The hardest part of calling Lexington home might be deciding which of its scenes is your favorite. Home to the state’s flagship university, the city is also a destination for horse racing, bourbon tasting and adventure chasing.

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While many residents are loyal (and loud) Wildcats fans, particularly when it comes to men’s basketball, collegiate events are just one way to keep busy. You don’t have to travel far for outdoor activities like climbing, paddling and hiking with Red River Gorge, Raven Run Nature Sanctuary and the Kentucky River (to name but a few) nearby. Residents also enjoy a small, but vibrant arts scene, with spots like 21c Museum Hotel, a free-to-the-public contemporary art museum and event space; the Lexington Opera House, where you can catch performances in everything from ballet to comedy; and The Burl, an open air venue, arcade and brewery in one that hosts live music in most nights a week.

Band performing onstage in Lexington
Richie Wireman / Cornett

One of the city’s newest bragging points is the Town Branch Commons, an innovative, nationally recognized park and trail system that links the downtown area to the rolling, bluegrass hills that surround the city. It connects six existing city parks, and there’s a seventh on the way with the Town Branch Park, a 10-acre, $39-million project that will feature a stage and lawn for outdoor performances, art installations, a playground and dog park. Adjacent to the commons lies The Met, a new mixed-used, mixed income development aimed at bringing jobs and new resources to the East End, a historically Black community.

Night skyline of Lexington
Visit Lexington

Respondents to our reader poll described Lexington as “clean and safe” with great schools and an air of “Southern hospitality.” The clincher? Lexington’s median home price is just over $370,000 — higher than much of the rest of the state, but a steal compared to cities with similar size and culture.