We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Louisville is absolutely stunning.
Louisville’s amazing park system was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in NYC and it considered on of the “fathers of landscape architecture.” There are 18 wonderful parks within city limits, and our comprehensive park system is one of only four complete systems designed by Olmsted.
2. We also have a rich history.
There are tons of amazing historic neighborhoods and districts throughout the city, many of which represent the different eras and elements of our vibrant, diverse culture. We even have the largest Victorian neighborhood in the entire country! You can delve into the darker (and possibly haunted) history at Waverly Hills Sanatorium or keep it light at the Frazier History Museum, which has an incredible collection of artifacts stretching back through 1,000 years of Kentucky History.
The Frazier History Museum is located on "Museum Row" at 829 W Main St, Louisville, KY.
3. Our food scene just can’t be beat.
Louisville is seriously overlooked when it comes to culinary hotspots, but we have some amazing chefs and incredible restaurants in this city! Of course, we’re famous for our Kentucky Fried Chicken and we introduced the world to the glory of the Hot Brown, but our upscale restaurants are some of the best in the country and have won dozens of awards from major publications, including Food & Wine Magazine, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, and many others. The Oakroom is the only restaurant in the entire state to hold AAA’s prestigious Five Diamond Rating and Louisville is home to many James Beard Foundation-recognized chefs, including Kathy Cary (owner of Lilly’s Bistro), Edward Lee (from 620 Magnolia and Milkwood), who were both nominated in the Best Chef: Southeast category in 2015 and 2016. You may recognized Edward Lee from Food Network’s “Top Chef,” and another Louisville chef, Damaris Phillips, appeared and won on the show “Food Network Star.”
4. Our bourbon rocks.
This one goes without saying, but it can never be said too many times. Our famously awesome bourbon brings home dozens of awards each year, and even non-bourbon-lovers can appreciate our iconic drink because many of the best chefs in town use to craft incredible meals; it’s pretty darn good as a seasoning too! If you haven’t begun your adventure on the Urban Bourbon Trail yet, it’s time to start!
5. Oh, and last call isn’t until 4:00 a.m.
Which is perfect for those of us who are night owls.
6. Our bourbon is delicious, but it’s also really important to our economy.
It’s so delicious that bourbon tourism is one of the largest draws to both our city and state, and these tourism dollars go into funding many important community programs and businesses.
7. The Louisville music scene is out-of-this-world!
If there’s one city where you are guaranteed to find your toes tapping, it's Louisville! You’ll find a whole spectrum of genres and musicians here, and we celebrate music in amazing ways! We have Waterfront Wednesdays in April through September that offer FREE concerts to the public right down on our beautiful waterfront. The event features a variety of bands of all genres throughout the season. Their 2017 lineup is still TBD, but keep an eye on the
for updates as we get closer to spring!
8. While we’re on the subject… have you been to Forecastle Festival?
This three-day music event is Louisville’s version of Coachella, minus the absolutely ungodly hot temperature and with fewer snobby hipsters. The festival attracts huge names and internationally famous artists and features many different genres, so it’s a near-guarantee that you will find something to love (and maybe even a new favorite!) at Forecastle. Nearly 75,000 people come out to enjoy this awesome event and the 2017 lineup can be found on the
Forecastle Fest website.
9. Wait, there’s more… Louisville has a LOT of music festivals.
Here’s a partial list of the awesome annual music festivals in town:
March: Itchin’ to Pick (a weekend-long Bluegrass festival).
April: The Kentucky Derby Festival Fest-a-Ville and GonzoFest.
May: The Kentucky Reggae Festival (held over Memorial Day Weekend).
July: Kentucky Music Weekend (the largest folk music fest in the region) and the Louisville Jazz Festival.
September: Louder Than Life (hard rock and whiskey, what could be better?), The Kentucky Bluegrass Music & Bourbon Experience (over Labor Day Weekend), and the Louisville Music Awards.
October: The Garvin Gate Blues Festival (Louisville’s largest free street music fest), The Louisville Outskirts Festival (a celebration of women musicians).
