The 10 Best Parks in Lexington, Kentucky

Peony flowers in a park in Lexington, Kentucky

volgariver / Getty Images

When Kentucky’s temperamental weather cooperates, Lexington residents love to get out for some sunshine and exercise in one of the city’s parks. The more than 100 parks in Lexington range from compact, urban spaces to sprawling, green expanses with playgrounds and sports facilities. Each park has a different personality, but all are safe, enjoyable, and well maintained.

Whether looking for some personal space or a place to play and socialize, here are our picks for the best parks in Lexington.

01 of 10

Woodland Park

A skateboarder jumps at the skate park in Woodland Park

Paul Hooper / LFUCG

601 E High St, Lexington, KY 40502, USA
Phone +1 859-288-2900

Located between the Chevy Chase neighborhood and downtown, Woodland Park has a lot crammed into its 19 acres of shady green space. Woodland Park is home to Lexington’s busiest skatepark where skaters of all ages go to practice their moves. Meanwhile, tennis players take advantage of Woodland Park's four courts and separate practice walls. Woodland also has a basketball court, playground, community garden, baseball field, and large swimming pool that stays busy.

One feature Lexington residents appreciate about Woodland Park is how the many different mature trees have been clearly labeled. You can learn how to identify native trees just by taking a leisurely stroll. Woodland Park often serves as the venue for outdoor events such as the city's annual Ballet Under the Stars and Woodland Art Fair.

02 of 10

Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate

Art at Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate in Lexington, Kentucky

Greg Rodgers

120 Sycamore Rd, Lexington, KY 40502-1842, USA
Phone +1 859-266-8581

Ashland, the former plantation of Henry Clay, is a National Historic Landmark and arguably one of the most beautiful parks in Lexington. The old mansion can be toured for a glimpse of how a Kentucky aristocrat lived in the 19th century, but the nicely landscaped grounds are open to everyone. Mature trees, large art installations, historical markers, and a walled garden can be enjoyed while walking the mulched trail that encircles the property.

The Ashland estate is considered so lovely, several towns around the United States—including Ashland, Kentucky—took the name in tribute!

03 of 10

Gratz Park

Fall foliage at Gratz Park in Lexington, ky

Parry Barrows / LFUCG

Gratz Park, Lexington, KY 40507, USA

Gratz Park is a small, tranquil park located in downtown Lexington. Transylvania University, just across the street, was founded in 1780 as the first university west of the Allegheny Mountains. Many of Lexington’s most notable residents of the 19th century (including Henry Clay mentioned above) lived in the neighborhood surrounding Gratz Park. Keep an eye out for historical markers while strolling the park and adjacent neighborhood.

The Carnegie Center for Literacy occupies the south end of Gratz Park; a small art gallery and library dedicated to Kentucky authors can be enjoyed inside the beautiful building.

04 of 10

Thoroughbred Park

The sculptures in Thoroughbred Park, Lexington

Bob Krist / Getty Images

100 Midland Ave, Lexington, KY 40507, USA
Phone +1 859-233-7299

Although only 2.75 acres, Thoroughbred Park on the eastern edge of downtown Lexington is an equestrian-themed urban park appreciated by visitors and locals alike. Seven life-size bronze sculptures of jockeys racing atop their horses anchor the park. The iconic scene was created by expert sculptor Gwen Reardon and quickly became a popular backdrop for photos.

Other equestrian features in Thoroughbred Park include bronze statues of foals frolicking, a monument to the famous stallion named “Lexington,” and 44 plaques dedicated to people who made a difference in Kentucky’s thriving equine industry. You won’t find any facilities at Thoroughbred Park, but there are some benches and a grassy hill for relaxing on a blanket.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

The Arboretum

A runner at the UK Arboretum in Lexington, Kentucky


University of Kentucky, 500 Alumni Dr, Lexington, KY 40503, USA
Phone +1 859-257-6955

Lexingtonians love to show off the Arboretum, the state botanical garden of Kentucky, to guests from out of town. The gardens, gazebos, and horticultural displays are peaceful and impressive. A paved loop around the 100-acre property is perfect for walking or running, and a 15-acre forest with trails provides opportunities for spotting wildlife. Admission is free to all areas in the Arboretum except for the Kentucky Children’s Garden. Although the Arboretum doesn’t have any conventional picnic shelters, you’ll find a few tables spread around and more than enough space to put down a blanket!

