Map: A detailed map can be found at www.visitlex.com/afamheritage-trail and at the Lexington Visitors Center.
The LexWalk Audio Tour
Grab your cell phone, iDevice, or mp3 player, and groove to an urban Lexington walk-about. Using your cell phone, you can dial a number and listen to various points of interest in downtown Lexington, or with your smart phone you can hear the tour and see images by linking to a web page. Alternately, you can download a mp3 version to your player.
Length: Less than two miles. Your ear might wear out before your legs do.
Highlights: Choose your technology and start walking. The tour covers 19 points of interest in downtown Lexington, including historic homes and churches, the World Trade Center, and Gratz Park. Move at your own pace. Walk to your own drummer.
Unfortunately, this can really suck the juice from a smart phone (unless you use the app version), and the GPS reception is a bit iffy once in the shadows of tall buildings. In other words, the technology is still trying to catch up with our imaginations. But, it’s free. It’s novel. And one day it might be yesterday’s latest fad.
Audio Downloads: www.visitlex.com/audiotour. A free app is available from the iTunes store.
The Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation has developed four different self-guided walks including Gratz Park, the Adaptive Reuse Walking Tour, the Constitution Historic District and Mulberry Hill. The Gratz Park Historic District is bounded by Third and Second streets (to the north and south), and by Bark Alley and Byway (to the west and east). The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning (the former Lexington Public Library) and Morrison Hall (located on the campus of Transylvania University) serve as bookends.
Length: Less than half a mile in length. None of these walks are remotely rigorous, unless an image of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan makes your heart race. But you’re outside, breathing fresh air and not sitting at home watching re-runs.
Highlights: Gratz Park is one of the prettiest and inviting walking tours in downtown Lexington. The park provides the perfect oasis of urban green space for the surrounding homes built in the Federal, Italianate, Greek Revival and Victorian architectural styles. The park itself lies on one of the original outlots of Lexington, as platted by the Virginia Assembly in 1781, and was originally the site of a seminary, later known as Transylvania University.
The walking tour includes 25 different buildings, including the Patterson log cabin (circa 1783 and Lexington’s first mobile home) and The Fountain of Youth – a memorial fountain James Lane Allen bequeathed to the children of Lexington. Three houses on North Mill Street are known as the Goodloe Houses (or the “Three Sisters”), built by Mrs. William Goodloe for her three daughters. Each of the houses utilizes an identical floor plan, but architecturally incorporates different Victorian-style elements. Interestingly, Isaac Murphy (a free black man and perhaps the greatest American jockey of all time) once owned part of the property these houses sit upon.
Maps: Beautiful brochures can be picked up from the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation (253 Market St.) or the Lexington Visitors Center. They are also available online at www.bluegrasstrust.org/resources.html. These walks (with the exception of the Adaptive Reuse Tour) are also available as podcasts from the Bluegrass Trust.
Valerie Askren is the author of “Hike the Bluegrass: Your Guide to Hiking, Walking, and Strolling Across Central Kentucky.”