Plan out a long weekend with some these best things to do in Lexington, KY. 

Is Lexington, KY on you your travel list? With so many things to do in Lexington, KY it absolutely should be. Today, we are going to dive into what makes this city one of the best cities in the nation. From all that it has to offer outdoors to all that museums that are waiting to be explored, there is so much to do here. So block of a weekend, 'cause Lexington, KY is a great place to go to for a awesome weekend adventure. Let’s dive into what makes this city one of the best.

1. Explore the Kentucky Horse Park 

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When it comes to the states, Kentucky holds the throne as the horse capital of the world. Part of this title comes from the plethora of activities related to horses. After all, this is the home of The Kentucky Derby. When it comes to some of the best things to do in Lexington, KY, visiting the Kentucky Horse Park is an absolute must. The Kentucky Horse Park is a whopping 1032 acre destination for horse lovers to enjoy.

The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm that offers up some of the most stunning attractions and events for people of all ages. To get a true sense of the magnitude of the equestrian impact here, you absolutely must take advantage of the two museums that are housed here. In fact, the International Museum of the Horse takes visitors on a wonderful journey of understanding everything there is to know about the horses' impact on our day-to-day lives. Not only that, but the museum also happens to be an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute. Because of this, you can expect to get an amazing experience.  Along with that, the American Saddlebred Museum is another place to learn about the importance of the horses here and in the surrounding area. Be sure not to miss out on the bank of knowledge that these two museums are known for.

If you find yourself in this part of Kentucky during the summer time, then one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY is to take part in the horse drawn tour that goes on throughout the day here. Along with that, visitors can expect to be met with stunning horse shows and special events that take place right on the grounds. Lastly, for a great day to learn about the horses an soak in the sunshine, packing along a picnic lunch is a must. This is one of the best ways to experience the Kentucky Horse Park. With plenty of ground, you can pick a patch of grass to call your own as you enjoy the scenery around you. Bring along your furry friends and let them run around the grounds as you enjoy one of the best things to do in  Lexington KY.

2. The Aviation Museum of Kentucky

Take flight in this next location that also happens to be one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY. Visiting the Aviation Museum of Kentucky is one of the best places to go to if you want to learn all about the sky. The Aviation Museum is located at the Bluegrass Airport of Lexington. This unique location offers visitors an opportunity to experience aircrafts like no other. With a range of historical and modern aircraft on sight, visitors can learn all that there is to know about the history of flight.

One of the neat features of the Aviation Museum of Kentucky is their expensive exhibit arena. This arena boasts a range of authentic and replica displays. The range of displays includes both military and civilian aircraft that you can take a look at. The distinctions between these two types of aircraft as well as their time period is a pretty neat thing to experience first hand.

Along with the displays, there is plenty more for you to do here. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of things, there is a really neat in house museum. This museum features an impressive collection of photos, documents, and artifacts. This collection takes viewers on a trip down memory lane. The photos capture some of the most iconic moments in aviation history. Be sure not to miss out on stopping by at the library once you arrive at the aviation museum of Kentucky.

Lastly, there is an aircraft restoration and repair shop is a neat place to pop your head into as well. If you are someone who enjoys learning the nitty gritty details about how things work, then this shop is for you. You can learn everything from basic maintenance to how to repair a historic aircraft. The shop provides a range of interpretive information for you to take advantage of too. Be sure not to miss out on it.

You do not have to be a lover of aircrafts to enjoy the Aviation Museum of Kentucky. For its history and preservation of aircrafts alone, you are sure to be impressed. If you find yourself in Lexington, then one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY is to visit this popular destination.

3. Jacobson Park

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Outdoor enthusiasts love Jacobson Park. This urban park is easily one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY for a range of reasons. For starters, there is a range of attractions and features here for visitors to take advantage of. One of the main features is a large pond that offers seasonal pedal boat rentals. This is the perfect way for enjoying a calm day in Lexington, Kentucky. Not only that but if you are a fishing enthusiast, then you are sure to love the fact that the pond does offer fishing opportunities as well.

