Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Lexington, a city guide for meeting professionals. Famous for its scenic beauty, small town charm, true hospitality and legendary bourbon, Lexington also holds the distinction of Horse Capital of the World. Lexington's blend of natural beauty and modern amenities, as well as its commitment to historical preservation, make this Kentucky city cosmopolitan, with a vibrant downtown district that is lined with award-winning restaurants, boutiques and world-class entertainment options. It is also anchored by the famed University of Kentucky Rupp Arena and expansive Lexington Convention Center. Downtown Lexington is set up like a wheel with spokes, with main arterial roads running into horse country's Thoroughbred farms and rolling pastures. The area's wealth of horse farms makes it obvious why Lexington was chosen as the host of the 2010 World Equestrian Games – the first U.S. city chosen, in fact.
Situated at the intersection of I-64 and I-75 in Fayette County, Lexington sits at the heart of the Bluegrass Region, within a day's drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population. The city's Blue Grass Airport sits amid horse farms, just four miles from the central business district. Serving 13 nonstop destinations and more than 86 daily flights, the airport makes it easy for delegates to fly in and out of such major markets as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington, DC. In addition to Blue Grass Airport, Lexington is 83 miles away from the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati International Airport, the second largest hub airport in North America. Once in Lexington, delegates can hop aboard the city's LexTran bus system, which provides direct access to the Lexington Convention Center and Blue Grass Airport, and the free Colt downtown circulator service, which takes passengers to such sites as the Lexington Convention Center.
Situated in the heart of historic downtown Lexington, the recently renovated Lexington Convention Center features 66,000 square feet of versatile, elegant exhibition space in the center of historic downtown Lexington. The sprawling, light-filled convention center features 40,000 square feet of up to 18 meeting rooms and ballrooms, 25,000 square feet of pre-function space and a new 12,000-square-foot conference area overlooking downtown. The center sits adjacent to a two-level food court and shopping area and two full-service hotels, as well as offers access to a 1,000-seat historic Opera House and 24,000-seat Rupp Arena – the place to be on game day. Delegates are within steps of downtown dining, shopping and entertainment, as well as lodging options.
Aside from the prestigious Lexington Convention Center, Lexington is home to a number of special event venues for group functions and adventures. The world's only park dedicated to humanity's relationship with the horse, Kentucky Horse Park welcomes nearly one million annual visitors to its museums, Hall of Champions, equine presentations and major sporting events. Groups can gather in the park's variety of indoor and outdoor spaces, ranging from VIP sections in the Alltech Arena to the outdoor Man O'War Memorial. Located near Blue Grass Airport, Keeneland Race Course is a beloved Lexington Thoroughbred racetrack and auction company in one. Featuring live racing for three weeks in April and three weeks in October, Keeneland welcomes year-round tours of its spectacular grounds and private events in such spaces as its 1,000-person Sales Pavilion, 500-person Entertainment Center and Keene Barn and 350-person Phoenix Dining Rooms, which overlooks the saddling paddock and walking ring, among many other spaces.
Situated within a 30-minute drive of Lexington, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill serves as America's largest restored Shaker community, a popular tourist attraction and fantastic event venue. The 3,000-acre National Historic Landmark, features a Living History Museum with 14 original Shaker buildings, 70-room The Inn at Shaker Village, Trustees' Office Dining Room and Winter Kitchen, two craft stores, 40 miles of trails, riverboat rides and horse-drawn wagon rides. Groups can gather in the village's more than 5,000 square feet of meeting space, as well as participate in such group programming as bonfires, concerts and nature walks. Lexington cultural venues that double as unique meeting venues include the Singletary Center for the Arts and the Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center. Set on the University of Kentucky campus, the Singletary Center for the Arts showcases 400 annual events and offers private rentals of its 1,467-seat Concert Hall, 381-seat Recital Hall and President's Room. Built in 1948 as a movie house, the newly reopened Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center houses a 540-seat theater, art gallery, museum and outdoor courtyard, all available for group events. Last but not least, The Kentucky Theatre shows first-fun and independent movies and welcomes private events in its downtown space.
Home to many of the best equine facilities in the world, as well as historical sites, major universities and colleges, more than 200 antique shops, museums and recreation galore, Lexington is a true leisure and meeting travel destination. First a hunting ground for numerous Native-American tribes, then founded in 1775, Lexington came to be known as "Athens of the West," thanks to its natural beauty, notable political figures, intellectual centers and economic strength. Today, the area is still noted for its pastoral beauty – including the bluegrass, which thrives on the limestone beneath the fertile soil and plays a role in both Lexington's beauty and in the development of champion horses. Lexington is also known for its number of colleges and universities, which include the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University.
Many of Lexington's attractions focus on the city's history and natural beauty; in fact, the city's number of historic homes lend to Kentucky's rank as fourth in the number of sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Lexington's Fort Boonesborough, first founded by Daniel Boone, welcomes visitors to camp, bird, boat, fish and swim, as well as play mini golf, explore walking trails and learn about the families who lived on the Kentucky River and worked its locks and dams in the 1900s. Opened in 1991 as a joint effort between the University of Kentucky and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, The Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, spans 100 acres of gardens, including rose and fragrant, perennial and herb gardens, open daily to the public at no cost.
