Louisville is located in north-central Kentucky, on the banks of the Ohio River and has historically been called “The Gateway to the South.” Louisville is a progressive city of nearly one and a quarter million inhabitants with a vigorous art scene, rich history, and entertainment and recreational activities. The city is also home of the famous Kentucky Derby competition.
In Louisville, visitors can enjoy some of America’s top state parks such as Cherokee Park (nature and beauty in the midst of a bustling city) and Iroquois Park (you can see all of Southern Indiana from the top of the hill) as they are some of the flagship parks. The new addition to the city, Waterfront Park, offers fountains, artistic landscaping, playgrounds, and concert and festival venues.
Several art galleries and architecture treasures are found in this city, such as the Speed Art Museum (free on Sundays) exhibiting a great deal of local art ranging from contemporary-modern art and classic art, making it an impressive collection. Other artsy must-see’s include Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, The Louisville Ballet, and The Kentucky Opera. In the architecture scene, Louisville is the third largest preserved district in the country and offers the largest Victorian architecture tour as well as the second largest 1800’s era facade buildings in the United States.
Louisville houses the Bohemian District which is the shopping and dining district and offers coffeehouses, midrange to high-end restaurants, art galleries, bars and boutiques all from the Broadway to Douglass Loop that can be easily navigated.
Accommodations range from the budget conscious, mid-range, to suites (such as a 120 year old Victorian Mansion). Bed and breakfast establishments are also available. Please note that during the Kentucky Derby weekend, hotels will charge up to three times the normal rate. Hotels can be found around the city, especially downtown where landmarks, museums, and other popular activities are within walking distance.
Do not miss the view from Ashland Park, located in Clarksville, Indiana (about 15 minutes by car or taxi). Spend the day in Clarksville where you can eat some of the local barbeque, have ice cream at a shop constructed in an old Victorian mansion, and head to the Falls of the Ohio State Park, which make it a great stop for an afternoon fun. Finally if you have some time to spare, visit the Atlantis Waterparks, or the Derby Dinner Playhouse theaters.
Lexington, Kentucky is also a viable option for a day trip (located about 20 minutes away) which is dubbed the “Horse Capitol of the World.” While in Lexington, be sure to follow the Kentucky Bourbon Trail from Lexington to Downtown Louisville.
For more of a big city feel, visitors can drive northeast (about 1.5 hours) and check out the great city of Cincinnati which has an array of activities to do including the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati Art Museum, and Cincinnati Museum Center.
Most of Louisville is relatively safe and parts of the city like Downtown are very walkable. Public transportation (TARC) is also a viable option and encompasses numerous bus lines that drive around Louisville Metro for $1.50. Louisville also has an extensive bike rental program that has increased in popularity in the recent years.
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