15 Free Things to Do in Lexington, KY

Lexington, KY

Buckle up and let me guide you through the free things to do in Lexington, Kentucky.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Colleen Cooke, Bryce Russell, Cynthia Phelps, Jeffrey Esparza, Sienna Rice, Heather Scherer and Aleah Stephenson.

Discover the Trails at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

A creek at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

Every weekend, my routine includes strapping on my boots and exploring the woody expanse of Raven Run Nature Sanctuary.

This woodland preserve, stretching over 734 acres, is nothing short of a hidden gem just a short drive from the heart of Lexington, KY.

The sanctuary offers an array of marked hiking trails, each boasting distinct features and varying difficulty levels.

There's a mind-boggling 10 miles' worth of trails to explore!

The sanctuary isn't just a paradise for hikers. It's also a haven for wildlife and nature lovers.

As you navigate the trails, you’ll find yourself crossing streams, listening to the chorus of birds, and spotting some furry creatures if you're lucky.

The Freedom Trail, in particular, is paved and ideal for a stroll.

A word of caution: the sanctuary's opening hours change with the seasons, so it’s best to check beforehand.

There's ample parking space, and they even have a dedicated picnic area.

Small waterfall at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

If you're unsure which trail to take, you'll find maps posted in the parking lot with the difficulty level for each trail.

Raven Run Nature Sanctuary is not just about the hikes but the journey and the destination.

The drive itself is incredibly scenic, taking you through the idyllic countryside.

On one occasion, after an afternoon hike, we decided to stay longer and take in the area's beauty at sundown.

Believe me when I say the sunsets here are stunning.

The sanctuary also houses a nature center filled with interactive activities for families with children.

Here, kids can learn about the various creatures they might encounter on the trails. It's a great hands-on learning experience, and the best part? It's free!

So, whether you're a seasoned hiker or just someone looking to spend a day amidst nature, you should consider taking a trip down to Raven Run Nature Sanctuary - an outdoor haven right on our doorstep.

Explore Natural Beauty at Kentucky's Arboretum State Botanical Garden

The grounds of Arboretum State Botanical Garden
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

Whenever I need a break from the pace of city life, I escape to the lush serenity of the Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky.

Nestled in the heart of Lexington, right on the UK campus, this 100-acre oasis is my retreat.

The long walking trails are my favorite part of the arboretum.

Each route, whether it's the paved ones or the grassy paths, unfolds a new surprise of Kentucky's landscape.

It's an ever-changing panorama of nature, from groves of cool plants, vibrant flowers, and towering trees to gently shaded nooks perfect for a quiet read or a chat.

Here, I find myself losing track of time, often mesmerized by the different natural regions of Kentucky showcased through the garden's unique layouts.

I remember stumbling upon a poignant tribute to victims of a plane crash nestled amidst the foliage.

The attention to these little details makes the garden so unique.

I'm not the only one who savors this haven.

You often find people running the trails, families picnicking, or children exploring.

Some even bring their hammocks and lounge amidst the beauty.

It's where everyone seems to find their little corner of peace and happiness.

However, it's not just about the landscapes and trails. The arboretum offers a variety of plants, shrubs, and flowers that are a photographer's delight.

Even though I wished for a little more floral display, the garden's beauty is in its simplicity and authenticity.

The outdoor wonder of the Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky is an experience in itself, a testament to the beauty of God's outdoor garden.

Spend an Afternoon at Boone Creek Creamery

In the heart of my community lies a hidden gem that always lures me in with its artisanal charm - the Boone Creek Creamery.

My visits there always start with a delightful tour.

Their cheeses are in a class of their own.

Each bite of their mozzarella is a moment of pure indulgence and a soft, creamy texture that melts in your mouth.

And the strawberry cheese was a pleasant surprise. It was a blend of sweet and creamy that I never knew I needed.

However, the show's star, for me, has always been their butter collection.

From the spicy hint of cinnamon to the savory punch of garlic, they've got a variety of flavors that are simply out of this world!

The Creamery is also a treasure trove of locally made goodies.

They've covered everything, from soaps to honey, sauces to gift items.

Whether planning to put together a gift basket or just browsing, there's always something unique to find.

But the cherry on top of my visits is always the fudge.

Decadent and heavenly, it's the perfect treat to end a delightful stay.

And with their constant flow of delicious samples, you can always try before you buy.

The Boone Creek Creamery is a cornerstone of our community, a testament to local artisanal craft, and a must-visit for anyone who loves good food and good times.

