9 Reasons Louisville, KY, Should Be on Your Travel Radar
We've all seen and heard about the country's latest and greatest cities to visit — Charleston, SC, for the foodies; Austin, TX, for the party people; and Nashville, TN, for basically everything. But move over, other destinations, because there is a new city that's starting to buzz — Louisville, KY. Yes, Louisville.
The sports-centric home of the Louisville Slugger Factory and the Museum and the Kentucky Derby is making a name for itself in the food, cocktail, and entertainment world with the growth of independent eateries and bars that are anything but ordinary.
So, what would make the perfect trip to Louisville? We've got tips for you!
Buffalo Trace Distillery
The oldest operating distillery in the US, the Buffalo Trace distillery, was founded in 1773. The "world's most decorated distillery" sits upon ancient buffalo paths and, today, produces more than 18 types of bourbon.
The Trace tour, which includes a glimpse at the barrel room and bottling hall, is free and includes tastings. Want to go even further behind the scenes? Try the Hard Hat Tour or the Bourbon Barrel Tour.
Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum
Baseball is America's favorite pastime, and you can't pass through Louisville without paying homage to the sport that brings the country together. As part of the city's Museum Row on Main, the factory tour shows patrons what goes into making the bats that adorn the dugout of your favorite team. Each member of the tour also leaves with a souvenir mini bat.
A serious baseball-lover? There are two private, behind-the-scenes tours for you. They will set you back a bit — $150 for the double header option and $225 for the extra innings tour — but if you're all about that base, it will be well worth it.
Haymarket Whiskey Bar
If you're up for some good adult beverages and a late night, Haymarket Whiskey Bar is for you. The bar curates its selection of bourbons, beers, whiskeys and other spirits, but has, on average, 400 types of whiskey and 250 bourbon varieties available to its customer base. Haymarket Whiskey Bar also serves as a concert hall, bottle shop, and arcade and has weekly themed events, including free pinball.
Called one of the most engaging blocks in downtown Louisville, Whiskey Row spans a block in Louisville that many in the bourbon industry have called home at one time or another. While it was destroyed in a devastating fire several years ago, the city has since rebuilt it to include modern eateries, event spaces, apartments, and shops at Whiskey Lofts. However, developers were careful to maintain the charm of the old world.
Urban Bourbon Trail
While you may spend all day long out at the countless distilleries around the heart of the city, you may spend all night getting your Urban Bourbon Trail passport stamped at various locations around the city. The Urban Bourbon Trail consists of historic hotel properties that once served Kentucky whiskey to the likes of Al Capone and F. Scott Fitzgerald and cosmopolitan "scenes" where urban trendsetters are making retro drinks, such as the old fashioned and Manhattan, according to the attraction's website. Visitors can pick up their passports from any of the participating stops along the way or at the visitors' center. Get six stamps and there is a prize waiting for you!
Fat Lamb Modern Kitchen and Bar
Serving craft cocktails and creative cuisine, Fat Lamb is a must visit for the food-lover in you. Brennan Staples is in charge of the cocktail menu, which is adorned with original creations like the grinstead swizzle and the sloe gin fizz (which includes an egg white!), while chef Dallas McGarity fills the table with truffle pesto fries, curried chickpea fritters, hot-sauce-marinated fried chicken breast and the beloved Southern classic shrimp and grits.
21C Museum Hotel
Not only does this hotel offer you a place to rest your weary (or bourbon-filled!) head, but it also houses a museum designed to showcase contemporary art. Five 19th century warehouses live on as more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space where curated exhibitions and site-specific installations reflect the global nature of contemporary culture. The bar and restaurant, Proof on Main, carry more than 120 types of Kentucky bourbons and are full of lively pops of color.
21C also offers a once-in-a-lifetime sleeping experience. "Asleep in the Cyclone" is a completely immersive art experience that includes a king bed and unique amenities.
Known as America's largest Victorian neighborhood, Old Louisville features almost exclusive Victorian-era architecture. Stroll along the more than 48 blocks of mansion-style houses and step back into yesteryear while checking out the walking courts for a taste of the old world.
Belle of Louisville
No trip is complete without a ride on this iconic boat. The Belle of Louisville is a river steamboat that is original to the steamboat era of the US. It allows riders to get a view of the city from the Ohio and Louisville rivers. With day and night cruises as well as themed rides, the nearly-100-year-old boat is like a floating museum. There is also a buffet on board for those who make advanced reservations.