Though Lexington is the “horse capital of the world” and is located in the heart of Kentucky’s bluegrass region, it’s not all bourbon and horses here (although, to be fair, those things are very important). The city is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the United States population and has consistently landed a spot on our Top 100 list over the years. More than 323,000 people call Lexington home, making it the second biggest city in Kentucky, with a walkable downtown chock full of great dining and shopping options.
Lexington earned high marks for its economy and amenities, due in large parts to its low unemployment rate and extensive list of things to do. The city is also home to the University of Kentucky, celebrated for its wildly successful basketball team and their voracious fans affectionately known as “Big Blue Nation.”
Local Obsession: Getting lost at The Bread Box, a 90,000-square-foot space that houses several restaurants, a brewery, a bike shop and even the local Rollergirls chapter.
Climate Described in 6 Words or Less: Overall moderate, but beware of humidity!
Top Industries and Employers: Education, health care and manufacturing
Local Dream Job: Master Distiller at Town Branch Distillery, which is part of the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Quintessential Meal: Winchell’s is a campus classic and the restaurant keeps to its Kentucky roots with classic dishes like the Kentucky Hot Brown.
Favorite Weekend Activity: Brunch at Carson’s in the heart of downtown Lexington. Located inside of a remodeled auto shop, the swanky speakeasy serves up delicious classics and new favorites.
After-Work Meetup Spot: West Main Crafting Co. serves up unique craft cocktails. The best way to try them? Order one of their cocktail flights.
Best Brewery/Local Beer: The Pay it Forward Cocoa Porter from West Sixth Brewery is a can’t-miss.
Beloved Bookstore: Wild Fig Books & Coffee is a cooperatively owned bookstore that focuses on building community.
Free Way to Have Fun: Every Thursday from April to October, thousands of people gather in the heart of downtown Lexington for Thursday Night Live, a concert series put on by Central Bank.
Hidden Gem: The Saturday Kentucky Proud Pot Roast at Wallace Station is a local favorite.
- Cara Sanders