We love to walk around historic cities in America and Lexington was a great city to explore. Called "the city in the park" because of all the lush and green horse farms in the area it is also home to much of Americas early history. As is typical for us we visit the inner cities on Sundays to take advantage of smaller crowds, less traffic as well as free and plentiful parking.Lexington is extra kind to visitors because Saturdays are also free as we discovered after reading the meters!
We stopped at the visitor’s center and picked up a self guided walking tour brochure for our planned stroll in the downtown area. The tallest building in town is a 30-story glass office building on Main Street and is known as “Big Blue" to the locals. The brochure took us on a great walking tour of downtown past many interesting historic buildings and the early architecture was fun to gawk at.
We also entered the Lexington Public Library because we wanted to see its five-story atrium with the world's largest ceiling clock. This was an interesting sight but we also learned something we didn’t know about public libraries. Since we arrived right before it opened at 1pm we noticed a lot of people milling around outside waiting for it to open. After scrutinizing the people waiting it became quite apparent that most of them were homeless people. . After thinking about it the library offers free use of restroom facilities, free use of computers, books and comfortable seating. Best of all there free air conditioning on these hot, muggy summer days. . I am sure many of them found a secluded spot to catch up on their sleep.
Some other interesting places we encountered were The Mary Todd Lincoln House (the girlhood home of the First Lady) and The Hunt-Morgan House. The Hunt-Morgan House was built in 1814 by Kentucky's first millionaire, John Wesley Hunt. We also saw Mrs. Lincoln's parents' later home where we read Abe Lincoln loved to visit because of Mary's father's extensive library.
As we learned from our brochure, the Gratz Park neighborhood is also a great spot to see many early to mid 1800’s homes. One of Lexington's poshest neighborhoods of the early 1800, it is also near the oldest college west of the Alleghenies, Transylvania University. This Christian liberal arts school had some interesting historical alumni including Jefferson Davis, Cassius Clay and Stephen Austin. I thought it was fairly interesting that the “T” logo in front of the main building at Transylvania U. was blood red due to the flowers…
The Old Fayette County Courthouse is located near Cheapside Park. This was the site of slave auctions and abolitionists' speeches in antebellum Lexington. Later it became a place for horse sales and other trading. The ornate Lexington Opera House on Broadway was built in 1886 and was where the likes of Al Jolsen, Will Rogers and Fanny Brice were said to have graced its stage. It is still used for cultural performances today.
Also downtown is Rupp Arena which is the home court to one of the nation’s top college basketball programs, the University of Kentucky Wildcats. A short drive away is the University of Kentucky itself and we drove through the campus. We wanted to walk around it but so much of it was under construction and renovation it wasn’t as pleasant a place to walk as we had hoped.
Next we drove over to the nearby town of Georgetown. We were lucky and found a farmer’s market on the very trendy Main Street. This little town has some beautiful historic houses and is home to Georgetown College. It was the first Baptist college west of the Alleghenies. Although it was chartered in 1829 its heritage goes back to 1787.Georgetown is also home to a Toyota Motor Manufacturing facility. We had hope to also tour this but ran out of time.
Driving to and from town was also very enjoyable as there are very large, scenic horse farms. With all the rain this summer, the rolling hills are especially lush and green. Lexington also has a few breweries. We visited two of them during our 4 day stay, Country Boy Brewing and West Sixth Brewing.
Both were very friendly and inviting places with good crowds but of the two we preferred the beverages at Country Boy Brewing. A funny thing happened when we went into Country Boy. As we were standing in line to order a fellow walks up and says, “I know you.” I immediately recognized my friend Vinnie who once lived in College Station, Texas. He moved 7 years ago and got a job at the University of Kentucky. What a treat it was to run into him! He graciously invited us over for a delicious dinner the following evening. We had a great time catching up, so much so that we forgot to take pictures. Happily our travels brought us to Lexington and it really was a great stop!