Kentucky Wildcats: Top 10 Things to Do on Gameday in Lexington

by Tyler Mansfield

Outsider has teamed up with Kentucky Sports Radio and On3 to create the most in-depth Gameday guides.

Kentucky Gameday Guides: Things to Do | Restaurants | Bars | Tailgates | Parking

Lexington is arguably the most picturesque city in the state of Kentucky. Known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” it’s a scenic town that offers plenty of thoroughbred racetracks, breathtaking backroads, historic buildings and plenty of entertainment. Lexington is also home to the University of Kentucky, where the SEC-climbing Wildcats compete at Kroger Field on Saturdays.

While the Wildcats are undoubtedly the main attraction on fall weekends, there’s plenty of exciting things to do while visiting Lexington. From checking out beautiful horse tracks, to having a cold beer at a local brewery, the city offers it all.

Outsider spoke with the KSR team to gather some insight on the perfect gameday experience in Lexington. There’s plenty to keep college football fans occupied on a Saturday in Lexington.

Arriving Early?

Stop By The Kentucky Horse Park

  • Location: 4089 Iron Works Parkway
  • Parking: Kentucky Horse Park Lot
  • Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Switches to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on November 9)

The Kentucky Horse Park is a must-see for anyone visiting Lexington and should be one of your first stops. Sitting on 1,200 acres of land, the park was founded in 1978 and offers plenty of fun with equine presentations, museums, tours, carriage rides, horseback riding and more.

If you come into town at the right time, there’s a chance you could see an exciting equestrian event. The Kentucky Horse Park hosts a little bit of everything, including steeplechase, breed shows, carriage driving and polo.

What better way to start your trip, right?

Visit Ashland, the Estate of Kentucky Statesman Henry Clay

  • Location: 120 Sycamore Road
  • Parking: The Ashland Lot
  • Hours: Click HERE for a Rundown

If you’re a fan of history, especially old houses that once belonged to big-name individuals, then you have to visit Ashland. The estate of former statesman Henry Clay, Ashland features the mansion that Clay lived in for nearly half a century and sits on 17 acres in downtown Lexington. The home is still furnished with belongings and memorabilia from Henry Clay and his family.

While at Ashland, visitors can take a self-guided outdoor tour, a guided mansion tour, shop at the museum and grab a bite to eat at the Ginkgo Tree Café. The restaurant offers delicious sandwiches and salads, in addition to beer, wine and spirits.

Grab Brews and Food in the Historic Distillery District

When it comes to history, Lexington’s Distillery District features plenty of it. Along with The Burl, the revitalized area is home to plenty of cool places. If you want to grab a bite to eat or drink a cold beer, the district allows you to do it all. Here’s a handful of spots to check out:

James E. Pepper Distillery

1228 Manchester Street, Suite 100
Monday-Tuesday: Closed

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Take a tour of the historic distillery for just $20. Taste raw distillate right off the still and take your tasting glass home.
Ethereal Brewing

1224 Manchester Street
12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

12 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Sunday: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Enjoy beer from the only brewery in town with a dedicated yeast lab. It features traditional crafts and some very unique brews.
Elkhorn Tavern

1200 Manchester Street
Monday-Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sip on delicious cocktails at the lodge-style bar and restaurant. Try out their Kentucky burgoo or share a huge charcuterie board with your group.
Goodfellas Pizzeria

1228 Manchester Street
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Chow down on some excellent New York-style pizza inside the renovated distillery space. Make your way through their list
of over 200 bourbons.

“The Distillery District is closer to Rupp Arena than Kroger Field, but it’s perfect for Friday night when you roll into Lexington.”

Tyler Thompson, KSR

Hear Great Live Music, Play Games at The Burl

  • Location: 375 Thompson Road
  • Parking: The Burl Lot
  • Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. | Friday, 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. | Saturday, 1 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. | Sunday, 1 p.m. to 12 a.m.

If you’re a fan of live music, then The Burl is the perfect place for some nighttime entertainment. Nestled into Lexington’s Distillery District, this neat venue welcomes any – and all – types of music, each and every week. According to their website, “The Burl has quickly become one of the most prolific venues in the commonwealth.”

Along with the tunes that are offered, The Burl also features an arcade. Yes, you read that right. The venue’s arcade is located just across the parking lot in an old Texaco garage, featuring games such as pinball, Skeeter’s Ball, consoles and board games. They have a top-notch bar, too.

“Popular music venue The Burl and its retro arcade are right across the street [in the Distillery District], so check the events calendar to squeeze a show into your football weekend.”

Tyler Thompson, KSR

For a Saturday Gameday Experience in Lexington…

Do some tailgating!

  • Location: All around Kroger Field and Downtown

There’s no better way to kick off a college football Saturday. It’s as simple as that. Tailgating is one of the best parts of any Saturday – especially in the SEC. And, let me tell you: UK fans know how to host great tailgates.

