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Lexington blends the merges a bustling vibrant city with acres of stunning pasturized land and 450 horse farms. Venturing not far from the surprisingly cosmopolitan city are miels of white picket fences, magnificent barns.
Exploring the historic downtown you'll discover a mixture of art galleries, theaters, parks, delicious dining experiences and charming neighborhoods. Five minutes from downtown you’ll even find the largest mall in the entire state of Kentucky! It's a wonderful city for families to visit, so we can't wait to share with you our city guide on Lexington, featuring our "Top 9 Family Attractions" that you can enjoy on your next family day out in the heart of the Bluegrass region!
There are so many fun things to do with kids in Lexington, so make sure check out our entire Lexington City Guide we've carefully put together, so you know exactly how to plan your family day out when you visit "The Horse Capital of the World!"
Image Credit: Kentucky Tourism
In this Lexington City Guide, we list out you our top 9 things to do with kids (which are also great for the family too!), as well as let you know about plenty of experiences that will surely make you fall in love with Lexington even more. We know budgets are always a factor when travelling as a family, so also in this Lexington City Guide we list some really fun FREE things to do with kids!
Lexington is super easy to explore without a car, so we also let you know the best way to get around the city with public transport, and we also share some really fun facts about Lexington that might just surprise you!
If you want to explore a bit further out, this Lexington City Guide also looks at a great day trip from Lexington! We also check out some famous faces who were born in the city - all of which help make your family time in Lexington the best family day out it can be.
So whether this is your first trip to the Bluegrass Region, or perhaps you were born in Lexington but never had time to really explore it and you wonder "What is there is to do near me in Lexington?", then keep reading, because we have the top 9 things to do in Lexington with kids...and so much more!
Image Credit: Kentucky Tourism
The city of Lexington obtained it's name in June 1775 (after the Massacchusetts town named Lexington after the colonists declard victory during the Battle of Lexington and Concord) - 17 years before Kentucky actually became a state!
Since the early 1800s, Lexington held its strong and cultured reputation when it became the largest and most wealthy town in the state, so history lovers will take away so much from a visit to this city.
Lexington was a prolific slave-owning city, and by 1850 it actually had the highest concentration of enslaved people in the whole of Kentucky, however the city also had a large number of their black population who were free. As a result 1850 also saw the First African Baptist Church secure the largest congretation of any church in the entire state.
For music lovers, Lexington is just a important as New Orleans or Nashville. The month of June sees two popular music festivals come alive including The Festival of Bluegrass, which is Kentucky's oldest bluegrass music festival.
Today, Lexington beautifully manages to expand the city for the ever growing population without impacting the beautiful horse farms and countryside that surround it - something that really gives the region its idenity and often what keeps drawing families back!
Image Credit: Kentucky Tourism
From the iconic horses to the rich history and everything in between, Lexington really does have a great range of fun things to do with the family!
You can't move in Lexington without being reminded it's the Horse Capital of the World, so maybe sure your first port of call is at the Kentucky Horse Park! Maybe you want to follow that up with some Horse Farm Tours?
If you love history, add attractions such as Waveland State Historic Site and Mary Todd Lincoln Historic Home to your itinerary, and just soak up the stories that the city is waiting to tell you.
Don't miss checking out places such as the Aviation Museum of Kentucky and the Living Arts and Science Center - both great places where kids can learn but also be inspired!
With so many fun things to do in Lexington, you might just find yourself with TOO many options!
The first thing that you'll love about Lexington if you don't have a car, is that many of the great restaurants, attractions and shops are all within walking distance of the major hotels - so if you love to walk, then you're in luck! Walking is also a great way to soak up the atmosphere and really get to know a city (plus it's great to tire out the kids!)
Lextran offers an intra-city bus service with a number of easily color-coded routes that can take you to all corners of Lexington, with single adult fares starting from just $1, and a day pass $3.
Blue Grass Airport is only a 10 minute drive from downtown too, so an easy Uber or Lyft from when you arrive! The airport happens to be located near Keeneland Race Course and surrounded by beautiful horse farms, making it one of America's most beautiful air approaches (so try and get a window seat!)
Image Credit: Visit Lex
Main Image Credit: Kentucky Tourism
With so much history in Lexington, it's no wonder that some of the city's other residents might just come out at say hi when the sun goes down!
Through The Ghost Walk of Lexington, you can join experienceed paranomal researcher and historical enthusiast M.C. Fowler as she takes you on an unforgettable ghost walk around Lexington's Gratz Park. As you stroll through the park, you'll hear tales of hauntings from a murder, as well as a curse, and other macabre happenings while entertaining you with intriguing history.
