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Revision as of 14:33, 10 August 2012
View of Lexington taken from a helicopter.
Lexington  is the second largest city in Kentucky, located in Bluegrass Country.
Known as the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington has traditionally been dominated by the horse industry and is also heavily influenced by the University of Kentucky, the state's flagship university and the largest employer in the city. The horse industry has greatly influenced Lexington's culture and scenic beauty; the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University contribute to a college town atmosphere with a richer and more diverse culture than some might expect from its size and location. Lexington's compact central downtown district is surrounded by historic neighborhoods. Lexington is in the heart of the Bluegrass region of Kentucky and is still home to hundreds of horse farms.
- Blue Grass Airport (IATA: LEX, ICAO: KLEX), 4000 Terminal Drive; Phone: (859) 425-3114, . A medium sized regional airport which has service from all of the major American carriers and daily non-stop service to at least 13 cities. It deposits passengers directly adjacent to Keeneland Race Course and just a few miles from downtown. There is express bus service by LexTran, once per hour from 6 a.m. till 6 p.m. All major brands of car rental agencies have service here, and taxis and hotel shuttles are plentiful. International facilities including customs are available, but no carriers operate scheduled international flights; most passengers will go through customs in a connecting airport.
- Louisville (Standiford Field IATA: SDF ICAO: KSDF) and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (IATA: CVG ICAO: KCVG) are larger airports, each about 1.5 hours drive from Lexington.
The nearest passenger train service is Amtrak's Cardinal, with stations in Maysville, and in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Travellers usually access Lexington via one of the two major interstates that arc around the northern and eastern borders of the city. I-64 runs from east to west, connecting Lexington with the largest city in Kentucky, Louisville, to the west. I-75 runs north-south, connecting Lexington with Cincinnati and Knoxville respectively. Neither interstate penetrates into the city. For access to the far side of the city, use New Circle Road (State Route 4), a loop road of which 3/4 is highway-grade, or during non-peak hours you can just take an arterial road through downtown.
The Lexington area is also served by the Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Parkway, starting near Versailles and ending at I-65 in Elizabethtown, and the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway, which starts just east of Lexington and provides access to the Appalachian region.
The Greyhound station is on New Circle Road on the north side of town, ten minutes from downtown.
City names in Kentucky aren't always intuitive. Louisville is pronounced LOOey-vil or LU-vul (never lewis-vil), and Versailles is pronounced ver-SALES (never ver-SAI). Athens is supposed to be pronounced with a long vowel (AY-thens), but many locals pronounce it the same as the Greek capital.
Lexington is a relatively spread out city, though not large. Unless you are mainly visiting the downtown and/or the University campus (which are within walking distance of each other), you will find that getting around by car is the most convenient method.
Bus service is provided by Lextran, which provides service from the downtown Transit Center to many parts of town and the airport. Buses run every 35 minutes during business hours, every 70 minutes Saturdays and Evenings, and every 60 minutes on Sundays. These unorthodox schedules were adopted not out of budget concerns, but because the previous "30/60 minute" schedule didn't fit well with longer routes, and often led to buses being off schedule. As a result of the change, buses are now more reliably on time. Buses do not run after 11pm or before 5am (or 7am on weekends). Fare costs $1. If paying fare for a bus heading inbound / downtown, you can request a 'transfer' and board a bus leaving the transit center for free.
Downtown Lexington is compact and easily navigated by foot or bicycle, but the most typical way to get around is by car. Free trolleys operate mid-day on major downtown thoroughfares. Cars can be rented at the airport or at several locations in the city. Taxis should be called in advance as they are not easily hailed on the street. There is a taxi stand in front of the airport. From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. a taxi stand operates at the corner of Main and Upper Streets, next to the old courthouse.
Lexington's roads form a wheel-and-spokes pattern: New Circle Road forms a circle around the inner city, and arterial roads radiate from downtown. New Circle Road, an early experiment in urban circumferential expressways, was first built before current zoning rules, so that about 1/4 of it is developed with commercial usage, while the rest is 55-mph freeway with on/off ramps. The radial roads are mostly named after the neighboring towns they lead to (e.g. Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester, etc.), although as you approach downtown they take on a different name (e.g. Limestone, Main, etc.). Directions in Lexington will frequently start with "Take New Circle to ____ Road (one of the arterials), then turn north/south..."
Man o' War Boulevard forms a half-circle further outside from New Circle Road; however its lower speed limit and abundance of traffic lights make it less ideal for circling the city.
- Triangle Park (especially at night). Enjoy slipping off your shoes or sandals in the summertime and wandering in the step-like fountains that ring the backbone of this park. Get plenty of pictures of the illuminated fountains against the Lexington Convention Center. Cross the street and talk to the concierge at the Hilton Hotel to book a horse-drawn carriage tour of downtown. Fountains shut off in winter.
