Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fall Runaway: Lexington, Kentucky

The Derby isn't the only time to visit bourbon & basketball country


It’s only November. Your car still has one more road trip in it before winter.
Make it count in Lexington, Kentucky — where hoops, horses, and bourbon conspire for an epic trinity of Southern delights.
Set up shop in the beautiful, historic Gratz Park Inn and feel like a fine Southern gentleman as you sip bourbon on the gazebo, in the booze-stocked library, or in your “Mansion Room” outfitted with fireplace, Jacuzzi, and Italian marble overlooking the garden.
Starting at $179 per night. 120 W. Second St., Lexington (859-231-1777).
Lose yourself in a sea of loud blue madness at University of Kentucky’s Rupp Arena, where the national champion Wildcats blow the roof off the 23,000-seat downtown stadium most Saturdays this fall and winter.
430 W. Vine St, Lexington (859-233-4567). Tickets and schedule here.
A short road trip along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail leads you to the Maker’s Mark Distillery, where you can watch each bottle being dipped into red wax before tipping back a few hand-made samples in the tasting room.
3350 Burks Spring Road, Loretto (270-865-2099). Tours free.
A bit further up the road you’ll hit the world famous Churchill Downs, where the fall racing season runs through Nov 25. Bet on the ponies and party late night at their Great Gatsby-themed “Downs After Dark.”
700 Central Ave., Louisville (502-636-4400). $3 admission daily Wed thru Sun; $20-$100 for Downs After Dark here.
There’s no need to stop drinking bourbon just because you’re eating in the dimly-lit, dark wooded environs of Jonathan at Gratz Park, where Maker’s 46 roasted salmon and bourbon barrel ale-braised short ribs will have you eating out of the bottle.
120 W. Second St. (859-252-4949).
Still hungry? Order up jambalaya and gumbo at the locals-friendly, New Orleans-style hotspot Bourbon n’ Toulouse, where college girls rock to live bands and dudes try and grab beads hanging from the ceiling.
829 E. Euclid Ave. (859-335-0300).

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