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Aerial view of the university campus looking into the city center of Lexington, KY.

19 Things to Know About Living in Lexington

Thinking about moving to Lexington? With an affordable cost of living and fun attractions like historical sites, some of the best bourbon in the country, derby horse races, and more, the Horse Capital of the World is a wonderful place to call home. Here are 19 things to know about living in Lexington!

Live Affordably in Lexington

Aerial view of downtown Lexington, Kentucky, showing off the skyline and landscape. Photo by instagram user @amine_abassir

Photo via @amine_abassir

Living on a budget is easier in the Athens of the West because Lexington’s cost of living is 5% lower than the national average. You can find that budget-friendly living in everyday things like groceries, which are exempt from Lexington taxes! The city is also great for those looking to buy real estate as housing costs are 10% lower than the national average, with a median home value of $170,800. Not to mention, Kentucky property taxes are around half of the national average, so if you’re looking to buy a home in the South, Lexington is a smart and affordable investment.

Join Lexington’s Healthy Job Market

Professionally shot photo of UK Healthcare's hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by instagram user @eyesonthaprize

Photo via @eyesonthaprize

While horses are a billion-dollar industry in Lexington, other industries like healthcare, education, and manufacturing contribute to Lexington-Fayette’s low unemployment rate—which is 7% lower than the national average! Considered a medical hub in Kentucky, Lexington’s central location allows it to have more diverse medical care options. In fact, the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital houses the only Level I Trauma Center and Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Central and Eastern Kentucky, making it the best hospital in Kentucky. For jobs in product development, marketing, engineering, and more, look into the largest peanut butter-producing facility in the world, JM Smucker Co. Check out open positions with other large Lexington companies, like Conduent and Lexmark International Inc.

Find a Ride with Lexington Transportation

Streetside photo of a bus picking up a passenger in Lexington under a shady tree. Photo by instagram user @_lextran

Photo via @_lextran

Since major Lexington roads were designed as spokes in a wheel, getting around Lexington is easy! Ride the 26 convenient routes across town with the LexTran bus. Help limit your carbon footprint when you Commute with Enterprise, which pairs you and employees who live near you with a van or SUV to carpool to work. Hop on a city bike with the new Lexington bike-share program. Connect with the Bluegrass Cycling Club to learn new Lexington bike trails and meet fellow cyclists. Fly out of Lexington to your next U.S. destination vacation at the Blue Grass Airport. Or start planning your next road trip and take advantage of Lexington’s unique location—with both I-64 and I-75 easily accessible, Lexington is only a day’s drive from two-thirds of the population of the United States!

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Further Your Education at Lexington Schools

Students looking for higher education in Lexington don’t have to look too hard. Want to stay close to downtown? Go to school at Transylvania University, a private, liberal arts college with a 95% job placement rate within six months of graduation. Choose from 19 fields like welding technology, dental hygiene, computer engineering technology, and more when you earn your degree at Bluegrass Community College. Start your career at the College for Technical Education with programs for cosmetology, building trades, early childhood education, and medical assistance. Learn different programs like business administration, accounting, cybersecurity, or nursing at American National University. Study medical technology at MedQuest College, which offers externships allowing students real experience with patients as part of their curriculum. Dive into the career-focused curriculum at Sullivan University, a private school offering hospitality degrees like culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, or hotel and restaurant management.

Root for the University of Kentucky Wildcats

University of Kentucky Wildcats women's basketball team dribbling a ball against an opponent. Photo by instagram user @kentuckywbb

Photo via @kentuckywbb

Founded in 1865, the University of Kentucky is known as the best college in Kentucky. UK is also the largest employer in Lexington, with its research and development sections generating $772 million in economic activity and thousands of jobs in Kentucky. And it’s no wonder—the university is one of only eight institutions in the nation with liberal arts, engineering, agricultural, medical, and professional colleges, along with other disciplines, all on one campus! The Big Blue Nation offers its 30,000 students over 200 majors and programs, including popular University of Kentucky majors in marketing, business, and nursing. Join an integral part of University of Kentucky’s culture by cheering on Wildcat athletics! In fact, while UK basketball (NCAA) is a top men’s college basketball team with players regularly drafted into the NBA, the women’s team was founded first!

