Welcome to one of the five best college towns in America! In Livability.com's Top 10 College Towns in America, Lexington is ranked No. 5, and the reasons are many. UK has plenty of activities to keep you busy when you're not in class or studying. But there's also the option of exploring some of the great amenities that Lexington has to offer. It's truly a great place to be a college student.
With just about 300,000 people, Lexington is big enough to be a "real city," yet small enough that it can still feel like a small town at times. On the one hand, it's diverse, busy and exciting. On the other, it's clean, quiet and safe. Really, it can be as big or small as you want it to be. You could live here your entire life and still find something new to do any night of the week. Yet if you ever want to find a friend, it's hard to go out on a Thursday evening and not run into somebody you know.
Around campus, for example along South Limestone or Euclid Avenue, there are tons of businesses that cater to the student population. Within 10 minutes' walking distance from campus, in just about any direction, you'll find dozens of great restaurants, coffee shops, pizza places, live music venues, dance clubs, book stores, CD stores, and clothing stores, as well as dozens of funky little shops selling all kinds of things you might have never even known you needed.
Downtown Lexington is bustling with activities, including a calendar full of various festivals, parades, and celebrations. Fifth-Third Bank Pavilion at Cheapside Park hosts Thursday Night Live, with free concerts every Thursday evening from April through October. The pavilion is also home to the Lexington Farmers Market on Saturday mornings from spring through fall, which is not just an outdoor produce market but a weekly social event.
For a city its size, Lexington has a surprising amount of local art and culture. Check the community arts calendars to find a performance by one of Lexington's theater companies or dance troupes. There's always something going on at the Downtown Arts Center. And, five times a year, dozens of galleries and studios open up their doors to the public for Gallery Hop, featuring work by local artists (and usually lots of free food and drinks, too).
The Kentucky Theatre, a classic art deco auditorium downtown, hosts midnight movies on the weekends, in addition to regular first-run movies and special events - like the International Film Festival in the fall and Summer Classic series starting in May. Around Halloween, you can dress up like a zombie and join in the annual "Thriller" parade, which embarks from the theater and takes over Main Street, as local dancers, actors and community volunteers re-enact the classic Michael Jackson video.
Central Kentucky is steeped in American history, dating to the Revolutionary Era. History buffs will want to visit Ashland, the Henry Clay estate, as well as the Mary Todd Lincoln house, the Hunt-Morgan house, Waveland, and the Lexington History Museum, all located right in town. Throughout the region there are many, many more sites of historic interest.
And, if you're a horse-lover, you'll definitely feel right at home in Lexington. With Keeneland Race Course, the Kentucky Horse Park, and dozens of horse farms and stables nearby, the equestrian-minded can truly find inspiration here.
We experience all four seasons here. In the fall, the trees reveal an astonishing variety of yellows, reds, oranges and browns. And in spring they explode into blooms of just about every color imaginable. Winters here are short and mild; summers are long and hot. And most of the time, we get just enough rain to make sure the bluegrass stays green year-round.
If outdoor activities are your thing, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, rock-climbing and camping less than an hour's drive from campus in the Red River Gorge, just on the edge of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Natural Bridge State Park offers breathtaking views of natural rock formations. Central Kentucky also has some excellent whitewater for kayaking or rafting adventures, as well as the world's largest limestone cave system, with lots of options for exploring, from novice to advanced.
The area surrounding Lexington is scenic and full of lots of possibilities for weekend drives - whether it's to a horse farm, an apple orchard, a historic bourbon distillery, or to no place in particular. The state capital, Frankfort, is a mere 25 miles away, and has its own attractions worth exploring. If you ever want to get further out of town and into more of a "big city" setting, Louisville and Cincinnati are both just a little more than an hour away by car.
Whatever your interests might be, Lexington is a great place to spend four years - or a lifetime.