- The Kentucky Theatre, 214 E Main St (2 blocks from Limestone), . A historic two-screen cinema with restored architecture and beautiful interior murals located downtown on Main Street. Its schedule tends to emphasize foreign, independent, and art films, plus occasional concerts and panel discussions at the premiers of controversial films. During the Summer Classics Series every Wednesday night a classic film is shown. The theatre has an offbeat side as well, and raucous midnight showings of movies like the Rocky Horror Picture Show draw crowds of nearby University students, adults, and teens every weekend.
- Ashland (Henry Clay Estate), 120 Sycamore Rd, . See website for hours. Home of the famous Kentucky Senator Henry Clay, set near downtown Lexington. Beautiful park surrounding the home accessible even if you do not wish to take a tour. Adults $7, children ages 6–18 $4, children 5 and under free.
- Mary Todd Lincoln House, on Main St in downtown, ☎ +1 (859) 233-9999. Open for visitors; call for more information. The two-story girlhood home of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, and the nation's first shrine to a First Lady. The 14-room house contains period furniture, furnishings from the Todds and Lincolns, and family portraits.
- Waveland State Historic Site, ☎ +1 (859) 272-3611. Call for information about tours. Built in 1848 by Joseph Bryan, a grand-nephew of Daniel Boone, the Greek revival home preserves 19th century plantation life in Kentucky with acres of hemp and grain. The smokehouse, icehouse and slave quarters still stand as outbuildings.
- Hunt-Morgan House, (in historic Gratz park), ☎ +1 (859) 233-0362. Tours on the hour, varying throughout the year. Call Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation for information. Built by the first millionaire west of the Alleghenies, John Hunt-Morgan, the house showcases early Kentucky furniture, 19th century paintings, and antique porcelain. The Alexander T. Hunt museum featuring Civil War memorabilia is located on the second floor. The house was built in 1814 when Lexington was known as the “Athens of the West.”
Despite the relative small size of this South-North straddling city, Lexington offers a surprisingly delightful palette of interesting activities. Whether you choose to explore some of the world-class and stunning horse farms ringing the city, hit up some of the surprisingly upscale shopping venues, take in a play at the Downtown Arts Center or the Lexington Opera House, tour the oldest university west of the Allegheny Mountains (Transylvania University), catch an insanely popular UK basketball game (Rupp Arena) or sample one of the myriad great restaurants that have sprung up all over town, you can be sure your experience here will not be a bland one.
For more things to do in the "Horse Capital of the World," see visitlex.com.
Local indie magazine ACE Weekly (, published weekly) is full of write-ups and advertisements for local events; it is free and available throughout the city.
- Tour the Kentucky Horse Park and horse farms clustered north and west of Lexington. The horse industry is Lexington's traditional and most famous trade, and many beautiful old farms are worth a look. The Park is basically tourist-oriented and offers a museum, nice walks, views of famous racehorses, and lots of bluegrass, but it is also the host of some very large horse events. Probably the most high profile annual event is the Rolex Kentucky Three Day, a major eventing competition which takes place every spring. The park also hosted the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games. These horse trials are also used as Olympic selection trials so you can expect to see some world class horses and riders. The park is located 7 miles north of Lexington (I-75 exit 120). Several companies do daily van tours of private farms, or you can do a self-guided driving tour. 
- Keeneland Race Course, Versailles Rd, 1 mile west of New Circle Rd, . Live races April and October; museum open most of the year. Enjoy horse racing in a "days-gone-by" setting. Keeneland hosts live races only twice a year, with the Spring meet in April and Fall meet in October, but they welcome visitors year round. The feature race of the Spring meet is the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes, a prep race for the Kentucky Derby. When its live races are not in session, you can still watch other races broadcast from around the world or attend events like the yearling horse sales, where many young stallions command price tags in the millions. Buyers include local horse farms and bidders from Europe, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai. Recent movies Seabiscuit, Dreamer and Secretariat have been filmed at Keeneland. Admission $5 during race meets, but if you don't put some money on your favorite horse or jockey, you're missing the point. The tradition at Keeneland is to dress-up a bit; no jeans or T-shirts.
- Kentucky Wildcats, Rupp Arena (basketball), Commonwealth Stadium (football), . The sports teams representing the University of Kentucky, a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) along with 12 other major public universities in the larger southeastern region plus the private Vanderbilt University in Nashville. The Kentucky men's basketball team, one of the most storied programs in all of college sports, boasts eight NCAA championships, most recently in 2012. It is immensely popular throughout the state, with the partial exception of the immediate Louisville area (where loyalties are divided between UK and the University of Louisville), and even more so in Lexington itself. Home games are held at Rupp Arena in the Lexington Convention Center downtown. The football program has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years, although it continues to struggle to establish itself in arguably the country's most competitive football conference. Nonetheless, the team frequently sells out the on-campus Commonwealth Stadium, at least for SEC home games and the major rivalry game with U of L (hosted by UK in odd-numbered years). Tickets $35–$46 face value, but expect to pay illegal scalpers much more, especially for games against quality opponents.
- Woodland Art Fair (AFB Art Fair @ Woodland Park), . 2 days around Aug 21 every year (). See 200 juried artists offering every type of folk art and craft you can think of, including painting, woodworking, and stuffed animals. Enjoy live music and entertainment. Your children can work on their own crafts in the Kid Zone. Free admission.
