Stallions & Bourbon in Lexington, Kentucky

I recently visited some family that moved down to Lexington, Kentucky. It’s probably not a place at the top of most people’s bucket list, but it’s one of those cities that is a pleasant surprise of amazing landscapes, delicious food, and some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. My relatives planned an activity-filled weekend that was an excellent introduction to Kentucky, and a fun weekend getaway for anyone traveling to the Bluegrass State.

We flew into Cincinnati, OH which is only about an hour and a half drive to Lexington. (The Cincinnati airport actually sits on the border of Kentucky and Ohio.) Lexington also has an airport but it’s much smaller and therefore has less flights (and they’re often more expensive).

The closer you get to Lexington, the more fence along the roadway you’ll begin to see wrapped around beautiful horse farms. It’s easy to see why it’s called the “Horse Capital of the World.”

Kentucky Horse Farms
Kentucky Horse Farms

Lexington is a small city by comparison to the cities of the northeast, but the downtown area is walkable and has some great restaurants. We ate at Carson’s for some amazing Southern food including a pretzels and beer cheese, the Bearnaise Burger topped with bacon and an egg, and smoked gouda mac and cheese cheese with BBQ pork. (Yes, we indulged in all of the southern comforts.)

Bourbon Tasting mosaic tile
A Bourbon Tasting in Kentucky is a must

We took a few day trips to experience the Lexington culture which is famous for two very important things – bourbon and horses! (Don’t worry, not together.)

Maker's Mark Distillery
Maker’s Mark Distillery

Bourbon Tour & Tasting at Maker’s Mark

The first stop was Maker’s Mark – one of the most famous bourbon distilleries. We took the tour of the distillery and learned of the history of the distillery and the family that founded it, as well as how the bourbon is made. (Interesting fact: Bourbon is the name of whisky made in America and 95% of the world’s bourbon is made in Kentucky.)

Maker's Mark
Touring the various buildings at Maker’s Mark

The distillery itself is historic and a site to see. The location often features art installations, and we visited during the exhibit of the famed American glassmaker Dale Chihuly. Most of the installations throughout the property were temporary, but this glass installation in the ceiling of the rack house is permanent. Chihuly is known for site-specific art like this and aims to transform the viewer experience. (If you’ve been to the Bellagio in Las Vegas, you probably recognize his work.)

Chuhily art installation

Chuhily art installation
Chuhily art installation in the ceiling of the Rack Room of Maker’s Mark

The end of the tour concludes with a bourbon tasting, of course. We tried several different varieties, from light to dark, including some only available at that location. We finished in the gift shop where you can buy a bottle of Maker’s and dip it in the signature red wax yourself. (It’s harder than it looks!)

Bourbon tasting
Bourbon tasting at Maker’s Mark

Claiborne Farm

You can’t visit Kentucky without going to a horse farm. We took a tour of Claiborne Farm in nearby Paris, Kentucky – a farm founded in 1910 which produced the famous Tripe Crown winner Secretariat (who is buried on the property). We visited several of the current stallions and toured the gorgeous property.

Claiborne Farm
Claiborne Farm
Secretariat grave
The grave of Secretariat, the American Thoroughbred who, in 1973, became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.

Lexington has the southern charm and picturesque landscapes that you’d expect. The comforts of some gorgeous scenery, a good drink, and some fantastic meals makes this a worthy weekend trip.

Lexington, KY
Lexington, KY

Next time, I’m coming for the Derby!

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