Finally, dog lovers are sure to love Jacobson park. There is a fenced in dog park that allows four legged companions to roam around freely without a leash. This can be super fun for meeting new friends both for you and your furry companion. Along with sprawling playgrounds, and covered shelters, there is no better place to pack a picnic and head out for an afternoon of enjoyment. If you ask any of the locals or visiting tourists, they will tell you that Jacobson Park is easily one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY.

Other parts of the park that you can take advantage of include open field, basketball courts, and volleyball nets. These are the perfect resources for getting together with friends and family and enjoying the weather.  Whether you are traveling with friends or traveling with children, heading over to Jacobson Park is one of the best ways to get out some energy. All the while, it is one of the best ways to enjoy the nature surrounding you in this beautiful city.  

4. Spend a Day in Keeneland

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Credit: Keeneland

Another popular destination that makes for one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY is to visit the popular Keeneland. The Keeneland arena is home to some of the most popular horse racing in all of Kentucky. In fact, thousands of visitors flock here every year, whether it's horse racing season or not. The history behind Keeneland is quite significant as well. It is part of the history that draws visitors here each year. Since 1936 when horses first began racing here, the annual event became a tradition that is so deeply rooted in Lexington history.

If you are not watching a horse race, then you can sure to find something else going on here. When it comes to horses and jockeys who are preparing for the Kentucky Derby, Keeneland is the place to be. It is here that you can expect to find horses and jockeys preparing for their big day on the Kentucky Derby.  

It is never a dull moment in Keeneland, whether the season is on or off. Lastly, visitors who come here can take advantage not only of the outdoor facility but the indoor facility as well. One of the most popular things to do here is to tour the sales complex. Before you head out here, of course, be sure to check the Keeneland website. The website offers a calendar that details out the main events and attractions that are going to take place.

5. Visit the Mary Todd Lincoln House

History buffs are sure to love this next destination. Mary Todd Lincoln was the 16th first lady of the United States, and unknown to many, she grew up right here in Lexington. In fact, her childhood home where she grew up is right in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky. For many who have a love for the 16th president, visiting his wife's house is one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY.

The home is not just any home either. In fact, the entirety of the home has been very well preserved and memorialized. This has allowed visitors to gain a very intimate understanding of who Mary Todd Lincoln was. Visitors can expect to find a range of things including furniture that dates back to her day. Not only that, but there are plenty of authentic artifacts that give you a sense of what it was like to live in her time. From portraits to everyday objects, the wide range of artifacts from the Lincoln and Todd families can be found here.

There are a couple of ways to experience the Mary Todd Lincoln House. You certainly can explore the house on your own. This gives you the opportunity to explore and move around at your own pace. Throughout the house, there are pieces of interpretive information that detail facts about the families as well as the specific details of Mary Todd Lincoln herself. The museum also does a great job of detailing bits of Lincoln's life as well as the lives of their children. If you would like a more knowledgeable experience, than one of the best ways to sea the Mary Todd Lincoln House is through a guided tour. With the aid of a knowledgeable guide, you will get a full scale understanding of Mary Todd Lincoln and what life looked like through her eyes.

6. Visit the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, then you are sure to love this next location. The Raven Run Nature Sanctuary is easily one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY. This is especially true if you are looking to get in tune with nature. The Nature Sanctuary is roughly 700 acres and is a scenic and expansive area of greenery that is situated right outside the heart of Lexington. There is plenty of outdoor space that is open and beautiful. It is the perfect area of space not only for the animals who call this sanctuary home but for the people who come visit as well.

The main mission behind the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary is to preserve and protect the Kentucky River Palisades region that is unique in its own right. The balance in this mission is being able to preserve and protect the area all while not impeding on the natural environment.