- Festival of the Bluegrass (FTotB @ Kentucky Horse Park Campgroud), . Second Weekend of June annually (). * Anyone wishing to experience all that Kentucky has to offer should make their way to this great outdoor music festival held every year at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park. Great live music from Bluegrass legends to newgrass pickers, fun shopping, and great activities highlight this family friendly event
There are several major shopping areas in Lexington.
Keep an eye out for merchandise marked "Kentucky Proud", which marks it as a participant in Kentucky's buy-local initiative. 
- Nicholasville Road, particularly between Man o' War Boulevard and New Circle Road, is a major center for shopping, with several malls and many smaller stores.
- Fayette Mall, (Nicholasville Rd. & Reynolds Rd., just south of New Circle Road). The largest mall in the state. Recent construction has added a new wing to the mall itself and created a more open commercial campus and doubled the number of stores offered.
- Adjacent Lexington Green strip mall features Joseph-Beth Booksellers, an independent bookstore with an impressive selection of books in their cavernous, sunlit interior. Authors on book-signing tours are practically guaranteed to stop at Jo-Beth, and they often have extra copies of recently signed books available.
- Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 161 Lexington Green Cir #B (in Lexington Green, at Nicholasville Rd & New Circle Rd), ☎ +1 (859) 273-2911, . Mo-Th 9AM-10PM, Fr-Sa 9AM-11PM, Su 11AM-9PM.
- Hamburg Pavilion is a huge commercial area at the junction of Man o' War Boulevard and I-75. Hamburg is a power center, an open-air, auto-oriented shopping district marked by large discount department stores, "big box" stores (large stores specializing in one category of merchandise) and smaller shops like Victoria's Secret and the Black Market. An accompanying residential area sprang up with the shopping complex just at the turn of the millennium. The area continues growing daily; expect plenty of traffic.
- Victorian Square is a block of renovated Victorian buildings that was re-purposed as an entertianment area. Located in the heart of downtown overlooking Triangle Park, it is connected to the adjacent hotels and business complexes by raised pedways. Containing primarily upscale clothing, jewelery, the Lexington Visitors Center, art boutiques and artist's studios, a bar and two restaurants, it is worth a visit as much for the interior design as the shopping opportunities. Victorian Square also connects via pedway to a second shopping center, the Lexington Shops, with a Hallmark store, the Kentucky Proud Market, a UK Memorabilia store and more, all in the belly of the Lexington Convention Center.
- Maxwell/High is streets bordered on the west and north by Maxwell and High streets respectively, containing a myriad of small, primarily youth-oriented independent boutiques as well as several restaurants. Small boutiques includes the Black Market Boutique, Helen's Boutique, Lucia's, Calypso, Mod Boutique, John's Walk Run Shop, and ILO.
- South Lime/Campus Area The bordering downtown campus area features many locally owned restaurants and small locally owned stores. Stop by CD Central for used CDs, new albums, DVDs, wall sized posters, T-shirts from major and local artists, and more. Sqecial's features many unique gifts from magazines, eclectic books, jewelry, candles, incense, trinkets, and journals. ReBelle is a one of a kind shop featuring all kinds of yarn, locally made clothes, and jewelry. Kennedy Book Store is one of the oldest locally owned college book stores in Lexington. Features sports memorabilia for all UK fans, souvenirs, and an Art Part that serves artists from all over central Kentucky.
Lexington is home to an astonishing number of independently owned restaurants at all price levels. The city's college town atmosphere and affluent lifestyle contribute to this relatively small metropolitan area's great culinary offerings. Chain restaurants, typical in most American cities and towns, can be found here, as well as a great number of privately owned and operated establishments.
Kentucky cuisine to look for includes the Hot Brown, an open-faced sandwich of turkey, bacon, and cheese sauce; burgoo, a traditional game stew with as many variations as there are people who make it; beer cheese, a spicy spread of cheddar cheese and beer; and bourbon balls, a sort of chocolate and bourbon truffle with pecans.
Note that smoking is banned in restaurants, bars, and many public buildings in Lexington.
- Third Street Stuff & Coffee, 257 N Limestone (just off Transylvania University campus), ☎ +1 (859) 255-5301, . Mo-Sa 6AM-11PM, Su 8AM-11PM. This coffee shop also serves up unique sandwiches. It's a hip cool hang out with an artistic vibe and store inside.
- Bourbon n' Toulouse, 829 E Euclid Ave (at High St), ☎ +1 (859) 335-0300, . Mo-Sa 11AM-10PM. This popular eatery brings a bit of New Orleans to the Bluegrass. The way Bn'T works is quick and painless: pick what you want from the day’s selections listed on the chalkboard menu, then order and pay at the register. Not sure what you want? Just ask them for some samples. Standards include Cajun and Creole classics like étouffée, gumbo, and jambalaya, as well as barbecue sandwiches and a few unique creations. Vegetarian and gluten-free options available. All plates are $6.50 (tax included); half-orders are $4.50, and are still plenty of food.
