Kentucky Road Trip {Lexington: Keeneland & Buffalo Trace Distillery}

We crossed another state off of our USA travel bucket list with an incredible Spring Break road trip to Kentucky! We thoroughly enjoyed the culture, cuisine and adventure that the Bluegrass State has to offer.

Kentucky Road Trip
Lexington: Keeneland & Buffalo Trace Distillery
Lexington: Keeneland Spring Meet Race Day
Lexington > Louisville: Mary Todd Lincoln House, Louisville Slugger Factory Tour
Mammoth Cave National Park
Lexington: The Campbell House Hotel
Louisville: The Brown Hotel
Kentucky Derby At Home Dinner Celebration

Keeneland Morning Works Tour

We arrived in Lexington late Wednesday night and were up and at ’em for an early tour at Keeneland. We’ve looked forward to visiting Keeneland for a number of years now and it was just as gorgeous as we had hoped. This is horse country.

We chose the Morning Works Tour, where our guide led us through the picturesque Keeneland Paddock, Grandstand and historic ground. It was truly breathtaking, even on a frigid morning!

We got an insider’s perspective on both racing and sales, visiting many parts of the property.

Of course, our favorite part was seeing the majestic thoroughbreds getting ready for the big meet!

I always, always recommend a guided tour, and Keeneland was no exception. We learned so much more than we would have on our own, and were able to see parts of the property and learn about parts of Keeneland’s history that we never would have known about!

Magee’s Baking Co.

Ravenous and chilled to the bone, our next stop was Magee’s Baking Co. for a hearty breakfast and loads of hot beverages! Magee’s first opened in 1956 and has been baking in Lexington since. We love to find local spots to enjoy and this one was a gem. Honey and I still think about the Southern Pecan coffee and almond croissant!

Buffalo Trace Distillery Tour

Did you even go to Kentucky if you didn’t make a stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail?! Buffalo Trace is the oldest operating distillery in the USA, running through two World Wars, the Great Depression and Prohibition!

We chose the Trace Tour as an incredible introduction to the history and science of bourbon at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Our engaging tour guide was fantastic and left us with a great understanding of Buffalo Trace, and its place in Kentucky culture and history. The tour is family friendly (not all distilleries allow under 21), and was engaging for all guests of all ages. The tickets are free but sell out almost as soon as they go on sale. Be sure to check their website for details.

The tour ends in a beautiful tasting room! Honey and I tried a vodka, four bourbons and a root beer, along with the most divine chocolate you’ve tasted (we carried home a box!). The boys enjoyed root beer and chocolate.

Merrick Inn Dinner

Our evening ended over a delicious and lively dinner at Merrick Inn, serving good people good food and the best of Kentucky traditions.

Built originally before the Civil War and completely remodeled in 1936 by the Cal Milam family, the Merrick Inn served as the Manor House for one of Lexington’s finest horse farms.  It was here, at Merrick Place, that Cal Milam and his groom, Mr. Johnson, trained the fabled “Exterminator,” Kentucky Derby winner of 1918. Here also, Tut Tut, who won every race he entered as a two-year-old in 1920; and Komuraski, Commodore, Brown Wisdom, Miss Joy, Milkmaid, McKee, (winner of the National Stallion Stakes), and Dust Flower, who defeated Cartoonist and Messenger in the 1922 Flashstakes, started on their paths to fame and fortune. None of these thoroughbreds, however, gained such widespread fame as Merrick himself.   

Our meal at Merrick Inn was absolutely outstanding. The pork was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, in fact, and I’m already looking to recreate the Bourbon Slush at home!! (If anyone knows how they make theirs – it’s pink! – I’m all ears.)

It was a wonderful day in Lexington!

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