Thinking about moving to Lexington? With an affordable cost of living, world-renowned 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
Living affordably in the Athens of the West is easy, in part because Lexington’s cost of living is 6% lower than the national average—not to mention everyday necessities like groceries are exempt from Lexington taxes! Those interested in buying a home in Lexington will definitely appreciate that housing costs are 10% lower than the national average, with a median home value of $170,800. Additionally, Kentucky property taxes are around half of the national median, so if you’re buying a house in Kentucky, Lexington is a smart and affordable place to invest.
Join Lexington’s Healthy Job Market
It should come as no surprise that horses are a billion-dollar industry in the Horse Capital of the World, but other industries like healthcare, education, and manufacturing also contribute to Lexington-Fayette’s low unemployment rate. Considered a medical hub in Kentucky, Lexington’s central location allows it to have more diverse medical care options. Home to the high-ranking Markey Cancer Center, the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital is one of the best hospitals in Kentucky and contains the only Level I Trauma Center and Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Central and Eastern Kentucky. For jobs in product development, marketing, engineering, and more, look into the world’s largest peanut butter-producing facility, J.M. Smucker Co. Or check out open positions with other large Lexington employers, like the University of Kentucky, Conduent, and Lexmark International Inc.
Navigate Lexington via Public Transit
New Circle Road surrounds Lexington, with its connecting roadways resembling spokes in a wheel, so most everything in Lexington is easily accessible! Those who don’t have a car or prefer public transit can ride the 25 convenient routes across town with the LexTran bus. Check out Commute with Enterprise, which pairs you and employees who live near you with a van or SUV to carpool to work, helping you limit your carbon footprint. Are you a cyclist at heart? Tour the city with the Bluegrass Cycling Club, where you can learn about new Lexington bike trails and meet fellow cyclists. You can also take advantage of Lexington’s unique location when planning a road trip—with both I-64 and I-75 nearby, Lexington is only a day’s drive from two-thirds of the population of the United States! But if your next vacation is too far to drive to, you can always fly out of Lexington from Blue Grass Airport.
Contribute to Lexington’s Clean Initiative
It takes a village to keep the Athens of the West clean, green, and beautiful. Become an ambassador for Keep Lexington Beautiful to help with community cleanups. Follow Live Green Lexington for updates on city-wide environmental initiatives and other local cleanup efforts—like the Gobble Grease Toss, where you can bring in your turkey grease after Thanksgiving for proper disposal. Join the Community Environmental Academy to help develop city-funded projects designed to tackle Lexington-based environmental issues. Partake in events focused on educating residents about environmental responsibility, including the Tacos N Tequila Fundraiser, GreenFest, or Green Living Labs, all sponsored by the Bluegrass Greensource. Participate in the Reforest the Bluegrass initiative, which has restored nearly 200 acres of floodplains and planted more than 200,000 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.
Further Your Education at Lexington Schools
Looking for higher education in Lexington? Enroll at Transylvania University, a private liberal arts college near downtown with a 95% job placement rate within six months of graduation. Choose from more than 50 fields like welding technology, graphic design, computer engineering technology, and more when you earn your degree at Bluegrass Community College. Start your career in cosmetology, building trades, medical assistance, and more at the College for Technical Education. Study dental assisting, practical nursing, veterinary technology, and more at MedQuest College, which offers externships that give students real experience with patients as part of their curriculum. Or dive into degrees like culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, hospitality studies, or restaurant studies at Sullivan University.
Root for the University of Kentucky Wildcats
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 thousands of jobs and $873 million in recent economic activity. 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 (and more) all on one campus! Further, the Big Blue Nation offers its 30,000 students over 200 majors and programs, including marketing, business, and nursing. Because it is such a cultural staple of the city, it makes sense why residents flock to the campus for events—despite not being a student or employee. So be sure to join an integral part of UK’s culture by cheering on Wildcat athletics! In fact, while UK basketball is a top men’s college basketball team with players regularly drafted into the NBA, the women’s team was actually founded first way back in 1903!