- Charlie Brown's, 816 E Euclid Ave (just off UK campus), ☎ +1 (859) 269-5701, . Mo-Th 11AM-1AM, Fr-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su noon-midnight. Hip sandwich restaurant where patrons lounge in sofas and armchairs while chatting in the permanently low lighting. Bookshelves line all four walls and are crammed with old hardbacks; patrons may take any book they please as long as they replace it with another. Virtually all sandwiches are $6.50.
- Gumbo Ya-Ya, 1080 S Broadway (near Red Mile Rd/Virginia Ave), ☎ +1 (859) 252-9292, . Mo-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su noon-8PM. Cajun like no other. Menu changes every week, but standards like White Chile, Gumbo, Jambalaya are usually on. If you are lucky, you can end up there on a day they are dishing up Pazole Stew or Jambalaya Ya-Ya. And their famous Yat-wich is something to suprise you: sort of a turkey-based sloppy joe with a lemony kick. Small plates $5.50; large plates $6.50; the hungry can get a super size for $8.00.
- Le Matin French Bakery, 890 E High St, ☎ +1 (859) 269-1511. A quaint little bakery that serves up fresh bread, and other items such as lunches, desserts, and more.
- Tolly Ho, 606 S Broadway, ☎ +1 (859) 253-2007, . 24/7; closed some holidays and special events. A typical college town "greasy spoon" restaurant, "The Ho," as it is called by students, serves classic items like hamburgers, shakes, chili cheese fries, and the ever-popular cheddar tots. It gets extremely crowded when the bars close around 2:30AM and the line stretches out into the front parking lot. 1/4 lb burger $2.49; cheddar tots $2.99; milkshake $2.99. Be sure to mention if it's your first time.
- Brontë, A Novel Bistro (Café at Joseph-Beth), 161 Lexington Green Cir #B (inside Joseph-Beth Booksellers), ☎ +1 (859) 273-2911, . Mo-Th 9AM-10PM, Fr 9AM-11PM, Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 9AM-9PM. This café is an excellent spot for breakfast or lunch, with a monthly menu of salads, sandwiches, and other entrées inspired by novels or cookbooks available in the bookstore.
- Mousetrap, 3323 Tates Creek Rd (in the Lansdowne Shops near New Circle Rd), ☎ +1 (859) 269-2958, . Serves up sandwiches, soups, and other delectable items avalible behind a huge glass display case. Always made right in front of you. When you're finished dining you can revel in the shopping part of the store that includes cookware, chocolates, homemade bread, and more.
- Parkette Drive In, 1230 E New Circle Rd (1 mile south of Winchester Rd), ☎ +1 (859) 254-8723, . Mo-Sa 11AM-closing. Built in the 1950s and recently restored to its original condition, this Lexington establishment offers delicious burgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken.
- Alfalfa, 141 E Main St (near Limestone), ☎ +1 (859) 253-0014, . Lunch: Mo-Fr 11AM-2PM, Sa-Su 9AM-2PM; Dinner We-Sa 5:30PM-9PM, closed Su-Tu. The best meat/vegetarian combination to eat in downtown Lexington. The menu will satisfy both vegetarians and carnivores alike with innovative and eclectic homemade foods. Try their delicious Red Beans & Rice or an Avocado Grill Sandwich.
- Atomic Cafe, 265 N Limestone (at E Third St & N Limestone), ☎ +1 (859) 254-1969, . Tu-Th 4PM-1AM, Fr-Sa 4PM-2:30AM, Su-Mo closed. Tropical flair colors this lively restaurant, which sports bright interior murals and rhythmic Caribbean music. The cuisine follows suit, from crisp sweet potato chips to zesty jerk chicken, tropically-flavored fresh fish, conch fritters, steaks, and Cuban pork.
- Billy's BAR-B-Q, 101 Cochran Rd (near E High St & Euclid Ave), ☎ +1 (859) 269-9593 (fax: +1 (859) 266-7865), . Simple and laid-back, this local joint takes pride in its Western Kentucky–style barbecue, which is slow-cooked pork shoulder, pulled from the bone, chopped and sauced up, and often served on grilled bread. Also available are chicken and mutton.
- Cheapside Bar & Grill, 131 Cheapside, ☎ +1 (859) 254-0046, . Lunch Mo-Fr 11:30AM-2:30PM; Brunch Sa-Su 11AM-4PM; Dinner Mo-Sa 5PM-midnight, Su 4PM-9PM. Thanks to its great, two-level patio—which has its own bar, outdoor heaters, and plenty of greenery—Cheapside attracts frequent downtown crowds. Also accompanying the spacious bar is great food and lots of fun especially on summer nights.
- Columbia's Steak House, 201 N Limestone, ☎ +1 (859) 253-3135, . A long time favorite in Lexington. With several locations, the original one downtown is the place to be. Back in the restaurant's heyday, professionals and students would line the block waiting for a table. Columbia's is famous for their "Nighthawk" special, which includes an 8-ounce tenderloin smothered in garlic butter, generous baked potato, a Diego salad, and homemade rolls with honey butter.