Operated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Salato Wildlife and Education Center showcases Kentucky's diverse regional ecosystems in a variety of habitat exhibits and gardens, as well as programs and workshops.
It wouldn't be a true Lexington experience without a stop at one of the city's legendary bourbon distilleries. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail, made up of seven distinct distilleries, gives visitors a firsthand look at – and taste of – the art and science of crafting Kentucky bourbon, which draws its classic taste from the state's perfect natural mix of weather and pure, limestone-filtered water.
Many of Lexington's fine restaurants pay homage to the area's bourbon and local products, incorporating fresh, seasonal selections in their menus. Jonathan at Gratz Park draws its seasonal inspirations from regional farmers and producers and features Kentucky bourbon in such entrees as beef filet wrapped with house cured Maker's Mark barrel-smoked bacon. Dudley's on Short serves creative American fare in the historic Cheapside District, just steps from the Lexington Convention Center, while Holly Hill Inn serves the freshest ingredients available in its circa 1845 historic country setting minutes from downtown Lexington. Malone's, a quintessential steakhouse famous for its Prime steak, fresh seafood and signature desserts, features three Lexington area locations, including a Lansdowne banquet location. Lexington locals and visitors alike frequent deSha's for its savory American entrees from buttermilk fried chicken to hot browns, as well as its top-barrel bourbons and craft beers, served in a comfortable, upscale rustic setting.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Lexington experiences a four-season climate graced with cool plateau breezes, moderate summer nights and no prolonged periods of heat, cold, rain, wind or snow. The city’s average temperature is 55°F and its annual precipitation, spread out evenly throughout the year, measures in at 46 inches. Springtime temperatures average a high of 74°F and a low of 34°F, while summer temperatures average a high of 86°F and a low of 61°F, fall temperatures a high of 79°F and a low of 36°F and winter temperatures a high of 54°F and a low of 23°F. Lexington sees about 13 inches of snow a year.
Lexington Convention Center
Situated in the heart of historic downtown Lexington, the recently renovated Lexington Convention Center features 66,000 square feet of versatile, elegant exhibition space in the center of historic downtown Lexington. The sprawling, light-filled convention center features 40,000 square feet of up to 18 meeting rooms and ballrooms, 25,000 square feet of prefunction space and a new 12,000-square-foot conference area overlooking downtown. Amenities include an on-site two-level food court and shopping area, 2,700 parking spaces and access to a 1,000-seat historic Opera House. What’s more, the Lexington Convention Center is located adjacent to the University of Kentucky Rupp Arena – which features seating for 24,000 people – and is adjoined to the Hyatt Regency Lexington and Hilton Lexington Downtown, which together offer more than 700 guest rooms and an additional 30,000 square feet of meeting space. Meeting amenities include full-service catering, an in-house concessions department, communication and technical services and high-speed wired Internet and Wi-Fi in meeting rooms, pre-function areas and exhibit halls. The center is equipped to handle multiple concurrent events, including meetings, banquets, trade shows and conventions. When its time for pre- or post-meeting fun, delegates are conveniently within steps of a variety of downtown dining, shopping and entertainment options.
Blue Grass Airport (LEX)
Approximate taxi fare: $22.03 USD
Nestled amongst rolling hills and Thoroughbred horse farms, Blue Grass Airport sits four miles west of Lexington's central business district. The airport serves more than 86 daily flights to the nonstop destinations of Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Punta Gorda, Tampa Bay and Washington, DC. Passengers can choose from a variety of shopping and dining options, as well as stay connected with the airport's free Wi-Fi or hold functions in its meeting facilities. Parking options include short-term, long-term, economy and valet.
Airline carriers serving Blue Grass Airport:
LexTran operates a fleet of 73 buses, including a University of Kentucky campus shuttle service and door-to-door paratransit service, running along 31 total routes. Passengers can ride to the Lexington Convention Center along Route 6 and Blue Grass Airport along Route 21. LexTran's mainline bus service runs daily from 5:30 AM to 12:30 AM. One-way fare is $1 for adults and $0.80 for children ages 7 to 18, while a daily pass is $3 and a 20-ride pass $15. Children under age 7 ride free.
Operated by LexTran, Colt is a free downtown circulator service that connect the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University. Colt runs two routes, including the Blue Route, which runs Monday through Friday from 11:30 AM to 2 PM and Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 PM to 1 AM, as well as the Green Route, which runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 9 PM to 3 AM. Colt does not offer Thursday night service from November through April. The Lexington Convention Center can be accessed along Colt's Blue Route.
Lexington's Greyhound station is located on the north side of the city at 477 West New Circle Road NW. The station is open daily from 7:45 AM to 4 PM and 9:30 to 10:30 PM.
Blue Grass Airport features rental car counters for Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National, located outside of baggage claim on the first level.
Visitors traveling to Lexington via Blue Grass Airport should expect to pay about $16 in taxi fare.
Photo Credit: Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau
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