A visit to horse country

Last week, Johnny and I took a much-needed vacation. I convinced him that we should absolutely visit Lexington, Kentucky. He suggested we spend a couple of days in Louisville, so we spent a delightful week gallivanting around the state of Kentucky.

We kicked off our trip with a brief stop in Nashville to watch the eclipse- my best friend lives just north of the city. After nearly convincing ourselves we had fake eclipse glasses, then determining they were genuine, we enjoyed the eclipse from my friend’s front yard. It was a stunning experience; we were in the path of totality, and the quiet that descended when the moon blotted out the sun for a few minutes was uncanny.

The traffic between Nashville and Lexington was also an experience. The drive, which should have taken about three hours, took seven. SEVEN. We arrived at our Airbnb well into the evening, ordered a pizza, and went to bed.

We slept in on Tuesday, and ate an early lunch at Wallace Station where I indulged in a country ham and pimento cheese sandwich. (Any trip to the south is incomplete without country ham.) The drive out there and back was lovely, and even Johnny was captivated by the rolling pastures outlined by neat board fences and filled with playful bands of weanlings. We toured Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company, where we sampled beer and bourbon. Our next stop was Ethereal Brewery. Their taproom is a big, airy space, perfect for whiling away a warm afternoon. We headed back to the Airbnb for a nap after that and had dinner downtown at HopCat.

Statue of Man O’War atop his grave.

Wednesday found us at the Kentucky Horse Park. I’ve been to the Horse Park several times as a competitor and Rolex spectator, but I haven’t been as a tourist in many years. Johnny, who has never been, was impressed by the size of the place. We watched the Hall of Champions presentation and admired Thoroughbreds Go For Gin and Funny Cide, American Quarter Horse Be A Bono, and Standardbred Western Dreamer. The residents of the Hall of Champions were total hams who mugged for the cameras and happily submitted to the crowds eager to pet them after the show. Standardbred Mr. Muscleman wasn’t in the show we saw, but he hung his head out of his stall and gently sniffed a group of children who were admiring him. Johnny seemed completely tickled by the famous horses doing all the things the horses he sees every day do.

After the Hall of Champions show, we headed down a shady lane to catch the Parade of Breeds presentation. We saw the American Cream Draft (which I didn’t even know was a breed), the Morgan, the American Paint Horse, the Gypsy Vanner, the Lipizzaner (who looked aggrieved), and the Tennessee Walking Horse. The Parade of Breeds was kind of corny, but kids and adults alike were rapt throughout the show. The performers allowed people to pet the horses after the show, and I patted the long-suffering Lipizzaner.

I took Johnny out to the cross country course after that. He was intent on finding one of the big duck jumps that’s usually featured at Rolex, so we trekked around the course and admired the enormous jumps that were scattered throughout the area. We didn’t find a duck, but we did see a goose jump back up at the main equine theme park complex. We ended our visit at Man O’War’s grave before having an early dinner at Locals’.

View from The Galt House.

We drove up to Louisville on Thursday morning, where we spent the early afternoon touring Churchill Downs. The tour was short but informative and it was neat to see the big track so empty (and under construction). The Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs was full of memorabilia, statistics, and videos of Derbies past. We spent over an hour watching races and reading about winners. We also visited Twinspired, the current resident Thoroughbred.

In Louisville, we stayed at The Galt House, which is downtown on the Ohio River. We had a super view of the river from our room! We dined at the hotel on Thursday evening and hit the hay early. On Friday, we walked to the Muhammad Ali Center and spent a couple of hours there. I’d definitely recommend it- the exhibits are thoughtful and in-depth. It’s much more than a museum dedicated to a boxer; topics addressed in the center range from spirituality and religion to civil rights.  I especially enjoyed the temporary exhibit Grandmother Power that highlighted the activism of grandmothers around the world.

From the riverboat.

After lunch at Mussel & Burger Bar, we walked around downtown Louisville for an hour or so before returning to the hotel to pack up our suitcases and souvenirs. On Friday evening, we took a cruise on the Belle of Louisville steamboat. It was a pleasant way to unwind, even if there was an astonishing number of turnt old people on board. We walked to Los Aztecas (because we are unable to go more than a week without Tex-Mex) for a late dinner and had a nightcap at the hotel bar.

We returned home on Saturday. I’m so glad I was able to share some of my favorite places with Johnny and that we were able to spend a fun week in horse country! I feel energetic and recharged and ready to tackle some household projects after I return from a monster work trip.

19 Comments

  1. Olivia

    Sounds like a fun trip. Levi is part Cream draft, but I’ve never seen an actual cream draft in real life.

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      The mare at KHP was a big, stout creature who did NOT seem amused about having to trot and canter around the arena for somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 minutes, haha. She also had the most unusual light-colored eyes, which I learned are a breed characteristic!

      Reply
  2. emma

    i’ve only been to kentucky for rolex but got to drive all around lexington and louisville with some locals (my friend is from there and we stayed at her parent’s place in l’ville). it’s freakin gorgeous down there! sounds like you guys had a great trip!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      It was really fun to get out and do some things other than go to the KHP and back like I’ve done for Rolex for the last couple of years!

      Reply
  3. Hillary

    Ah my old stomping grounds! Glad you had fun!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      It’s such a great area!

      Reply
  4. beka

    Oh my god, we need to add this to our list immediately. This sounds like an awesome trip and one we’d totally take! Especially with all the breweries!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      Yes! There are LOTS of breweries in the area, and you can even get a t-shirt for visiting something like 9 of them on Lexington’s “Brewgrass Trail”. (We managed 2, haha)

      Reply
  5. KateRose

    Sounds like a great trip!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      It was really nice, and I definitely needed a break!

      Reply
  6. SprinklerBandits

    What a cool trip!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      It was fabulous!

      Reply
  7. Genny

    Sounds like the right about of horsey and tourist events!! Glad you had a chance to get away 🙂

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      It was a good mix!

      Reply
  8. Susan

    Wallace station is my absolute favorite place to eat in Lexington!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      It was SO GOOD!!

      Reply
  9. Allie-Rocking E Cowgirl

    I felt like the eclipse was eerie here, but my sister in Nashville said it was amazing. Lucky you!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      It was REALLY cool! Two friends who are high school science teachers were also there to watch, so hearing them talk about all the different phases and watching their equipment record changes in temperature, light levels, etc. was super neat!

      Reply
  10. Stacie

    Sounds like a great trip! I love that Johnny is game to do horsey things with you. I’ve never been to Kentucky, but I really would love to go. So much horsey history there!

    Reply

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