"And all at once, summer collapsed into fall…" Oscar Wilde
THINGS TO DO IN THE FALL IN THE GREATER LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY AREA Compliments of VISITLEX, the Lexington Convention and Visitor Bureau ...
Drive our "blue (and gold, red and orange) highways." Fall is an ideal time to take the self-guided Bluegrass Country Driving Tour, available free from VisitLEX, the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau. The tour route winds past horse farms and through "hunt country" and is designed in three segments, so you can make a morning or afternoon -or a whole day- of it. (859-233-7299 or 800-845-3959).
Bluegrass Note: You can find out about the progression of changing leaves across Kentucky, late September through early November, by calling the ColorFall Kentucky Hotline (800) 225-8747.
Answer the call to the post. Nothing heralds the arrival of autumn to Lexington-area residents like an October afternoon of horse-racing and people-watching at Keeneland Race Course. So break out your tweeds and get ready to enjoy the cool fall air and a warm cup of "burgoo"- a special Bluegrass stew- at what many consider the most beautiful racetrack in the world. The 2019 fall racing dates are October 4 through 26, with racing Wednesdays through Sundays. Gates open at 11 a.m. and post time is 1:05 p.m. General admission: $5.00. (859-254-3412 or 800-456-3412).
Travel the Kentucky River through picturesque Palisades. The limestone cliffs known as the "Palisades" were cut by the Kentucky River some five million years ago. Today, they serve as a dramatic backdrop for fall scenery along the river. An especially pleasant way to take in the view is aboard the Dixie Belle paddlewheeler, which gives hour-long excursions daily from the landing at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. The boat's season runs May through October. As the leaves reach their peak color, the waters of the Kentucky River turn a shade of teal creating an extravagant display of colors, textures and autumn aromas. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for ages 6 - 12 (ages 5 and under are free). They are available at Shaker Village. (859-734-5411 or toll free at 800-734-5611).
Go where the wild things are. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary is 734 acres of unspoiled natural scenery just minutes from downtown Lexington. In fall, the sanctuary is a wonderful place to admire meadow wildflowers, catch sight of many varieties of birds passing through on their way south, and to explore the Kentucky River Palisades area. You can just drop by to wander its ten miles of trails on your own, or call ahead to register for special programs ranging from Tree Walks to history hikes.There is no admission charge to enter the park. The sanctuary is at 3885 Raven Run Way in Fayette County, and is open daily. (859) 272-6105.
Discover tree-mendous getaways in the city. Actually, you don't even have to leave the city to enjoy fabulous fall scenery. Lexington Cemetery, 833 West Main Street, includes more than 200 varieties of trees, along with lovely ponds, other plantings and an array of fascinating monuments. The cemetery is nationally recognized as an arboretum. A tree guide is available at the cemetery. Gates open at 8 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Admission is free. (859) 255-5522.
Large trees, interesting fountains, sculptures and historic homes in the Gratz Park neighborhood (bounded by Third, North Mill, Market and Second streets) make it a pleasant autumn promenade; the Lexington Walk map, available free at the Lexington Visitors Center, offers a descriptive tour. (859) 233-7299 or (800) 845-3959.
Fall also is a beautiful time to stroll the grounds of Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate. The hundreds of trees on the 20-acre setting include gingko, maple, beech, bur oak, a huge American elm and, of course, blue ash, for which the estate was named. There's no charge to tour the grounds. (859) 266-8581.
Bluegrass Note: About 12 million acres-representing about 47 percent of the state's land area-are forested in Kentucky. About 175 species of native and introduced trees grow wild in the state. The official state tree is the tulip poplar. The Kentucky coffeetree, the only tree to mention Kentucky in its name, is the official state heritage tree.
Take a gorge-eous train ride. Bluegrass Scenic Railroad lives up to its name more than ever with its fall excursions into the Kentucky River gorge area. The 90-minute train rides are offered on Saturdays and Sundays through late October and depart from Woodford County Park, off US 62 (Tyrone Road) and Beasley Drive in Versailles. They also offer special Halloween and holiday excursions. Tickets for regular excursions are $14 adults, $12 ages 62 and over, $10 ages 2 to 12. Check out their museum before you board. (859) 873-2476.
Giddyup and go. Enjoy the crisp fall air and bright scenery atop a steed you've borrowed just for the occasion. Through October, horseback riding is offered at the Kentucky Horse Park, Ironworks Pike off I-75, four miles north of Lexington. Prices start at $25 for horseback rides ($20 with park admission), $5 for pony rides. (859) 233-4303
Advanced riders will enjoy Big Red Stables in Harrodsburg, where both unguided and guided rides are available. Prices start at $45 per hour and reservations must be made in advance. (502) 863-5701. At Whispering Woods, 265 Wright Lane in Georgetown, your riding adventure can include camping and picnicking as well as trail rides and pony rides. There are special haunted trails to hike in October. Prices start at $30 for a fifty minute ride, and. if you won't get too saddle sore, $50 for ninety minutes. (502) 570-9663. At Deer Run Stables, 2001 River Circle Drive in Richmond, guided one hour trail rides are $30 per person. (615) 268-9960.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Checkout your favorites; learn the history of America's one and only spirit; taste test at area distilleries like Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace, Castle & Key, Glenn's Creek, Four Roses, Wild Turkey and James E. Pepper.
Centrally Located Accommodations
And of course, the best place to start and end your fall adventures in the Bluegrass is at your home away from home, Charred oaks Inn. Charred Oaks Inn is a Select Registry bed and Breakfast, open year round and located 12 miles west of Downtown Lexington. The inn is minutes from Keeneland, the Kentucky Horse Park, the Bluegrass Scenic Railroad, stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
To check availability, or to make a reservation, go to the inn's secure website at https://www.charredoaksinn.com