Founded in 1775, Lexington has a rich history with stories waiting to be discovered by those who are exhilarated by the past.
As the first part of Kentucky to be settled, this area represents the beginning of the American West, and was home to prominent individuals of 18th and 19th century American History. There’s no shortage of stories to relive in Lexington and across the Bluegrass Region, so whether you’re a collector of relics from past eras or just an appreciator of history, we invite you to take a walk back in time through notable Civil War battlefields, homes of prominent historical figures, preserved architectural treasures and much more.
578 West Main Street
With the distinction of being the first historic site to be restored in honor of a first lady, the Mary Todd Lincoln house is the childhood home of president Abraham Lincoln’s wife. Learn about her life here and as first lady on a guided tour, available Monday-Saturday from 10am-3pm. mtlhouse.org
201 North Mill Street
Located in the historic Gratz Park area, the Hunt-Morgan house was once owned by famous Confederate General John Hunt-Morgan and now operates as a museum showcasing early Kentucky furniture, 19th-century paintings, antique porcelain and more. bluegrasstrust.org
Mill & Market Streets between Second & Third
Stroll past the idyllic former homes of some of Lexington’s first leaders in this quaint area in the heart of downtown Lexington. Gratz Park is comprised of 16 historic buildings, and is also home to the Fountain of Youth statue donated by Lexington author James Lane Allen. gratzpark.org
209 Castlewood Drive
Built in 1851 by architect John McMurtry, the Loudoun House is considered one of the largest and finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the state, and is currently home to the Lexington Art League. lexingtonartleague.org
401 West Short Street
Built in 1886, the Lexington Opera House is a three-story downtown theater designed by renowned architect Oscar Cobb. It is one of only 14 theaters in the country built before 1900 and still in operation with less than 1,000 seats. lexingtonoperahouse.com
214 East Main Street
This historic downtown cinema first opened its doors in 1922, and showcases foreign, independent and art films as well as occasional concerts. Its rich ornamental walls and glowing stain glass fixtures give an old-timey feel to this Lexington landmark. kentuckytheater.com
833 West Main Stree
A private cemetery and one of the most beautiful arboretums in the country, the Lexington Cemetery is the burial site of many notable Kentuckians. Look for the historic monuments honoring Confederate General John Hunt Morgan; Vice President under Buchanan, John C. Breckenridge; and Statesman Henry Clay, whose limestone monument stands 120 feet tall. lexcem.org
120 Sycamore Road
The former plantation of acclaimed Kentucky statesman, Henry Clay, the Ashland Estate is preserved on 17 acres of wooded grounds and surrounded by scenic residential streets. Tour the mansion, visit the English parterre garden, or take a “Trees of Ashland” tour during your visit. henryclay.org
225 Waveland Museum Lane
An antebellum plantation also known as the Joseph Bryan House, Waveland features a preserved Greek Revival mansion, several historic outbuildings and beautiful gardens for guests to tour. parks.ky.gov
4029 Airport Road
Located at Blue Grass Airport, the Aviation Museum houses historic airplanes, photos, documents and training equipment in their permanent collection. Their 25,000 square foot indoor exhibit area showcases a variety of traveling exhibits and displays throughout the year. aviationky.org
6614 Danville Road, Nicholasville
Located just south of Nicholasville and bordered by the Kentucky River palisades, this Civil War site was the state’s most important recruiting station, and also served as a refuge for soldiers’ families. The original camp covers 4,000 acres and includes around 300 historic buildings and fortifications. campnelson.org
1835 Battlefield Road, Perryville
Commemorating one of Kentucky’s bloodiest and most important battles during the Civil War, Perryville Battlefield encompasses more than 890 acres of beautiful natural grounds. The battle is re-enacted each October, but you can catch living history activities and costumed interpreters throughout the year. perryvillebattlefield.org
4375 Boonesboro Road, Richmond
Founded as a frontier fort by Daniel Boone following his crossing of the Kentucky River in 1775, Fort Boonesborough has been rebuilt as a working fort containing cabins, bunkhouses and furnishings. During the on-season, resident artisans, blacksmiths and potters do open demonstrations to emulate pioneer life for visitors. parks.ky.gov
3501 Lexington Road, Harrodsburg
The largest restored Shaker community spans across 3,000 acres and houses 34 original Shaker structures, making it the country’s largest private collection of original 19th-century buildings. It also offers a variety of music and dance performances, classes, trails for hiking and horseback riding and more. shakervillageky.org
Explore the rich heritage of the Bluegrass Region by following suggested itineraries around special area interests. Visit notable slavery milestones on the African American Heritage tour, stroll through quaint towns on the Small-Town Treasures tour, or discover the life of Honest Abe on the Lincoln Heritage tour. visitlex.com
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