Updated: Jun 6, 2022
I figure it is due time I write about my current hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. While not born nor raised here, I have lived here for the past 20+ years, yet still don't know the accurate way to pronounce the name of this city. Some say Lewey-ville, others Lewis-ville, Lu-a-ville, Loo-ville, or simply ... The Ville! Louisville is not quite considered Southern, nor Northern, nor Mid-western. It seems to exist in the vortex of those three regions. Exist, however, it does with a population of about a million people throughout the metroplex and "a few" unique things to offer.
While it is completely uncharacteristic of me to generate blogs featuring "Top Ten Lists", I have observed that such posts are huge crowd-pleasers. Readers, bloggers, and Pinterest-users seem to love lists! So I decided to do something different and acquiesce to this obsession ... this time ... and generate a list of 'TEN Uniquely Louisville' experiences, in case you ever venture into this vortex. I'm limiting my list to 10, because frankly my brain, and likely most others', ZONES OUT after ten. Hence, no sense to generate a list of "50 or 100 things to do" in Louisville. Although, I honestly don't know if I could even come up with that many legitly UNIQUE activities in this city.
So, in no particular order, here goes ...
This one is worth a big mention, as Louisville has become quite a FOODIE city. Several great neighborhoods have developed that are filled with restaurants unique to Louisville. NuLu, Frankfort Avenue, and the Highlands are all loaded with trendy restaurants and some great eats! I'll list a few awesome restaurants you may want to try when you venture this way. Once again, I'll limit my list to ten 😉. (But, YES, there are MANY, MANY more!)
La Bodeguita de Mima (Cuban)
Seviche (Latin-American and Seafood)
Jeff Ruby's (Steak and Seafood)
Sapporo (Japanese grill and Sushi)
Mojito's (Spanish Tapas)
Le Moo (Breakfast/Brunch)
Toast on Market (Breakfast/Brunch)
610 Magnolia (Southern)
Proof on Main (Southern)
Derby Museum and Churchill Downs
You can't mention Louisville without mentioning horse racing! They kind of go hand-in-hand. The racing season is active in the Spring and the Fall. That being said, tours of Churchill Downs, the track, the backside, as well as visits to the Derby Museum are available throughout the year. The Derby Museum is fun and interactive, and hosts an epic 18-minute film projected in a 360-degree theater, featuring 'The Greatest Race'. Definitely worth seeing!
Bourbon Trail, Tasting and Tours
I mentioned the food scene, but drinks are big deal too ... specifically Bourbon. Bourbon, an American whiskey, is strongly associate with Kentucky. Numerous distilleries exist within Louisville proper and its very nearby proximity. Most all of the distilleries offer tours and tastings. There is a Bourbon Trail that maps out routes to the various distilleries in the region. Many bourbon-infused dishes are offered on menus throughout the city.
Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC Soccer
Both men's and women's national soccer leagues find a home in Louisville. These pro teams, part of the USL and NWSL respectively, show off their foot skills in the brand new Lynn Family Stadium that just opened along the Ohio River waterfront. Tickets may be purchased online or at the gates. Tip: the view of the sunset over the river from the stadium is gorgeous!
Speed Art Museum
Anyone familiar with me or my blog should expect that an art museum is something I would DEFINITELY add to MY "Uniquely Louisville" list. So, without imposed bias, I will state that our Speed Art Museum is fantastic. The curators consistently welcome exceptional traveling exhibitions and the permanent collection is also noteworthy. Some of my favorite pieces are Little Dancer by Degas, The Three Shades by Rodin, Interior of Santa Sophia by Singer-Sargent, and Portrait of a Woman by Rembrandt. The Museum is located on the edge of the University of Louisville campus and is intimately associated with historical Old Louisville, lined with architecturally impressive Victorian mansions from the 1800s.
Muhammad Ali Center
This selection has to be added because "The Greatest", who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, was born and raised ( ... and buried) here! As such, a Center exists on the waterfront dedicated to his legacy. Countless fight clips, boxing memorabilia, gloves, robes, as well as the history of his life and his contributions as an activist are exhibited in the Center.
Riverfront and Big Four Pedestrian Bridge
I have already mentioned the Riverfront a couple of times. Downtown Louisville is perched on the edge of the Ohio River. The area along the riverfront frequently hosts fireworks, concerts, Derby events, art festivals, 5Ks, mini-marathons, and such. Along the riverfront 2-person and
4-person bikes can be rented and enjoyed on paved paths. A free waterpark for the kids can also be accessed. There is a very popular pedestrian-only bridge that traverses the Ohio River and connects Kentucky to Indiana. It is lovely to walk across this bridge, take in the river views and the Louisville skyline, and try some Indiana eateries or perhaps a treat of ice cream.
Tip: if you time it right the sunset view from the bridge is magnificent.
Belle of Louisville Riverboat
Having just mentioned the Ohio River, I would be remiss if I didn't include the iconic Belle of Louisville. "She" is a large paddlewheel steamboat that anchors along the shore of the Ohio River in downtown Louisville. Visitors can go out on the boat for sunset cruises, boujie brunches, picnic lunches, or Captain's dinners all while taking in the views of the river, the Louisville skyline, and the Indiana coastline from the water. The Belle of Louisville has a smaller "sister boat" called the Mary M. Miller for similar excursions. Both boats offer spectacular views, as well as a trip back in time.
The Louisville Orchestra
You can experience the classics with the Louisville Orchestra conducted by the ridiculously talented Teddy Abrams. The Louisville Orchestra is strongly immersed in the community and offers vibrant programs spanning classical, jazz, pops, and new works. Louisville frequently hosts globally renowned artists. Teddy has completely turned this company around and they have become major players in the city! Check out their busy schedule and try to catch a concert if you are in town.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
This recommendation is by far the one I have the least connection with but nevertheless feel obligated to mention for there are far too many baseball fanatics in this country to ignore this iconic site. The Louisville Slugger baseball bats are made right here in downtown Louisville. Visitors can tour the factory and see the entire process of how the bats are made, from the forest to the field!
So there you have it! My list of recommendations to obtain a Uniquely Louisville experience, whenever you decide to visit. There are certainly more activities to do outside of the ones I listed but I opted to highlight places and activities that would be unique standouts.