10. And then there’s Abbey Road on the River…
Yes, we know this one is *technically* in Jeffersonville, IN now, but we might as well just call that city “Louisville North” because it’s right on the state line. Plus, Abbey Road on the River was totally OURS first; the festival has taken place in Louisville since 2002, but in 2017, this amazing concert is relocating right across the river. Abbey Road on the River is a five-day festival held around Memorial Day Weekend that attracts more than 20,000 fans to come out and celebrate the legacy left by The Beatles. With 60 bands performing on multiple stages, it’s the largest Beatles tribute band festival in North America. Let’s just say we’ve “loaned” the festival to Indiana. We’re just that friendly (and we’re way cooler anyway).
11. We don’t just love music festivals... we love ALL festivals.
Seriously, this city knows how to have a good time. There’s the Old Louisville Spring Festival, the Kentucky Derby Festival, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, the Louisville Festival of Arts, Kentuckiana Pride, the Kinsfolks Soul Food Festival, Fandomfest, Chocolate Fest, Louisville WorldFest, Louisville Highlands Festival, the Louisville Dragon Boat Festival, Butchertown Oktoberfest, Louisville Brewfest, Taste of Louisville, IdeaFesival, Louisville International Film Festival, Flavor of Kentucky Food Festival, Light Up Louisville… and WAY too many amazing cultural festivals to count. You get the idea: Louisville loves to celebrate.
12. Some of our celebrations really stand out, like Thunder Over Louisville...
Our Derby Week Festival’s fireworks show is the largest in North America! It even beats out NYC’s New Year’s Eve celebration!
13. ...and the Louisville Zombie Walk.
Over 40,000 people come to stagger and limp through the heart of Louisville, searching for delicious brains at the annual Zombie Walk. It’s the world’s largest zombie walk and it takes place at the end of August. Even if you don’t join the hungry undead hoard, the costumes and incredible make up worn by the wandering zombies is worth coming out to watch!
14. Ok, enough about festivals. Let’s talk art.
Our art scene is as rich as our music scene! The Speed Art Museum is widely recognized as one of the largest, best, and most comprehensive collections of artwork in the state. Incredible works from around the world are displayed here, including ancient artifacts, classical masterpieces, and unique contemporary pieces. If you want to see some truly cool modern art, head down to 21C Museum Hotel!
15. There’s also a rich culture of performance art.
The historic Palace Theater was built in 1928 and hosts tons of live performances, but the unbelievably stunning ornate interior is something everyone must see at least once in their lifetime. The Louisville Shakespeare Festival is free and takes place from May 31 - August 13. The actors put on 66 performances of 8 different famous plays written by The Bard. The Actors Theater of Louisville puts on nearly 400 performances each year, including the epic Humana Festival of New American Plays, and has won dozens of prestigious awards, including a Tony for Distinguished Achievement!
The Louisville Palace is located at 625 S. 4th St., Louisville, KY.
The Actors Theater of Louisville is located at 316 W. Main St., Louisville, KY.
16. We have a strong sporting spirit.
Of course there are the obvious ones like the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum, but there’s also the Muhammad Ali Center and (Louisville Field - one of the best minor league fields in the US). For a town with no professional sports teams, we still have some of the most spirited fans in the country.
17. We show off this spirit by supporting our collegiate teams.
The Louisville Cardinals and Kentucky Wildcats have one of the most famous rivalries in college sports! Even when the rival teams aren’t playing each other, our college basketball games are just as incredible (and in many cases, more so) than professional NBA games. Cardinals games sell out so frequently that they top the list of teams that draw in full-capacity attendance annually!
18. We’re right in the middle of the action.
Being a landlocked state has its perks, and Louisville’s location makes it possible for us to get out and explore other awesome cities and states without it becoming a major vacation. We’re only an hour-and-a-half from Cincinnati, two hours from Indianapolis, two-and-a-half hours from Nashville, four hours from St. Louis, four-and-a-half hours from Chicago, and six hours from Atlanta!
19. Location, location, location!
Opinions are divided on whether Kentucky is the northernmost southern state or the southernmost northern state, but we think the indecision here just means we’re the best of both!