Sunday, July 25, 2010

Local LEX Spotlight: Coffee Times

As something new to add to the mix, I'm going to feature a "Spotlight" on local businesses that may not necessarily be new to me but are uniquely Lexington and I wouldn't want them to be left out simply because I've been there before.

First up is Coffee Times Coffee House off Regency Road. This month they're celebrating their 27th birthday! As a quirky place they couldn't celebrate (1) their 25th which is more normal and (2) with just balloons so why not fire dancers?

This is a welcome place for me to read and do a little homework and grab a great coffee drink (I don't really like just regular coffee but I'm assuming it's great, too). They roast all their own beans in house and have wide variety of flavors (again not a big coffee drinker but people always look happy to be buying them as well as all their loose tea). I would die to be the buyer for the gift shop 'cause it's always filled with unique items and funky gifts. Don't forget to check out their sister store, Street Scene, stocked with vintage clothing, jewelry and furniture. But beware, they don't have the same hours.

Prices range from $2-$5ish for coffee drinks. They're open 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Monday -Thursday, 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. Friday & Saturday and Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Camp Nelson

A couple Mondays ago after getting the chance to have lunch with my good friend, Carrie, in Danville, I decided to stop and take a look around Camp Nelson off US 27 in Jessamine County. The camp is divided into two parts: the cemetery and the historic park. I stopped first at the historic national cemetery; a resting place for heroic veterans dating all the way back to the Civil War.

Having two grandfathers that served in World War II, epic American pride and a slightly twisted affinity towards cemeteries, it was a place that I was pretty excited to visit. It was a lovely resting place on a windy hilltop in Kentucky complete with its regal military layout. A place that makes you aware of the sacrifice that freedom requires.

Camp Nelson was an outpost on the western frontier during the War Between the States (a nod to my Southerness considering it was a Union post) that was most notable for its large number of African-American troops. I made my up to the history focused part of the camp which is a jump up the road from the cemetery. Unfortunately, I was five minutes late for the last tour that was already in progress so that will be a post for another day.

Both places are open to the public and free of charge and basically open dawn 'til dusk. Just be aware there is a tour schedule (which I was not).

New Stuff

There's a lot of new stuff getting ready to come on up on the blog. It may not all be in order or date/time accurate. After computer issues, trying to figure out new technologies, school starting back, work, homework and church (and maybe a little summer laziness) this has kinda been on the back burner, but I've still been LEXploring and I hope you have been too!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lexington Farmer's Market

Saturday morning took me on my first trip to the Lexington Farmer's Market. Located in the Cheapside Pavilion and on the grounds of the old courthouse; it's become a Lexington tradition and a place to see and be seen. I got the chance to make my first trip with my brother, Parker. Parking was easy 'cause it's a Saturday morning and the downtown parking rules are pretty lax. The place was teeming with energy...lots of people, vibrant colors everywhere, fresh food, art, live music...simply great. I was a little overwhelmed at first. We started wading through the crowds and found ourselves surrounded by the freshest vegetables, fruits and flowers Kentucky has to offer. I bought the best cantaloupe (from Casey County) that I've had all summer and some super fun purple bell peppers (from Jessamine County). On top of that there's artisan Kentucky cheeses, wine, fresh beef, honey, baked goods and an entire section devoted to local artists. Make sure you come hungry to try all the samples and some unique food vendors including a mobile pizza oven and crepes which I got to enjoy stuffed with cheese, spinach and country ham.

Go early 'cause we got there around 10:30 and a lot of vendors were already sold out their ripest produce.

There are markets hosted throughout the week, but your big one is Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cheapside Bar and Grill

After our trip to Lexington History Museum, we decided to have lunch close by at Cheapside. Known for its fabulous patio and rockin' nightlife, I made the mistake of making my first trip there during the day for lunch. The food was kinda 'blah' and the service a little scattered. I'll have to make a return visit and see it in full swing to get real Cheapside experience. Not a great lunch stop.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lexington History Museum

Thursday I took a trek with my brother, Parker, and sister, Meredith to the Lexington History Museum located in the historic old Lexington Courthouse. It was a welcome indoor activity after outdoor plans were thwarted by the heat or so we thought until we found out the museum was only half air conditioned. For some reason the first floor exhibits were closed that day but the floors two and three held enough to keep us entertained for a few hours. One of the biggest parts of the museum is mostly architectural bits salvaged from renovations all over the city. One of the biggest things I took away from the museum was how bad the 60s and 70's were for buildings downtown; going through massive urban renewal definitely a very unique cityscape replacing it with parking lots and generic buildings. Other features were the World Equestrian Games art exhibit and a black and white photographic exhibit of African American life in the area. Less exciting things were the IBM typewriter journey through time We and a mediocre train display (which was sad sad 'cause I have a soft spot for trains). We did see a lot of neat things about the city but it might be more fun done in connection with the Lexington Farmer's Market on a Saturday that a trip unto it own. It may had been more fun with a guided tour with someone to really tell us what we were looking at.