When it comes to exploring Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, there are certainly many hikes that you can take advantage of. There are nearly 10 miles of hiking trails and walking paths that will take you on a journey through the beautiful greenery and forestry that is located here. Some of the things you can expect to experience here include seeing views that look like they are straight out of a Windows screensaver. From rugged forest, to calm and beautiful meadows, the scenery here is simply stunning. Having a nice relaxing picnic here during a lovely spring day or warm summer afternoon is a great way to explore the grounds here. During the colder months, it can get a little bit bitter and uncomfortable to go out exploring the wilderness here. Though the natural setting does make for a beautiful winter wonderland during the winter months.

7. Visit the University Arboretum

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If you are looking for peace and tranquility, then one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY is to visit the Arboretum. The University of Kentucky owns a beautiful 100 acre space that has been transformed into an arboretum. In fact, this arboretum is one of the most tranquil and peaceful locations that Lexington has to offer.

The arboretum is great for strolling around in if you are looking for a way to enjoy a nice spring afternoon. If you are traveling with children, then there is even a Children's Garden that is located in the Arboretum. The Children's Garden features a range of interactive outdoor activities. These activities serve as both educational uses and playful uses. Children get to interact with their environment and learn about the beautiful plants and animals that surround them in the Children's Garden.

When it comes to the rest of the garden, there are a variety of themed gardens that call the arboretum home. These themed gardens not only serve as an educational resource for but as a  conservation center as well. The plans that bloom here throughout the year do so to promote and facilitate a healthy environment that showcases what the nature of Lexington has to offer. Throughout the year, there is a range of events and activities available to the public. While most of these activities are free, there are some that may require admissions. For a detailed list of activities that are going on, be sure to check out the arboretum online calendar.

8. Pies & Pints

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Credit: Pies & Pints

The best way to explore any new city is by sampling some of the food there. In order to soak in the culinary atmosphere of Lexington, one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY is to visit a town favorite, Pies & Pints. Pines & Pints is one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY if you are looking for an authentic taste of Kentucky.

Unlike your traditional restaurant, Pies & Pints is dedicated to providing visitors with some of the tastiest Pizza pies around. What makes these pizza pies so unique is the fact that they are made from only high quality, locally grown and fresh ingredients. As you would expect, the pizza pie crusts are made fresh in house every day. When it comes to the toppings, you are sure to find more than your typical pepperoni and mushrooms. They have unique and creative topping combinations that are simply out of this world.

To top off your delectable pizza, a finely crafted collection of hand selected craft beer is available for you to choose from. If you are not sure what to go with, your server is more than happy to direct you to some of the top combinations.

Many locals and visitors love coming to Pies & Pints for a variety of reasons. Not only is there food to die for, but the atmosphere here is simply addicting. With its charming and quaint feel, you truly do feel like you are at home here. Without a doubt, visiting this urban style dining hub is one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY. We are sure that you will absolutely love it.

9. Institute 193

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Credit: ​Institute 193

If you are an art lover, then it will be worth your while to visit this next destination. For art lovers all over, Institute 193 is easily one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY.  This art gallery is loved by many for so many reasons. For starters, Institute 193 is home to a range of contemporary art. What makes this gallery unique is the fact that it aims to provide access to art in mid-size American cities that might not normally experience it. This destination has become a fan favorite for locals and is certainly sure to please out of town visitors as well.

If you are looking to experience the gallery on your own, then be sure to come out every Wednesday through Saturday when the gallery is open to the public. Take advantage of both the morning and afternoon hours that showcase unique pieces from budding artists.

When you visit, you will find that a main theme between the art here is showcasing pieces that express the everyday culture of the South. While you can find these pieces of art on a somewhat permanent basis, there are showcase exhibits that you can look out for. Every couple of months, showcase exhibits take center stage and bring out plenty of locals.