Take Advantage of Lexington’s Local Parks

Gorgeous view of the Raven Run Nature Santuary in Lexington, KY. Photo by instagram user @darnellone

Photo via @darnellone

With over 100 parks in Lexington, there’s no shortage of outdoor recreation to enjoy in the moderate Lexington weather. Discover beautiful gardens like the Memorial Rose Garden, Iris Display, and Pond Garden at The Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky. Overcome the challenge of the Daniel Boone obstacle course, brave a zip-line canopy tour, or take a guided Boone Creek hiking tour at Boone Creek Outdoors. Fish, pedal boat, kayak, or play volleyball at Jacobson Park. Hike over ten miles of Lexington trails like the Flower Bowl or Kentucky River Overlook at the 734-acre Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. Go to Masterson Station Park for a picnic or a scenic horseback ride. Or stroll through Thoroughbred Park and admire the equestrian sculptures sculpted by Gwen Readon.

Retire Early in the Athens of the West

Elderly women enjoying the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center in Lexington. Photo by instagram user @lexkyparks

Photo via @lexkyparks

Lexington is consistently ranked the most affordable city for early retirement because of its inexpensive housing, accessible healthcare, and generally low cost of living. In addition to having pretty low sales and property taxes, Kentucky provides seniors deductions on additional retirement income, and doesn’t tax Social Security benefits. Plus, being home to the best healthcare in the region, Lexington provides seniors premier healthcare through top-rated hospitals like UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital and Baptist Health. The city also offers fantastic retirement communities, like the award-winning Hartland Hills and highly-rated Highgrove at Tates Creek, for additional housing and fun activities for retirees.

Visit Downtown Lexington

Between its beautiful parks, shopping, and entertainment, there are a lot of things to do in Downtown Lexington. Access shopping, galleries, restaurants, bars, and more at The Square, an historical block of 16 buildings in the heart of Downtown Lexington. Discover more than just books at the Lexington Central Public Library—make sure to check out their rotating art displays and the largest ceiling clock in the world! Experience downtown community events at Triangle Park, where you can find theatre performances and live music as well as ice skating and friendly games of chess and backgammon. Support local vendors at the Downtown Lexington Farmers Market, which is open every Saturday year-round at the Tandy Centennial Park location! Plan a date night at LexLive where you can catch a movie, bowl, play in the arcade, watch the game, or get a bite to eat. Grab signature coffee drinks like a School House #3, which has flavors of white chocolate and lavender, or the honey and vanilla notes of The Teacher at Old School Coffee.

Watch World-Famous Horse Races

Horses racing mid-gallop in the lexus raven run in Lexington. Photo by instagram user @keeneland

Photo via @keeneland

Lexington is the Horse Capital of the World because the city is surrounded by 450 Lexington horse farms! Hear people bid on Lexington horses or watch a horse race at Keeneland Horse Track. Saddle up for a ride or watch a horse show like the Country Heir Hunter Jumper Shows or the Champagne Run Horse Trials at Kentucky Horse Park. Learn more about the history of mankind and horses at the International Museum of the Horse. Educate yourself through interactive exhibits, films, and activities for kids on the American Saddlebred and its role through history at the American Saddlebred Museum. Meet current and retired racehorses while watching top-of-the-line equine care and grooming at Horse Country. Kick off the Kentucky Derby with festivals, parades, and racetrack parties on Derby Day, the first Saturday in May.

Join Lexington’s Clean Initiative

Community members of Lexington Kentucky participating in a green clean initiative for the city. Photo provided by instagram user @livegreenlex

Photo via @livegreenlex

Keeping the city clean is a community effort in Lexington. Follow Live Green Lexington for updates on city-wide environmental initiatives and to learn of cleanup efforts like the Gobble Grease Toss, where you can bring in your turkey grease after Thanksgiving for proper disposal. Partake in events sponsored by the Bluegrass Greensource, like the Tacos N Tequila Fundraiser, GreenFest, or Green Living Labs. Become an ambassador for Keep Lexington Beautiful to help with community cleanups. Join the Community Environmental Academy to develop city-funded projects designed to tackle Lexington-based environmental issues. Participate in the Reforest the Bluegrass initiative, which has restored almost 200 acres of floodplains and planted 150,000 tree seedlings. Encourage your favorite businesses or workplace to become certified by Green Check Lexington, a program providing its members with tools to become more sustainable. Or protect local creeks from litter by helping with the Lexington Creek Sweep.

