Louisville, Kentucky; best known for the Kentucky Derby, Whiskey, the Louisville Slugger, Colonel Sanders, and of course Kentucky Fried Chicken. So what does a wanderess do when she wants to see beyond just the typical tourist spots? Well, she turns to Google, and types in the top atypical places to visit in Louisville!
Louisville has been on my list of cities to explore for a while. The first time I came to the city for work, it was too bitter cold to explore, so I ended up just staying in and enjoying the hotel. Our work puts us up at one of the most famous hotels in Louisville, The Brown. This hotel has been around since the early 1920’s and has been the temporary residence of many famous people from Prime Ministers and Queens, to famous actors and TV personalities. It is the place to stay while visiting Louisville, with every room just a little different from the next, and plenty of ghost stories to go along with the history. I personally have never had an encounter with a spirit other than my whiskey beer which I’ll talk about a little later, but many coworkers have mysterious stories of clothes being moved around, doors opening and closing, and weird noises within the night.
Our company has been staying at this hotel for many years, and back in the day, when rules were not always as strict as they are now, fellow crew-mates would get other fellow crew-mates room keys and move clothes and furniture around while they were gone. So who is to really know what is real and what is not, but regardless, the hotel still makes a name for itself within the local ghost tours, and with ghost hunters alike.
Aside from the ghost hauntings at this spectacular hotel, it has also been the movie set of at least one movie I am aware of, Elizabethtown. If you’ve never heard of this movie don’t fret, I hadn’t either until I stayed at the hotel, but it includes the city of Louisville, a blonde flight attendant (hmmm I was intrigued), and a romantic comedy theme. I highly recommend it! It’s a bit of a dark comedy, as the movie begins with a suicide attempt by the main character interrupted by a perfectly timed phone call from family about his father’s recent passing. The movie follows the character as he turns his life around and becomes the man he always could be, but just didn’t know how to become. The Brown Hotel is his residence, and many scenes are filmed on the second level of the hotel where the bar and main check-in desk are.
Venturing outside of the hotel is pretty great too, I mean that is the point of exploring a new city right? The hotel is situated right in the middle of historic downtown Louisville, walking distance to essentially everything you’d want to see in the area. The Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby museum are just a short Uber away, in between downtown and the airport.
The hotel is located right on 4th Street, where the main bar, restaurant, and local music scene is. For nightlifers this is a great place to explore. There are a couple whiskey distilleries right down the street to check out as well, and bowling, who doesn’t love bowling!?
My first stop was to the Louisville Waterfront Park. This is a really beautiful green area right on the edge of the Ohio River. It has an awesome view of the River, a couple of spectacular bridges, and the State of Indiana which is just on the opposite side of the river. There are swinging benches, a playground to play on, and a little area that’s filled with chicken and cardinal statues. The University of Louisville’s stadium is just right next store at the KFC Yum! Center. (I couldn’t make up the name folks). The park is a beautiful place to catch up on some zen, read a book, and just take in some beautiful scenery.
My next stop was the Thomas Edison house. Louisville has lots of museums in just a few city blocks. This particular one was unfortunately closed when I arrived (it closes at 2pm so arrive early and not on a Monday as it is closed all day then), but it was the home of Thomas Edison from 1866 to 1867. He experimented and created many of his famous inventions there and the museum has many of them on display. The house is super tiny, but includes a lot of information and hands on education for the history nerd in all of us.
My next stop was the Muhammad Ali museum. (I did say there were a lot of museums right??) I was really interested in checking this out as I knew about his extraordinary presence in the boxing world, but knew very little about the life he lived, and the person he was. The museum is huge, and has a lot of hands on exhibits too that not only teach you basic boxing skills, but allow you to feel what a trained professional boxers punch feels like if you were holding their punching bag. It’s intense, let me tell you. It teaches you a lot about black history, his life, his boxing career (you can even watch all of his fights if you choose to do so), and the impact he’s had on the world. It’s a very interesting museum to check out.
By the time I finished my exploring there, it was already 5pm, the rest of the museums were closed, so I made my way back to the hotel. On my way back I stopped at a spot a fellow coworker mentioned to me a few months ago. It’s called Art Eatables. They specialize in small-batch bourbon truffles that are created so delicately and meticulously that each chocolate chosen accentuates the bourbon paired with each batch. I am not a big bourbon drinker, so I wanted to find a way to try the local bourbon without having to actually drink it. Let me just tell you I have never had a more amazing spirit candy than I have here. Normally baking alcohol into any food really gets rid of the actual flavor of the spirit, but the way they pair their chocolates with the bourbon, you are able to enjoy the full flavor of the bourbon and chocolate all in one. It truly is a place not to be missed while in Louisville. They also sell non-alcoholic chocolates that are just as amazing as the bourbon ones, but I highly recommend buying some bourbon truffles while there. They even give you a free sample when you walk in the door!
The owner of Art Eatables also recommended a local beer to try that again incorporated bourbon without having to drink straight bourbon. It’s called the Kentucky Bourbon Ale and is aged in bourbon barrels for at least 6 weeks so not only do you get to drink a delicious beer, BUT you essentially get a super flavorful shot of barrel aged whisky in it as well. Now, let me tell you, it is a very strong beer, but it is one of the best I’ve ever had. The Brown Hotel had it available when I ordered my dinner for the night, which is another event here in Kentucky. When you talk to locals, they tell you two things to do in Louisville, drink our bourbon (check) , and eat our food.
One of the most famous dishes in Louisville is the Hot Brown, and as luck may have it, it originated at the Brown Hotel! This dish is a heart attack on a plate, but a must try for anyone visiting the city. It is an open faced turkey and bacon sandwich covered in cheese, sauce, tomatoes, and a few greens (that makes it healthy right?). It’s a perfect mix of flavors, and huge, so you could definitely share the calorie count with a counterpart, but I devoured the entire thing by myself (hey, I walked all day okay?!). And with that filling conclusion, I ended my exploring of the city, called it a night, and went to bed.
Louisville is definitely a very educational place to visit, and it was nice to see things that are not the normal attractions within a city. My moral lesson this trip is to go off the beaten path. Although my adventure still included a lot of tourist attractions, they were not the typical spots that you think of when you think of Louisville. Sometimes it is more fruitful to see a place for more than what is it known for and to create your own experience within it. Also to find ways to incorporate the typical local cuisines and customs into something that you’ll enjoy! Step out of the box to see the world for much more than what is expected. It makes for an exciting adventure, and you get to see some things very few people get to see. Not only do you get to expand your horizons, but you get to learn a whole lot more about a new place!
That’s all for today my lovely wanderluster’s. I hope you go out and have an out of the box adventure real soon!
Love and hugs,
The World Wanderess