You'll also hear how you can use devices to capture evidence of ghosts so make sure you take your camera, recorder, or meters to collect evidence of ghosts and spirits! BOO!
The tours operate every Friday and Saturday nights, and kids under 6 can attend for free!
Source & Image Credit: Ghost Walk of Lexington
Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Lexington
1Mary Todd Lincoln House
Discover one of the most fascinating First Ladies in the USA at this historic home of Mary Todd Lincoln. The surname might give it away - yes, she was the wife of the 16th President Abraham Lincoln.
Located in the heart of downtown Lexington, self-guided tours take you around this iconic piece of history and tell you all about this sophisticated and educated yet controversial historic figure.
Image Credit: Mary Todd Lincoln House
One of the most popular things to do in Lexington, the Kentucky Horse Park is not only a working horse farm but also an educational theme park that has been entertaining and educating families since 1978.
Travel through equine history as you explore the 60,000 sq foot International Museum of Horses, see the Hall of Champions at the Equine Theme Park and explore the American Saddlebred Museum. Two more museums plus pony rides for the kids and plenty of live events really do make this a must-visit for any trip to the Horse Capital of the World!
Image Credit: Kentucky Horse Park
Lexington is horse country so getting up close and personal to the world's premier Thoroughbred's is a perfect way to spend the day with the kids.
The three hour tours with your tour guide will take you to a number of gorgeous horse farms, as well as to Historic Keeneland Race Course, plus a number of other fun attractions in the area for a unique glimpse into the daily happenings of a working farm!
Image Credit: Horse Farm Tours
Set across 25,000sq ft at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky are exhibits that tell the fascinating story of Kentucky's aviation history, and those who inspired and shaped it to what it is today.
One of the highlights at the museum is the outdoor space where numerous real life aircraft can be found - from airplanes to helicopters and more - all of which have a story to tell and are always fun for kids to see up close in person!
Image Credit: AMK
There is so much history in Lexington, and a stop at the Hunt-Morgan House will allow you to immerse yourself in it. The Hunt-Morgan House was built back in 1814 for the first millionaire west of the Alleghenies. This happened to be a hemp merchant named John Wesley Hunt.
The history is fascainting, but so is the architecture which represents a Kentucky adaptation of the Federal style. Guided tours are offered throughout the week, and there is also a Civil War Museum on the second floor which is well worth a visit.
Image Credit: Bluegrass Trust
This one is just out of Lexington city, but it's so great it made our Top 9 list - Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. Here you meet 3,000 acres of discovery all in the spirit of the Kentucky Shakers. In fact, it's home to the third largest Shaker community in the entire USA between 1805 and 1910
Explore The Historic Centre, The Farm as well as The Preserve, where you can see amazing architecture, learn about growing food and even find your own four-legged friends as you play near the creek! History and nature meets.
Image Credit: Shaker Village
It's all about art, science and being inspired at the Living Arts & Science Center in Lexington. This non-profit is all about engaging kids and the local community through discovery, education, creativity and exploration.
At the center they have created hands-on and interactive activites based around science and art directly from professional educators as well as active scientists and artists, so you know your kids are in great hands. They also have a planetarium too!
Image Credit: LACS
Recommended for those creative and curious kids is the Headley-Whitney Musuem which was founded in 1968 by jewelry designer, George Headley along side his wife, Barbara Whitney and today features three permanent collections that include the work of George Headley himself.
The museum also rotates exhibitions featuring works of various artists and genres, so the museum really is a place where kids (especially over around 7 or 8 years old) can be inspired!
Image Credit: Headley-Whitney Museum
Waveland State Historic Site is a stunning Antebellum house in Lexington, which is also known as the Joseph Bryan estate. Here you can take a guided tour around the property including the three original outbuildings - slave quarters, smokehouse and ice house. These tours of Waveland historic site focus on the everyday lives of the family and the enslaved people who lived and worked at Waveland in the 1850s
They also have Tuesday Teas and vintage baseball games that make the experience so much more fun if you time your visit right!
Image Credit: Kentucky State Parks
Famous Folk From Lexington!
George Clooney is an American actor, producer, and filmmaker. In addition to his Golden Globe and Academy Awards, he was the recipient of the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.
His films include Three Kings, Out of Sight, and Michael Clayton.
Image Credit: Nicolas Genin
Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Todd Lincoln was the first ever First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865 as the wife of President Abraham Lincoln
She grew up in Lexington as part of a large, wealthy slave-owning family, and was actually a one of the most unpopular First Ladies in history!
Image Credit: Public Domain
5 Fun Lexington Facts
Impress your friends with your amazing Lexington knowledge!
