Underground UK: Discover Lexington’s history through scavenger hunts


PRHBtN mural “Lincoln” by Eduardo Kobra, located on the back wall of the Kentucky Theater in Lexington, Ky., on Monday, April 20, 2015. Photo by Caleb Gregg | Staff

Megan Brown

Lexington is known for horses, bourbon and basketball, but its rich history and flourishing art scene is less familiar to visitors and locals alike.

The foundation of Lexington’s past is rooted in a variety of historical sites and murals located across the city that can be explored through a free scavenger hunt and challenge sponsored by VisitLex.

The “Big Lex” scavenger hunt takes participants on a journey through Lexington’s most famous and lesser-known landmarks. From Keeneland to the home of famous Kentuckian Henry Clay, visitors will be able to learn about Kentucky’s history firsthand and immerse themselves in the Commonwealth’s past.  

The scavenger hunt is a “quick, fun way to learn a little about Lexington while being surrounded by local culture,” said Niki Goldey, VisitLex’s director of communications. “Visors will stumble upon the next restaurant they want to eat at and the next shop they want to stroll through.”

“Big Lex” is a mascot of the city and symbolizes the horse culture and agriculture of Kentucky. The legend of the horse Big Lex said he turned blue from spending too much time eating bluegrass.

At each location, visitors will have to take a picture with a printed out Big Lex or pick up a flat version at the Lexington Visitor Center downtown.  

The mural challenge is similar to the scavenger hunt and requires participants to take a picture with five of the 25 murals located across Lexington. Murals provide an artistic insight into the city’s past as well as an outlook for the future and are painted by artists from varying backgrounds including some anonymous painters.  

In a city that bleeds blue, murals paint Lexington with a more vibrant hue. Themes range from musicians to presidents and paintings paying homage to the Horse Capital of the world. Other murals are a page in a worldwide storybook and one depicts the beauty of everyday items turned into art.

VisitLex also challenges participants to find hidden features in the murals such as a Hello Kitty cameo or an unusual zoo animal inserted into a traditional horse race scene. Descriptions and locations of the murals as well as tips of hidden items within the murals can be found on the mural challenge page of VisitLex’s website. 

Visitors who participate in the scavenger hunt and mural challenge will discover Lexington’s history but locals will also learn something new, Goldey said. Tourists and locals alike will “experience the beauty of Lexington and learn about the history that made this great city.”

A surprise will be mailed to visitors who finish the scavenger hunt and email ten photos to [email protected]. Participants who complete the mural challenge and send in five photos to [email protected] and post a photo to social media with #SharetheLex will receive a poster.

Grab a couple of your friends and discover the history of your “Old Kentucky Home.” You might just be surprised by what you learn.