Lexington is often dubbed the “Horse Capital of the World,” but Kentucky’s true capital lies 26 miles away in the city of Frankfort. This picturesque city is bisected by the Kentucky River and is home to the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, Capitol City Museum, Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Buffalo Trace Distillery, and countless historic homes. Any visit, however, should include a stop at the state capitol complex and its grounds.
According to Patti Nickell, from her Horse Lover’s Guide to Kentucky:
“From its imposing location at the end of flower-lined Capitol Avenue to the beautiful floral clock on the premises to the elegant Beaux Arts style of the building itself, the Capitol complex is worth a visit.
Stand in the Capitol rotunda and gaze up 171 feet to the dome modeled after France’s Hotel des Invalides, the Paris burial place of Napoleon Bonaparte. The grand staircase also has a French flair, being modeled after that of the Paris Opera House. Other embellishments, however, are strictly Kentucky, from the bronze statues of Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Henry Clay, and other notable native sons to the colorful murals that depict such scenes as Daniel Boone getting his first look at Kentucky and the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals, which led to the purchase of land from the Cherokees.
You’ll want to see the House and Senate chambers (open to the public when the General Assembly is not in session) and the imposing state reception room (again with a French twist--inspired by Marie Antoinette’s drawing room at Versailles), but you also won’t want to miss the First Ladies in Miniature, a collection of dolls showcasing every first lady in her inaugural ball gown. Note: Phyllis George, then wife of former Governor John Y. Brown, might have been Miss America, but the real glamour girl among the first femmes was Ida Lee Willis, the 46th first lady in a slinky number that wasn’t exactly characteristic of the times."
Frankfort Restaurant Suggestion: Serafini’s. From its name you might expect this to be an Italian restaurant, and while they do have a few pasta dishes, the menu, for lack of a better description, is “just good old American food.” One dish they are known for--not surprising considering the proximity to the Executive Mansion--is the Governor’s Hot Brown. 243 West Broadway. (502) 875-5599
For those looking for their equestrian fix in the Louisville area, the World's Championship Horse Show is right around the corner, Aug. 22-28. This exciting and prestigious event, held annually in conjunction with the Kentucky State Fair, crowns world champion Saddlebreds in different divisions each year. The show attracts people from all across the country and the world, including nearly 2,000 horses competing for more than $1 million in awards.
Upcoming Horse Lover’s Events:
A Gift from the Desert: The Art, History and Culture of the Arabian Horse, International Museum of the Horse, Lexington: May 29-Oct 15
Ellis Park Race Meet, Henderson: July 10 – Labor Day
USEF Pony Finals, Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington: Aug. 10-15
Ft. Harrod Trail Ride and Learn, Harrodsburg: Aug 14
Large Animal Emergency Rescue Class, Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington: Aug 19
Meadowlake Dressage Classic, Lancaster: Aug 21-22
USHJA Int’l Hunter Derby Finals, Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington: Aug. 21-22
World’s Championship Horse Show, Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, Aug 22-28
Henderson Bicentennial Celebration Horse Show, Henderson County fairgrounds: Sept 11