- Lexington was the first city to launch a Michael Jackson "Thriller" re-enactment, and now every Halloween you'll find two thousand zombies rising up at the historic Kentucky Theatre before dancing down Main Street!
- Lexington once had a town dog! In the 1950's Smiley Pete had a daily routine of hamburger & waffles at Brandy’s Kitchen, before a bowl of draft beer at the Turf Bar followed by popcorn at the Opera House. He sadly died in 1957.
- 95% of the world’s Bourbon is aged in the state of Kentucky, and 9 of these distilleries are found within 35 minutes of Lexington, including two right in downtown!
- The Buffalo Trace Distillery was one of four distilleries to sneakily obtain a special government license to produce “medicinal whiskey” during Prohibition. Shhh....
- Lexington is home to the world’s largest mural of Abraham Lincoln, created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra (one of over 30 street murals in the town!)
Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids In Lexington
Stroll the Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky
Set across 100 beautiful nature filled acres is The Arboretum, located on the grounds of the University of Kentucky. This public garden became the state's official botanical garden back in 2000, and is filled with a variety of native and horticultural plant collections.
The gardens are all designed to evoke all senses with fragrances, colors, textures and forms, making a contemplative place to observe the natural environment with the family! Make sure you stop at the Kentucky Children’s Garden which is always a hit with kids.
Image Credit: The Arboretum
Explore Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Raven Run Nature Santuary is a wonderfully unique, 734-acre nature haven dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the Kentucky River Palisades as well as early Kentucky history.
Here you can enjoy over 10 miles of hiking trails taking you to streams, woodlands, and meadows all characteristic of the area. You might just spoke a number of 19th century remnants of early settlers, as well as over 600 species of plants! Keep an eye out for over 200 species of birds throughout the year.
Image Credit: Raven Run
Visit the Farmers Market!
We love a good Farmers Market at the one in Lexington is no different! They have markets throughout the week, but it's the year-round Saturday market that draws visitors in from far and wide.
Located at Tandy Centennial Park, you can stroll around more than 50 vendors offering up the best of Kentucky, representing 30 Kentucky counties. During winter the market is beautiful at Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it really is a market that you should be visiting all months of the year!
Image Credit: Lexington Farmers Market
Go back in time in Gratz Park
The Gratz Park neighborhood of Lexington is 200 years of history, and you can stoll through the streets that will take you back in time! This historic area today occipies a tract of land that was established back in 1781, and private residences began popping up in the 1800s.
What's beautiful about the Gratz Park Historic District is all the properies are different and each with its own story, giving you a sense of what life in Lexington over the past 200 years.
Image Credit: Gratz Park
Enjoy a free tour at Boone Creek Creamery!
We just LOVE all things cheese, which is why we love that Boone Creek Creamery in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass Region offers free tours to show you just how they make their delicious handmade artisan cheeses using old world European techniquees.
Taste for yourself why Boone Creek Creamery is howlin’ good just by booking your free tour via their website ahead of time. Tours last for around 45 minutes and show you the entire cheese making process, and afterwards kids can become an Honrary Cheese Minion!
Image Credit: Boone Creek Creamery
The Battle of Lexington: The American Revolution
At only 40 miles away from Lexington, you'd think that as the state's capital, Frankfort would be filled with skyscrapers and Starbucks. You might just be pleasantly surprised driving into what is one of the oldest settlements in Kentucky - and luckily for you, retains that historic charm.
Perfectly positioned on the shores of the Kentucky River between Lexington and Louisville, Frankfort embraces all that makes Kentucky so special, from natural beauty and charm, to (one for the parents) that world famous bourbon. Frankfort really is the literal and figurative heart of this beautiful southern state, AND makes for a really great day trip from the much larger Lexington!
Image Credit: Visit Frankfort
Located in the inner Bluegrass region of Central Kentucky, Frankfort was first developed back in 1796 when a man named James Wilkinson purchased 260-acres of land on the north side of the Kentucky River, and he also happened to be an early advocate for Frankfort to be the Kentucky capital!
By 1794, Frankfort had it's own United States post office, and in 1796 the Kentucky General Assembly funded a home for the governor and two years later it was completed. Today, you can still visit Old Governor's Mansion and it's thought to be the oldest official executive residence still in use in the USA!
Today, so much history continues to make Frankfort so charmingly special (and the three distilleries for the parents are always popular too!), and this amazing Kentucky capital is an absolute must-visit if you have a spare day (or longer!)
Here’s our top 4 Frankfort things to do:
- Kentucky Military History Museum
- Salato Wildlife Educational Center
- Historic Frankfort Walking Tour
- Tour the Old State Capitol Building
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Let's get the family adventure started!