Old Frankfort Pike
Kentucky Bluegrass Region
|Mileage||18 miles (30 km)|
|DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.||26 minutes|
|SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.||Spring, Summer, and Fall|
|Roadways||Old Frankfort Pike Road|
|ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, hotels, pharmacies, etc.||Frankfort, KY▼, and Lexington, KY▼|
3.8 average from 54 votes
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This 18-mile scenic drive meanders through the Kentucky Bluegrass Region from Lexington to Frankfort. Unwind on this leisurely tree-lined two-lane road reveling in picturesque views of rolling hills dotted with renowned thoroughbred horse farms.
Founded in 1775, Lexington is an exciting blend of southern hospitality, horses, and history. Before heading out, consider a stop at these attractions.
Acclimate yourself to Kentucky Horse Country at the Kentucky Horse Park (H1). This equine-theme park is fun and informative for horse enthusiasts of all ages. Learn about different breeds and riding disciplines, explore the International Museum of the Horse, the American Saddlebred Museum, the Show Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum, the Hall of Champions, and much more. There is an entrance fee.
Visit the Mary Todd Lincoln House (A3) built between 1803-1806. The beautifully-restored childhood home of the First Lady underwent an extensive restoration. Glimpse into her life through period furnishings, art and knowledgeable tour guides. There is an entrance fee.
On National Register of Historic Places, the Lexington National Cemetery (A2) honors the sacrifice of soldiers who served during the Civil War. Famous residents include Henry Clay, U.S. politician and secretary of state under president John Quincey Adams, and Confederate General John Hunt Morgan.
Town Branch Distillery (A9) is unique. Along with distilling bourbon and rye, you’ll also find a craft brewery. Learn more on a range of tours, and sample their wares including an interesting Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.
The scenic drive officially begins in downtown Lexington on Manchester St. heading west, which becomes Old Frankfort Pike KY-1681.
At the Headly-Whitney Museum (M1) explore a fascinating collection of jewelry and bibelots (ornate nicknacks) designed by or collected by one half of the museums’ namesake, George Headley. The other half, his wife Marylou Whitney, worked with craftsmen to create four incredibly intricate and detailed dollhouses which are on view. Visit the Rose Garden, library and exquisite Shell Grotto. There is an entrance fee. Museum is closed in winter.
At the intersection of KY-62, consider a detour from the byway. Heading left brings you to the charming, historic town of Midway where you’ll find antique shops, boutiques and restaurants. Turn left and you head to the town of Versailles. Lexington is known as Horse Capital of the World, and there are approximately 150 working horse farms in Lexington/Fayette County. There are many companies that offer guided and private tours with the chance to meet Kentucky Derby winners and learn about horse breeding and racing. Or you can do some research and contact your favorites. Some farms charge a fee, others are free, but either way you must make an appointment. You cannot just “pop in” on a farm. Along this route is Three Chimneys Farm (A4) which offers tours Tues — Sat at 1:00 pm in April and October. There is a donation required for the tour. Kentucky is synonymous with bourbon. Ninety-five percent of all bourbon comes from here. Learn more at Woodford Distillery (A5), the oldest working bourbon distillery in the U.S. and a National Historic Landmark. Take a tour to observe how their small batch bourbon is crafted, grab a bite, and splurge on bourbon chocolates. Another stop on the Bourbon Tail is just a short drive north to the town Lawrenceburg. At Wild Turkey Distillery (A6), take a tour, taste, and savor the complex flavors of their different blends. The Bluegrass Railroad Museum (M2), preserves the heyday of rail travel. Explore train cars, and climb aboard for a nostalgic 90-minute excursion through the countryside. The museum is free. There is a fare for train rides.
Continue on KY-1681 through bucolic countryside to Frankfort, where the Old Frankfort Pike officially ends. While here, visit Capitol View Park (H2) which sits along the Kentucky River. The park offers picture-perfect views of the state capitol building, ten miles of bike trails, nature trails, and sports fields. At Cove Spring Park (H3) explore over 200 acres of wetland, small creeks, and lush forest on three-miles of trails, some of them accessible. Don’t miss Hurst Falls which delights with a lacy cascade. The award-winning Buffalo Trace Distillery (A7) has been making bourbon whiskey for over 200 years. There are a variety of tours which focus on different facets of the production. All tours are free. Note if you are tasting, please do so responsibly.
From Frankfort, Louisville is just an hour away.
Louisville is the site of the most important 2 minutes of horse racing, the Kentucky Derby. Held on the first Saturday in May, the city bursts into festival mode and you will find activities for all ages. If you plan on attending the Kentucky Derby, don’t forget your seersucker suits and elaborate hats, and order tickets and book lodging well in advance. Or come for the Kentucky Oaks held on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs (A10) features horse racing throughout the year. Learn about the horses, watch the races, place a bet and take a tour of the paddock, grandstand, or barn to see horse stalls, training sessions and more. There is a fee for tours.
The Kentucky Derby Museum (M3) is located at Gate 1 of Churchill Downs. Admission includes an Historic Walking Tour of Churchill Downs, exhibits on what it takes to become a racehorse, or a jockey, a collection of Derby hat contest winners, trophies, and interactive exhibits to channel your inner jockey by mounting a simulated horse and trying to stay up for 2 minutes, or entering the sound booth and calling the race. Collections include artifacts belonging to renowned trainers H.A. “Jimmy” Jones and Woodford C. “Woody” Stephens, and world famous jockey Bill Shoemaker.
Want to see the world’s largest baseball bat? A replica of Babe Ruth’s 34” Louisville Slugger Bat stands 120-feet tall and weighs 68,000 pounds, just a little more than free souvenir mini bat that comes with your entrance fee to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory (M4). Visit the factory on a guided tour to learn the story from it’s early beginnings making roller skids and swinging butter churns, to becoming the bat used by over 60% of all major league baseball players. On display are bats used by Mickey Mantle, Carl Ripkin Jr., a signature wall, a series of rotating exhibits and more.
On Highlands Row between Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue, you’ll find a dynamic culinary scene and the highest density of restaurants and bars in Louisville. Then head to Whiskey Row on Main Street replete with restaurants, distilleries, and tasting rooms.
The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum (M5) examines the importance of the Ohio River, steamboats and the glamor and style of the early 1900’s. The house is a stunning example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. Guided tours by knowledgeable docents explore period furnishings, art, and exemplary craftsmanship at this historic gem. The neighborhood surrounding the museum feature many other Victorian homes offering a glimpse of life during the Gilded Age.
Built in 1914, Belle of Louisville (A11) is the oldest operating steamboat in the U.S. Step back in time and enjoy a lunch or dinner cruise along the Ohio River.
The Louisville Waterfront Park has been revitalized from industrial land to 85 acres of glorious green space. Today enjoy walking and biking paths, a playground, and amphitheater with special events. The Lincoln Memorial at Waterfront Park features a large sculpture of Lincoln and four bas-reliefs that represent different stories of Lincoln’s ties to Kentucky. The Big Four Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge spans the Ohio River and connects Louisville, Kentucky to Jeffersonville, Indiana.