Almost Famous, Laddie Boy and Intense Holiday are all calling your name, so ladies don your fancy hat and gentlemen grab your favorite tie before heading down to the 140th Kentucky Derby in Louisville at Churchill Downs. All the attendees will be smartly dressed, sipping Mint Juleps and cheering on their favorite stallions—the scene is electric, but it is not the only attraction that beautiful, historic Louisville has to offer the discerning traveler.
Tour the Park
On a day when travelers aren’t enjoying the races, they can take a leisurely walk across the Big Four Bridge and stroll right on through the emerald lawns of Louisville’s Waterfront Park. This idyllic panorama is perfect for biking, picnicking and even a little romance in the big city. Reminisce about days gone by with a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, a tribute to Kentucky’s most celebrated resident. Gaze out upon the Ohio River before hopping aboard the famous Belle of Louisville, the oldest operating paddleboat in the United States! She began her first journey in 1914, so she is celebrating a big birthday this year! Embark upon a mini-journey around lunchtime or set sail for a dinner cruise and enjoy the live bandstand. Travelers can also opt to split up the day’s activities with a regularly-scheduled sightseeing excursion aboard the Belle as well.
Indulge in the Past
American history buffs will relish the opportunity to tour the landmarks in and around Louisville, including the beautifully-restored eighteenth-century home Locust Grove, which boasts the same high-quality craftsmanship and charm today as it did when William and Lucy Croghan built it in 1790. Travelers who enjoy something more lively can head to the Louisville Palace, a Spanish-style venue that offers everything from classic film showings to performances by artists in every genre imaginable.
Sample the Fare
Skip the Urban Bourbon Trail bar hop and head straight to Whiskey Row — the historic district that now serves as a hub for bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. Here, travelers can explore a distillery and delight in tastings on the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which celebrates the work of Kentucky’s first distiller. The bourbon isn’t the only reason to hit the streets of Louisville, however. Popular restaurant Limestone is known for its high-quality Southern food — dishes such as braised beef short ribs and crawfish corn pudding that you just can’t imagine eating anywhere else.
One of the best ways to discover the true heart of a city is simply to walk it. Travelers can spend hours admiring the Victorian architecture in Old Louisville, located just a mile south of downtown. It may take a long while to tour all 45-square blocks of old homes in this district, but travelers in the know head straight to Third Street to visit “Millionaire’s Row.” The Visitor’s Center on South Fourth Street is the place to go to catch a ghost tour, garden tour or even to schedule a special dinner at one of the mansions. Travelers who love quaint coffee shops and handmade gifts should continue into the Highlands district located mostly on Bardstown Road. Locally-owned shops sell everything from used books to homemade ice cream and pies to take home after your derby town adventure.
The Kentucky Derby is certainly a reason to visit Louisville; however, the city’s wonderful sights, unique food and drink as well as its rich history are what will bring travelers back time and again for another new experience. There are so many bourbons to try, mansions to visit and neighborhoods to explore — the Kentucky Derby is the perfect excuse to discover more and more of Louisville.