Before you visit the Derby City, get Travel Channel's suggestions on where to stay, where to eat and what to do in Louisville, KY.
The locals in Louisville, <a title="Kentucky" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/topics/kentucky/index.html" target="_blank"><em> Kentucky</em></a>, take their sports seriously. Thousands of people converge on Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby to see 3-year-old Thoroughbreds race. The annual competition, held on the first Saturday in May, ends the 2-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. We can’t forget about the college basketball buzz around the city about 2012 NCAA Basketball Champs University of Kentucky Wildcats, the only team with the most all-time wins in the history of college basketball.
The Pegasus Parade is the Kentucky Derby Festival’s longest running event. Marching bands, floats, notable celebs and locals -- as well as inflatable characters, including the Pegasus -- are some of the reasons why this is a popular must-see event for both locals and visitors. The Great Steamboat Race and Thunder Over Louisville are also a couple not-to-be-missed events.
Proof on Main, located inside the 21c Museum Hotel, is a must-see stop when visiting Louisville. <i>Esquire Magazine</i> called the restaurant “a favorite for locals and visitors alike.” The restaurant supports local farming by using locally-grown ingredients in its menu items. And at the restaurant’s bar, pull up a barstool and enjoy sampling more than 50 types of Kentucky bourbon. The restaurant compliments its culinary artistry by featuring rotating contemporary art exhibitions, curated by 21c Museum.
Lynn’s Paradise Café serves American food with a Southern twist. The walnut-crusted chicken, fried-green tomato BLT, World Famous Bloody Mary and mint julep are a couple items on the menu. Bourbons Bistro, Limestone, The Comfy Cow, Mark’s Feed Store, Jack Fry’s Restaurant and Toast on Market are few other places we’d recommend you try when visiting the Derby City.
Boxing great Muhammad Ali was born and raised in Louisville. The philanthropist and social activist, and his wife Lonnie, started the Ali center as a way to honor the sports legend, and to educate the public by hosting numerous special events. Other must-see Louisville attractions include the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Louisville Zoo, Frazier International History Museum, or take a stroll down the city’s Riverwalk.
Louisville is made up of a mix of different neighborhoods, including Highlands, Jeffersontown, Old Louisville, NuLu, Middleton, Crescent Hill and Lyndon. Germantown (pictured) -- settled by German immigrants in the 1870s -- is slowly transitioning to a younger, more educated demographic. In this neighborhood, it’s not uncommon to find renovated homes complete with gardens, bee hives and backyard chickens.
Take a step back in time, and stay at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel. Built in 1905 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Seelbach Hotel’s grand ambiance inspired author F. Scott’s Fitzgerald to use the hotel as a backdrop for Tom and Daisy’s wedding in his novel, “The Great Gatsby.” For other options on where to stay, try The Galt House, Camberley Brown, 21c Museum Hotel, Central Park Bed and Breakfast or the Rocking Horse Manor Bed and Breakfast.
If you’re visiting Louisville on a budget, we suggest you stay at the Embassy Suites Louisville (pictured), Fairfield Inn and Suites Louisville North or the Louisville Marriott Downtown.
Downtown Louisville is the largest central business district in Kentucky, and it’s the oldest neighborhood in Louisville. The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville Glassworks, Louisville Slugger Field, Waterfront Park, Riverfront Plaza, KFC Yum! Center and Early Time Distillery are a few attractions travelers can visit in this neighborhood.
Take a ride on the Belle of Louisville, the oldest operating steamboat on the Mississippi River waterway system. Built in 1914, the Belle and the more modern paddle-wheeler, Spirit of Jefferson, carry passengers along the Ohio River for 2-hours, ranging in price from $8 to $16 per person.
Hop on a bike and explore Louisville, thanks to the Bike Louisville program. A local and visitor can rent a bike and enjoy some of the city’s paths, including Riverwalk Trail or Levee Trail. There are also metro paths that are more suitable for bikers. Check out the <a title="Bike Louisville website" href="http://www.louisvilleky.gov/BikeLouisville/IWantTo/existingbikelanes.htm" target="_blank"><em>Bike Louisville website</em></a> for more information.