Louisville, Kentucky, located on the banks of the scenic Ohio River, is a city of parks and festivals. Louisville has more parkland, per capita, than any other U.S. city and features one of the nation’s oldest park systems, including 112 parks totaling more than 11,000 acres with 15 miles of historic parkways. The park system is one of only five in America to have a system of parks and connecting parkways designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted Sr., who often is called the father of American landscape architecture.
The biggest party Louisville throws is the Kentucky Derby Festival, which celebrates the legendary horse race, the Kentucky Derby, at historic Churchill Downs. The festival, held every May, is a two-week extravaganza of community events and parties that culminate in the “run for the roses.”
Year-round, you can visit the Kentucky Derby Museum located at Gate 1 at Churchill Downs. Highlights include two floors of interactive, horse racing-related exhibits, a 360-degree high-definition video presentation and a walking tour of Churchill Downs. Also in May, Louisville hosts Abbey Road on the River, the largest Beatles festival in the world.
In downtown Louisville, visitors can stroll along Museum Row on West Main Street near the riverfront. The buildings along West Main represent America’s second-largest collection of cast-iron storefront facades. Only New York City’s Soho District has more.
Seven museums are located on Museum Row, including the Frazier International History Museum, where the arms collection spans centuries starting with medieval times, and live interpreters demonstrate sword fights.
The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory is where workers craft the bats used by major leaguers and the history of America’s national pastime comes alive. It’s also home of the World’s Biggest Baseball Bat. The Muhammad Ali Center has interactive exhibits in multiple languages that pay tribute to the career and values of the former world champion boxer from Louisville. It includes a five-screen-orientation film, historic Civil Rights-era media footage, an interactive timeline of Ali’s life, video-on-demand of Ali’s fights, and Howard L. Bingham and LeRoy Neiman exhibit galleries.
The Louisville Science Center has three floors of hands-on exhibits and a four-story IMAX Theatre. Permanent exhibits include “The World Around Us,” which explores natural and earth sciences; “The World Within Us,” which explores the human body; and “The World We Create,” which explores scientific advancements.
Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail boasts nine bars and lounges where bourbon can be sipped. Maker’s Mark Bourbon Lounge at Fourth Street Live boasts a 57-foot bar, while the Old Seelbach Bar and Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar and Lounge offer more than 100 varieties of Kentucky’s famous elixir.
Greater Louisville has more than 100 hotels and 18,000 hotel rooms in the metro area. The majority of rooms are clustered in four locations. There are 3,700 rooms in the downtown district with 2,300 connected via skywalk to the convention center. Lodging options include quaint bed-and-breakfast inns, familiar brand names like Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and Holiday Inn, and two historic hotels.