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The Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky is worth a visit on your trip to Lexington.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” — Marcel Proust

Ready, set, go . . . travel! Yes! After months of not traveling, like many people across the country, John, my husband, and I, were ready to hit the road for adventures.

As educators, we have the opportunity to use June and July as months readily available for travel, but last year, of course, was a different story. In fact, our biggest trip last year was to local home improvement stores for plants!

While we debated the merits of one big, blow-the-budget-trip, we instead settled on more frequent, pocket friendly exploits. Thus, for our first short venture we decided to visit a beloved friend, Lexington, Kentucky.

Having been to Lexington on several previous trips, we decided to add a twist: stay downtown. Looking on Airbnb, we found a cute downtown apartment just off Short Street — which made me giggle since I am 4’11”!

Hostesses Susannah, and assistant, Heather, were excellent communicators to ensure we had a clean, comfortable place to stay. Additionally, Susannah provided us with her personal guidebook to Lexington. Full of information, this guidebook proved to be a valuable asset as we wanted to explore new parts of the city.

Rainy weather and storms forced us to modify plans and go with the flow. However, Lexington is the perfect place in which to do this as there are plenty of indoor and outdoor sites.

One such modification led to a serendipitous stop when we encountered Greyline Station, which describes itself as “A dynamic public marketplace in the heart of the bluegrass.”

This 65,000-square-foot marketplace felt very grassroots and community driven as John and I walked around, visiting the varied vendors. Built in 1928, the building was home, in the 1940s, to Southeastern Greyhound. As the years progressed, this building had several reincarnations before falling on hard times.

Then, in 2014, the abandoned building was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places. Four years later, revitalization began, and it now houses eateries, bars, offices, a radio station, retail stores, event space, and a public market. We are eager to return to Greyline Station in the coming months to witness the further expansion of this vibrant and community-centered hub.

With the rain clouds tentatively staved off, it appeared that we had a decent window of time to visit the Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, located on the UK campus near the football stadium.

Described by Susannah as a “three-mile walk/run path through beautiful gardens,” John and I were positively stunned by the sheer number and variety of flowering plants. Identified as Kentucky’s official botanical garden, this 100-acre public garden provides visitors with both native and not-so-native flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants.

From the Children’s Garden to the Visitor Center, from the Walk Across Kentucky displays to distinctive horticultural displays, and from the Kentucky Utilities Ornamental Tree Collection to the fragrance and roses gardens, this botanical paradise has much to offer visitors.

It was clear this was a favorite spot for exercise due to the runners on the various paths — until lightning flashed, the thunder clapped, and the heavens dumped buckets of rain.

John and I earned an extra cardio boost as we ran to the car during this gully washer, ending our visit far too soon. The Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky will definitely be at the top of our list of places to return!

Heading back to the apartment to wait out the storm, we discussed dinner plans. The great thing about our Airbnb was our ability to walk to dinner each night. On the previous evening, we walked around and through Thoroughbred Park. Dedicated to the Thoroughbred Industry, this 2.5 acre park features numerous bronze sculptures by artist Gwen Reardon, and it was located right across the street from one of our favorite Lexington eateries, Carson’s Food and Drink.

Their diverse menu offers John plenty of meat-centric dishes as well as gluten-free plant based options for me. Carson’s service is always on-point, and the food never disappoints. This is one restaurant upon which we always look forward to returning.

Another one of our favorites places to dine is Pies and Pints, and Lexington has one.

Conveniently located across the street from both Triangle Park and the Lexington Convention Center, it is also a short walk to Rupp Arena, making it one hot location on the night of concerts, basketball games, and other public events. Pies and Pints offers me a rare opportunity to eat a pizza that is both gluten-free and vegan while still offering all of the traditional favorite pizza toppings, such as sausage and pepperoni, for John.

Plus, they have wonderful apps, salads and sandwiches, all of which have gluten-free options. With attentive service, 35 taps for those so-inclined — including ciders and root beer — and a wide array of one-of-a-kind pizza toppings, Pies and Pints remains high on our list of go-to eateries in Lexington.

Next week, I will share more of our Lexington adventures — including two, new-to-us food stops and a historical location that is also a base for several types of out-of-doors adventures. In the meantime, if you haven’t put Lexington on your shortlist of friendly tourist attractions, be sure to take time to add it.

Then, plan your visit soon, and hit me up on Instagram, Facebook, or at stephsimply.com with any questions you may have. With so many points of appeal and interest, you’ll be glad you visited Lexington! And while you’re there, be sure to tell them Steph simply sent you!

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.

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