I love exploring Lexington’s past while enjoying its vibrant present—and this city has plenty of both. Here are my tips for creating your own historic day in Lexington.

 

Nate’s Coffee

125 Cheapside

I usually pop in for a cup of Wake Up, Yo! and a pastry—it only takes a minute at this all-local roastery before I’m caffeinated and ready to start my day. On Saturday mornings, you’ll find me at the Lexington Farmers’ Market right outside the shop. Wander the stalls and grab some just-picked produce or a bundle of flowers to brighten up your week.

115-3-11353_jpeg

Lexington Cemetery

833 West Main Street

Maybe your ideal day doesn’t start in a cemetery—but trust me, Lexington Cemetery is unlike any cemetery you’ve experienced. Opened in the 1840s, it boasts some of the best scenery in the city, as well as some of its most interesting history. Spending a few reflective minutes under its 200-year-old trees helps me re-center after a busy week.

Mary Todd Lincoln House Exterior

Mary Todd Lincoln House

578 West Main Street

While wandering the cemetery, you might run across across the Todd Family--better known as Abraham Lincoln’s in-laws. Their nearby home, just down the street from the cemetery, is now a museum. Lexington’s own First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, grew up in this 1803 house and later brought her husband here for visits. Docents share Mrs. Lincoln’s fascinating, complicated, and often tragic story—this is a stop you don’t want to miss.

Food Shot at Dudley's.jpg

Dudley’s on Short

259 West Short Street

Dudley’s has won more awards than I can even start to remember, including being named the state’s best dining spot by Southern Living. My favorite way to experience this local icon is for lunch. There’s something about the impeccable service, crisp linens, and amazing food that seems especially luxurious during a leisurely midday meal.

VLEX-CORNETT PHOTO BANK - OPPORTUNISTIC - ARTS-CULTURAL - From Client - 8532971733_96d0beeb9d_o

Kentucky Theatre

214 East Main Street

I wasn’t much of a moviegoer before I moved to Lexington, but the Kentucky Theatre changed all that. Lexington’s art-house cinema, the Kentucky has been showing films since it opened in 1922 and provides an experience you simply can’t find in your average suburban theater.

Lussi Brown Coffee Bar - Cappuccino and Quiche

Lussi Brown Coffee Bar

114 Church Street

By midafternoon I usually want another coffee. Or maybe I’m ready for a drink. At Lussi Brown Coffee Bar, I can have both. This artisanal coffee shop also offers cocktails that play on their coffee and tea selections. Their chill interior is a great place to read, catch up on social media, or figure out your evening plans.

Gratz Park Neighborhood

Gratz Park

250 West Third Street

Gratz Park is the heart of Lexington’s oldest residential neighborhood. Stretch your legs and wander through its historic architecture, ancient trees, and cobblestone alleys. Free neighborhood guides are available at the Lexington Visitors Center and outside Hopemont: The Hunt-Morgan House. Lexington Public Library also has a free digital audio tour of the neighborhood.

Pearl_s Hellbabe

Pearl’s

133 North Limestone

Pearl’s isn’t your typical pizza joint. I love their high-end offerings almost as much as their sophisticated dining space, which makes Pearl’s an elevated, but never stuffy, dinner choice. If the weather’s nice, use their sidewalk seating and watch a great cross-section of Lexington stroll by. Be sure to order the breadstick!

Ona Drink Two

Bar Ona

108 Church Street

Bar Ona is a great place to start a night on the town. The quiet, refined Art Deco interior is the perfect setting for their spectacular mixed drinks. With seasonal offerings alongside well-crafted standards, it’s not surprising that Bar Ona was named one of the best bars in the nation by Esquire.

The Bar Complex

224 East Main Street

My favorite nighttime spot in the city! This space is one of the oldest gay bars in the country, even earning a historic marker by its busy front door. Don’t miss the drag shows—if you’re lucky, you might see Uma Jewels do her famous Liza number. Head up the central staircase to the massive dancefloor, imagined by the same folks who designed New York’s famous (and infamous) Studio 54.

Lockbox Fried Chicken

Lockbox at 21c Hotel

167 West Main Street

When my Saturday nights turn out a bit too historic, I like to enjoy some comfort on Sunday morning with brunch at Lockbox, located inside the beautifully restored First National Bank Building. Their chicken and waffles will cure whatever ails you, and there is never a long line for a seat. Pop around the back corner and you’ll find the original, century-old bank vault. Before you leave, head into the galleries of 21c and explore their celebrated exhibits of contemporary art.