Tours are self guided and free.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wallace Station

I feel like this is turning into "Eat My Way Through Lexington." But that's OK...who doesn't like to eat? Last Thursday took me a little out of Lexington and into Versailles to the fantastic Wallace Station with my wonderful friend Chris. Recently featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, this place offers some unique Kentucky flair. Set literally in the middle of nowhere but you'd never know it considering the line to get in is usually out the door. Make sure you either come super hungry or willing to split 'cause the sandwiches are HUGE (we didn't know and each ordered monster size sandwiches). Their desserts and sides all looked fantastic but after eating about half of the Inside Out Hot Brown there just wasn't any room to put anything else. We sat outside on the deck that opens up into a scenic field with a barn and trees. A great place to spend the afternoon.

Most sandwiches run about $7.95.

Friday, June 18, 2010


After work tonight, Chrissy, my coworker and friend, and I decided that we needed some sushi. She decided on Osaka off Boston Road since it's a place neither of us had ever been. It's a tiny place and was sparsely populated with diners. They had a full menu which we mostly over looked 'cause we were on a sushi hunt. Pushing Chrissy to be adventurous, I did order fried squid, which I assumed was going to turn out like calamari and was straight up just tiny deep fried squid tentacles, no breading, freaked her out a little but we enjoyed it. We ordered three different sushi rolls - all FANTASTIC! We loved the Crunchy Tuna and A-roll. The check came with a big wedge of sliced pineapple, which made our expensive bill a little sweeter. A little on the higher end, but good sushi usually is.

Most of the higher end rolls ranged from $7.50 - $12.99. I couldn't really tell you what's on the rest of the menu.

Thursday Night Live

I made my first trip Thursday Night Live. Set between the old courthouse and new Cheapside pavilion creating a really fun music, lots of people, lots to drink (if you can), BBQ and kettle corn...this all adds up to a pretty good time. We got there kinda late after dinner so the crowd was starting to thin out. It's the first time I've been down to the new Cheapside Pavilion; a great addition to downtown. I love the new closed roads allowing for great gathering and entertainment spaces. Thursday Night Live is a great way to spend a summer night downtown. Family friendly, kids were dancin' away, people had their dogs...glad we went.

Thursday nights throughout the summer at Cheapside Park from 4:30-8:00
No admission, bring cash for food and drink vendors, bring a chair

Sav's West African Grill

Last night my wonderful friends, Jason, Amanda, Teresa and I had dinner at Sav's Grill. They focus on West African Cuisine and I LOVE different ethnic foods so I was really looking forward to it. In my mind, I tend to assume everything that's not American or European food is spicy like Indian food. So it wasn't quite what I expected. I went for it ordering the peanut goat...not my favorite. After I covered it in hot sauce it was more palatable. I did try the the other dishes: the mafen beef and peanut chicken over fufu (plantain flour dumplings) were both good. The most interesting thing was definitely the cooked plantains. They really offered a different flavor. And, it was such a great evening to sit on the sidewalk and eat.

Different taste but don't expect big, robust flavors.

Located on South Limestone
Entrees range from $5.25-$12.99.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Some fine tuning...

Hey LEXplorers!

I'm stumbling my way through the technical side of blogging. I now believe you can leave comments even if you're not a registered user so comment away!

I figured out how to make the active link word things (I'm sure they have a technical name).

Also, I reserve to the right to go back and correct all misspellings, grammatical errors and add words 'cause I tend to leave out words and prepositional phrases. Please feel free to call me out on it too if you see something before I catch it.

Also, BIG THING!!! I didn't realize what a great source of information the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau website is. If you're looking to see what Lexington has to offer, check it out! Great guides to area attractions, dining, shopping and more!

