IT’S OFFICIAL. Houseplants are the new dogs. Philodendrons and monstera alike bring the satisfaction of a hobby and the companionship, as it were, of a pet. If you’re one of the many with a love of flora and gardens, head south. Lexington, Kentucky, has green spaces galore to explore.
Drop your bags—and your begonia—in a corner room at Elwood Hotel & Suites (859-423-1001, theelwoodhotel.com). Guests are encouraged to bring their plant babies to soak up the abundant sunshine in the greenery-bedecked suites. The Gardener Premier Package includes locally made botanical toiletries, a succulent to keep, “nourishing tea” for your leafy buddy, and a $10 food credit. Sip a bespoke Garden Mojito at their Fiddletree Kitchen & Bar, then snap a selfie in front of the vibrant floral mural.
Gratz Park (250 W. Third St.) is distinct from the 100ish parks in Lexington by its surrounding neighborhood. With shade trees aplenty and lush landscaping, it’s arguably the most elegant in the city. After strolling past stately homes, settle into a grassy nook of the park to listen to the sculpture fountain.
Small-batch bourbon and a promenade through a manicured, peaceful oasis? It hardly gets better than that. Award-winning landscape designer Jon Carloftis is the mastermind behind the formal sunken gardens at Castle & Key Distillery (502-395-9070, castleandkey.com) in Frankfort, a quick drive west through rolling horse country.
Finally, beeline to the Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky (859-257-6955, arboretum.ca.uky.edu). Take “The Walk Through Kentucky,” two miles of trails traversing seven state ecosystems. Gardens include ones for children, pollinators (with bumblebee-friendly forage), and vegetable growers. Most exhilarating is the Fragrance Garden, with its heady perfume of lavender, citrus, witch hazel, and heirloom roses.