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Keeneland visit, hotels & restaurant-need advice

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Keeneland visit, hotels & restaurant-need advice

I'm planning a surprise trip for my husband for his birthday a day at Keeneland on the day of the Blue Grass Stakes in April. Planning on driving in Friday around lunch and I am thinking of taking him to Woodford Reserve for a tour. Would like a nicer, non chain restaurant for dinner and I would love some suggestions. Saturday will be the day at the racetrack. Sunday we will head back home. Is there anything that is a must do while we are here? Friday afternoon we can do anything, I just thought a bourbon distillery tour would be fun. I've read great reviews on woodford but am open to others.

I would like a nicer hotel around $200 or less per night. I know I need to book pretty quickly so I get a room. Looking at The Embassy Suites. I think the Hyatt downtown is already sold out. I'm not too particular on location unless y'all tell me staying downtown is a must. Speaking of downtown, is it a city with a lot to offer in terms of shops/restaurants? We live in Atlanta and our downtown is not any of those things. We do have great areas like that but in other parts of the city. If there are spots like that around Lex that you think would be great, let me know.

Any other tips/things I should consider, please let me know. Thanks in advance!! Lisa

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1. Re: Keeneland visit, hotels & restaurant-need advice

Keeneland is away from downtown (it is out by the airport and Calumet Farm), so I don't think there is any reason that you need to stay downtown. There are lots of newer hotels that are near the airport and/or close to New Circle Road north and west of downtown. I would note that not only are rooms tough to get on the weekends during Keeneland spring and fall meet season, but because of the demand for rooms the hotels in town jack up their rates quite a bit, so the places charging $200 a night then might have been charging two-thirds of that or less at other times of the year.

As far as what to do on Sunday, how long were you going to be in Lexington that day? I have only driven between Lexington and Atlanta once, but I recall that was pretty much a full day trip.

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2. Re: Keeneland visit, hotels & restaurant-need advice

The Embassy is a good choice for what you are interested in. I have stayed at this Embassy and it is nice...plus free happy hour and breakfast! It is right by the interstate so a quick hop to any of the distilleries....try Woodford reserve, buffalo trace, or makers mark. It is about 10 minutes from Keeneland. Downtown Lex is nice and there are some good eateries and bars but shopping is limited and there are only two hotels.

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3. Re: Keeneland visit, hotels & restaurant-need advice

I would try to stay downtown if you can. Hyatt, downtown Hilton, or the Gratz Park Inn. Gratz Park Inn is a boutique hotel. There are dozens of great restaurants and bars within walking distance, and not a chain among them.

Keeneland on Bluegrass Stakes day will be a challenge. The crowd will be huge. If you do not have clubhouse access or reservations in one oft he private rooms ( Equestrian, Bluegrass, Lexington, etc.) you should plan on being there EARLY, otherwise you will have to park in Cincinnati (joke, but drives home the point). By early I mean get there mid morning and tailgate until the gates open at 11:00.

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4. Re: Keeneland visit, hotels & restaurant-need advice

I agree with eyeball. Our downtown has lots to offer. There is a free trolley that you can take to different bars and restaurants. Look on Keenelands website to see if any tables are available. If not you can put your name on a wait list when you get to the track for the Equestrian Room (its casual). We've snagged a table this way several times. It at least gives you a place to roost occasionally.

Some of my favorite downtown restaurants are Dudley's, Village Idiot, Nick Ryan's and jonathons. You will need reservations at any place you go that weekend.

Woodford Reserve is beautiful.

Have fun!

Edited: 24 January 2014, 02:49
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5. Re: Keeneland visit, hotels & restaurant-need advice

I agree with Lexingtongal and eyewall... stay downtown. Any of the three downtown hotels mentioned are centrally located to allow you to walk pretty much anywhere you want to go downtown. Weekend evenings there is a trolley.

My suggestions for restaurants are:

The Village Idiot - food is great, large selection of craft beers on tap. It's a gastropub and the entrees bring the wow factor over the appetizers IMHO. It is a bit noisy but worth it. I suggest it for dinner and you can make reservations - suggested.

County Club: a great new eclectic open air restaurant. It is in an old cinder block garage and the food is exceptional. It is primarily smoked meats but he also does a phenomenal salad and a dish called Poutine which is to die for. Very casual - great for lunch.

The Jax: great atmosphere - upscale casual and the food is good as well. I would suggest this for dinner and they do take reservations.

Sidebar: an unassuming, tiny hole-in-the-wall that has an awesome burger that is cooked before your eyes on the grill which is located behind the bar (watch out for grease splatters!). Surprisingly good!

Limestone Blue: New sandwich shop, great atmosphere, interesting menu and a daily mac and cheese variation. They also have wine on tap (?).

The Grey Goose: Exceptional pizza - stone fire grill, thin crust. Nice place to have a drink and some pizza.

Parlay Social: Great place for a cocktail. Food is so-so but if you do end up eating there, their hot brown pizza is the best in town.

Table 310: They do brunch 11 am on weekends that is WELL worth the money. It is an upscale (can even be a bit snooty if the owner is there :) but I recommend. They take reservations.

Stella's: Also for weekend brunch.

And if you are in to beers, we have some great breweries in town. For the beer quality, I prefer Blue Stallion followed by Country Boy. For atmosphere, West Sixth (primarily hoppy beers if you like that).

Have a great time in Lexington!

6. Re: Keeneland visit, hotels & restaurant-need advice

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