Attend Fun Lexington Festivals

Revel in what Lexington does best at Bluegrass BBQ Fest with a lineup of bluegrass bands and plenty of barbecue food. Party in Downtown Lexington and dance your best Thriller imitation at the Thriller Parade & Halloween Festival. Celebrate Latin American culture with dance performances, food, music, and arts and crafts vendors at Festival Latino de Lexington. Experience a night of professional ballet outdoors at Ballet Under the Stars. Quench your thirst at the Fest of Ales, which features over 40 local and regional craft breweries and live music. Receive unlimited beer or bourbon samples from over 20 distilleries and breweries at the Bluegrass Craft Beer & Bourbon Festival. Sing holiday carols, write letters to Santa, and watch Lexington’s Christmas tree light up at the Holiday Lighting Festival. Or browse and shop work from almost 80 artist vendors as well as view work that is up for awards at the Woodland Art Fair.

Rock Out in Lexington

When you’re in the Bluegrass State, you’ll find plenty of Lexington music venues to frequent! Vibe to all sorts of music genres like folk, indie, rock, and more at The Burl. Catch live music in Lexington at Manchester Music Hall, which has hosted performers like Tech N9ne and The Head and the Heart. Jam out to a free concert at Fifth Third Bank Pavilion in Downtown Lexington when you attend Thursday Night Live Lexington. Camp out and listen to some Lexington bluegrass during the Festival of the Bluegrass. Get the full Lexington experience at Railbird Festival, where you can watch horse races, sip on bourbon, and listen to headliners like Leon Bridges and Dave Matthews Band. Or enjoy free weekly bluegrass concerts in Lexington with Southland Jamboree—bring your instrument for a post-show jam sesh!

Appreciate Lexington Art

Bright yellow realistic mural of Louis Armstrong on the side of a building in Lexington, KY. Photo by instagram user @robystowe

Photo via @robystowe

Lexington is home to excellent art galleries and local artists. Spot all 30 installations of Lexington Street Art decorating the city, including Horses Jumping, Moonshine, and The Buffalo. Admire work by George Headley, exhibits like Whitney Doll Houses, and more at the Headley-Whitney Museum. View paintings like Study of an Old Man by Frank Duveneck or prints like “Phil III” by Chuck Close at the University of Kentucky Art Museum. Broaden your horizons to contemporary art from Southern artists at Institute 193. Look at contemporary fine art in Lexington at New Editions Gallery, which features new exhibits bi-monthly. Wander around exhibitions from local and regional artists and visit studio artists during the Lexington Art League‘s public gallery hours.

Be a Patron of Lexington Theatre

The theatre scene in Lexington is thriving, with a little bit of something for everyone. See a show at AthensWest Theatre, the first theatre in Lexington to offer Equity points for actors to earn enough credits to join the Actors Equity Association. Watch a children’s play or enroll your kid in classes like Acting for the Camera and Scriptworks: Hogwarts Mayhem at Lexington Children’s Theatre. Spend the night seeing a musical, opera, or ballet at the Lexington Opera House. Audition to be in a community show at the Carriage House Theatre. Buy a ticket to the Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center, a theatre dedicated to presenting and celebrating diverse cultures through art with shows and events like Kwanzaa Celebration or Black Lens Summer Friday Film Series. Snag a seat at the Lexington Theatre Company to watch shows like Legally Blonde: The Musical, West Side Story, and The Music Man.

Explore Lexington History

From ornate houses and museums to cemeteries and parks, Lexington is a place history buffs are sure to love. Check out the Georgian architecture of President Abraham Lincoln’s wife’s family home, at Mary Todd Lincoln House. Roam around Federal architecture during a Candlelit Tour, the Ashland Lawn Party in the summer, or the Dressed to the Nines holiday event at the Henry Clay Estate. Take a walk through Gratz Park and admire the historic houses and sculptures that make up this neighborhood and historic district. Tour The Hunt-Morgan House and its collection of early Kentucky furniture, antique porcelain, 19th-century paintings, Civil War relics, and more. Pop into the Bodley-Bullock House, built around 1814, to see Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian architecture and furnishings as well as its famous three-story stairway. Tour historical gardens, hemp plots, and the pre-Civil War house at Waveland State Historic Site.

