24 Hours in Louisville, Kentucky
Kentucky’s biggest city is well worth a visit.
You may know it as the host of the world famous Kentucky Derby horse race and festival, but there are fun things going on here all year round.
Start your day in Louisville with a little Kentucky tradition at Churchill Downs. Don’t head to the track just yet, but stop across the street at Wagner’s for some breakfast. This tiny restaurant has long been the start of the day for jockeys and other horse aficionados in the city.
Next up drive to the East Market District, known around town as NuLu. This up and coming area is comprised of boutique shops, trendy restaurants, and art galleries. If you’re into shopping, take a walk up and down East Market Street. Joe Ley Antiques has been around for 35 years and boasts of fabulous finds.
Head downtown to admire some of the city’s noteworthy buildings. The Humana Building, designed by Michael Graves, is known for its postmodern design. Make a stop at the Seelbach Hotel, built in the early 20th century in a Europe style, and known hangout for F. Scott Fitzgerald.
If you aren’t sick of museums, stop by Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. The tour is fast and fun, plus you get a free mini-Slugger to take home.
No visit to Kentucky is complete without sampling some fine bourbon. If you don’t have time to make it out to the distilleries outside of the city, fear not. You can get still get a taste of the good stuff and learn how it’s made at the Evan Williams Experience downtown.
Then make your way to Against the Grain Brewery located in Louisville Slugger Field. Known for their creativity, this is the microbrewery at the forefront of Louisville’s burgeoning craft beer scene.
Soak up the bourbon and beer with some barbecue from their smokehouse while you wait for your taxi to Cherokee Park. This 1.6 square kilometer park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, whose more famous designs include New York City’s Central Park. There’s a 4 kilometer Scenic Loop that makes it the perfect place for a pre-dinner stroll.
Nearby Bardstown Road has long been the epicenter of dining and nightlife in Louisville and is where you’ll be spending your final hours in the city.
It’s time for dinner. If you aren’t on a budget and had the foresight to make a reservation, dinner at Jack Fry’s is a must. This old school Louisville spot serves up contemporary American cuisine. Try the warm brie salad. If you’re looking for something with a more hipster feel, try Holy Grale. This craft beer bar located in a renovated church also has a rotating menu of creative fare.
Bars in Kentucky stay open until 4am, so you have plenty of time to imbibe and plenty of choices depending on your drinking style. River City Drafthouse is a small low-key spot with a good selection of craft beers. Flanagan’s Ale House has a younger crowd, a dance floor, and a nice patio. The Back Door is a dive bar with a huge pool room and pitchers of beer.
Wake up the next morning and realize that, yes, Louisville is cooler than it may seem from the outside.
Want to learn more about Kentucky? Visit our state guide.