Partners coming to Lexington for live racing are certainly headed in the right direction for a great experience, as few racetracks in the world over can match Keeneland’s mix of a distinct setting, modern amenities, quality food, and top-flight racing. If this is your first trip, you can familiarize yourself with Keeneland’s layout here (or better yet, book a tour!)
If you have a horse running, reach out to Danielle to help you with tickets. Planning a visit just for fun? Check out ticketing options online. Tickets sell out fast, so we highly recommend purchasing well in advance. Here are a couple of other helpful tips:
- Keeneland no longer accepts cash at the gate for entry. When available, tickets may be purchased day of at the Welcome Center, outside the Grandstand South Entrance.
- Children under 12 do not require a ticket.
- Dress code varies by seating location:
- General Admission: No dress code, casual
- Reserved Grandstand: No dress code, casual
- Equestrian Room: No dress code, casual
- Phoenix Room: Business Casual – Dress Slack, Dress Shoes, Button Down (comparable for ladies). Denim and athletic attire are not allowed.
- Lexington/Kentucky Room: Business Formal – Dress Coat, Tie, Dress Shoes, Button Down (comparable for ladies). Denim and athletic attire are not allowed.
- Clubhouse: Business Formal – Dress Coat, Tie, Dress Shoes, Button Down (comparable for ladies). Denim and athletic attire are not allowed.
- If you purchase a dining ticket, an additional general admission ticket is NOT required for entry.
- All public parking is free at Keeneland, but the facility fills up quickly. Gates open at 11am each day, and first post time is 1pm.
To complete your trip, the track happens to be in the middle of many worthwhile things to do in the Bluegrass region.
Let’s start off where things really count and focus on dining options.
Terry Finley refers to this as his restaurant “superfecta” in Lexington, and we have a hard time disagreeing:
Malone’s Steakhouse has three locations in town, and the newest one is right down the street from the track, off Man o’ War Boulevard, the street of course, named for one of racing’s all-time greats (who actually never raced here).
Tony’s is another steakhouse, and it’s downtown, across the street from Rupp Arena, the shrine of college basketball around here. Tony’s is great all around, but the crème brulee is off the charts. Save room for dessert!
Dudley’s is also downtown and the traditional go-to spot for the racing set after a day at the races.
Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse is a relative newcomer to downtown Lexington but is well established throughout the region and in the horse racing world, prominent from advertising on the pants of several top jockeys. Jeff Ruby also has been a member of several groups owning horses in partnership with West Point.
Looking for some more diverse options? Lexington has some great Italian restaurants – Frank & Dino’s or ItalX in the heart of the city, or venture a little further out for an intimate atmosphere and phenomenal food at Giuseppe’s (try the Conchiglioni di Stephano – you won’t be disappointed!) French cuisine can be found at Le Deauville or La Folie. Give Blue Sushi a try if you like a big selection or Omakase for some creative and beautifully presented sushi rolls!
Not sure what you’re in the mood for or traveling with kids? Check out Carson’s, whose menu is expansive enough to find something for even the pickiest eater. The Merrick Inn is also great for a wide selection of simple, delicious dishes.
Midway, about 20 minutes west of Lexington, is a fun village with shops and eateries worth exploring, highlighted by the Heirloom restaurant. Guys, check out Crittenden Rawlings. This is Coach John Calipari’s go-to source. Other retailers throughout the country sell the line, but Crittenden’s only store is in Midway.
Okay, so where to go besides the essentials (food and racing)? In town, there are a couple of historical sites worth visiting: the Mary Todd Lincoln House, the childhood home of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, and the Henry Clay Estate known as Ashland, which was the hemp plantation of Kentucky’s statesman known as “The Great Compromiser.” Both offer guided tours on the hour.
But this is bourbon and horse country, right?
For details on the Bourbon Trail, go here. We have reviews from almost all the distilleries and consider Woodford Reserve the standout. It doesn’t hurt that it is nestled right in with premier horse farms along Versailles Road, including Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, Gainsborough Farm, Stonestreet Farm, and Pin Oak Stud, all scenic gems.
The stud farms as a whole are very accommodating. The Thoroughbred industry latched onto a great concept a few years ago in establishing Visit Horse Country, based on the success of the Bourbon Trail, in arranging visits to full-service farms, vet clinics, and equine retirement centers.
Claiborne Farm in Paris is about 40 minutes from Keeneland but is one of the most visited attractions in the state, with its rich history (the equine graveyard is like a wing of the Hall of Fame, with headstones for Secretariat, Nijinsky, Mr. Prospector, Round Table, and Swale), top stallions, and a dedicated tour staff and facility. For star power and beautiful facilities, Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington may be as good as it gets.
Old Friends in Georgetown is fun, pure and simple, with a long list of retired stallions, including classic winners Silver Charm, War Emblem, and Touch Gold, and star geldings like Commentator, Game On Dude, and, of course, West Point’s Grade 1-winning millionaire Awesome Gem and graded stakes winner El Gato Malo.
The Summit used to be a working farm in Lexington but recently has been transformed into a shopping and dining mecca.
Experience a truly unique outing at The Kentucky Castle – yes, it is literally a castle, perched on a hilltop in Versailles just minutes from Keeneland. The Castle offers a full range of activities, from dining and shopping to spa services and rooftop yoga. Bring the family to explore the grounds, or even book an overnight stay!
Now that we have your racing, dining, and touring planned, let’s get you to Lexington!
Bluegrass Airport – Lexington, KY (LEX) – 8 miles
Louisville International Airport – Louisville, KY (SDF) – 70 miles
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport – Cincinnati, OH (CVG) – 75 miles
21C Museum Hotel
3167 West Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40507
3100 Wall Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40513
Phone: (859) 224-0460
369 West Vine Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40507
Phone: (859) 231-5000
Hyatt Regency Lexington
401 West High Street, Lexington, Kentucky, 40507
Phone: (859) 253-1234
Lexington Griffin Gate Marriot Resort and Spa
1800 Newtown Pike, Lexington, KY 40511
Marriott City Center
121 W Vine St, Lexington, KY 40507
Phone: (859) 253-1000
Staybridge Suites Lexington
125 Louie Place, Lexington, Kentucky, 40511
Phone: (859) 233-2300
If you’re interested in an immersive horse country experience, several local farms offer AirBnb stays!
Lexington Travel Information
Things to Do in Lexington
We hope you enjoy your visit to the Bluegrass!