- Joe Bologna, 120 W Maxwell St (between S Upper St & S Limestone), ☎ +1 (859) 252-4933, . A moderately-priced Italian located inside an old synagogue, complete with stained-glass windows and raised pulpit (now a small bar). The square pizza at Joe B's is a tradition. Also, the bread stick is awesome—basically an over-sized breadstick accompanied by melted garlic butter.
- Oasis, 837 Chevy Chase Pl (near E High St & Euclid Ave), ☎ +1 (859) 269-6440, . One of the best Middle Eastern places in town! Their Chicken Shwarma is served in a generous portion (that is great for leftovers) that is accompanied by your choice of salad. The hummus and pita is excellent as well. The lunch buffet is expansive with many dishes to choose from sure to satisfy anyone. Worth the trip!
- Ramsey's, 496 E High St (at Woodland Ave), ☎ +1 (859) 259-2708, . Mo-Fr 11AM-11PM, Sa-Su 9AM-11PM. Specializes in Southern fare - frequently filled to capacity. Its success has spawned many other branches in town, but try to go to the original downtown. All ingredients at the original are obtained from local farmers, and the branches try to do the same. Breakfast available all day every day.
- AP Roots, off Romany Rd in Chevy Chase. A menu that is strictly locally-sourced Kentucky ingredients, this well-received restaurant delivers both quality and taste. May be closed
- Bella Notte, 3715 Nicholasville Rd (just south of Fayette Mall), ☎ +1 (859) 245-1789, . Su-Th 11AM-10PM, Fr-Sa 11AM-11PM. This local Italian restaurant is inspired by trattoria, gathering places for family and friends. The dimly-lit interior features stone floors and greenery throughout the rooms.
- The Chop House, 2640 Richmond Rd (near New Circle Rd), ☎ +1 (859) 268-9555 (fax: +1 (859) 266-2863), . Su-Th 11AM-10PM, Fr-Sa 11AM-11PM. Great steaks and chops in a warm, friendly environment.
- Columbia's Steak House, 2750 Richmond Rd, ☎ +1 (859) 268-1666.
- El Toro, 1917 Nicholasville Rd (just north of Southland Dr), ☎ +1 (859) 277-2255, . Mo-Th 11AM-10PM, Fr-Sa 11AM-10:30PM, Su 11:15AM-10PM. A classic Mexicana restaurant with all your favorite dishes that serves up delicious food in which seems like mere minutes after you order. A friendly staff and quick service make this a enjoyable trip.
- 4053 Tates Creek Center (at Man o' War Blvd), ☎ +1 (859) 271-2638.
- 3090 Helmsdale Dr (Andover, near Hamburg Pavilion), ☎ +1 (859) 264-9396.
- 4391 Harrodsburg Rd (past Man o' War Blvd), ☎ +1 (859) 219-1626.
- a la lucie, 159 N Limestone (near Short St), ☎ +1 (859) 252-5277, . Mo-Th 11AM-10PM, Fr 11AM-11PM, Sa 5PM-11PM. A romantic downtown restaurant with Parisian flair featuring Lucie's own inventive continental menu.
- Dudley's on Short, 259 W Short St, Suite 125 (near Upper St), ☎ +1 (859) 252-1010, . Lunch daily 11AM-2:30PM; Dinner Su-Th 5:30PM-10PM, Fr-Sa 5:30PM-11PM. An old mansion that has been converted into a posh commercial complex. Dudley's occupies several rooms and serves American fare.
- Jonathan at Gratz Park, 120 W Second St (at N Limestone), ☎ +1 (859) 252-4949, . Lunch Mo-Sa 11AM-2PM; Brunch Su 11AM-2PM; Dinner daily 5:30PM-10PM (bar opens at 5PM). Named for chef Jonathan Lundy, this charming restaurant has a refined, Old World feel, thanks to its presence in the Gratz Park Inn. Deep, ochre-toned walls and polished woodwork surround diners, who delight in the kitchen's redefined regional cuisine. Reservations recommended.
- Le Deauville, 199 N Limestone (at W Second St), ☎ +1 (859) 246-0999, . Dinner Mo-Th 5:30PM-10PM, Fr-Sa 5:30PM-11PM; Bar Mo-Th 5:30-midnight, Fr-Sa 5:30PM-12:30AM. Lexington's downtown French bistro is a convivial place, given to conversation and good food. It shares a name with the city's stylish sister town in Normandy, and it's become quite a culinary destination for folks in the area.
- Natasha's Bistro & Bar, 112 Esplanade (across from the Kentucky Theatre), . Lunch Mo-Sa 11AM-2PM (sandwiches until 4PM); Dinner Mo-Fr 5PM-10PM, Sa 5PM-11PM; Bar Mo-Fr 5PM-11PM, Sa 5PM-midnight. Natasha's airy environs incorporate a medley of international influences, from Balinese artifacts to African carvings, masks to textiles, basketry to rusted Moroccan lanterns. The effect is worldly but comfortable, an easy place to indulge in unusual dishes from central Europe to North Africa and beyond.
