So you want to visit Louisville? Have we got the scoop for you. My daughter, Taylor and I traveled to the capital city of Kentucky and were shocked at how many fun offerings there were. I personally went for the food, having read about the choice of upscale foods and restaurants in many cooking magazines. Check out these 11 things to add to your Louisville, Kentucky travels as recommended by both of us.
Louisville, Kentucky Travels Suggestions
#1 Sink Your Teeth into the State Dish
Louisville is home to the original Hot Brown sandwich, created at the historic Brown Hotel. The casual Lobby Bar restaurant is where I recommend enjoying the iconic sandwich from. Enjoy the beautiful flowers, seating arrangements, clocks, and other decors that set the Brown Hotel apart from its competitors. The Hot Brown sandwich is served into the wee hours of the night.
The Hot Brown was created over 100 years ago by an employee of the Brown Hotel. Close your eyes and picture thick sliced turkey over toasted buttered bread, topped with a delicate Mornay sauce, juicy tomato, crispy bacon, then dusted with paprika. Oh yeah!
#2 Get Your Steps In at the Louisville Zoo
The Louisville Zoo, a 134-acre complex with 1700 or more animals, is a great facility to see your favorite kinds of animals. The gorillas, meerkats, Asian elephants, and polar bears were our favorite. Glacier Run’s Bear Habitat was adorable, housed with cute sea lions, playful seals, polar and grizzly bears. “Better the Bond Between People and Our Planet” is the zoo’s mission statement, achieved by a pleasant guest experience, dedication to conservation, and excellent care of the animals.
#3 Chicken or Beef for Lunch?
If you opted for chicken, head over to NuLu (a trendy part of town) for Royal’s Hot Chicken. Eat everything that is calling your name—it is so worth it. My favorite item was the Baked Pimento Cheese with bacon jam, served in a darling tiny cast iron skillet. Nashville chicken tenders are what Royal’s Hot Chicken is known for and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Plenty of tasty sauces to dip them in as well. Care for a Boozy Milkshake to chase them with?
#4 Explore the Iconic Kentucky Derby Museum
Go to Churchill Downs for a grand informational tour of the iconic Kentucky Derby Museum. You don’t have to be a horse lover or even a racing fan to enjoy this unique museum. From the wall of winners (horses and jockeys) to Riders Up (a simulator experience), 360-degree film or enjoying a slice of Derby-Pie from the museum’s Derby Cafe, Tayor and I loved it all.
The Kentucky Derby, possibly the most stylish event of the year, is known for the great fashions and the “most exciting two minutes in sports”. Some of these fashions are showcased at the museum. A guided tour of Churchill Downs is included with admission price. Did you know that not only the Kentucky Derby is run on that specific day but around 17 other races as well? It is business as usual at Churchill Downs but only the Kentucky Derby with its 160,000 guests has that notoriety.
#5 Show Off Your Selfie
Several spots in Louisville have been designated “selfie spots”. Museum Row, Louisville’s Main Street, is home to some of the favorites such as the Louisville Slugger Museum, which boasts a 68,000 pound, 120-ft tall baseball bat, and 21c Museum Hotel David statue, a 30-ft tall gold replica of Michelangelo’s 16th-century marble statue of David. Jennifer Lawrence fans can get their photo under her mural/hometown hero banner at 6th & Main streets, at the Kentucky Center for the Arts Building. Tag #louisvillelove.
#6 Dig into Tasty Breakfast Fare
Start your day with a magnificent breakfast from Wild Eggs, a downtown eatery. The food is sensational and the decor is bright and cheery. Taylor swears by their Chocolate Chip Pancakes with bacon but I indulged in something a little more exotic, the Mr. Potato Head Casserole. It was truly a phenomenal dish, with layers of vegetables, hash browned potatoes, and eggs. The flavors married well together. The sweet tea is on point, too.
