Courtesy Lexington CVB
Horse farm tours
Lexington bills itself as the horse capital of the world thanks to the area’s large thoroughbred farming and racing industry. Although many people are accustomed to watching horse races on television or going to racetracks to see the action in person, a guided tour of horse farms in the Bluegrass gives visitors an in-depth look at the business.
Several companies offer tours of the horse farms in the Lexington area. During farm visits, groups can learn about the thoroughbred breeding process or even watch a breeding in action. The tours also include encounters with the animals.
“Spring is really special here because you have the little babies in the fields,” said Niki Heichelbeck, media and communications manager at the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I never get tired of driving through and seeing them learn to stand up.”
In addition to stops at the horse farms, guided horse-country tours also take visitors to other equestrian landmarks around town. Keeneland Race Course, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, offers a glimpse into the pageantry and tradition of Kentucky thoroughbred racing. Groups get a tour of the racetrack, including the VIP section of the grandstand and the winner’s circle.
Horse farm tours also include a stop at Old Friends Farm, the world’s only retirement farm for thoroughbred stallions.
Louisiana Swamp Tours
Crown Point, Louisiana
Just outside of New Orleans, groups can explore the beauty of the bayou with Louisiana Swamp Tours, choosing from either fast- or slow-paced experiences.
“We have two methods of exploring the swamps,” said owner Milton Walker Jr. “We have a traditional swamp tour on a covered boat, and those are slow and fully narrated.
“We also have an airboat tour, which is half tour and half airboat ride. Those boats are driven by engines that blow wind out the back of the boat at 200 miles per hour.”
The airboat rides can accommodate up to 16 passengers. On the more traditional boat tour through the swamp, an entire group of 40 to 50 passengers can ride at once.
No matter which option groups choose, they’ll be treated to an up-close look at the flora and fauna of the swamp. The area is a prime bird-watching spot, and visitors often see egrets, herons, pelicans and even bald eagles. They may also come upon traditional Acadian fishermen with boats full of catfish or blue crabs.
For most folks, though, the highlight of the swamp tour is the number of alligators they see along the way.
“Sometimes we see four or five alligators, or sometimes there are so many that you get tired of looking at them,” Walker said. “Every swamp tour is a unique nature event.”