Retire Early in the Athens of the West
Lexington is consistently ranked among the most affordable cities for early retirement because of its inexpensive housing, accessible healthcare, and generally low cost of living. In addition to having 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 hospitals in Kentucky, Lexington provides seniors premier healthcare through top-rated medical centers like UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital and Baptist Health. The city also boasts fantastic retirement communities, like the award-winning Hartland Hills and highly-rated Highgrove at Tates Creek, which offer additional housing and fun activities for retirees.
Take Advantage of Lexington’s Local Parks
With over 100 parks in Lexington, there’s no shortage of outdoor recreation to enjoy in the moderate Lexington weather. Wander through beautiful gardens like the Memorial Rose Garden, Fragrance Garden, and Pond Garden at The Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky. Overcome the challenge of the Daniel Boone obstacle course, brave the Zipline Canopy Tour, or take a guided hiking tour at Boone Creek Outdoors. Fish, pedal boat, kayak, or play volleyball at Jacobson Park. Explore the crystal-clear waters of one of the several natural springs at McConnell Springs. Hike over ten miles of Lexington trails like the Flower Bowl or Kentucky River Overlook at the 734-acre Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. Go for a picnic or scenic horseback ride at Masterson Station Park. Or stroll through Thoroughbred Park and admire the equestrian sculptures made by Gwen Readon.
Check out Lexington Attractions for Families
Fun things to do with kids in Lexington are endless! Play pretend in the Wonder Woods or explore the world of bugs and fossils in the Small World and Bone Zone at the Explorium of Lexington. Ice skate during public skating times or sign your little ones up for lessons at Lexington Ice Center. Take your kids to learn about space in the planetarium or sign up for arts and crafts classes at the Living Arts & Science Center. Throw a bowling party or let your kids join a youth league at Southland Bowling. Look at airplanes on display or enroll your kids in the Aviation Summer Camp Program at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky. Marvel at all the different reptiles, insects, amphibians, spiders, and more at the bi-monthly Kentucky Reptile Expo. Or check out the arcade, go roller skating, play laser tag, and go mini-golfing at Champs Entertainment Complex!
Visit Downtown Lexington
With scenic green spaces, shopping centers, and entertainment venues, there’s no shortage of things to do in Downtown Lexington. Access shopping, art 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 also check out their rotating art displays and the largest ceiling clock in the world! Experience theatrical performances, live music, ice skating, and friendly games of chess and backgammon at Triangle Park. Support local vendors at the Downtown Lexington Farmers Market, which is open every Saturday year-round at Tandy Centennial Park. Catch a movie, bowl, play in the arcade, watch a big game, or get a bite to eat during date night at LexLive. Or catch up with an old friend or meet a new acquaintance over signature flavored coffee drinks like The Counselor, The Teacher, or The Dropout at Old School Coffee.
Watch World-Famous Horse Races
Lexington is the Horse Capital of the World for a reason—the city is surrounded by 450 horse farms in the Bluegrass Region! Kick off the Kentucky Derby with festivals, parades, and racetrack parties on Derby Day, the first Saturday in May. Join hundreds of people bidding on their favorite Lexington horses or watch a 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. Explore the history of mankind and horses as you wander through over 64,000 square feet of exhibits at the International Museum of the Horse. Bring friends or family to enjoy interactive exhibits, films, and activities for kids focusing on “the horse America made” at the American Saddlebred Museum. Or meet current and retired racehorses while learning top-of-the-line equine care and grooming at Horse Country Kentucky.
Attend Fun Lexington Festivals
There’s no shortage of events in Lexington to keep you busy! Revel in what Lexington does best—Kentucky bluegrass music and Southern barbecue—at Bluegrass BBQ Fest. Party in Downtown Lexington and watch zombies march down Main St doing their best Thriller dance imitations at the Halloween Festival & Thriller Parade. 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 with samples from some of Lexington’s best distilleries while you jam out to live music at the Railbird Festival. Get into the holiday spirit by touring over a million twinkling lights on display, wandering the Holiday Village, or taking pictures with Santa during the Southern Lights Holiday Festival. Or browse and shop from almost 80 artist vendors and view work that is up for awards at the Woodland Art Fair.
