Your #SHAFR Guide to Don’t-Miss Lexington Food, History, and Entertainment

SHAFR in Lexington, Kentucky

If you’re in town for this year’s Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) Annual Meeting,


We’re so glad to have you in Lexington. While you’re here for the event, we wanted to make sure you get out of your hotel and explore some uniquely-Lexington destinations that will make your trip to the Bluegrass State memorable.

The best place for a bourbon cocktail

If you don’t have tickets to the sold-out Buffalo Trace event, don’t sweat it! There are many great places around the convention center for you to enjoy a bourbon cocktail.

Henry Clay’s Public House
A Public House is a “non-membership drinking establishment,” and this one is named for Lexington-native and famous politician Henry Clay. Located on North Upper Street next to Lexington’s old courthouse building, this cool and elegant stop has some of the best bartenders in town. Don’t know what would go best with Kentucky’s iconic liquor? Just ask the bartender. They have a wide variety of delicious cocktails for all taste buds. If you want to celebrate like a true Kentuckian, drink your bourbon on the rocks.

Belle’s Cocktail House
Named for the famous Lexington madam, you’ll love the feel of this two-story lounge on Market Street. Delcious and creative cocktails, and a modern portrait of the infamous businesswoman herself. Don’t forget to head upstairs and check out the rather creative wall decor.

Also try:
The Bigg Blue Martini at the corner of Broadway and Vine streets
Cheapside Bar and Grill at the corner of Cheapside and Short streets
Table Three Ten on Short Street
Jefferson Davis Inn on Broadway
The Bluegrass Tavern on Cheapside
Parlay Social on Short Street

The best place to spot a Kentucky Wildcat basketball player

In the summer time, many students—including the University of Kentucky’s famous basketball-playing ones—return home for the summer. But some stick around. They aren’t too hard to spot (they usually stand about a foot taller than anyone else in the crowd), so if you’re looking for one of the 8-time NCAA National Championship winning players, try the basketball courts behind UK’s Memorial Coliseum on Lexington Avenue between Avenue of Champions and Maxwell Street.


And don’t forget to duck your head inside of the Wildcat’s home court, Rupp Arena. It’s attached to the Lexington Center.

The best place to take part in a Lexington tradition

Lexington residents are in love with their home town. And why wouldn’t we be? There are so many fun and beautiful things to do within the metropolis. From horses, to good food, to elegant scenery, don’t miss everything the town has to offer.

Keeneland Race Track, Lexington, Kentucky

Keeneland: Surrounded by towering oak trees and hand-laid stone buildings, Keeneland hosts some of the most talented Thoroughbreds, trainers, and riders in the business. Racing only happens in April and October, but the surrounding shaded acres and the track is open for self-guided walking tours any time of year. The track is located out Versailles Road, across from Bluegrass Airport.

Tolly Ho: This restaurant, located at the corner of Broadway and Bolivar Street, has been a University of Kentucky tradition since 1971. Open 24 hours, you won’t find a better diner anywhere. Sit down and strike up a conversation—we love to talk UK basketball! And make sure to let them know if this is your first time in the restaurant. Check out the menu here (Might we suggest a Tolly-Ho Burger with Cheddar Tots?)


Triangle Park: Right across the street from the Lexington Center sits a triangular shaped plot of land in the middle of downtown Lexington. With its iconic fountains and ideal location, this is a tranquil getaway tucked in the middle of the town and the most perfect lunch spot.

McConnell Springs: The campsite of the first Lexington settlers, this 26-acre nature sanctuary offers an array of historical and environmental treasures.

Dudley’s on Short: Dudley’s Restaurant has been a mainstay on the Lexington gathering and dining scene since 1981. It is located in The Northern Bank Building on Short Street, which  was built in 1889 and was one of the most prominent structures in downtown Lexington. With award-winning creative American cuisine, wine list, and service to a steady base of local clientele while making newcomers and visitors feel welcome immediately, this is a perfect fine dining experience that will put you in line with the locals.

Downtown Carriage Rides: Tucked away on a side street downtown, the city’s historic livery still houses Lexington’s most well-known tour guides—the horses of Lexington Livery Carriage Company. On warm summer nights when the weather is clear, you can pick up a horse-and-carriage tour just off Broadway and enjoy a trip around the downtown area.

Kentucky Horse Park: No visit to the Horse Capital of the World would be complete without a stop here. More than 1,200 rolling acres showcase museums, galleries, theaters, and exhibits dedicated to all breeds of horses. Visit the grave of Man o’ War, the greatest Thoroughbred racehorse of all time and visit Funny Cide, a Derby winner who lives here.

Town Branch Distillery and Kentucky Ale Tours: Tours of the newest addition to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail are offered daily. Located near downtown on Cross Street.

The best place to soak up a little history

It isn’t foreign relations history, but Lexington boasts lots of local history worthy of a quick stop in.

Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate located just outside of downtown on Richmond Road
Mary Todd Lincoln House on Main Street (right next to the Lexington Center)
The Bodley-Bullock House on the corner of Market and West Second street
Gratz Park (and Lexington’s Fountain of Youth), two blocks north of North Main Street

Gratz Park, Lexington, Kentucky

Transylvania University on North Broadway
Hunt-Morgan House on North Mill Street

For more fun things to see, check out Visit Lex. We hope to see you at SHAFR!

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