The Mary Todd Lincoln House in downtown Lexington has done an excellent job creating special tours that showcase particular aspects of the Todd family, the First Lady, and the Lincoln presidency.
In Lexington and surrounding communities, antique shopping is an activity that never, so to speak, gets old.
In fact, to visit all the antique shops in the area, you'd have to plan to stay a while. There are more than 200 antique shops, ranging from large multi-dealer malls to small specialty stores, ready to tempt you with old Kentucky cabinetry, quilts, imported furniture, Shaker items, Depression glass, collectibles - you name it!
There's enough great antiquing within Lexington itself to keep you busy for days. In addition, virtually every surrounding community includes at least a few antique malls and shops, so it's easy to combine antique shopping with general sightseeing. As a writer for The New York Times put it, antiquing in the Bluegrass is "a chance to unearth some great buys in American antiques and, in the bargain, enjoy some of the most beautiful rural countryside anywhere."
Such a deal! And while all Bluegrass roads eventually lead to an antique shop or two, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Antique shopping is definitely a main attraction in Lexington. In fact, you'll find some great shops right on Main Street. On the East end, you can stop at Ann Greely Interiors and Antiques (497 East Main Street; 859-367-0200), a yellow mansion full of exquisite furniture, decorative items and paintings. The Thoroughbred Antique Gallery (637 East Main Street; 859-233-9375) brings together outstanding antiques, interiors, garden accessories and fine art. Inventory ranges from period 18th center pieces to mid-century modern..
In The Shops at Lexington Center on West Main, you'll find Lafayette Galleries (859-253-1633) with antiques as well as new American and English silver, collectors plates, crystal and prints. Further west on Main, the street's name changes to Leestown Road, and about a mile west of Rupp Arena, you'll find the Meadowthorpe Antique Mall (1455 Leestown Road; 859-255-2607), where about 50 dealers offer a little bit of everything. Open seven days a week. Near by, at1317 W Main Street, you'll find Feather Your Nest Antiques, Collectibles & Accessories, open daily (859-381-1505).
While downtown, browse through Shelley's Limited Antiques at 765 East 7th Street (859-225-7426), specializing in antique trunk restoration. Heritage Antiques (154 North Broadway; 859-
253-1035) offers 18th, 19th and 20th-century furnishings and accessories.
Nearby, you can have luncheon tea or afternoon tea and browse fine period furnishings and object d'art at the Greentree Tea Room, 521 West Short Street. (859-455-9660).
Check out the Cow Girl Attic (135 Delaware Avenue; 859-225-3876). You'll find architectural artifacts, furniture, garden relics, iron gates, art, estate items, and more! Close by is another treasure trove. Lenabelles Antiques (732 National Avenue; 859-253-0137) has 18th to 20th century fine furniture as well as art and a selection of decorative items.
Another option on the east end of town is Beehive Antiques and Fine Consignments. From antique furniture to paintings and accessories, this shop is a mixture of delightful and unusual furniture and art. (712 Henry Clay Boulevard; 859-259-4056).
If it's an old Kentucky long rifle you're shooting for, try Antique and Modern Firearms (2263 Nicholasville Road; 859-276-1419). Glover's Bookery (862 South Broadway; 859-253-0614) is a house full of old books and prints, including many regional items.
At Another Man's Treasure, they specialize in helping you find something unique. You'll see a wide variety of new, used, custom and antique furniture (2550 Regency Road; 859-296-5991).
In a quaint old church(1850!) on the Fayette/Jessamine county line, you'll find ClaireBourne Antiques (4648 Nicholasville Road; 859-272-4648). The building houses some fine country pieces, quality furniture, mirrors and decorative items.
Bluegrass Note: A large monthly antique show is held in Lexington. Athens Schoolhouse Antiques (859-255-7309) offers an astounding array of antiques and collectibles from hundreds of dealers on selected weekends year round.
In the Region
In a state that's as antique-laden as Kentucky, it takes a lot of bravado (and old stuff) to call yourself the "antiques capital." Georgetown , 13 miles north of Lexington, backs up its claim with a number of antique malls and shops downtown on Main Street. One of them, Georgetown Antique Mall (502-863-1891), encompasses two buildings and is open seven days a week. Another, Central Kentucky Antique Mall, is a great source for early silver, estate jewelry and civil war items. (502-863-4018). Just south of Main Street, explore Vogue N Vintage; everything is from the 1970's. In the Oxford Antiques District, five miles east of Georgetown on US 62 you'll find even more shops.
North of Lexington in the quaint town of Paris, go see Dan Graham at Graham's Antiques on East 4th Street for antique and country furnishings as well as hand-tied rugs (859-987-5566). While in Paris, stop in at Loch Lea Antiques at 624 Main St. ( 859-987-7070 ), a favorite of antique lovers for the past 20 years. At either shop, while you are at it, pick up a map that shows about 8 other antique shops that make up the Paris Antiques and Gallery District. You may need an entire afternoon!
Frankfort is more than just the seat of state government and home to the Kentucky History Center. It is also a haven for antique stores. You'll find an assortment of shops featuring classic collectibles. Check out Old Capitol Antiques at 231 West Broadway (502-223-3879).
In Woodford County, west of Lexington, several shops are found in Midway and Versailles . But what is perhaps the most well-known of all Bluegrass antique shops is found in the tiny community of Nonesuch . The term "shop" hardly describes Irish Acres, 4205 Ford's Mill Road (859-873-7235). You'll find everything from affordable whatnots to pricey museum-quality pieces on three floors in this 32,000 square foot former school building. Take the beautiful country drive Tuesdays through Saturdays, mid-March through December. You'd better pack a lunch - or, even better, make reservations to have lunch in the on-site tearoom, The Glitz (859- 873-6956). You have to see it to believe it!
Blue Note: Wakefield-Scearce Galleries in Shelbyville, 47 miles west of Lexington via I-64, is a bit of the "British aisles" in the Bluegrass. Established in 1947, the shop specializes in imported English furniture, fine silver, paintings and objects of art. Sterling silver julep cups from Wakefield-Scearce are a popular Kentucky gift.
For more information contact VisitLEX, the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau, at (800) 845-3959.
By Teresa Day, a freelance travel writer based in Georgetown, KY.
Updated June 2015