- Portofino, 249 E Main St (near Rose St), ☎ +1 (859) 253-9300, . Lunch Mo-Fr 11AM-2:30PM; Dinner Su-Th 5PM-10PM, Fr-Sa 5PM-11PM. Italian cuisine with a California accent. Try one of the fabulous pasta dishes in this renovated warehouse that also features local artwork and great atmosphere.
- Tomo, 848 E High St, . Lunch Mo-Fr 11AM-2PM; Dinner Mo-Th 5:30PM-10PM, Fr-Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM. A Traditional Japanese menu in a sleek modern atmosphere. Excellent dishes include tempura, hibachi chicken and steak. Of course best known for their sushi rolls. Voted a top sushi restauraunt by several publications over the past several years. Reservations recommended Friday and Saturday nights.
- Malone's. Mo-Sa 11:15AM-1AM, Su 11:15AM-11PM. A steakhouse chain that "imports" its prime beef straight from Chicago. One of the most favored restaurants by Lexingtonians. All locations also have a sports bar and sushi restaurant.
- 3373 Tates Creek Rd (in Lansdowne Shops, near New Circle Rd), ☎ +1 (859) 269-9922.
- 3735 Palomar Centre Dr (in Palomar Centre, near Harrodsburg Rd & Man o' War Blvd), ☎ +1 (859) 977-2620.
- 1920 Pleasant Ridge Dr (near Hamburg Pavilion), ☎ +1 (859) 264-8023.
- The Merrick Inn, 1074 Merrick Dr (off Tates Creek Rd & New Circle Rd), ☎ +1 (859) 269-5417, . Mo-Th 5:30PM-10PM, Fr-Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM; cocktail lounge open till 1AM. Boasts a classy restaurant nestled within the ritzy gated community "Merrick Place". Main courses $16-$32. Reservations recommended.
- Sal's Chophouse, 3373 Tates Creek Rd (in Lansdowne Shops), ☎ +1 (859) 269-9922, . Mo-Th 11:15AM-10PM, Fr-Sa 11:15AM-11:15PM, Su 11:15AM-9PM. Owned by the creators of Malone's. While Sal's bills itself as a chophouse, it also offers an Italian-inflected menu that does culinary double duty.
Out of town
- Hall's on the River, 1250 Athens-Boonesboro Rd, Winchester (40 minutes from downtown), ☎ +1 (859) 527-6620, . Although it's well outside Lexington (it's halfway to Richmond), the easy scenic drive down KY-418 and location on the Kentucky River make it worthwhile. Try their famous beer cheese for an appetizer, and enjoy their excellent seafood selection, or play it safe with the very large Kentucke River Hot Brown.
- Common Grounds Coffee House, 343 E High St #4 (near Rose St), ☎ +1 (859) 233-9761, . Mo-Sa 7AM-midnight, Su 8AM-midnight. Housed in an historic brick building, this neighborhood coffee house attracts a wide mix of folks, from college students to professionals. The laid-back ambience is ideal for lounging and chatting. Hot and cold coffee drinks are featured, along with teas, hot chocolates, and sodas.
- Coffee Times Coffee House, 2571 Regency Rd (near Nicholasville Rd & New Circle Rd), ☎ +1 (859) 277-9140; +1 877 673-0577 (toll free), . M-Th 7:30AM-9PM; F-Sa 8AM-11PM; Su 11AM-5PM. Excellent selection of whole-bean coffee and loose-leaf tea for sale or drinking on site.
If you're at all interested in bourbon, consider making a daytime trip to explore some of the nearby bourbon distilleries, listed in the Get out section.
Bars* with an asterisk are nightclubs (that is, they emphasize dancing) or include a nightclub.
Any of the bars below, as well as bars near downtown, campus, a shopping center, or any high traffic area, can be expected to be entirely friendly to a stranger - they see quite a variety of customers from Lexington as it is. Every bar, of course, has a different atmosphere and clientele, and in some a t-shirt may be more appropriate than a button-down (or for the more upscale bars, vice versa).
- Atomic Cafe, 265 N Limestone (at E Third St & N Limestone). A laid-back restaurant and bar that offers a screened courtyard and reggae music on the weekends.
- The Bar Complex*, 224 E Main St (next to the Kentucky Theatre), ☎ +1 (859) 255-1551, . The Bar is Lexington's largest and oldest gay club. Their dance floor and show room have an ongoing schedule of DJs and drag shows.
- The Beer Trappe. For beer hobbyists/enthusiasts. Offer hundreds of different beers from different microbreweries. The people who run it also give tasting classes there during some days of the week to teach about different kinds of beer (What's the difference between an IPA and an APA, for example? What does it mean if an IPA says "90-minutes" on it?). You won't find Budweiser here.
- Cheapside Bar and Grill. Bar/restaurant frequented by many young professionals.
