Located within a day’s drive of over half of the U.S. population, Louisville presents itself as the perfect destination to add to your list when planning for vacations this Spring. (Seriously, punch it into Google Maps. They’re closer than you probably think!) As the 29th largest city in the country, Louisville offers big city amenities without the overwhelming crowds or over-the-top prices. Combine that with a list of attractions and experiences you can’t find anywhere else in the world for an unforgettable adventure. Here are our top 10 reasons to plan your trip to Louisville this Spring.
As producers of over 95% of the planet’s Bourbon supply, Kentucky is the place to visit for those looking to have a taste of some of the world’s most famous whiskies. And with downtown distilleries like Angel’s Envy, Old Forester, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Michter’s Fort Nelson, and Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. all within a few short blocks of each other on Main Street, Louisville is quickly becoming known as the walkable Napa Valley of Bourbon. Don’t forget about Rabbit Hole, Copper & Kings, Brough Brothers, Stitzel-Weller, and Prohibition Craft Spirits, all who also offer their own unique tours and tastings – many with their own in-house cocktail bars.
Pro Tip: Tours fill up quickly so be sure to get an early start on planning. Let us help you start planning your Bourbon City adventure here.
Festivals & Events
NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Magic Johnson once quoted that “Derby time in Louisville is like the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras all rolled into one.” The iconic two-minute horse race known as the Kentucky Derby has turned into nearly a month-long celebration of activities and events including Thunder Over Louisville, the MiniMaration, the Pegasus Parade and the Great Steamboat Race. Get out into some of Louisville’s neighborhoods for staples like the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Cherokee Triangle Art Fair or NuLu Bock Fest. The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Forecastle Festival and Abbey Road on the River all also take the stage this Spring, kicking off Memorial Day Weekend. For a larger list of Louisville festivals and events click here.
Experience Louisville like a local by staying in one of the city’s many unique neighborhoods. The Old Louisville Historic District is home to the largest collection of Victorian-era mansions in the U.S. and offers an array of B&B style accommodations for those looking to stay in the area. The East Market District or NuLu has been named one of the “Best Drinking Neighborhoods in the Country” as well as one of the “Best Food Neighborhoods in America”. Foodies will also enjoy exploring the Highlands, Louisville’s original Restaurant Row, which features hundreds of local restaurants, eclectic shops, and late-night entertainment. Find out about more Louisville neighborhoods here.
Lined with the second largest collection of cast iron facades in the country (behind NYC’s SoHo district), Louisville’s Main Street is unlike anywhere else in America. For starters, where else can you visit 10 unique museums and distilleries in under five walkable blocks? This includes staples like the Muhammad Ali Center, Kentucky Science Center, Frazier History Museum, and KMAC Museum.
Though it’s known as Bourbon City, Louisville’s beer scene is hopping with new breweries, craft beer bars, and was recently named one of the Top 10 Beer Destinations in the World. Capitalize on some of the city’s best outdoor patios at places like Gravely Brewing Co., West Sixth NuLu and Ten20 Craft Brewery or traverse the Louisville Ale Trail with two dozen different breweries to choose from.
Gardens & Arboretum
Branch out from your typical indoor tour and enjoy a stroll through these outdoor gardens and arboretum. Start with a walk through Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery, a 296-acre Victorian era cemetery and arboretum that is the final resting place of many notable Kentuckians including Colonel Sanders, Muhammad Ali and George Rogers Clark. Head south of the city to Bernheim Arboretum and Forest to discover the Forest Giants created by artist Thomas Dambo. Or, head to Butchertown to explore the Waterfront Botanical Gardens, one of the city’s newest attractions.
With museum tours like the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Kentucky Derby Museum and the Muhammad Ali Center, sports fans can get up close and personal with some of Louisville’s most iconic figures. If spectating is more your speed, view live thoroughbred horse racing at Churchill Downs’ 2022 Spring Meet, a baseball game with the Louisville Bats at freshly-renovated Louisville Slugger Field, or, kick it at a soccer game at Lynn Family Stadium with pro teams Racing Louisville and LouCity. For those looking to cross the Kentucky Derby off their bucket list, you’ll want to schedule a visit for the first Saturday in May.
Dubbed one of the “South’s Best Food Cities” by Southern Living, taking a bite out of Louisville’s culinary scene will be the tastiest item on your bucket list. Start by visiting the historic Brown Hotel to order up the city’s official sandwich, the Kentucky Hot Brown. Use the new digital Urban Bourbon Trail passport as your restaurant guide and visit local establishments with Bourbon infused food dishes ranging from breakfast to dessert. Visit six stops and get rewarded with a prize as an official Urban Bourbon Trailblazer. See for yourself why Zagat calls Louisville “One of the 7 Up and Coming Foodie Towns in America” by browsing nearly 600 local restaurants here.
After being cooped up inside all winter, get your legs ready to explore 120 parks and over 13,000 acres of public land while getting your outdoor fix in Louisville. In fact, Louisville’s park system was designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect who also helped design New York City’s Central Park. One of Louisville’s most popular attractions is the Big Four Bridge located at Waterfront Park. Take the nearly 1-mile walk from start to finish for sweeping views of the downtown skyline and Ohio River while walking on a converted 1895 gothic-style railroad bridge.
Architecture & Art Walks
Located on a horse farm just east of Louisville, Hermitage Farm offers an authentic look at classic Kentucky culture. Weave through the forest along a 1,500ft pathway at the Art Walk as you watch intricate projections illuminate the surrounding landscape. March 18 – June 5, catch more art as the Louisville Zoo transforms after dark into one of the largest lantern festivals in the country during the Wild Lights festival. This family friendly, outdoor event will have you navigating a 1.4-mile paved walkway through the Zoo’s 130-acre park scattered with over 70 lantern displays. Architecture lovers can take a guided Old Louisville History and Architecture Tour as you stroll through the largest collection of restored Victorian-era mansion in the country.
Get your adventure started by browsing discounted hotel and attractions tickets here.
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