Cincinnati Day Trips: The Horse Capital of the World

By: Margy Waller

December 22, 2014

The fun of exploring doesn’t stop at Cincinnati‘s city limits, or even the state line. Once you’ve walked the history and enjoyed the new shops and old architecture in the Queen City, try one of our favourite Cincinnati day trips and cross the Ohio River to the “Horse Capital of the World” in Lexington, Kentucky.

Cincinnatians like to dress up and go with a gang of friends to visit the historic charm at Keeneland racetrack for a southern, horse culture outing. One of the top thoroughbred tracks in the United States, Keeneland is a National Historic Landmark and it’s attracted many famous visitors since opening in 1936 “” like Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne, and George Clooney. The spring and fall seasons include preps for the world-famous Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup.


Cincinnati Day Trips: The Horse Capital of the World
Wear a hat for your Keeneland outing © Keeneland


The setting has a timeless feeling, and visitors often dress to match it, with hats and dresses for the ladies, and colourful trousers, bowties, and gingham for the men. Get ready for one of these exciting Cincinnati day trips to the racetrack with a visit to Mannequin Boutique, a vintage clothing and accessories store in Over-the-Rhine that donates proceeds to local charities and has everything for travellers who want to celebrate the history and beauty of Keeneland.


Once you’re ready in your race track finery, head over the bridge to Lexington – take the back roads if you like, keeping your eyes peeled for the famous bourbon stops along the way. Most of the world’s bourbon comes from Kentucky and the distillers have been perfecting the making of it since the early 19th century.


Cincinnati Day Trips: The Horse Capital of the World - bourbon distillery
Check out the Bourbon Trail on your way to Lexington © Kentucky Distillers’ Association


Drive through Versailles on your way in so you can check out the castle and stop at Doughdaddy’s for the cream cheese donuts. When you arrive at Keeneland, check out the shops for all your horse culture clothing needs “” or wants. Then head to the clubhouse where you can soak up the scene with a Keeneland Breeze cocktail, made with bourbon, of course.


Cincinnati Day Trips: The Horse Capital of the World - doughdaddys
Doughdaddy’s offers many tempting choices © Doughdaddy’s


If you want to see more, the Kentucky Horse Park is a popular destination for people from all over and the place to go for year-around experiences up close to the horses. From mid-March to November you can take the trolley tour, see a show, and try some riding on a horse or pony. The International Museum of the Horse is there too, and you can even schedule a horse farm tour.


Cincinnati Day Trips: The Horse Capital of the World - Dudleys
Dudley’s outside seating offers a view of the historic architecture © Dudley’s Restaurant


After soaking up the sights at the Horse Capital of the World, you’re sure to be hungry for some Kentucky cooking. You can expand your experience with Dudley’s Restaurant in the historic Northern Bank Building or head to Table Three Ten for the sustainable, farm-driven menu. You’ll be feeling pleasantly southern by the time you journey back through the Bluegrass State to Cincinnati.


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Have you been to the Horse Capital of the World? What Cincinnati day trips would you recommend? Share your experiences with us below.


Written by Margy Waller


Margy Waller

Margy is a boomerang Cincinnatian: she returned to promote the city’s arts after living in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, and loves to show off her hometown, a place where she knows all the indie shopping spots and architectural beauties. She’s a fan of the region’s surprisingly diverse performances of theatre, dance, and music in unusual spots. Follow Margy @margyartgrrl.

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