- Forte*, (on euclid right after the kroegers. On your left.). This is the name of what used to be the Blue Moon (in 2010/2011) and before that was a different name. Despite what may be ownership changes, the basics are largely the same: there's a dresscode: "upscale casual" (dress for a nightclub). There's a small entrance fee, and drinks are expensive (you are paying, after all, for the dance floor, the DJ, the soundsystem, the waitresses) - a shot of vodka, for example, is $4. Not the cheapest place to get drunk, but if you have some money in your pocket this weekend, are late 20s or 30 something, and want to club in Lexington, this is the place to go.
- McCarthy's Irish Bar. Seems to be the default bar for a wide range of people. Sprawled across three storefronts, it has a back patio, no cover charge, and a charismatic old doorman named Miami Steve who usually sports interesting headwear.
- Molly Brooke's Irish Bar, 109 N Limestone (directly across from the new courthouse). An original Irish bar in downtown Lexington. Its owned by some Irish people and the staff there are Irish too. The drink prices are good and the crowd is fun.They have a nice old patio outback and sidewalk tables too.
- Redmon's, off Main St. A snug country bar with live music every night of the week. Popular with the college crowd on Thursday nights.
- Soundbar/Blu Lounge, S Limestone. Relatively new, includes video and a dance floor. Focuses on an upscale and comfortable lounge atmosphere and caters to a mixed gay/straight crowd.
- Tin Roof, 303 S Limestone (at Maxwell St & S Limestone), . A cross between a restaurant and bar with an emphasis on live music. Markets itself on a laid back atmosphere.
- Two Keys Tavern. Quintessential college bar, located straight across the street from UK's north campus and packed with fraternity/sorority students during the school year. The drink selection is limited, but the atmosphere is pleasant.
- Marikka's Restaurant und Bier Stube, 411 Southland Dr, ☎ +1 (859) 275-1925, . Mo-Sa 5PM-closing; Su closed. With 30 beers on draught and hundreds more in bottles, this is a place to go for beer lovers. If beer is not your thing, they have an equally-hearty selection of hard liquor, including a dozen bourbons you probably haven't heard of.
- Saddle Ridge, 1030 S Broadway # 1. Opened in 2006. Not near the traditional downtown cluster of bars, it features a spacious design, mechanical bull, and crowd-pleasing country/hip-hop music mix. Clientele is mostly twenty-somethings.
In Lexington, accommodation rooms are taxed at 13.4%. A complete list of hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts can be found at www.visitlex.com
- Kentucky Horse Park Campground, 4089 Iron Works Pkwy (7 miles north of the city), ☎ +1 (888) 459-7275, . Offers spacious sites with 50/30/20 amp electric and water. All sites are 55' paved back-ins with fire rings and picnic tables. Has many extras including a grocery, gift shop and two bathhouses with modern conveniences. Take advantage of our planned recreational activities or catch a game of tennis or basketball on lighted courts, cool off in the junior olympic–size swimming pool, try your hand at pitching horse shoes, croquet, or maybe square dancing in the recreation pavilion. Also has electric primitive and primitive available for those wishing for a more rustic stay. Planned activities are available on most weekends beginning Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Camp has wireless Internet available; first 15 minutes free, various paid time blocks availalble with 24/7 support. $27.
- Microtel Inn Lexington, 2240 Buena Vista Rd, ☎ +1 (859) 299-9600, .
- Red Roof Inn Lexington South, 2651 Wilhite Drive, ☎ +1 (859) 277-9400, .
- Days Inn Lexington, 1987 N. Broadway, ☎ +1 (859) 299-1202, .
- Holiday Inn Express-Lexington Northeast, 1780 Sharkey Way, ☎ +1 (859) 231-0656, . Located just 2 miles from the center of Downtown and 2 miles from the Bluegrass Airport, this hotel built in June 2008 is perfect for both business and leisure travelers.
- Radisson Plaza Hotel, 369 W Vine St. Basically identical in appearance, location, and amenities, the Radisson boasts a popular and stylish bar but is less-directly connected to the Convention Center.
- Ramada Limited, 2261 Elkhorn Rd (I-75 exit 110), ☎ +1 (859) 294-7375, .
- Ramada Conference Center, 2143 N Broadway, ☎ +1 (859) 299-1261, .
- Marriott SpringHill Suites, 863 South Broadway, ☎ +1 (859) 225-1500, .
- Gratz Park Inn, 120 W Second St, ☎ +1 (859)231-1777.
- Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa, 1800 Newtown Pike, ☎ (859)231-5100.
- Hilton Lexington Downtown Hotel & Conference Center, 369 W Vine St, ☎ +1 (859) 268-0060, .
- Hyatt Regency Hotel, 401 W High St, ☎ +1 (859) 253-1234. Integrated into the Convention Center and Rupp Arena.
The area code for Lexington and most surrounding counties is 859 (which spells out "UKY", a testament to the popularity of UK basketball). Scott County (including the major suburb of Georgetown), immediately to the north, is in area code 502, but calls between Lexington and Georgetown are local. Outside the metro area, the area code is 606 to the east; 502 serves the state capitol of Frankfort. The phone system may be able to correct you if you misuse the area code.
