By Whitney Allen
Twenty-one years ago, I moved to Lexington, KY with the plan to stay for two years and then high tail it back to my hometown in Pennsylvania. As I drove my weighted down VW Beetle with two frightened kittens in the back seat, I was scared and anxious during the 650 miles to Lexington. As I crossed the state line into Kentucky, I was filled with the sense that this is where I was supposed to be. I thought the feeling would pass, it didn’t.
That was twenty-one years ago, and I am still in Lexington. The list of reasons I love Lexington is endless. As a horse crazy girl, there is no better place to be than Lexington, KY – an entire city that is obsessed with horses. This town embraces, honors and protects our equine culture. You would be hard pressed to walk into a store where you will not find at least one photo of a horse. But if you step outside the horse motifs and sculptures that adorn this great city you will find a town rich in history, a town with world class cuisine and a town filled with friendly people eager to lend a hand.
We jokingly call Lexington a big little town, or is it a little big town? After twenty-one years I am still not sure which. There are days when I think this is a big town as thousands of people pour into Lexington to catch a UK basketball game or a big race at Keeneland. Then there are days when I walk into every store or restaurant and see someone I know or know of. It’s quaint and sprawling, cultured and country.
There are too many awesome places to list that make this town so great. Since many of you attending the conference in 2020 will only have a few days here, I’d recommend the following must see/do/go to get just a taste of what makes Lexington so great:
Windy Corner Café – it’s a down home café nestled on winding back roads and horse farms. The food is delish and it’s a great place to sit a spell for lunch.
Keeneland – Keeneland is BEAUTIFUL. Even though the ponies won’t be racing when you are here you can still take in the views. Be sure to stop by the Keeneland Library. Its aesthetics, which are gorgeous, pale in comparison to the rich and vast amount of literature you will find.
Dudley’s – If you are looking for a real culinary experience at a place that is quintessential Lexington, go to Dudley’s. Reservations are recommended. The food is unparalleled, and it is a place to see the who’s who of Lexington.
Manchester Street –Tucked behind old warehouses and railroad tracks lies a true gem of Lexington. This area has a music hall, bars, restaurants, a pizza joint, a local ice cream store, an ax throwing facility – it’s fun trust me, and some great shops.
Any of our local breweries – Blue Stallion is my favorite but they are all fabulous. There is usually a food truck on any given night at one of these fantastic and local watering holes.
The Old Courthouse – Smack dab in the middle of downtown is our old courthouse that has been converted into shops and restaurants.
Just drive – that’s right, get lost. Just pick a road and take a few miles out of town and you will find endless horse farms. Old Frankfort Pike is my personal favorite. Just as you are leaving Lexington you will find a roundabout with a larger than life size statue of the great Secretariat. Keep driving and you will see rolling hills and endless fences. Eventually you will come to Wallace Station restaurant where you can get one of the best burgers in town.
The Kentucky Horse Park – To round out your visit be sure to wander around the Kentucky Horse Park. They have a fabulous gift shop, demonstrations from different breeds, a hall of champions and one of the world’s largest horse barns aptly named The Big Barn. Be sure to visit the Man o’ War statue. That’s where Cavan and I got married so it holds a special place in my heart.
I could go on and on about why Lexington is the best place to visit or to live! I can’t wait to see everyone in 2020 and share this town I love with each of you.