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Weekend Getaway: Louisville, Kentucky

by Ashley Little

Growing up in eastern Kentucky, a trip to Louisville was something my brother and I always looked forward to. The highlight of our visit was usually the Louisville Science Center, where we experimented with bubbles and played on slides made of pipes.

I polled a few of my Kentucky friends -- some Louisville residents and some just frequent visitors -- to find out where locals eat and hang out now. I was glad to see some of my childhood favorites, like the Belle of Louisville and the Louisville Science Center, still on the list alongside some very tempting new Louisville spots like Garage Bar and Wild Eggs.

Activities

Bourbon Trail

Six of Kentucky’s most famous distilleries -- including Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and Maker's Mark -- make up this trail that starts just outside Louisville and stretches into central Kentucky. Book a tour with Mint Julep Tours if you don't have a car. (kybourbontrail.com)

Muhammad Ali Center
While boxing enthusiasts learn Ali’s moves in a life-size boxing ring, visitors not so interested in jabbing can check out videos and exhibits of Louisville-born Ali’s life, values, and career. (144 North Sixth Street, alicenter.org)

Louisville Science Center
With more than 150 interactive exhibits and an IMAX theatre, this hands-on science center is for both kids and adults. If you do bring the kids along, don’t miss the hands-on area created just for children under 7. (727 West Main Street, louisvillescience.org)

Cave Hill Cemetery
Many famous Kentuckians are buried in this Victorian-era cemetery, but the most visited plot is that of KFC founder Harland Sanders. (701 Baxter Avenue, cavehillcemetery.com)

Frazier History Museum
See more than 1,000 years of history through exhibits and live historic performances by costumed actors. Must-see artifacts include George Washington’s rifle, Teddy Roosevelt’s African safari “Big Stick,” and outlaw Jesse James’s revolver. (829 West Main Street, fraziermuseum.org)

Belle of Louisville
The oldest operating Mississippi-style steamboat in the world, this Ohio River boat hosts dinner, dance, and comedy cruises, plus luncheons and sightseeing tours. Arrive early for the cruise and take a stroll through Louisville Waterfront Park. (401 West River Road, belleoflouisville.org)

 

Restaurants

Wild Eggs

Known as one of the best breakfast and brunch restaurants in Louisville, signature dishes include the Everything Muffin and Sweet Home Apple Bourbon Crepes. (3985 Dutchmans Lane, wildeggs.com)

610 Magnolia
Iron Chef America winner and Top Chef Texas contestant Edward Lee cooks up traditional Southern food with a contemporary approach. Make a reservation in advance; the restaurant fills up quickly and is only open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. (610 Magnolia Avenue, 610magnolia.com)

Proof on Main
Located in the 21C Museum Hotel, Proof is both an art museum and a restaurant. While you’re checking out the art, order one of the Kentucky bourbon flights. With 50 bourbons to choose from, it may be hard to pick a favorite. (702 West Main Street, proofonmain.com)

The Blind Pig
The meat at this European-influenced Butchertown restaurant isn’t limited to the food menu. Bacon lovers should try the Bacon Manhattan cocktail, prepared with bacon-infused Sazerac rye. (1076 East Washington Street, theblindpiglouisville.com)

Seviche
Latin food is not usually associated with Kentucky, but Chef Anthony Lamas pulls it off with a Latin wine list and food so tasty that Lamas was a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation award. (1538 Bardstown Road, sevicherestaurant.com)

Jack Fry's

Established in 1933, this is the place to go for traditional Southern food like shrimp and grits, bacon-wrapped dates, country ham, and chocolate bourbon-pecan pie. (1007 Bardstown Road, jackfrys.com)

Mayan Cafe
Chef Bruce Ucan frequents the local farmers’ market to create his seasonal farm-to-table specials. Summer visitors can take advantage of Mayan Market Monday dinners, when vegetables plucked from the ground on Monday morning become Monday evening’s dinner. (813 East Market Street, themayancafe.com)

Harvest
The Kentucky-inspired menu at this farm-to-fork restaurant includes chicken, meatloaf, and a new take on the Hot Brown -- Hot Brown Pizza. Try the bourbon bread pudding or bourbon pecan tart for dessert. (624 East Market Street, harvestlouisville.com)

Garage Bar

Located in a former auto-service garage, craft pizza is the specialty here. Visitors looking for more Southern fare can choose from a selection of hams, pickles, and boiled peanuts. (700 East Market Street, garageonmarket.com)

Hotels

Seelbach Hotel

The Beaux Arts Baroque-decorated hotel has seen many famous guests, including FDR, Al Capone, and Elvis Presley. Frequent visitor F. Scott Fitzgerald used the Seelbach as his inspiration for Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s wedding in "The Great Gatsby." (500 South Fourth Street, seelbachhilton.com)

Galt House

The official host hotel of the Kentucky Derby is located less than a mile from top Louisville attractions like the Louisville Slugger Museum, Muhammad Ali Center, and the Belle of Louisville -- an ideal place to stay if you’re traveling without a car. (140 North Fourth Street, Galthouse.com)