Check out Lexington Attractions for Families

Kids playing an arcade game at Champs Entertainment Complex in Lexington. Photo by instagram user @cpc_students

Photo via @cpc_students

The amount of things to do with kids in Lexington is endless! Play pretend at the Wonder Woods or Homes Around the World at the Explorium of Lexington. Ice skate during public skating times or sign your kids up for lessons at Lexington Ice Center. Take your kids to the Living Arts & Science Center to learn about space in the planetarium or take arts and crafts classes. Throw a bowling party or let your kids join a youth league at Southland Bowling. Look at airplanes on display at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky, which also offers the Aviation Camp Summer Program for kids on school break. Marvel at all the different reptiles, insects, amphibians, spiders, and more at the bi-monthly Kentucky Reptile Expo. Roller skate, play laser tag, or go mini-golfing at Champs Entertainment Complex.

Find Delicious Food in Lexington

Different kinds of street tacos on a spread from the Local Taco restaurant in Lexington. Photo by instagram user @localtacolex

Photo via @localtacolex

While Lexington is known for finger-lickin’ barbecue, the rest of Lexington’s cuisine selection is still top-tier! Bite into an Orange Marmalade Chicken Sandwich or the Southern Eggs Benedict at what might be the best brunch in Lexington, DV8 Kitchen. Dine at The Local Taco and try the Spicy Shrimp Taco, Korean BBQ Taco, or Southern Fried Chicken Taco. Enjoy Fried Banana Pepper Rings with Smoked Tomato Ranch or Buffalo Kentucky Proud Catfish at Smithtown Seafood, one of the best places to eat in Lexington. Dig into some classic barbecue at County Club with Smoked Chicken Wings or Smoked Brisket Poutine. Try the Sliced Beef Brisket Sandwich or the Brisket & Sausage Meat Combo Plate at Blue Door Smokehouse, one of the best restaurants in Lexington offering brisket that you cannot skip. Or sample unique ice cream flavors like Bourbon & Honey, Kentucky Blackberry & Buttermilk, or a Bourbon & Root Beer Boozy Float at Crank & Boom Craft Ice Cream.

Become a Connoisseur of Lexington Bourbon

As the birthplace of bourbon, it’s fitting that Lexington dedicated an entire district to the spirit, complete with bourbon distilleries like the historic Pepper Rickhouse. This five-story building has a nearly-one-acre ground floor that houses a score of distilleries, restaurants, entertainment, and shopping in the Distillery District. Tour and taste award-winning Kentucky bourbon at historical James E. Pepper Distillery, which has been making bourbon since 1879 and is now the location of the Lexington Distillery District. Taste craft spirits like Devil John Moonshine, Barrel House Select Bourbon, or Oak Rum at Barrel House Distillery, the other Lexington distillery in the neighborhood. The fun in Bourbon Country doesn’t end in the Distillery District! Find out how Bluegrass Distillers makes their Kentucky Straight High Rye Bourbon or Wheated Bourbon during a tour of their craft distillery. Or get your bourbon passport stamped when you visit Lexington’s best distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Visit Lexington’s Wineries & Breweries

Lexington might be known for its bourbon, but did you know it’s also home to the nation’s first commercial wine-growing operation? Relax with a glass of wine at Lexington wineries like Grimes Mill Winery where you’ll also find bocce ball courts and a farm complete with horses, burrows, and a miniature cow. Listen to live music every Saturday while sipping on estate-grown reds like Bluegrass Blush and Crimson Cabernet at Talon Winery & Vineyards. Head to Creaux, one of the best bars in Lexington, for a Coconut Collins or Kentucky Buck. Stop for a Cougar Bait Blonde Ale or Shotgun Wedding Brown Ale Aged on Vanilla Beans at Country Boy Brewing. Drink brews like Cowabunga Dude!! Chocolate Milk Stout or Never Had to Fight a Balloon Animal Before Sour at Lexington brewery, Mirror Twin Brewing. Hang out on the rooftop with a What’s Poppin’? or a Boulevard of Broken Dreams at Belle’s Cocktail House. Or hit the dance floor or watch a drag show at The Bar Complex, a gay bar in Lexington with three bars, lounge, dance floor, and stage.

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Skyline view of the city of Lexington and the tree-lined streets.