06 of 10

Veterans Park

Two people walking a path in Veterans Park, Lexington, Kentucky

Amy Wallot / LFUCG

Veterans Pk, Lexington, KY 40515, USA

Sprawled across 235 acres, Veterans Park on the southern boundary of Fayette County is one of Lexington’s biggest parks. Veteran Park’s approximately 3.5 miles of shared-use trails (some are paved but many are not) crisscross through the park. The trails get a little muddy sometimes, but that doesn’t stop hikers, cyclists, and disc golfers from enjoying them. Tranquil Hickman Creek runs through wooded areas in the park.

Veteran’s Park is home to several noteworthy features. The Veteran’s Oak is a massive burr oak that has been standing for hundreds of years; find it on Google maps by searching for “Veterans Oak Southpoint.” Another interesting feature is the World War II tank at one of the entrances to the park. Memorials to veterans of different wars and signboards along the paved walking path give the big park its name.

07 of 10

Shillito Park

The Creative Playground at Shillito Park in Lexington

Michelle Franzetti / LFUCG

300 W Reynolds Rd, Lexington, KY 40503, USA
Phone +1 859-288-2900

Located adjacent to Fayette Mall, Shillito Park is one of Lexington’s most convenient parks. The newly redesigned Creative Playground is fully ADA compliant and a big hit with kids. A paved, mixed-use path circles the 176-acre park for walking, running, and cycling. Facilities include numerous baseball fields, tennis and basketball courts, a lengthy disc-golf course, and lots of covered picnic shelters. Shillito Park is home to one of Lexington’s busiest public swimming pools.

08 of 10

McConnell Springs Park

Hikers on a paved trail at McConnell Springs

Amy Wallot / LFUCG

416 Rebmann Ln, Lexington, KY 40504-1163, USA
Phone +1 859-225-4073

In June 1775, a group of pioneers named their camp at McConnell Springs “Lexington” in honor of Lexington Green in Massachusetts, site of the first battle of the Revolutionary War. Today, McConnell Springs Park serves as a valuable refuge for wildlife, and it’s a very convenient place to enjoy some hiking trails right within city limits when there isn't enough time to get to Red River Gorge.

The small nature center has helpful staff and informative exhibits, but the real reason to visit McConnell Springs Park is to enjoy the well-maintained walking trails. To aid accessibility, the trail to the pond and Blue Hole spring (two of the highlights) is partially paved; some stretches consist of fine gravel and boardwalk. Picnic tables are available near the nature center and small amphitheater. Don’t miss the giant burr oak that’s been standing in its spot for over 300 years!

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Jacobson Park

Two kayakers enjoy the reservoir at Jacobson Park in Lexington

Amy Wallot / LFUCG

Jacobson Park, 4001 Athens Boonesboro Rd, Lexington, KY 40509, USA
Phone +1 859-288-2900

Occupying over 216 grassy acres, Jacobson Park has all the amenities you would expect from one of the best parks in Lexington: a dog park, two basketball courts, four volleyball courts, and a sizable disc-golf course.

What differentiates Jacobson Park is the large reservoir lake where visitors can rent pedal boats and kayaks; you can also bring your own paddle board. Fishing is permitted from shore or the docks (anyone over age 16 needs a Kentucky fishing license). After climbing around the Creative Playground, kids can cool off in the Sprayground water area. Seven picnic shelters are available for shade, or you can put a blanket down and sunbathe along the water’s edge.

10 of 10

Wellington Park

A walking path and flowers in Wellington Park

Greg Rodgers

Wellington Park, 565 Wellington Way, Lexington, KY 40503, USA
Phone +1 859-288-2900

Choosing only 10 of Lexington’s many community parks isn’t easy! Kirklevington Park and Hartland Park certainly rank among the best parks in Lexington, but we awarded the final spot to a relative newcomer, Wellington Park. The creatively designed “sensory” walking trail and six-acre dog park at Wellington Park attract a lot of visitors. A women’s memorial garden, monarch way station. and some outdoor art provide nice touches. Wellington Park looks small from the road, but it actually spreads over 38 acres. See if you can locate the small, partially hidden Irish cemetery with markers dating back to the 1800s.

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The 10 Best Parks in Lexington, Kentucky