This weekend, a Nashville-based friend Facebooked me for recommendations for a summer trip to Louisville. I guess it's where I've lived in (and loved) three amazing Southern cities, but I get variants of that email all the time. "Where should I stay in Louisville?" "Where are the best places to shop in Nashville?" "Where should I eat after a day at Keeneland?" -- I actually keep my responses on file in my email account and then re-work the answers to compliment individual friends' personalities, tastes, traveling preferences and companions.
|Downtown Louisville as seen from Indiana|
Now, my friend is planning for an early June trip to a concert at the Yum! Center and a few days' stay in downtown Louisville. She's never been to Louisville before, and wants to get a sense of the city. There are so many attractions within walking/easy driving distance that this trip virtually plans itself. Even though it's the middle of winter, talk of a Downtown Louisville summer puts me in the mood for Proof's gelato, a ride on the Belle, and a seat on Molly Malone's patio. -- HCW
The Yum Center and Downtown Museums
|The Ali Center|
I've never really been to the Yum! Center
, but it's supposed
to be an incredible venue. It's right in the middle of Downtown Louisville, and
you could have a fantastic trip without ever leaving the Downtown area.
The guys on the trip will probably want to see the Louisville Slugger Museum
. If baseball's your thing, the RiverBats
- the Minor League team
- play downtown. The Frazier Museum
has a lot of historical war/arms stuff. The Muhammad Ali Center
also quite neat -- it's kind of a walking tour of The Champ's life, as well as a
cultural center that supports a lot of education and charity events. There are also some very cute galleries/museums up and down
Main Street, near Slugger, Frazier and the Ali.
|The Seelbach lobby|
As for hotels, I would strongly suggest either 21C
. 21C is a very hip and boutique-y museum hotel. The restaurant inside
-- Proof on Main
-- is extremely cool. Excellent locally sourced food, insanely
good cocktails, and a very artsy decor -- all without being too pretentious.
Proof also has a fantastic gelato cart on the street during the summer -- I
can't recommend it highly enough.
The Seelbach is way more traditional with four-poster cherry beds,
marble lobbies, etc. I feel like a princess every time I stay there. It has some really cool little bars, the best Starbucks in town, and an amazing day spa. It also boasts the only five-diamond restaurant in the state
. They're even dog-friendly, and treated Max like a visiting dignitary. Fitzgerald actually got thrown out of the Seelbach for
public drunkenness and then set Daisy's wedding there when he wrote The Great
The Galt House
|Outside Jeff Ruby's|
is kind of a non-descript conventioners' hotel, but it does have
an amazing view of the river. There is also a really good high-end steakhouse,
, at the Galt House that's like a regional Ruth's Chris. Good, big
steaks and a fantastic wine list.
|The Belle of Louisville|
Downtown, just by the Seelbach, is a kind of touristy
entertainment district called Fourth Street Live
. There's a Hard Rock
, a MakersMark-themed restaurant/bar
, and a lot of little restaurants and bars. It's a fun place to people-watch and go out
for drinks. I think they even have Yum! Center adjacent parking, and there is
often live music and other event-y kind of stuff going on.
Oh, and if the weather permits, you can go out on a
steamboat. The Belle of Louisville
and the Spirit of Jefferson do lunch and
dinner cruises and little sightseeing excursions. It's a very neat way to see
downtown from the river.
If you want to venture just out of Downtown, the Highlands
is a fun, eclectic neighborhood just minutes away. Very cute and cool (we lived there for years) shops and
some of the best food anywhere. Lynn's Paradise Cafe
is a cute, funky
diner with fantastic food. Lunch and dinner are really good, and the breakfast/brunch
is legendary. Wick's Pizza
is kind of a neighborhood favorite -- huge pizzas
with tons of quality toppings. There are some really great nicer restaurants up
and down Bardstown Road (the main street going through the neighborhood); if
you're up for Latin Fusion, Seviche
is our favorite restaurant anywhere --
fantastic seafood and mojitos, and my beau loves their skirt steak, too.
I absolutely love the Louisville Stoneware
tours, paint-your-own, etc., and their big summer sale should be going on.
There are also several really cute Irish Pub kind of places in the Highlands --
are the kind of places where everyone from college
kids to Congressmen go -- very laid-back and fun.
The one thing that would be worth driving out of downtown
would be Churchill Downs
. The summer meet will be in full-force by early June. For just a regular weekend race, you should be able to get tix --
you'd be fine to just dress like you would for an afternoon wedding or a "coat
and tie rather than suit" church. If you're in town on the right weekend, I'd hit up Downs After Dark, which is a fun night-racing event.
Louisville in general
Louisville is a really fun city. It can be a little more
Midwestern than the rest of Kentucky -- people talk and walk a little faster and
sure do drink in public more than they do anywhere else in the state. I think
y'all will really like it, though. It's beautiful in the spring and summer!
Also, it has really easy roads to navigate for a city its size; you really can
get from one part of town to another pretty rapidly.
The biggest drawback to Louisville in the late spring/early
summer is the weather. It's located right along the Ohio river and gets a lot
of the river basin storms/tornado watches.
What about y'all, dear readers? What's on your "Must-See Louisville" list??
(All photos are my own.)