Lexington, Kentucky


For the last leg of our Baseball, Beer, and Bourbon tour, we drove on from Louisville to Lexington. But on the way, we visited a couple of bourbon distilleries. First, Castle and Key in Frankfort. This is a historic distillery with a castle, as well as a springhouse in the shape of a key, hence the name. The grounds were very beautiful to walk around.

Unfortunately we didn’t make tour reservations in time for most of these distilleries, so we just looked around and saw what was open to the general public, but this one was still well worth the visit!

The keyhole-shaped springhouse. 

Next was a stop at Woodford Reserve, where I had my sights set on some bourbon balls. I visited this distillery when I first came to Lexington eleven years ago for a wedding, and Gina and Dave were kind enough to bring me here, even though they don’t drink. It introduced me to good bourbon, and it’s been my preferred drink ever since! Again, we didn’t have reservations for a tour this time. It would’ve definitely been a more interesting visit if we had. But instead, we just did a quick visit to the gift shop and got some goodies to take home.

Next, we made it over to the city of Lexington, where we would be staying– in a 21C Museum Hotel! My first time actually staying in one, even though I visit the galleries all the time. They usually convert historic properties into their hotels, and this one was the First National Bank Building. 15 stories! The penguins at this location are blue.

I love the elements from the old bank building that they kept. 

Why look further? We decided to just have dinner in the 21C restaurant, Lockbox. note the blue penguin over Alex’s shoulder. :)

And for post-dinner entertainment, a walk through all of the galleries.

Our final day in Kentucky! We started with a morning visit to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. We arrived just in time to catch this horse-drawn trolley ride around the park, narrated very quickly to fit within the seven-minute loop.

The park is interesting, because it’s obviously a tourist destination, so it’s part theme park, but also part working horse farm. There’s an extensive museum as well. It’s kind of just open for you to wander around and see what you find.

Here is a horse in the police horses barn, getting ready to go to work. And there happened to be a competition going on that day too, so we watched some teenage girls competing in horse jumping (?) I don’t know anything about equestrian sports, but it was fun to watch! 

The park also has an extensive museum about horses. I hadn’t really thought much about how huge of a role these animals have played throughout human history. But there was also a great gallery about horses and how they have been inextricably tied with our history of slavery and racism. And reexamining the role Black horsemen have played in Kentucky’s horse history in particular.

One of the barns hosts our nice carriage horses that took us around that morning.

Some famous racehorses also come here to live out their retirement. They let us feed Point Given, who once won four $1M races in a row, in 2001. The only race he didn’t win was the Kentucky Derby, in which he placed 5th. 

All in all, a very educational and entertaining morning spent with horses!

We followed it up with a very heavy lunch at The Brown Barrel, where we tried their rendition of the Hot Brown, a Kentucky special. 

Then, it was back on the bourbon trail! We had a tasting experience at Bulleit.

The tasting experience was pretty interesting, because they would put a scent element in those little metal shakers, and they would alter your perception of the whiskey as you tasted it.

Next, back to Frankfort again, for a stop by Buffalo Trace, which produces a whole bunch of big whiskey brands. The one we were most interested in was Blanton’s, but again we didn’t have a tour reservation, so we could only walk around and look in the gift shop.

No special Blanton’s to be purchased here. Only these interesting candles inside Blanton’s-like bottles… which are $50. I’d rather have the bourbon, but that’s just me.

Well, it was nice to look at their grounds, anyway.

I would definitely advise starting with the reservations earlier than we did! Otherwise just visiting gift shops isn’t quite as fun as touring the facilities.

And finally, although it was a weekend and therefore not open to the public, we swung by the Kentucky State Capitol, since I like visiting state capitols. I’m not sure this counts though; I usually at least walk through the inside!

Anyhow, we had a lovely little road trip through Kentucky’s bourbon trail. Would do again!

Revisit our whole baseball, beer, and bourbon tour in the links below.

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She compulsively documents and blogs all of her daily adventures. Follow her on instagram and view more of her professional work at annawu.com.