Enjoy a Peaceful Morning at Lexington Cemetery

Senator Henry Clay burial site at the Historic Lexington Cemetery
Michael_Kentucky / Shutterstock.com

One of the most beautiful hidden gems in Lexington, Kentucky, has to be The Lexington Cemetery.

Imagine beginning your day with a peaceful morning stroll through the well-maintained and picturesque grounds.

You're immersed in tranquility and history when you step onto the property.

There's something about the cemetery that's just captivating.

You might find yourself drawn to the impressive Henry Clay memorial, a towering monument that must be over 200 feet high.

Or perhaps you'll find comfort in the quiet dignity of the veterans' tombs and the historic stonecaps.

While you're walking, don't forget to keep an eye out for the signs on the edge of certain sections.

Adolph Rupp burial site at the Historic Lexington Cemetery
Michael_Kentucky / Shutterstock.com

These markers identify the final resting places of individuals who played an essential part in Kentucky's history.

Not every grave of a famous or influential person has a sign, but discovering those that do adds another layer to your visit.

Whether you're here to pay your respects, reflect on history, or enjoy a peaceful walk, the Lexington Cemetery never fails to leave you with a sense of calm and a new appreciation for the beauty around you.

General John Hunt Morgan statue at the Historic Lexington Cemetery
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Visit Kentucky Horse Park

Daytime view of Kentucky Horse Park
Anthony Delgado / Shutterstock.com

If you're ever in the mood to marvel at magnificent horses and dip your toes into some equine history, the Kentucky Horse Park is the place for you!

Nestled in over a thousand acres of lush greenery, this place has been my go-to for equine adventures for as long as I can remember.

My personal favorite has always been the Saddlebred Museum. It's usually a peaceful spot to start your exploration, away from the larger crowds.

Plus, you can grab your tickets for the rest of the park.

On more than one occasion, I've seen them offering rides on their golf carts, helping visitors get from one barn to another.

As a regular, I've had the pleasure of meeting the resident horses, including a police horse and a famous draft horse named Gus.

Entrance gate of Kentucky Horse Park
ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

He's a big hit among visitors – and it's easy to see why! There's also a restaurant on-site.

While the food is decent, the equine experiences genuinely steal the show.

The park arranges events and presentations every 45 minutes, keeping everyone engaged and entertained.

Their horseback rides are a real treat, where you trot around the park, soaking in its beauty.

I've spent many days hunting for treasures in the gift shop and winning blue ribbons at the museum scavenger hunts.

I can vouch that this place has something fun for everyone and is worth every penny of the two-day ticket.

Equestrian at Kentucky Horse Park
Anthony Delgado / Shutterstock.com

Experience the Elegance of Ashland - The Henry Clay Estate

Exterior of Ashland - The Henry Clay Estate
Irina Mos / Shutterstock.com

Roaming the grounds of the Ashland - The Henry Clay Estate feels like stepping into a bygone era.

The stately 19th-century home, once the property of renowned politician Henry Clay, is a testament to our nation's history.

With its impeccable maintenance and intricate details, the house is a sight to behold.

Each room is a fingertip touch away from history, and you can almost feel the presence of the great statesman himself.

The guided tours are the ticket to this journey back in time; the outside is just as awe-inspiring as the inside.

Cellars at Ashland - The Henry Clay Estate
Irina Mos / Shutterstock.com

The grounds are meticulously maintained, offering scenic trails that allow you to appreciate the estate's natural beauty while getting in some gentle exercise.

A delightful surprise is the small Ginkgo Cafe nestled within the grounds.

After a tour of the house and a leisurely walk in the gardens, settling down for a bowl of their delicious homemade gazpacho feels like a well-deserved treat.

They offer a range of other tasty food options that satisfy every craving.

Adding to the convenience is the on-site Gift Shop and snack Bar and the complimentary parking.

It's a historical tour and an all-around experience at Ashland - The Henry Clay Estate.

Check Out McConnell Springs Park

Just last weekend, I strolled through the tranquil trails of McConnell Springs Park, Lexington's historic gem.

This park, situated right in the heart of Lexington, is the city's birthplace and hosts events, educational programs, and natural springs - all within walking distance from my home.

I started my day with the alluring beauty of the "Blue Hole."

The spring is divided into three parts, each with a descriptive sign that helps understand its history and significance.

Likewise, the water there is such a mesmerizing blue color that it seems almost unreal.

Right across from the "Final Spring" lies an old railroad track area covered with vibrant graffiti, starkly contrasting its natural beauty.

It adds an unexpected splash of color and personality to the park and offers a unique backdrop for photography.

I wandered to the wetland area, where they built a bridge to provide a perfect overlook.

