I'll be the first to admit I'm not the biggest fan of the city I live in. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against it at all, but it's not like Sydney, London, NYC or Paris, let's be real. But I do love it here, and the fact is, there is tons of things to do in the 'ville and I am finally getting round to doing some of them. I wanted to share, in case you were looking for a destination for your next weekend away!
1. Lots of things to do!
This is something I am just discovering myself, but Louisville is home to an amazing entertainment scene. There are plenty of theatres, art galleries, museums and music festivals. There is the Midwest Music Festival, the Kentucky Bluegrass Music & Burgoo Festival, and the Kentucky Reggae Festival. Abbey Road on the River is a huge Beatles themed festival - though 2016 might be the last year. Forecastle is a huge deal (I accidentally got married on that weekend, which made for fun hotel rates for out of town guests) and draws people from all over.
There is also a Lebowski fest and Shakespeare in the Park (free!). You guys, there is even a Jane Austen Festival, which I am so going to next year.
is the place for all your favorite shows and concerts in the , and there apparently isn't a bad seat in the house. It’s also located , you can eat a Hot Brown and then hop over to the Palace. I'm waiting for something I actually want to see before I visit.
As for museums and such, Louisville is the hometown to Muhammad Ali, and you can visit his childhood home or the Muhammad Ali Center. There's the Louisville Slugger Museum (and Factory!), even if you're not a baseball fan it's quite interesting. To mention a few more – Frazier History Museum, Glassworks (so fun and a gorgeous wedding venue!) the Kentucky Science Center, and Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.
If you’re in the mood for relaxing or strolling around a park - There are so many parks around the city, there’s always one close to where you are.
The Louisville Mega Cavern contains six different ziplines that are all fully underground as well as the world’s only fully underground drive through Christmas light show. You seriously have to see this cave to fully realise its massive size.
Now for some ‘scary stuff’. Waverly Hills is a , and it doesn't get much scarier than that. It was once, according to , a city in and of itself, complete with its own zip code that housed patients with tuberculosis. Today it's visited by shows like and a hot spot for some . It sounds terrifying. Louisville is also home to the world’s largest zombie walk with over 20,000 participants. The event takes place every August 29th and is a free event so you have no excuse to not participate. I think that sounds more my style!
Yes, sports gets its own category. People from Kentucky take their college sports really, really seriously. I mean, I'm sure other places do as well, but I don't live there do I? The rivalry between the University of Louisville (UofL) and the University of Kentucky (UK) is probably the most famous in the country (what do I know?). Tickets are fairly cheap and it's a fun time to go to a basketball or football game. You might even get free papa johns if you go to a football game.
You can also check out the Louisville Slugger Field - it's quite cheap to catch a baseball or soccer game there.
Okay, there isn't a whole lot of amazing shopping in Louisville itself - I'd recommend Oxmoor Center, Mall St Matthews and Shelbyville Road Plaza (Nordstrom Rack, Off Broadway Shoes and the Nike Outlet) if you want to though - all of which are located within 1 mile, no joke. For outlet shopping though, about 20 minutes away in Simpsonville there are a bunch of outlets and about half an hour away in the other direction, there is the Zappos / 6pm outlet where you can get Hunters for $50 (apparently…). I recommend weekdays, if you can swing it. The weekends are a mad house.
4. The Highlands.
The Highlands is one of my favourite parts of Louisville, but we don’t go there nearly enough. On Bardstown Rd in the Highlands you’ll find a hipster strip of shops and bars, not to mention many ‘Keep Louisville Weird’ stickers. The Highlands Fest is on the 29th of August and it is a ton of fun. We went last year but didn't make it this year.
If you like bourbon, Louisville is the place to visit. You go to Napa Valley for wine, you come to the 'ville for bourbon. This is the traditional starting place for the Bourbon Trail; there are plenty of bourbon tour things you can do, like the Urban Bourbon Trail, Mint Julep Tours, the Evan Williams Experience and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.
The Thirsty Pedaler sounds so fun, but you need a group of people to do that. Against the Grain is a great restaurant and brewery to check out.
I don’t know about you, but eating is my favourite thing to do when I travel. So if a food tour sounds more your stlye… Check out City Taste Tours or Louisville Food Tour. Here is a list of a bunch of places to eat and drink in the ‘ville, though I’m clearly not a local as I haven’t been to any of those places. I really need to eat at The Comfy Cow.
6. The Derby!
Greatest 2 minutes of sports, anyone? Honestly though, the Kentucky Derby is so much more than a horse race!! Okay, the party itself is super fun - see my guide here - but the Derby festival (Fest-A-Ville) has so much to offer – Thunder over Louisville, the Chow Wagon, Balloon Fest, Beer Fest - even a marathon (or half!) if you're so inclined.
If you can't make it to the Derby, fear not - you can still visit the Derby Museum and Churchill Downs - there are races throughout the year.
7. Louisville is the best place to start a road trip.
Apparently, the best place to start a road trip in the US is Louisville. I was not expecting that! I'm always bummed that there aren't a lot of close destinations that we could just whisk away to for a weekend, but it turns out I was wrong. I know I'm trying to convince you to visit Louisville and starting a road trip from here doesn't really encourage that - but it would make a great stopover destination on your way to somewhere else like Cincinnati (1.5 hours) Indianapolis (two hours), Nashville (2.5 hours), St. Louis (4 hours), Chicago (4.5 hours), or Atlanta (6 hours). A trip to Louisville can easily turn into a quick trip to another awesome spot.
Bonus reason - pronouncing the name of the city is super fun. I mean, it's no Wisconsin (can't say it) but you should learn how to say it before you visit! Although I have lived here almost 4 years and have heard it pronounced all different ways, even by the locals!
There are tons of other reasons to visit Louisville -it's the nation’s largest supplier of disco balls, birthplace of the Abraham Lincoln and song “Happy Birthday,” not to mention Old Louisville is in the United States, and "beautiful" is an understatement.
Linking up with the girls.
Did I mention we have a 68,000 pound Louisville Slugger baseball bat, I mean, don’t we sound fun? When are you coming?