Appreciate Lexington Art
Lexington is home to an abundance of art galleries and talented local artists. Try to complete the Mural Challenge and spot more than 50 installations of Lexington Street Art decorating the city, including Horses Jumping, The Night Watchers, and The Buffalo. Admire work by George Headley, collections like The Whitney Doll Houses, and other art exhibitions at the Headley-Whitney Museum. View paintings like Study of an Old Man by Frank Duveneck or prints such as Phil III by Chuck Close at the University of Kentucky Art Museum. Broaden your horizons by exploring contemporary art, like the multimedia piece Downriver from Southern artist Coulter Fussel, at Institute 193. Look at contemporary fine art in Lexington at New Editions Gallery, which features new exhibits bi-monthly. Or wander around to see works from local and regional artists and visit studio artists during Lexington Art League‘s public gallery hours and events.
Be a Patron of Lexington Theatre
The theatre scene in Lexington is thriving, providing a little bit of something for everyone. Watch a children’s play or enroll your kid in classes like Harry Potter and the Mischievous Dragon or Alice in Wonderland at Lexington Children’s Theatre. Spend the night seeing a musical, opera, or ballet performance at the Lexington Opera House. Audition to be in a community show like A Visit From Scarface at the Carriage House Theatre. Buy a ticket to watch stage plays or learn from classes about performance art at the Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center, a theatre dedicated to presenting and celebrating diverse cultures. Or snag a seat to watch shows like Chicago, West Side Story, and The Little Mermaid at the Lexington Theatre Company.
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. Sit amongst Federal architecture while enjoying Jazz on the Lawn or wander exhibits like The Scientific Farmer at the Henry Clay Estate. Take a stroll to admire the historical houses and sculptures that make up the historic district of Gratz Park. Tour collections of historical items like porcelain, paintings, Civil War relics, and more at The Hunt-Morgan House (also known as Hopemont). Pop into the 1814 Bodley-Bullock House to see Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian architecture and furnishings, as well as its famous three-story stairway. Or tour the historical gardens, hemp plots, and pre-Civil War house at Waveland State Historic Site.
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 from performers like Tech N9ne, Fozzy, and The Head and the Heart at Manchester Music Hall. 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 from artists with deep roots in the city during Spirit in the Bluegrass Fest. Get the full Lexington experience with horse races, bourbon, and great headliners like Zach Bryan and Tyler Childers at the Railbird Festival. Or enjoy free weekly bluegrass concerts in Lexington at Southland Jamboree—and don’t forget to bring your instrument for a post-show jam sesh!
Find Delicious Food in Lexington
While Lexington is known for finger-lickin’ barbecue, the rest of Lexington’s restaurant selection is also top-tier! Bite into some of the best brunch in Lexington when you order an Orange Marmalade Chicken Sandwich, DV Ocho, or the Southern Eggs Benedict at DV8 Kitchen. Dine on the Spicy Shrimp Taco, Korean BBQ Taco, or Southern Fried Chicken Taco at The Local Taco. Enjoy Fried Banana Pepper Rings, Blackened Shrimp & Grits, or Buffalo Catfish Bites at Smithtown Seafood—one of the best places to eat in Lexington. Dig into classic barbecue dishes like Smoked Chicken Wings, a Smoked Brisket Sandwich, or Poutine at County Club. Try the Pulled Pork, Sliced Beef Brisket Sandwich, or the Chicken & Sausage Meat Combo Plate at Blue Door Smokehouse—one of the best restaurants in Lexington with 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 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 fun in Bourbon Country doesn’t end in the Distillery District! Find out how Bluegrass Distillers makes their Kentucky Straight Wheated Bourbon or Elkwood Reserve 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 with horses, burrows, and a miniature cow. Listen to live music every Saturday while sipping on estate-grown reds like Monarch and Crimson Cabernet at Talon Winery & Vineyards. Try a Coconut Collins or Raspberry Bellini Spritz at Creaux, one of the best bars in Lexington. Stop for a Cougar Bait American Blonde Ale or Shotgun Wedding Brown Ale Aged on Vanilla Beans at Country Boy Brewing. Drink brews like Kitten Mittons, Citranomical, and Hazy But Lazy at Lexington brewery Mirror Twin Brewing. Hang out on the rooftop with signature cocktails like Pearfect Storm or Be The Buffalo at Belle’s Cocktail House. Or hit the dance floor and catch a drag show at The Bar Complex, a gay bar in Lexington with three bars, a lounge, a dance floor, and more!
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