by Candice Roy
“My vision for Kentucky is a Commonwealth where there is so much economic opportunity, and our quality of life is so high, that people who are born here can stay here, and people who aren’t fortunate enough to be born in Kentucky, can look forward to locating here,” Governor Ernie Fletcher.
For many, when Kentucky is mentioned for the first time, thoughts of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, a legendary boxing champ, aged bourbon, bluegrass music and even baseball bats immediately come to mind. But there are many lesser-known keystones of the State that visitors should consider when making their travel plans. While Louisville is the 16th largest city in the United States, it offers southern hospitality and warmth like that of a much smaller city.
No matter what your interests, Louisville has many unique attractions and historic sites to see. One of the largest events is the Kentucky Derby. Each May, this spectacle of a horse race attracts over half a million people to this cosmopolitan and well-diverse city. Of course you can’t forget about the 3-time world heavy weight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali. His hometown features a cultural attraction and international educational center in his namesake, which not only focuses on his life journey but explores the greatness within ourselves. If you want a little bit of history then the Belle of Louisville is the stop to make. This national historic landmark is the oldest operating Mississippi-style steamboat in the world. Did you know that Louisville produces a third of the country’s bourbon? So, take a walk down the Bourbon Trails where you can experience the entire process of where bourbon comes from and how it’s made.
In the heart of downtown is Fourth Street Live. This district is Louisville’s premier dining, entertainment and retail destination and is located only a couple of blocks from Waterfront Park. The downtown area features a lively arts scene and numerous museums such as the Frazier International History Museum, Kentucky Derby Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum, Louisville Science Center, plus many more. For those young at heart, be sure to visit the Louisville Zoo and the Extreme Sports Park.
While Kentucky is known for its fried chicken, there are a few restaurants offering other cuisines that really stand apart from the rest. Varanese, located downtown, has a contemporary Mediterranean menu that can’t be found anywhere else. This progressive eatery offers a health-conscious menu using a majority of locally grown ingredients. Sapporo on Fourth Street is a perfect place for a romantic night out or just a place to get your favorite Japanese dishes.
If you are in the South you’ve got to get BBQ! Doc Crow’s Smokehouse and Raw Bar’s ambience is a mix of southern roots and upscale sophistication. Diners will also notice an impressive selection of fresh seafood, which is uncommon coming from a traditional BBQ place. Want to take a trip to Sicily without stepping foot out of the country? Vincenzo’s serves authentic Northern Italian dishes in a lavish setting that will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to Italy itself. If the amazing food and decor doesn’t wow you then the friendly hospitality will.
Your trip wouldn’t be complete without finding the perfect place to stay. Louisville has many 4-star, legendary hotels to consider that are located in the midst of downtown and within walking distance from all the attractions and museums. One of the city’s most famous hotels is the historic Brown Hotel, which was built in 1923. Serving the famously delicious Hot Brown Sandwiches as its trademark, the Brown was named one of the Best 500 Hotels in the World by Travel & Leisure Magazine in 2012. The Luxury Hotel features classic English Renaissance architecture and an ambience that takes you back to the 1930’s. Additionally, the Seelbach Hilton built in 1905, is anything but ordinary. Not only is it listed on the National Register of Historical Places, it is considered the premiere hotel in Kentucky.
As one of the oldest hotels of the city dating back to the 1800’s, the Galt House first started with only 60 rooms. Since then it has expanded to become the largest hotel in Kentucky with 1290 rooms and suites without losing any of its original appeal. The most unique hotel in the Louisville area is 21C Museum. More than just a place to sleep, this 90-room boutique is also a contemporary art museum with the redefining charm of southern hospitality.
Whatever your travel expectations are, you will find something you will appreciate while visiting Louisville. This beautiful city and its welcoming people will impress you and leave you with a new perspective of Kentucky.