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- Fun Free Things to Do in Lexington KY
- 1. Keeneland Thoroughbred Racing
- 2. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
- 3. Books with a View
- 4. Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky
- 5. Hit the Park
- 6. Farmers Markets
- 7. Camp Nelson National Cemetery and Civil War Site
- 8. Hike through the Arboretum
- 9. Look up in the Sky
- 10. Garden Cemetery
- 11. See Appalachian Art in Kentucky’s Folk Art Center
- 12. Do Something Cheesy
- 13. Ride a Ferry
- 14. Take the Big Blue Traditions Tour
- 15. Floracliff Nature Sanctuary
- 16. Hotel, Museum or Both?
- 17. Outdoor Tour
- 18. Bike the Greenway
- 19. College Tour
- 20. Be Independent
- 21. See a Castle
- 22. See a National Treasure
- 23. Art Time
- 24. Self Guided tour
- 25. Art and History
Nicknamed both the Thoroughbred City and the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington, Kentucky, is best known for its horse racing and nearby bourbon distilleries. Family vacationers can find other fun things to do, many of them FREE.
Fun Free Things to Do in Lexington KY
Located in the heart of the Bluegrass region, Lexington offers plenty of green space and historic sites. Bourbon, basketball and bluegrass – and horses – reign supreme, but you can find many family friendly free things to do in Lexington.
Though hot and humid, summer is the ideal time to experience Lexington’s cultural offerings and outdoor activities. Many of the fun things to do in Lexington are also open year round, so any time is good for a visit.
Read More: Visiting Lexington? Don’t Forget to Check Out Mammoth Caves!
1. Keeneland Thoroughbred Racing
Glimpse the thoroughbred racing world by watching an early morning workout at Keeneland, or stroll along the track on a self-guided tour. The National Historic Landmark includes landscaped gardens that you can explore on your own..
2. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Explore 734 acres of natural beauty and hike trails through meadows, woodlands and streams. Raven Run has 10 miles of hiking trails, including a barrier free paved trail perfect for families with strollers or visitors with mobility difficulties.
3. Books with a View
The main branch of the Lexington Public Library of has a five story Foucault pendulum along with the world’s largest ceiling clock. There is also a frieze depicting the history of horses and racing in the Bluegrass state. The library also offers story times for children, a wonderful free thing to do in Lexington.
4. Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky
5. Hit the Park
Jacobson Park has a “sprayground” water play area where you can cool off. You can also fish in the 47-acre lake, but you need a fishing permit.
6. Farmers Markets
Despite Covid-19 restrictions, farmers markets are still open in Lexington. Food sampling is verboten for the time being, but you can still meet farmers and check out local produce and baked goods. The Saturday farmers market downtown in Tandy Centennial Park is open year round.
7. Camp Nelson National Cemetery and Civil War Site
Hike more than 5 miles of interpretive trails through this former Civil War base. Then visit the graves of nearly 1,600 soldiers buried in the national cemetery.
8. Hike through the Arboretum
The University of Kentucky has a spectacular arboretum open to the public. The 2-mile Walk Across Kentucky features wild-collected native plants from the different regions of Kentucky.
9. Look up in the Sky
During the free annual Kite Fest, the skies in Lexington are filled with beautiful kites. The 2021 Kite Fest was canceled but will return next April. Expect children’s games, kite decorating and free sunscreen. Bring a picnic or buy food on site.
10. Garden Cemetery
The Lexington Cemetery is as known for its gardens and arboretum as it is for being the final resting place of Henry Clay. After you see the Henry Clay Monument and Mausoleum, look for ducks, swans and fish in the large lakes. The Lexington Cemetery contains remains of both Union and Confederate soldiers.
11. See Appalachian Art in Kentucky’s Folk Art Center
Located on the campus of Morehead State University, the Kentucky Folk Art Center is housed in an old grocery store. The best part of this free attraction is that it really supports local artists. The permanent collection includes nearly 1,400 pieces of self-taught art. Don’t miss the annual Appalachian Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair, held on the first Saturday of December. The art museum is temporarily closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
12. Do Something Cheesy
Take a free tour (with cheese tasting) at the artisan cheese maker Boone Creek Creamery. Careful if you’re claustrophobic; the tour includes a Hobbit Cave where the cheeses are aged.
13. Ride a Ferry
Take a free ride on the Valley View Ferry across the Kentucky River.
14. Take the Big Blue Traditions Tour
This is a University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball fan’s dream. The free guided tours, held on campus are on pause due to Covid-19, but check back before your visit.
15. Floracliff Nature Sanctuary
This nature sanctuary has guided hikes that you have to pay for. But there are also free events including a City Nature Challenge through May, with advance reservations.
16. Hotel, Museum or Both?
Like the one in Louisville, Lexington’s 21C Museum Hotel opens its contemporary art galleries to all. And the art museum is open every day, all day. Perfect for early risers or night owls.
17. Outdoor Tour
Stay socially distanced and explore the outbuildings, formal gardens, topiary animals and walking trails at Ashland – The Henry Clay Estate. Note: this does not include the Mansion tour, which charges a fee.
18. Bike the Greenway
Bike, or walk some of the 12 mile Legacy Trail, which runs from downtown Lexington to the Kentucky Horse Park. There are art installations and sculptures, along with interpretive signs offering local history.
TravelingMom Tip: the Kentucky Horse Park charges admission.
19. College Tour
See the Greek Revival architecture at Transylvania University, the first college west of the Alleghenies. If you have teens, sign up for a free college tour with a current student, or just wander on your own.
20. Be Independent
Browse the books at Joseph-Beth, an independent bookstore at Lexington Green (there is second location in Cincinnati). Pre-pandemic, the book store hosted free events such as author readings, story times and yoga in the large store.
21. See a Castle
The Kentucky Castle, a hotel and restaurant, offers paid guided tours inside. But you can stop by and see the outside and the grounds for free.
22. See a National Treasure
The Historic Lexington Courthouse, on the National Register of Historic Places, is actually the 5th courthouse on that spot. The mixed use historic site now contains the Lexington Visitors Center, a restaurant and office space.