Historic and Horsey Midway

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 It might be easy to dismiss Midway as just a bedroom community of Lexington (it’s only about a 20-minute drive) if it wasn’t for the abundant charms of the tiny Woodford County town. You can taste bourbon and wine here; shop in colorful boutiques and galleries that line the old railroad tracks; eat at award-winning restaurants that would do justice to a much larger metropolis; meander along tree-shaded roads winding past world-class horse farms; and oh yes, get a dose of history while you’re doing it.
    Midway was founded in 1831 as the first town in Kentucky to be established by a railroad (the Lexington and Ohio; its name came from being the mid-point between Lexington and Frankfort). Since its founding, Midway’s history has included such colorful characters as Sue Munday (she led guerilla raids here during the Civil War); George Armstrong Custer (he bought horses for the 7th Cavalry from Bosque Bonita Farm, part of which is now Lane’s End); and Frank and Jesse James (their mother, Zerelda Cole, was born in the Offutt-Cole Tavern at the intersection of Old Frankfort Pike and Midway Road, and the brothers were said to have visited her on several occasions in between robbing banks).
    As I mentioned, Midway has an embarrassment of riches for today’s visitors. Want to see Thoroughbred farms that look like scenes on a postcard? A drive down Midway Road will take you past Lane’s End, which has hosted Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and Stonewall, one of Central Kentucky’s most picturesque farms. Other farms on Midway’s outskirts include Ashford Stud, the largest Thoroughbred breeding operation in the world; Gainesborough, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai; Stonestreet, belonging to Jess Jackson, owner of Kendall-Jackson Winery; Pin Oak Farm, Three Chimneys Farm, and Airdrie, situated on part of the old Woodburn Farm, where Kentucky’s Thoroughbred industry began in the mid-1800s.
    If you are looking for unique shopping, spend a morning or afternoon visiting the shops and galleries along both sides of Main Street’s railroad tracks Ð Celtic Trends, Damselfly, Eagles’ Nest Gallery, the Amish Store, and Historic Midway Museum Store are just a few Ð or head over to Nonesuch and the one-of-a-kind Irish Acres Antiques and The Glitz. Housed in a converted schoolhouse, this is a place that combines Victoriana and Appalachian folk, English and French country antiques, and a basement restaurant that resembles a 1930s Hollywood movie set. 
    Thirsty? You have your choice of wine (the award-winning Equus Run Winery) or bourbon (Woodford Reserve Distillery). The former, often described as a “boutique winery that produces mega-wines,” has a wide range of varietals, including chardonnay, blush, vidal blanc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and reisling. The latter, located on the banks of picturesque Glen’s Creek, is a National Historic Landmark, and produces the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and England’s Epsom Derby. Tours and tastings are available at both the winery and the distillery.
    By now, you’re bound to be hungry. If so, you’re in luck Ð Midway has a number of first class restaurants. Downtown, you can choose from Heirloom and Bistro La Belle, both of which have received raves from food critics. Just about a mile from downtown Midway, housed in a beautiful country inn, is one of Kentucky’s most celebrated restaurants, Holly Hill Inn, owned by Chef Ouita Michel and her husband Chris. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more casual, you can try Wallace Station, specializing in salads, sandwiches and pastries, including the blueberry muffins, thought by many to be the best in the commonwealth. 
    Horses and history, bourbon and wine, restaurants and retail Ð Midway has it all.

– Patti Nickell, author of

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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