Feel free to suggest places or events for me to visit, too! I feel so humbled to know that there are people following me. I'd love to LEXplore with you!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Headley-Whitney Museum

Today's heat took me indoors to the Headley-Whitney Museum. Set amongst the scenic horse farms of Old Frankfort Pike, the museum is home to a large collection of Kentucky made silver pieces, intricate dollhouses, featured rotating exhibits and the main attraction - works by jeweler George W. Headley. The current exhibit of horse themed Mexican folk art was kinda lame, but a large collection of horse pieces from the Smithsonian is on the way to coincide with coming equestrian games and promises to be pretty fantastic. Sadly, the shell grotto was closed because it is being reroofed but should be completed in the next few weeks to show of it's giant collection of shells from all over the world. Sounds cheesy but Mr. Headley was convinced that he had shells from all but 11 sea creatures (sure). The library was filled with all kinds of neat art pieces but the main event is the Jewel Room filled with the works of Mr. Headley. Jewelry, bibelots (fancy knickknacks), loose gem stones and new works created to honor Mr. Headley.

I was the only person there so I basically got a private tour. Thanks, Trish! She was so knowledgeable and I could tell she loved the place and was eager to show it off.

Adult tickets are $10 and the Museum is closed on Mondays.

Also a beautiful place to host a wedding.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Stella's Kentucky Deli

After McConnell Springs, Trevor and I made our way up the street to Stella's Kentucky Deli. Trevor picked the restaurant after looking it up on his phone and it was a fantastic choice. Great vintage looking place with a menu filled with lots of local fair. Trevor had their hot brown which aired on the lighter side and was not big and heavy. Our waiter recommended the salad special of the day which did not disappoint, local greens topped with grilled asparagus and ham, local bleu
cheese and a red wine vinaigrette...delicious! We sat by the dessert case so we couldn't leave with having a piece of their homemade pies. Friendly staff, cool building, great food...I can't wait to go back and try something else. Oh, and why don't more Lexington restaurants keep Ale8 on tap? Good job Stella's!

Prices range from about $3 - $9

McConnell Springs

Today my brother and I set out on a real LEXploration to McConnell Springs. We made a detour on our way back from visiting a church in Versailles. I decided to make it one of my first stops in Lexington, fitting because it's where Lexington's first settlers were. Trevor's driven past it many times and never ventured in so when we drove through a run down, industrial part of Lexington I was taken aback and thought this was going to turn out bad. You literally have to drive through an asphalt company to get there. Then suddenly, you pull up to this beautiful stone building, walk through the gates and enter this little restored piece of nature. Trevor and I walked almost all the trails in about an hour through the restored woodlands down to the springs. These beautiful artesian springs come up out of the ground flowing with beautiful water in the middle of a black locust grove. Lots of benches along the way would make it a perfect place to relax and maybe have a little lunch. I can't believe this is in the middle of downtown, industrial Lexington.

I loved this place!

For more info

The left photo is of "The Blue Hole" which is a 15 foot deep sinkhole that the first spring comes out of. The photo on the right is of the water as it makes it's way to the final sinkhole before it disappears under the ground again.

Admission is free.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Fair

Tonight I went to a Lexington summer tradition, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Country Fair. This fair comes with all the traditional flair: fried foods, rickety rides, games of chance, a rummage sale and some more grown up areas including a casino, bingo and beer garden. I got to go with my sister, Meredith, her boyfriend, Dan, and our friend Jessica. Mere won prizes throwing darts at balloons and spinning the wheel and poor Jessica beat a six year old to at the squirt gun game, felt so bad she ended up giving her prize to the little girl. We all enjoyed gyros, popcorn, corndogs, caramel apples and our favorite DEEP FRIED OREOS. Who doesn't like fair food?
Now, I am not a fair/carnival/amusement park type of person and the fair was everything I expected it to be. Probably won't become a tradition for myself in the summer time. For me it felt like a glorified jr. high hang out ('cause there were approximately one million jr. highers) and some form of penance. But if you like fairs, you'll love it.

Oh, and some lady spilled her drink all over me.

Admission is free but be prepared to spend some money on ride tickets, games and food.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

High Bridge Park

So...technically not in Lexington, but it was too good not to write about. Today I visited High Bridge Park in Jessamine County just past Wilmore. BEAUTIFUL place!!! A bunch of different covered dining areas, playground, museum and history building, a great entertainment pavilion and a great outlook point for scenic views of the bridge. I stopped at Main &Maple in Nicholasville on my way out there and made a little picnic out of it.

(Maybe I'll make it a side interest this summer of learning how to take a proper picture.)

Admission is free.


Lexington, Kentucky is a city that I've lived in, worked in, played in my entire life, but it's a city that I've never visited. So summer 2010 is the time to explore Lexington. I'll be visiting museums, restaurants, events, places, landmarks that I've never been before and write about them to let you know what's going on around this Southern city. I hope you'll join me for some of them. It's time to LEXplore!!!