Along with the beautiful art, visitors can look forward to seeing live performances that are perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Along with that, there are several film screenings and art lectures that give visitors and even more rich understanding of the world of art. You do not have to be an art lover to appreciate this fantastic location. Without a doubt popping into the well loved Institute 193 is easily one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY.

10. Headley Whitney Museum of Art 

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Credit: Headley Whitney Museum of Art / Facebook

What makes Lexington, KY so unique is the fact that the community here is so dedicated in making their city a great place. Part of this dedication can be seen in the Headley Whitney Museum. This Museum was initially founded by Lexington citizens George Hadley and Barbara Whitney. In this Museum, this couple has showcased a vast range of artifacts and objects for visitors to appreciate

George Headley spent a majority of his life as a jewelry designer. Because of his passion, he has created a beautiful collection of handmade pieces that are wonderfully displayed in this Museum. In addition to his own work, Barbara Whitney was a Craftsman herself. Her work includes designing a range of stunning doll houses, Miniatures, and bibelots that are displayed here as well.

The talent that this couple possesses is one that was too great to let fizzle out. In order to preserve their talent and display their work to the world, the museum was created for that purpose primarily. In another attempt to pull the community into appreciation in the local art, the Headley Whitney Museum has succeeded in doing so. Their craftsmanship and love for the arts is one that has been celebrated by many through this fabulous museum.

Along with their beautiful creations, visitors are sure to love the Rose Garden that is housed here. This Rose Garden is such a tranquil place that is perfect for strolling around in on a warm spring day. Not only that, but there is a wonderful library that visitors can take advantage of too. In addition to the library, a shell grotto, and a series of rotating exhibits are what make this museum simply unique.

Not only is there a rich amount of history for you to soak up here. But there is a beauty that surrounds you in nearly every turn. Visitors are sure not to be disappointed by spending a long afternoon in this great museum. For many visitors and locals alike, stopping by the Headley Whitney museum is easily one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY.

11. Visit the Old Kentucky Chocolate Factory 

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For all the sweet tooth lovers, Kentucky is the place to be. One of the best things to do in Lexington, KY is to go on a chocolate tour. Kentucky is home to one of the most popular chocolate companies, Old Kentucky Chocolate. It's no surprise why the Old Kentucky Chocolate factory is loved by so many. 

The chocolate factory invites people to their factory grounds for tours that are as I opening as they are wonderful. Visitors get to go behind the scenes and learn all that there is to know about the hard work that goes into crafting the perfect piece of chocolate. Visitors will be able to see the chocolate process from start to finish. This process includes the cooking, the molding,  and the distribution process. A first hand account of how the chocolate is made is why the Old Kentucky Chocolate factory is so great. Visiting it is an absolute must.

Once you have learned all that there is to know about the art of chocolate making process, visitors can look forward to learning about the company's rich history thanks to the knowledgeable guides. The history of the company will give you a whole new appreciation for what they do.

Finally, visitors are sure to love the end of the tour of the Old Kentucky Chocolate factory. The tour concludes with guests being able to relive the iconic "I Love Lucy" scene. As fresh batches of chocolate make their way down the conveyor belt, visitors are encouraged to pluck one off and sample it for good measure. Without a doubt, visiting the Old Kentucky Chocolate factory is one of the best things to do in Lexington, KY. Not only will you be able to leave with a tasty bag of sweets in your hand. But the memories here are simply wonderful!

Final Thoughts

Sometimes, the most underrated destinations are the ones that have plenty to offer. When it comes to underrated cities, Lexington, Kentucky surely makes the mark. With so many things to do in this wonderful state, you can easily take more than a long weekend to enjoy it all. If you plan on traveling south as the cooler months set in, be sure not to leave Lexington of your list.

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Nadia El-Yaouti is a mother, English language arts middle school teacher, writer, and photographer. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and two little girls. Although she considers herself a workaholic, Nadia’s greatest pride is being a mom. When she’s not juggling work, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family.

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