#7 Learn More About Louisville, Kentucky
The Frazier History Museum is an awesome place to visit in the heart of downtown. It has rotating exhibits as well as temporary ones. When we visited, the Hunger Games touring exhibit was there. Taylor and I are both fans so we absolutely loved it! Other than that, the museum also had a cool prohibition offering and Lewis & Clark display. I loved the miniature toy soldier gallery, too.
From here, pick either the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience or perhaps something that suits younger children, such as the Louisville Slugger Museum. The Louisville Slugger Museum is within walking distance of the Frazier History Museum, plus you get to see the fun and main street of town.
#8 Eat the Best Lunch in Louisville
For lunch, pop in Mussel & Burger Bar, a top-ranked hip American bistro with a stellar reputation. Taylor and I sat at a high top table in the bar for a super relaxing meal. The gourmet burgers can’t be missed from this foodie hot spot. I ended up with the Southern Bell Burger (a recipe with fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese that suits Louisville, Kentucky’s Southern reputation!) and Taylor had the 4 Cheese Mac & Cheese with bacon and a brown butter crumble. They were both decadent and tasty.
#9 Travel Deep in the Earth
Louisville Mega Cavern is enormous cavern which can be explored from a mega tram that goes deep into the Earth. It is a green-building technology that allows space for storage, mining, recycling, and is the first of its kind in the entire world. Mega Cavern features ropes challenge course, cavern ziplining (the only one in the world!), and motorbike paths for the more active travelers. A new option is the “funderground adventure” by E-bike. Taylor and I both loved visiting the Mega Cavern. The tour operators are entertaining; be sure to tip them! There is also a special holiday offering that you can read about here.
#10 Go Sailing on an Iconic Vessel
Spend your last evening in Louisville cruising on the Ohio River in one of the incredibly popular and historic paddleboats. Both the Belle of Louisville and Mary M. Miller, the newest member of the fleet, offer evening sightseeing and dinner cruises. For a few more dollars, you can add the dinner buffet option. You will want to pick this one because the food is really good. The first hour of the cruise features a well-stocked buffet with fried chicken, beef brisket, salad, green beans, mashed potatoes, and more. Desserts are sliced pound cake, pie, and cookies. Tea, water, and coffee are unlimited.
After enjoying the buffet, head outside for optimum views while sailing the Ohio River for two full hours. Have your camera ready for when you sail under the Big Four Bridge, one of Lousiville’s most beautiful sights, that changes colors (LED lighting) from sundown to 1 AM. Inside, a DJ narrates the tour and plays music the entire cruise. He also welcomes requests. Once he started playing the Bee-Gees, he and I became fast friends.
#11 Sample Kentucky Bourbon (Twist My Arm!)
The Evans Wiliams Bourbon Experience, in the heart of Whiskey Row, is a great place to learn how Bourbon is made. Once you’ve filled your head with the alchemy of it all, sample the product and taste for yourself. Another downtown distillery to experience is Angel’s Envy, that offers a tasting in The Finishing Room after your tour. Reminder: guests must be 21 years old to sample America’s native spirit.
Where to Stay in Louisville
Downtown Louisville has several hotels to choose from but for us, the Aloft Louisville Downtown was a perfect fit. The Aloft (a Starwood Hotel brand) was designed for travelers, with loft-inspired rooms with vibrant colors and sleek scenery. I love how tech-savvy the rooms are and the ease of parking, trendiness, and comfort factor weigh in high for me. Intimate seating groups are scattered throughout while swanky music provides the background ambiance.
Spread the #LouisvilleLove
Louisville, Kentucky wowed me with its many attractions and beautiful scenery. My favorite parts of visiting Louisville were photographing the amazing bridges and touring the Kentucky Derby Museum. From Louisville, you can also drive 20-minutes across the bridge into Indiana and get your gambling fix at the Horseshoe Southern Indiana casino. We hope you will consider these things to add to your Louisville, Kentucky travels and love this chick city as much as we do.
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