Kentucky Horse Park/Lexington
Updated: May 7, 2022
Why the Kentucky Horse Park is Great for Kids and Families
Horse Park Museums
Alltech Arena (Rodeos)
Dressage, Stadium Jumping, Polo, and Cross Country competitions
Keeneland Race Track
Legacy Bike Trail through Spindletop
Many playgrounds, courts, and fields in the campground and park for kids to play
Horse and Pony rides
We've been to the Kentucky Horse Park multiple times and as our brood ages we take on new experiences and learn new things that make us keep coming back. We're excited to share with you what we know about camping at the park and what we've done around Lexington. We could easily do a post on each of these destinations, in and around Lexington. However, we thought it better to include links that will take you to sites with more up to date information, facts, and history.
Kentucky Horse Park for us is broken into four sections:
Alltech Arena - We've been to Alltech Arena more than once for the Cowboy Up for a Cure Rodeo. This is a great charity event to raise money for kids with cancer. The arena is a great venue for horse eventing and the rodeo fits right in. On the grounds of the horse park, we were able to see calf roping, barrel racing, clowns, and bull riding. The vendor booths were fun, too and we enjoyed getting swag and my coozie from our first rodeo is still in our RV. We did always struggle with the carnival food. We left early each time we went because our stomachs couldn't handle the pizza, cotton candy, and other food we indulged on. If the college girls in front of us are reading we're truly sorry. Due to the pandemic the 2020 rodeo was cancelled and there is no activity on their facebook or website. So hopefully, this organization will be able to rebuild their event and continue the annual tradition started in 2014. If you do go, take it easy on the junk food.
The museums - There is a lot to experience at the Horse Park. kyhorsepark.com is the best place to research thoroughly. The Hall of Champions are retired horses on loan or donated to the Park. The Hall includes winners from the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Breeder's Cup among others. To see these champion horses alive and in person and watch the races is a unique experience. The Parade of Breeds show is a showcase of various horse breeds around the world. There is a barn for Draft horses and the mounted police barn. Finally there are four museums with the largest being the International museum of the horse. The story of the calumet trophies is one for the ages. Also, at the Arabian Horse Galley we learned all thoroughbred race horses come from just a couple of arabian horses.
The horse park campground is best described as a pair of lungs or kidneys each having an inner loop and an outer loop with the campground store in the middle. We've always gone during Spring Break when the pool was closed. However, the swingsets, basketball and tennis courts are in great condition and there is enough room for all campers. We always picked a site on the east loop as they seemed to be more level. We also picked an outside site so that we had room to run around behind the sites in a large lawn area. All sites have water and electric unless you are group or tent camping in the front by the pumpouts. The park store is well stocked. We especially like the Red Stat Bbq sauce and discounted museum tickets. More on that later. The Legacy Trail connects to the campground so you can ride miles from your site on beautiful paved trails. Finally, when the park store closes look for the mounted police. They make the rounds at the end of the day and are welcoming of kids conversation.
The back of the campground has bike and walking access to the horse park. From here you can quickly get to the horse park. Within the horse park are three ponds with the closest being by Rolex Arena. Kentucky fisheries stock the ponds of the park with largemouth bass, rainbow trout, bluegill sunfish, and catfish.
The show arenas and competition courses at Kentucky Horse Park is comparable to being at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Its hallowed ground. There are seven dressage arenas up front, four outdoor rings, a covered arena, Rolex arena, three polo fields, multiple warm up facilities, and the cross country course. Check the event calendar. Chances are that a competition or show is happening every weekend from April to September.
Bicycling at the Kentucky Horse Park is a great added feature of the area. Bikes are allowed in certain areas of the Horse Park grounds and throughout the campground. We always enjoy biking the area. Additionally, the Legacy Trail is now connected to the Horse Park and is an asphalt trail that goes all the way into North Lexington. University of Kentucky has land south of the Horse Park that the Legacy Trail goes through. The land seems to be called Spindletop as best we can tell. According to various sites Frank Yount struck oil in 1925. His money was left to his widow who moved to Lexington to become ingrained in the horse community but was never accepted. Her total land included over 1,000 acres which was donated to the University of Kentucky. If you are interested I recommend you read more here: https://www.spindletophall.org/history . Google maps shows the land really well and its a beautiful bicycle trail. There is an asphalt institute on the property. Maybe they and the University had something to do with the beautiful, smooth, paved trail system.
Horse Barn tours have changed since we visited Claiborne Farm. We still recommend you book a tour and spend time outisde of the city in horse country. If you are looking for a scenic drive Old Frankfort Pike is the 17 mile scenic byway connecting Frankfort with Lexington. However, if you want to see Secretariat tour Claiborne Farm. Located in Paris, Kentucky, Claiborne is a beautiful property. They have a small cemetery that includes Secretariat, Mr. Prospector, Bold Ruler, and Pulpit. We went over Spring Break and horses were breeding. We were able to visit with the team and learn their process and the history. Visit claibornefarm.com to read about their story. We were able to see Blame, Orb, and War Front. One of which was valued at $80 million when we were there. If you are into the Triple Crown and the Kentucky Derby then your visit to Claiborne will be magical.
There is one reason to visit Lexington in April and September. Keeneland Race Track is open for thoroughbred racing. For us Keeneland is more special than Churchill. The grounds are beautiful, the staff are welcoming and there has always been a place on the rail for us to get up close and see the races. Additionally, all of the world renowned horse facilities are in the Lexington area like Claiborne and Calumet. In fact Calumet is adjacent to Keeneland. We enjoy going early to tailgate. We take our RV and make a day of it. The parking is plentiful but call ahead to make sure they are ok for you to bring in the RV the day you want to go. Although the parking area has a lot of traffic, there are grassy areas for the kids to play nearby. We ran our generator when we needed to and it was a short walk to the gates and entry into the Grandstand. The gates open at noon and the first race is 1:05pm, and races continue every thirty minutes. Between races they groom the track, move the gates, clear out the previous race horses and lead the new horses onto the track. So, once the races begin there is a nice schedule and there is always something to watch. With our brood we tend to watch 5-6 races and then head back to the Horse Park and watch the remaining races on our phone apps.
Lexington cemetery is another place to explore. It is well known as a destination to view over 200 species of trees, flowers, and birds of many different varieties and is a nationally acclaimed arboretum. The cemetery is 270 acres including three ponds. There are many notable people buried in the Lexington cemetery. One fun person here is the voice of Slinky the Dog in Toy Story and Toy Story 2, James Varney. The most famous is Senator Henry Clay. He acquired Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for the United States and spent four years as Secretary of State. Here is a picture of his resting place with us providing scale. For more notable inhabitants and more history on these two visit https://www.lexcem.org/notable-people/
If you've made it this far you get the special hidden gem. Not many people know of Red State BBQ. However, for us, its the best restaurant in Lexington. It has one advantage for us. It is the only restaurant close to the campground. Additionally, it has the best BBQ we've ever had. Ok, a lot of people know it. So, make sure you get there early or at least order takeout. It is a busy, congested, facility and our family has fun every time. Bring markers to write on the walls. I wish we had pictures to share but we were too busy writing on walls and eating great BBQ!
In summary, there is fun for multiple trips to Lexington and the Horse Park is a great place to set up camp to take advantage of all the area has to offer. We hope you enjoyed our summary and let us know if you have any questions when planning your trip.