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Dive into Kentucky’s Downtowns


No matter how many times visitors wander through downtown Lexington, they are sure to stumble upon a local eatery or boutique they have never seen, tucked away on a side street or in a historic neighborhood. Among the over 100 established bars and restaurants near the Lexington Convention Center are Pies and Pints, Shakespeare and Company, School Sushi, the Buddha Lounge and the brand-new Latin-inspired eatery Corto Lima.

Every Thursday evening from April to October, local vendors, craft brewers and musicians gather in Fifth Third Pavilion for a signature local event known as Thursday Night Live.

“It’s a great place to mix and mingle with locals,” said Niki Heichelbech-Goldey, director of communications at the Lexington Visitors Center.

The 21c Museum Hotel offers a free contemporary art gallery, and the bimonthly LexArts Gallery Hop draws thousands of art lovers to over 50 art venues across town. On Monday nights, locals flock to the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour at the Lyric Theater, which presents some of the best musical talents in the country during a one-hour live radio show.

Groups would be remiss not to visit the city’s historic bourbon distillery district, just a few minutes from downtown.


Known as the home of the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud, Pikeville offers a wide range of colorful festivals, restaurants and handcrafted products in its downtown area. To learn more about the Hatfield and McCoy feud, visitors can stop by sites such as the historic courthouse where the Hatfield family was put on trial for allegedly stealing a pig from the McCoy family. An Italian restaurant called Chirico’s Ristorante is located within the former McCoy family residence.

The area offers some great dining options, like Bank 253, Bob’s Southern Smokehouse, Joyce’s Place and Blue Raven, which is recognized by Bon Appetit as an authentic Southern heritage restaurant.

In April each year, over 120,000 people travel to Pikeville for Hillbilly Days, a three-day festival of mountain music, square dancing and comical hillbilly costumes. Later in the fall, a smaller event called Hatfield and McCoy Heritage Days takes place. Descendants of the two original families often attend to meet with visitors and answer questions.

Bowling Green

Fountain Square Park is the highlight of Bowling Green’s charming downtown area. Encircled by quaint restaurants and boutiques, the park features a beautiful Romanesque fountain in an open, grassy area lined with park benches and mature trees. Many of the surrounding historic buildings have been lovingly restored over the years, creating a cozy, small-town atmosphere.

“We have a really fun heritage walk around downtown if you’re interested in exploring the history,” said Marissa Butler, marketing director at the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Micki’s on Main is a well-established bar lounge and restaurant on the square, which frequently hosts live music on weekends. Its neighboring sister restaurant, 440 Main, offers a more formal setting. Groups can stop by Candle Makers on the Square for a unique local souvenir, or sample a steaming mocha or chai tea latte from Spencer’s Coffee. The old Capitol Theater presents monthly events and shows, such as the Lost River Sessions concert series.

Nearby, the Corsair Distillery specializes in experimental concoctions such as spiced rum, red absinthe, vanilla bean vodka and pumpkin spice moonshine. Tasting tours are available throughout the week.