We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to begin a regular, monthly section to feature destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips enriching and entertaining.
Driving a little less than four hours West of Charleston brings you to Louisville, Kentucky. Home to the most famous horse race in the world, Louisville (pronounced “LOU-uh-vull”), is a culturally rich river city that combines classic charm with contemporary flair. The result is a thriving city with much to see and do, growing by leaps and bounds. Louisville is also home to University of Louisville, where more than 20,000 students attend.
Where to Stay in Louisville
Aloft, a trendy new Marriott brand is one of Louisville’s newest hotels. The full-service hotel has a busy bar and restaurant scene, comfy contemporary rooms, and is convenient for walking around downtown. The Embassy Suites by Hilton and Holiday Inn Express & Suites are two other choice hotel options.
Luxury travelers will appreciate the historic Brown Hotel; a combination of old-world elegance with modern conveniences. The hotel’s beautiful lobby bar is a great place to partake in happy hour cocktails, afternoon tea, and appetizers. A roof-top garden has just opened for events and special occasions.
Where to Dine in Louisville
Louisville’s hottest breakfast spot, Wild Eggs, serves up creative combinations of egg dishes, crepes, and luscious pancakes. Another noteworthy menu item is the Mr. Potato Head Casserole, packed with hash browned potatoes, vegetables, and breakfast sausage, topped with an egg cooked your way. Mussel & Burger Bar is a must while in Louisville. This hip American bistro pleases customers with gourmet burgers, trendy appetizers, and mouth-watering (you guessed it) mussels. Chicken lovers will go crazy for Royal’s Hot Chicken, found in the NuLu area, Louisville’s hotspot. Royal’s has boozy milkshakes, Nashville Hot Chicken, and scratch-made sides in an inviting atmosphere. Don’t miss the Baked Pimento Cheese with bacon jam (served in an adorable mini cast iron skillet).
A trip to Louisville would not be complete without tasting the Kentucky Hot Brown, the city’s most iconic dish. Created by Chef Fred K. Schmidt in 1926 at the legendary Brown Hotel, nearly 100 years later the Hot Brown is still in high demand. What is a Kentucky Hot Brown? An open-faced turkey sandwich covered with rich mornay sauce, two slices of crispy bacon, and tomato slices. It is fantastic!
What to Do on Your Weekend Trip
At the Louisville Mega Cavern, explore an enormous cavern by way of a mega tram. Mega Cavern also has ropes challenge course, cavern ziplining (the only one in the world!), motorbike paths, and an E-bike “funderground” adventure for more active travelers.
History lovers will appreciate the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs. Whether you are fond of horse racing or not, the museum is superbly done and has a plethora of exhibits to check out. With out-of-this-world Derby fashions, a wall of winning horses and jockeys, and a group-led walking tour of Churchill Downs, there isn’t a dull moment here. You can dine there as well.
Downtown, the Frazier History Museum is a nice option for browsing state-of-the-art touring and historic exhibits. The Museum has featured The Hunger Games traveling exhibit since April 1st. Three popular exhibits are the Toy Soldiers, Lewis & Clark and Prohibition exhibits. The Louisville Slugger Museum is right down the street, so save time for it as well.
Sail your way to romance and relaxation aboard the Belle of Louisville or her newest little sister, the Mary M. Miller, while enjoying the beautiful Ohio River. The fully heated and air-conditioned boat cruise features a dinner buffet option (the food is really tasty and well worth including) as well as a live DJ, narrated points of interest, and two glorious hours aboard the historic vessel. Have your camera ready as you sail past the Big Four Bridge, the most stately of the Louisville bridges, and the one with colorful LED lighting from twilight to 1 AM.
Of course, all visits to Kentucky should have spirits tasting on the agenda. The Evans Williams Bourbon Experience, Angel’s Envy Distillery, and Copper & Kings American Brandy Company are three Louisville destinations that both locals and visitors love. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Whiskey (made worldwide) is a spirit distilled from grain mash and aged in wooden barrels. Bourbon is a product of the USA, made from 51% corn, and stored in new charred-oak barrels. Lastly, bourbon is distilled to no higher than 160 proof, while other whiskies must not be greater than 190 proof, a bourbon law.
Weekend Trip to Louisville, KY
Louisville, Kentucky wowed me with its many attractions and beautiful scenery. It really is a perfect spot for foodies, history lovers, sports fans, and families for a weekend getaway. From Louisville, you can also drive 20 minutes across the bridge into Indiana and get your gambling fix at the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino. I think you will really love this fascinating Kentucky