Blue flags will be flying all over, Grove Street Party will be blasting on speakers, and there will be tons of food and drinks being consumed during a UK tailgate. If that’s right up your alley, then there’s quite a few tailgating areas for you to check out on gameday.

While there will be a load of tailgaters in the primary parking lots beside Kroger Field, the Gluck Equine Research Center (off Nicholasville Road), Wildcat Refuge (south of Kroger Field) and The Bowl (between the tennis courts) are all great areas to check out.

Check Out the October Fall Meet at Keeneland

  • Location: 4201 Versailles Road
  • 2022 Fall Meet Dates: October 7-29

If you really want to make it a full Saturday in Lexington, then you have to spend the afternoon at the Keeneland racecourse. A national historic landmark, Keeneland has a perfect tranquil setting that features stone fences and tons of greenery. While the location is absolutely breathtaking in itself, the track’s Fall Meet is highlighted by great horse racing. Just as their website states, it’s “racing as it was meant to be.”

You can purchase tickets for Keeneland’s Fall Meet HERE. If you happen to go and take in some exciting horse racing, you’ll have plenty of time to get to Kroger Field for an evening Kentucky game. Better yet, there are shuttles that will take you from Keeneland to Kroger Field for a low fare, so you really can’t beat it.

“Forget The Masters. The Keeneland-Kentucky football double is a tradition unlike any other. If your team is lucky enough to land in Lexington during October, the Keeneland-Kentucky football double is a MUST.”

Nick Roush, KSR

Hangout at The Paddock Bar & Patio

  • Location: 319 South Limestone
  • Parking: Cornerstone Garage | 409 South Limestone
  • Hours: Saturday, 12 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

South Limestone is a great area to hangout on Saturdays in Lexington, especially at The Paddock Bar & Patio. A cool, small bourbon bar, The Paddock is one of the city’s favorite dives and is a great spot to catch a Kentucky game if you’re not going to be inside Kroger Field.

The bar offers a wide variety of drinks – including awesome specials. If you’re looking for some cheap drinks in a fun atmosphere, The Paddock is your place.

Grab a Pregame Meal at Tolly-Ho

  • Location: 606 South Broadway
  • Parking: Tolly-Ho Lot
  • Hours: Open 24 Hours

After getting a few adult beverages in your system, you’re most likely going to be hungry. If that’s the case, then there is only one place you need to go: Tolly-Ho. An American cuisine restaurant that makes you feel like you’re at a 1970’s diner, Tolly-Ho has everything you can think of. Burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, a full breakfast menu, plenty of sides, milkshakes. … They serve it all. Plus, it’s pretty cheap.

Tolly-Ho is the ultimate dining experience – especially on UK gamedays. You simply can’t beat it, for both the quality and price. Make sure you give it a try while in Lexington.

“A late-night University of Kentucky tradition that dates back generations, even though it now occupies a larger location on South Broadway, the food still tastes like it came out of a fryer from the 70s.”

Nick Roush, KSR

Arrive Early for the “Cat Walk”

  • Location: Outside of Gate 1 at Kroger Field
  • When to Arrive: 2 hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff

Leading the Wildcats into Kroger Field on Saturdays is a great experience – and one of the best parts about gamedays in Lexington. As the team makes their way from outside of Gate 1 to Talbott Todd Way and into the field house, fans get to create their path and cheer them on as they walk by. Talk about a way to get fired up for the game, right?

If you’re planning on attending “Cat Walk,” make sure to arrive early. It gets packed very quickly.

“Thousands flock to the northeast corner of the stadium to greet Mark Stoops and his Kentucky football team at the Cat Walk. The amplified atmosphere lets you know it’s almost Football Time in the Bluegrass.”

Nick Roush, KSR

Celebrate the Wildcats’ Win at KSBar & Grille

  • Location: 1030 South Broadway
  • Hours: Saturday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

There’s no better place to celebrate a Kentucky win – or sulk over a tough loss – than KSBar. The ultimate spot for Wildcats fans, the restaurant is brought to you by Matt Jones and the gang at Kentucky Sports Radio. KSBar is decked out in UK memorabilia and becomes a full-out party spot following a victory. Just look at how wild the place got after the ‘Cats beat No. 10 ranked Florida in October 2021.

While KSBar’s atmosphere is always great, the food is also really, really good. They serve delicious burgers, wings, barbecue, appetizers and more. Oh, yeah – they have a large beer selection, too. There’s definitely something for everyone.

“KSBar is the headquarters of Kentucky Sports Radio and the unofficial biggest gameday tailgate. There’s a live, two-hour KSR pregame show on-site before kickoff, plus a LexTran bus shuttle over to Kroger Field for one dollar each way.”

Drew Franklin, KSR

Make sure you make a stop at KSBar. You won’t regret it.