The Lexington Division of Police, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), was awarded “Flagship Status” in 2010 for the third consecutive assessment becoming the first and only municipal police agency in the United States to be so honored. The Police department has several special patrol units, including bicycle, segue and a mounted patrol.
Lexington's crime rates rank favorably with other cities of its size.
The University of Kentucky campus is patrolled by the University of Kentucky Police Department and is generally quite safe. An initiative called "Cat's Path" is comprised of a series of recommended walking routes that span central campus. The routes were chosen due to their frequent use and accessibility to the main campus destinations. Marked with highly visible signage and paw print ground logos, the Cat's Path is patrolled frequently by University Police, both on foot and in special police golf carts.
Like any city, Lexington's traffic can be challenging during rush hours. Nicholasville Road has reversible lanes to help the flow. Be careful and aware of the lights as they change throughout the day to accommodate traffic and rush hour. A green arrow indicates appropriate lanes for driving; white turn only arrows indicate a center turning lane; a red X indicates lanes in use by oncoming traffic. If possible, try to avoid traveling north on Nicholasville Road during the evening rush hour, as most lanes switch to southbound traffic to allow people to exit downtown. Be aware of driving near UK basketball or football days. Downtown can be quite congested when UK plays at Rupp Arena, and Tates Creek Road and Nicholasville Road both move very slowly when UK plays at Commonwealth Stadium.
Most of the major arterial streets have multiple names, especially as you approach downtown (Nicholasville Road, which is also US Highway 27, becomes Limestone; Harrodsburg Road, also US Highway 68, becomes Broadway; etc.). This is also true of many smaller city streets (Winslow Ave. becomes Avenue of Champions, which becomes Euclid Ave., which becomes Fontaine Rd.). When you ask for directions, many locals may not know exactly what the street is called where you plan on going, so just remember that the same road may be called any of those three at your destination.
Lexington's central location makes it the ideal base to explore the Bluegrass Region.
- Frankfort, Kentucky's capital city, is 25 miles northwest of Lexington.
- Midway is a quaint and colorful railroad town halfway between Lexington and Frankfort; stop for a bite to eat and explore the antique and boutique shops downtown.
- Harrodsburg, 32 miles southwest of Lexington, is Kentucky's oldest city.
- Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, 30 miles southwest of Lexington, is America’s largest restored Shaker community, with 34 carefully restored buildings and 3,000 acres of preserved farmland.
- Bardstown, 60 miles from Lexington, is Kentucky's second oldest city.
- Berea, 37 miles south of the city, is a major center for folk arts & crafts. Old Town has many working artists studios, and the Kentucky Artisan Center, just off I-75, serves as a visitors' center and showcases the wares of many regional artisans. 
- Louisville, 79 miles west, is Kentucky's largest city and is famous for—among other things—the Kentucky Derby and the Louisville Slugger Museum.
- Cincinnati, Ohio, is 82 miles to the north.
Bourbon distilleries are plentiful in the area, due to the particular geology of the region that make this distinctively Kentuckian liquor possible. Many distilleries operate tours where you can learn about the processes of mashing, distilling, and aging, and often sample the product. Four are within 30 miles of Lexington.
- Buffalo Trace, 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, ☎ +1 800-654-8471, . Tours Monday-Saturday year-round; call for times. Free.
- Four Roses, 1224 Bonds Mill Road, Lawrenceburg, ☎ +1 502-839-3436, .
- Wild Turkey, 1525 Tyrone Road, Lawrenceburg, ☎ +1 502-839-2182, . Tours Monday-Saturday 9:00, 10:30, 12:30, 2:30 and 3:30; closed some holidays. Free.
- Woodford Reserve, 7855 McCracken Pike, Versailles, ☎ +1 (859) 879-1812, . Tours Tu-Sa year-round, Su April-December. For specific times, call or see web site. Tours $5-10/person; reservations may be required.
- A little farther afield:Maker's Mark, 3350 Burk Spring Rd, Loretto (1½ hours from Lexington), ☎ +1 270-865-2099, . Tours Mo-Sa 10:30AM-3:30PM every hour on the half-hour; Su March-December 1:30, 2:30, 3:30; closed some holidays. Aside from the usual distillery tour perks, Maker's Mark offers a unique souvenir: you can purchase a small bottle of bourbon and dip it yourself in their signature red sealing wax (must be 21 or older). The drive out to Loretto is also very scenic. Free.
- [Raven Run Nature Sanctuary] is a 734 acre park along the Kentucky River Palisades in Fayette County. Great wildflower viewing in the spring.
- The Red River Gorge, an hour east of Lexington, offers numerous opportunities for hiking and rock climbing. Natural Bridge State Park features some of the largest stone arches in the eastern United States.
- There are two amusement parks within easy driving distance of Lexington.
- Kings Island, north of Cincinnati, is close to 2 hours away, but is much larger, and is famous for The Beast, the world's longest wooden roller coaster for 30+ years.