Watching the turtles and fish from there was a delightful escape from my daily routine.

The park is equipped with a nature center, and although it's not very large, it's filled with interesting facts and displays.

Also, several benches are scattered throughout the park, ideal for resting and soaking in the picturesque scenery.

I spent a couple of hours there, but it felt like minutes.

McConnell Springs Park is a part of Lexington's history beautifully intertwined with nature, offering a much-needed retreat in the middle of the city.

Take a Walk through Triangle Park at Night

Cascade waterfall at Triangle Park
Ivelin Denev / Shutterstock.com

Every night, after a long day, I find myself drawn to Triangle Park's calm, serene atmosphere.

The steady, soothing sounds of the flowing water fountains are like a lullaby to my senses, wrapping me in their tranquil melody.

I've been frequenting this landscaped urban oasis for almost three decades now, and I've seen it evolve and grow, just like the city around it.

Yet, it has always retained its charm, making it one of my favorite places to relax and unwind.

Situated right in the heart of Lexington, the park is a refreshing breath of green amidst the bustling city.

I often see fellow locals lounging on the grass, enjoying the occasional outdoor performances that the park hosts.

A simple stroll across the park is enough to rejuvenate my spirits.

The stunning water feature is undoubtedly the crown jewel of Triangle Park.

Its allure amplifies as the sun sets, the beautiful lights coming to life, casting mesmerizing reflections on the water.

Sometimes, I wish the fountains would play their water symphony more often, but I understand the need for maintenance.

The park is a perfect escape, a small sanctuary where the city's din gives way to nature's soothing symphony.

See Fresh Finds at Lexington Farmers' Market

Aerial view of Lexington Farmers’ Market
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Do you know that feeling of utter satisfaction when you discover a treasure trove in your backyard?

That's how I feel about the Lexington Farmers' Market.

It's a melting pot of friendly faces, fresh produce, and an impressive variety of goodies that can quickly turn a mundane Saturday morning into a delightful experience.

Early mornings are always the best times to visit.

If you're a late riser like me, you'd better adjust your schedule, or you'll find your favorite items already sold out!

The market is conveniently nestled in the heart of downtown, just across from the Fifth Third building, so you can't miss it.

Moreover, the vendors are the life of the market.

They're always so friendly and eager to share their goods.

Every visit feels like a mini-reunion with friends.

And the prices? Unbeatable. So, you don't just get farm-fresh produce. You get it at a steal.

But don't just take my word for it.

Try the ripe tomatoes, crisp potatoes, or sweet corn and taste the difference yourself.

And if you're a cheese lover like me, you’ll love the cheese stand.

I can't recommend Lexington Farmers' Market enough.

It's not just a place to shop; it's a community experience that makes you appreciate the little things in life even more. If you haven't already, give it a try!

Visit Jacobson Park Playground

Once a week, at the break of dawn, before the city of Lexington wakes up, I find myself drawn to a special place.

This place is not just a local attraction; it's a sanctuary where I reconnect with nature and savor quiet moments.

It is the Jacobson Park Playground.

The morning mist dancing on the serene lake greets me when I step into the park.

The lake, a favorite spot for paddle boating, feels like an artist's canvas with ducks and geese gently gliding.

Likewise, the splash pad nearby is a little oasis where children unleash their joy on hot summer days.

The heart and soul of the park is the playground, which feels like a labyrinth of adventure.

I see the charm in the large wooden fort, which stands like a castle from a fairy tale.

Multi-level places to crawl and climb through, numerous climbing structures, giant catwalks.

It's not just a playground; it's a kingdom of childhood imagination.

I often see children aged 3 to 12 exploring these structures with wide-eyed wonder, their laughter echoing around the park.

The park does not forget the adults, either.

As a lover of tranquility, I often find myself rooted on a bench near the lake.

On sunny days, the rays gently weave through the leaves, casting a mosaic of light and shadow on the ground.

The park's open spaces make it perfect to soak up the calm and quiet.

Jacobson Park Playground, with its well-maintained and high-quality equipment and the best safety padding, is where memories are made, laughter is shared, and the hustle of city life fades to a whisper.

Whether you are a seeker of adventure or a lover of tranquility, Jacobson Park Playground has something for everyone.

Discover History in a Vibrant Locale: The Old Fayette County Court House

Exterior of Old Fayette County Court House
Lost Shoe Studios / Shutterstock.com

Just in the heart of downtown Lexington, a historical gem is nestled within the city's hustle and bustle - The Old Fayette County Court House.

