What do the state of Kentucky and the Grove have in common? A bottomless supply of bourbon.
THE BOURBON TRAIL
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is made up of several distilleries all over the state from Louisville to Lexington. Distilleries near the University of Kentucky include The Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Buffalo Trace and Four Roses.
Four Roses is located less than 30 miles from Lexington and offers 45-minute distillery tours Monday through Saturday all day, giving visitors plenty of time to see just how William Faulkner’s drink of choice is made through the fermentation and distillation process.
The distillery handcrafts ten different bourbon recipes, all with a unique taste.
If you prefer to take your Four Roses at Faulkner’s Grave instead, don’t worry. All other distilleries offer tour options, and reservations for small groups aren’t required.
Town Branch Distillery and Barrel House Distilling are both located in the heart of downtown, making them readily available for tours during a quick trip.
The Kentucky Horse Park is a farm and educational park that has brought people closer to horses in Lexington since 1978. The park houses many horses in its stables (known as the Hall of Champions) and visitors can walk the grounds to see the animals while asking handlers any and all equestrian questions.
The park has both indoor and outdoor attractions, allowing visitors to experience Kentucky horses, no matter the weather. The International Museum of the Horse and the American Saddlebred Museum are housed on-site and dedicated to the storied history of horses and their impact on civilization.
“The Kentucky Horse Park allows people the chance to get close to horses and find out what the connection is between horses and Kentuckians,” Director of Public Relations Lisa Jackson said. “It’s something that’s hard to put into words, but everyone should experience it.”
Visitors can also pay their respects to some of the greatest horses in history. The park is the burial site for Man o’ War, one of the most famous thoroughbred racing horses ever. Man o’ War’s Memorial is marked by a bronze statue near the entrance of the park, and he and several of his offspring are buried under it.
He was born in 1917, making this year the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Also on site is a 260-acre campground. This area is the only local campground and is a location that many football fans choose to stay when visiting Lexington during football games. On the weekend of the Kentucky vs. Ole Miss football game, the park will host the CP National Horse Show. This longest running indoor horse show in North America began in Madison Square Garden in the late 1800s, and there will be opportunities for visitors to attend some of the week’s events at no charge.
The Kentucky Horse Park is open during the Winter season Wednesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
THE CITY LIFE
Lexington also has a wealth of entertainment and dining. The newly opened Summit at Fritz Farm features 300,000 square feet of retail, office, hotel and living space. Retailers include Draper James, the contemporary Southern fashion line owned by actress Reese Witherspoon, among others.
There’s also plenty of dining in the mixed-use space. Opening in October is The Barn at Fritz Farm, Kentucky’s first food hall which will include all local restaurants like Athenian Grill and Deli, Atomic Ramen, Pasture by Marksbury Farm and Whiskey Bear.
The culinary scene in Lexington is growing, and visitors who want a taste of Kentucky have a variety of options. County Club restaurant serves Kentucky-raised beef, pork, lamb, goat and chicken, all smoked on site with a variety of flavors from around the world. The smoked meats, cooked with hardwoods and low temperatures, are paired with classic sides made with fresh ingredients for the perfect Southern lunch or dinner.
For a “rustic, yet refined” dining experience, visit Carson’s. The theme is old Kentucky elegance. Its Prohibition-style cocktails combined with recipes such as the Bearnaise Burger, Bourbon Chicken and Rose Linguini show locals and visitors what the Bluegrass state has to offer. Carson’s also has a Sunday Brunch and live jazz music.
The city is also developing a new entertainment hub – The Lexington Distillery District. The original site of the James Pepper Distillery, built in 1879, has been vacant for several decades, but the historic place is set to reopen with a museum on site to accompany production of original James E. Pepper Bourbon. Other tenants of the district include the city’s most buzzworthy food truck-turned-restaurant Middle Fork, Ethereal Brewing craft beer, Crank & Boom Craft Ice Cream, Goodfellas Pizzeria, The Break Room Bar, Barrel House Distilling and Elkhorn Tavern, offering plenty of dining and nightlife options.
“Fall is a beautiful time to visit Lexington, and we love hosting our friends from around the SEC,” Visit LEX Director of Communications Niki Heichelbech-Goldey says.
“We look forward to welcoming Ole Miss fans in November and encourage those who make the trek to visit one of our many bourbon distilleries, check out our thriving culinary scene or stop in at one of our local breweries along the Brewgrass Trail.”