’s worth the drive too.
13Go back in time at the Gratz Park
Strolling around the Gratz Park is one of the best free things to do in Lexington as well. This is because this place will let you travel back in time with the houses in the neighborhood that dates back to 1800s. Located north of downtown Lexington, this neighborhood was and it’s still the poshest neighborhood in Lexington and it’s a sight that’s not to be missed too.
14Visit the Farmers’ Market
Okay, this might not be one of the free things to do in Lexington as you will surely see lots of things to buy. However, it’s also included on this list as one of the cheap things to do in the city. This is because this market is often filled with good deals. However, the market is only open every Friday of spring through fall.
15See a collection of early medical instruments at Transylvania University
Transylvania University has a collection of early medical instruments and you can view it for free. But aside from that, the outstanding Greek revival architecture of the school is also worth seeing. So be sure to check them out. However, note that visits are only by appointment. So before you visit, be sure to call them first at 859-233-8120.
16Join the Big Lex Scavenger Hunt
Your trip to Lexington won’t be complete if you don’t join the “Big Lex” Scavenger Hunt. For starters, you’d have to snap a photo of you on the ten sites relate to the horse behind the legend of the blue horse, the famous horse in mid-1800s named Lexington. However, to find out which sites they are, you’d have to guess it with the clues provided here. Who knows, you might win some prizes. And even if you don’t it’s still an exciting activity that’s not to be missed as you can also get to explore different attractions in Lexington.
17Tour downtown Lexington
You can tour downtown Lexington at your own pace for free as well. Just download the LexArch Tour app and it will guide you to 13 of Lexington’s historic and architectural spots. The app is downloadable for free too. With this, you’ll have more time to explore Lexington by yourself.
18Join special events around the city
Aside from the free attractions that Lexington has, the city also offers special events throughout the year. From parades and art fairs to festivals and even Christmas sing-alongs, there’s plenty of special events that you can enjoy in Lexington for free. Just keep an eye out for on Lexington’s calendar of events by contacting the Lexington Visitors Center at 859-233-7299 or 800-845-3959. You can also check out the website www.visitlex.com to see what’s on while you’re in town.