With each step you take through this grand building, you can almost feel the echoes of past court decisions, some controversial, some consequential, shaping the local community and beyond.

While its history intrigues me, what draws me to this place is its bustling activity.

There's a restaurant tucked in the corner of the courthouse square that I frequently visit.

Judging by the constant stream of patrons, I am not alone in my admiration for its culinary offerings.

With its sweeping views of the energetic cityscape, the outdoor dining area is a favored spot for lunch and dinner.

Exercising with a scenic view is a unique experience that the courthouse steps offer.

Facing Main Street, these steps provide a particular workout spot, and the reward at the top is a breathtaking view of the Fifth Third Bank - the tallest skyscraper in Lexington.

This old courthouse has also been beautifully repurposed to house small businesses, giving it a new lease of life.

Among these, the Thirsty Fox is a spot I never miss.

Attached to Zim's Cafe is a bar with an exceptionally curated selection of wines.

The Old Fayette County Courthouse is a testament to Lexington's growth and vibrancy.

Spend the Day at Thoroughbred Park

Life-Size Horse Statues at the Thoroughbred Park
ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

I've lost count of the times I've stopped by Thoroughbred Park.

Just a stone's throw from my home, it's always an excellent place to while away some time.

Its rich history is on full display, and the magnificent bronze racehorses and Gwen Reardon's work never cease to amaze me.

The sheer detailing of each horse, frozen in a moment of pure racing energy, is a sight to behold.

A walk around the 2.5-acre park is like a journey into the heart of the thoroughbred industry.

I often strolled, stopping by each of the 42 plaques dedicated to industry legends.

Reading up on these great personalities, I can't help but feel a sense of awe and respect.

Close view of a statue at Thoroughbred Park
ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

The area can be a tad challenging when it comes to parking, but once you get the hang of it, there's always a spot to be found.

Street parking is available nearby, and there's also a gravel parking lot across the street.

I often see kids frolicking in the fountains, their laughter echoing around the park.

It's heartening to see the younger generation connecting with the history of the place.

Thoroughbred Park is a rich tapestry of history, art, and community, all woven together.

And each time I'm there, I leave with a feeling of having experienced something significant.

Enter a World of Imagination at Lexington Central Public Library

Ceiling clock in Lexington Central Public Library
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Since I stumbled upon the Lexington Public Library, specifically the Central branch downtown, it has quickly become my most treasured hideaway.

In my early days, I was a fervent reader.

Then came the advent of smartphones, and I thought, why would I need a book, right?

But oh, how I was mistaken.

There's something truly magical about holding a physical book, turning the pages, and losing oneself in the world crafted by the author.

I love horror, and finding good horror books can be a bit of a challenge.

But the helpful ladies at this library always have the best suggestions; they've never let me down.

The children's section is also fantastic.

My ten-year-old and I have a special spot where we curl up with our books - a wooden box filled with cushions.

Interior of Lexington Central Public Library
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

It's our little sanctuary amidst the hustle and bustle of life.

There's always something exciting happening at the library, from craft sessions to writing classes and STEM activities.

They even have a dedicated STEM room!

The library is a marvel, combining stunning architecture with a thoughtfully designed interior that includes outlets and USB plugs everywhere.

It's always clean and well-maintained, creating a perfect atmosphere for reading. Every visit leaves me in awe and with a renewed love for reading.

I frequently lose track of time, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Because here, in the heart of Lexington, stands a library that's not just a place to read but a place to dream, explore, and learn.

Check Out the University of Kentucky Art Museum

Exterior of the University of Kentucky Art Museum
StewartIM, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Now and then, I find myself at the University of Kentucky Art Museum.

It's not the Met, but I find the art collection quite diverse - a mix of sculptures, decorative arts, paintings, and even rotating exhibits that give you a fresh perspective with every visit.

While some might argue that the collection isn't as extensive as one might want, I appreciate the inviting atmosphere of the bright, well-lit spaces.

The free entry is a bonus that encourages frequent visits.

Moreover, there's no shortage of modern art here, and it offers a platform for newer artists to showcase their work.

Taking in the innovative, boundary-pushing pieces as you walk through the galleries is a thrill.

So, if you find yourself in town, do stop by.

It won't be the biggest art museum you've ever seen, but it might be the most charming one.

Final Thoughts

After spending years exploring the charm and beauty of Lexington, I can confidently say that you don't need to break the bank to experience the best our city offers.

Truly, Lexington is a city where you can make priceless memories without any price.

So, whether you're a fellow Lexingtonian or just passing through, take a moment to explore these fantastic free attractions that make our city a truly remarkable place to live.

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